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Category Archives: Cybercrime

CRS – Russia: Background and U.S. Interests

Russia: Background and U.S. Interests, March 1, 2017 (R44775)

“Since 1991, Congress has played a key role in the development of U.S. policy toward the Russian Federation (Russia), the principal successor to the United States’ former superpower rival, the Soviet Union. In that time, U.S.-Russian relations have gone through positive and negative periods. Each new U.S. Administration has sought to improve U.S.-Russian relations at the start of its tenure, and the Donald J. Trump Administration has expressed similar intentions to rebuild constructive relations with Moscow. In doing so, however, the Administration has indicated it intends to adhere to core international commitments and principles, including retention of sanctions against Russia. Moving forward, the 115th Congress is expected to actively engage with the Administration on questions concerning U.S.-Russian relations. Over the last five years, Congress has monitored and, together with the executive branch, taken steps to respond to significant concerns about Russian domestic and foreign policy developments. These developments include a trend toward increasingly authoritarian governance since Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidential post in 2012; Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and sponsorship and support of separatists in eastern Ukraine; violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty; Moscow’s ongoing intervention in Syria in support of Bashar al Asad’s government; increased military activity oriented toward Europe; and, according to the U.S. intelligence community, cyber-related influence operations that have extended to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. U.S. responses to these developments have included the imposition of sanctions related to human rights violations, Russia’s actions in Ukraine, and malicious cyber activity.

The United States has also led NATO in developing a new military posture in Eastern Europe designed to reassure allies and deter further aggression. The Barack Obama Administration, together with Congress, condemned Russia’s military support to Asad’s government, especially its air strikes on Aleppo. Members of the 115th Congress have proposed to make permanent, until the crisis in Ukraine is resolved, existing Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia (H.R. 830, H.R. 1059, S. 94, S. 341), as well as to expand sanctions related to Russia’s actions in Ukraine (H.R. 830, S. 94), intervention in Syria (S. 138), and cyberattacks against U.S. democratic institutions (S. 94). Members also have proposed to provide congressional oversight over any potential sanctions relief (H.R. 1059, S. 341). In addition, Congress has begun to investigate Russian interference in U.S. elections. In January 2017, the House and Senate Select Committees on Intelligence announced inquiries into Russian cyber activities and “active measures” surrounding the U.S. election and more broadly. The Senate Armed Services, Foreign Relations, and Judiciary Committees launched or announced related investigations. Members also have proposed a variety of other independent or joint commissions, committees, or investigations (H.R. 356, H.Con.Res. 15, H.Con.Res. 24, S. 27). At the same time, U.S. policymakers over the years have identified multiple areas in which U.S. and Russian interests are or could be compatible. The United States and Russia have successfully cooperated on key issues, including nuclear arms control and nonproliferation, support for military operations in Afghanistan, the Iranian nuclear program, the International Space Station, and the removal of chemical weapons from Syria. The United States and Russia also have identified other areas of cooperation, such as counterterrorism, counternarcotics, counterpiracy, and global health. Although U.S.-Russian trade and investment were relatively low before sanctions were imposed, economic ties at the firm and sector levels have in some cases been substantial. In 2012, Congress authorized permanent normal trade relations for Russia. In the same year, the U.S. government supported Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization. This report provides background information on Russian politics, economics, and military issues. It also discusses a number of key issues for Congress concerning Russia’s foreign relations and the U.S.-Russian relationship.”

Paper – Cybersecurity, Identify Theft, and Standing Law

Chou, James C., Cybersecurity, Identify Theft, and Standing Law: A Framework for Data Breaches Using Substantial Risk in a Post-Clapper World (December 15, 2016). National Security Law Brief, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2016. Available at SSRN: “Since Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, many courts have shut the door on victims alleging a heightened risk… Continue Reading

CRS – Dark Web

CRS report – Dark Web, Kristin Finklea, Specialist in Domestic Security. March 10, 2017. [via FAS] “The layers of the Internet go far beyond the surface content that many can easily access in their daily searches. The other content is that of the Deep Web, content that has not been indexed by traditional search engines… Continue Reading

Perspective on WikiLeaks CIA Cache

The New York Times – The Truth About the WikiLeaks C.I.A. Cache – “On Tuesday morning [March 7, 2017] WikiLeaks released an enormous cache of documents that it claimed detailed “C.I.A. hacking tools.” Immediately afterward, it posted two startling tweets asserting that “C.I.A. hacker malware” posed a threat to journalists and others who require secure… Continue Reading

WikiLeaks posts redacted files purported to be hacked from CIA

Washington Post – WikiLeaks posts files it says are from the CIA’s computer hacking arsenal – “The anti-secrecy organization said the trove exceeded in scale and significance the massive collection of National Security Agency documents exposed by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. A statement from WikiLeaks indicated that it planned to post nearly 9,000… Continue Reading

Committee Democrats Introduce Three Bills to Improve Consumer Cybersecurity

“Today, Democratic members of the Energy and Commerce Committee introduced three bills to update U.S. cybersecurity policies and protect consumers.  In recent years, millions of Americans have had their personal data stolen and high profile attacks—like the denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on Dyn last year—have raised serious questions about our cybersecurity laws and our ability to… Continue Reading

Pence used personal email for state business – and was hacked

Indy Star – Pence used personal email for state business – and was hacked – “Vice President Mike Pence routinely used a private email account to conduct public business as governor of Indiana, at times discussing sensitive matters and homeland security issues. Emails released to IndyStar in response to a public records request show Pence… Continue Reading

Many ‘password challenged’ internet users don’t take steps that could protect their data

“In today’s digitally connected world, where accessing medical records, ordering groceries and paying taxes can all be done online, many internet users find it daunting to keep up with all the various passwords associated with their online accounts. One consequence is that a significant minority of users settle for less secure passwords they can more… Continue Reading

Nuts and Bolts of Encryption: A Primer for Policymakers

Nuts and Bolts of Encryption: A Primer for Policymakers, Edward W. Felten, Center for Information Technology Policy. Department of Computer Science, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, version of February 20, 2017. An up-to-date version of this paper will be available at “This paper offers a straight for ward introduction… Continue Reading

Botnet attack analysis of Deflect protected website

Deflect Labs report #3. Seamus Tuohy and View the report with 3D rendering (5mb) “This report covers attacks between April 29th and October 15th, 2016. Over this seven-month period, we recorded more than a hundred separate denial-of-service incidents against the official Black Lives Matter website. Our analysis shows a variety of technical methods used… Continue Reading

Cybersecurity: Actions Needed to Strengthen U.S. Capabilities

Cybersecurity: Actions Needed to Strengthen U.S. Capabilities, GAO-17-440T: Published: Feb 14, 2017. Publicly Released: Feb 14, 2017. “GAO has consistently identified shortcomings in the federal government’s approach to ensuring the security of federal information systems and cyber critical infrastructure as well as its approach to protecting the privacy of personally identifiable information (PII). While previous… Continue Reading

NSA Contractor Facing Federal Indictment for Willful Retention of National Defense Information

Follow up to previous posting – Former NSA contractor removed 50 terabytes of classified data, via DOJ – “A federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging Harold Thomas Martin III, 52, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, with willful retention of national defense information. Martin Harold Indictment “As a private contractor who worked on classified programs… Continue Reading