– New Yorker – What lay behind Russia’s interference in the 2016 election—and what lies ahead? A look at information warfare, Russian-style.
– New York Times Magazine – After a maker of surveillance software was hacked, its leaked documents shed light on a shadowy global industry that has turned email theft into a terrifying — and lucrative — political weapon.
– New York Times – …It was the cryptic first sign of a cyberespionage and information-warfare campaign devised to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, the first such attempt by a foreign power in American history. What started as an information-gathering operation, intelligence officials believe, ultimately morphed into an effort to harm one candidate, Hillary Clinton, and tip the election to her opponent, Donald J. Trump.
– New York Times – In the early years of the Obama administration, the United States developed an elaborate plan for a cyberattack on Iran in case the diplomatic effort to limit its nuclear program failed and led to a military conflict, according to a coming documentary film and interviews with military and intelligence officials involved in the effort. The plan, code-named Nitro Zeus, was devised to disable Iran’s air defenses, communications systems and crucial parts of its power grid, and was shelved, at least for the foreseeable future, after the nuclear deal struck between Iran and six other nations last summer was fulfilled.
– The Atlantic Council – War Stories from the Future is the culmination of the Atlantic Council Art of Future Warfare project’s first year exploring the future of armed and social conflict. The anthology explores many of the most important looming issues in defense and security, but in a way that no white paper or policy brief can.
– New York Times Magazine – From a nondescript office building in St. Petersburg, Russia, an army of well-paid “trolls” has tried to wreak havoc all around the Internet — and in real-life American communities.
– The Guardian – Fake news stories. Doctored photographs. Staged TV clips. Armies of paid trolls. Has Putin’s Russia developed a new kind of information warfare – fought in the ‘psychosphere’ rather than on the battlefield? Or is it all just a giant bluff?
– The Atlantic – The U.S. government is surreptitiously collecting the DNA of world leaders, and is reportedly protecting that of Barack Obama. Decoded, these genetic blueprints could provide compromising information. In the not-too-distant future, they may provide something more as well—the basis for the creation of personalized bioweapons that could take down a president and leave no trace.
– Wired – A look at Eugene Kaspersky, whose company is a worldwide leader in anti-virus software, and friend of Vladimir Putin and the Russian FSB.
– Foreign Policy – John Arquilla asks could the age of cyberwarfare lead us to a brighter future?
– New York Times – From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.
– Wired – A look at how cyberwar was waged by Libya against its citizens.
– Technology Review – How civilians helped win the Libyan information war.
– Wired – James Bamford writes that under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.
– New York Times – The elusive hacker movement known as Anonymous has carried out Internet attacks on well-known organizations like Sony and PBS. In August, the group went after its most prominent target yet: the Vatican. A nice look at how they do it…
– BBC – Hackers are alleged to have destroyed a pump used to pipe water to thousands of homes in a US city in Illinois.
– Defense Technology International – Moscow-based Aviaconversiya Ltd., makes and sells GPS jammers…to anyone who wants to buy them, no questions asked.
– Economist – Warfare is changing as weapons that destroy electronics, not people, are deployed on the field of battle.
– Los Angeles Times – Mark Bowden writes that as modern society leans more heavily on the Internet, its fragility becomes an ever greater concern.
– Vanity Fair – Last summer, the world’s top software-security experts were panicked by the discovery of a drone-like computer virus, radically different from and far more sophisticated than any they’d seen. The race was on to figure out its payload, its purpose, and who was behind it. As the world now knows, the Stuxnet worm appears to have attacked Iran’s nuclear program. And, as Michael Joseph Gross reports, while its source remains something of a mystery, Stuxnet is the new face of 21st-century warfare: invisible, anonymous, and devastating.
– New York Times – The Dimona complex in the Negev desert is famous as the heavily guarded heart of Israel’s never-acknowledged nuclear arms program, where neat rows of factories make atomic fuel for the arsenal. Over the past two years, according to intelligence and military experts familiar with its operations, Dimona has taken on a new, equally secret role — as a critical testing ground in a joint American and Israeli effort to undermine Iran’s efforts to make a bomb of its own. Behind Dimona’s barbed wire, the experts say, Israel has spun nuclear centrifuges virtually identical to Iran’s at Natanz, where Iranian scientists are struggling to enrich uranium. They say Dimona tested the effectiveness of the Stuxnet computer worm, a destructive program that appears to have wiped out roughly a fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and helped delay, though not destroy, Tehran’s ability to make its first nuclear arms.
– The New Yorker – Peter Maas describes how the media inflated a minor moment in a long war.
– New Yorker – Should we be worried about a cyber war?
The Economist – War in the fifth domain
Are the mouse and keyboard the new weapons of conflict?
The Atlantic – The Enemy Within
Mark Bowden writes that when the Conficker computer “worm” was unleashed on the world in November 2008, cyber-security experts didn’t know what to make of it. It infiltrated millions of computers around the globe. It constantly checks in with its unknown creators. It uses an encryption code so sophisticated that only a very few people could have deployed it. For the first time ever, the cyber-security elites of the world have joined forces in a high-tech game of cops and robbers, trying to find Conficker’s creators and defeat them. The cops are failing. And now the worm lies there, waiting …