Russian hackers targeted U.S. conservative think-tanks, says Microsoft
- The software giant said it thwarted the attempts last week by taking control of sites that hackers had designed to mimic the pages of The International Republican Institute and The Hudson Institute.
- The International Republican Institute has a roster of high-profile Republican board members, including Senator John McCain of Arizona who has criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s interactions with Russia, and Moscow’s rights record.
- It has also examined the rise of kleptocracy, especially in Russia and has been critical of the Russian government, the New York Times reported.
- The type of attack is known as “spear fishing,” in which the hackers trick victims into entering their username and password into the fake site in order to steal their credentials.
- Facebook said late last month it had removed 32 pages and fake accounts from its platforms in a bid to combat foreign meddling ahead of the U.S. votes.
Microsoft seized websites created by Russian hackers to target Republican think tanks
- The cyber political wars continue to rage, and have now taken a strange turn.
- Microsoft has released a detailed report that says a Russian military group that targeted U.S. elections in 2016 is back to its old tricks.
- As part of the announcement, Microsoft said it was expanding its suite of security tools that it hopes will help users identify such attacks and take steps to protect themselves.
- Microsoft counsel Brad Smith also called on other tech companies to step up their efforts against Russian attempts to interfere in elections.
- In the most recent cases, the New York Times said the groups targeted appeared to be GOP think tanks that had broken with President Trump by continuing to criticize Russian President Putin and calling for more sanctions.
- Reuters reported that Russian officials have denied the charges.
Russian company converts former fertilizer lab into country’s largest cryptocurrency farm
- A Russian company has converted a former fertilizer laboratory into the country’s purported largest cryptocurrency mining operation.
- The opening of the mining unit is, however, in line with the Russian government’s stance on cryptocurrency regulations.
- While the Russian authorities have cracked down heavily on unsanctioned attempts at mining cryptocurrencies, the country is still the third largest cryptocurrency producer in the world, next only to China and the US.
- Since new currency is created and the transactions are verified on the basis of the consensus of a majority of the miners on a network, it is important to ensure that no network controls sufficient hashing power to manipulate the blockchain.
- While the country can control the exchange of virtual currencies against ruble, it can’t ensure that the produced currency will not be exchanged against other cryptocurrencies within the country.
What Microsoft's Revelation about Russian Hacking Means for the Midterms
- Microsoft announced Monday that it had detected and thwarted the early stages of an attempted attack on the U.S. Senate and two conservative think tanks by Fancy Bear, the Russia-linked group that hacked the Democratic National Committee in 2016.
- This latest attempt to gain access to political leaders ahead of the midterms is not the only one that has been detected.
- Microsoft received a court order to take control of six websites that were designed to resemble Congressional domains, such as “senate.group” and “adfs-senate.email.” The Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute were also targeted.
- The latest revelation comes amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia ahead of the midterm elections.
- Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of links between the Trump campaign and Russia continues, and a U.S. grand jury indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers on charges of hacking the computer networks of the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016.
Microsoft uncovers and stops new Russian hacking attempts targeting Republican institutions — but danger looms ahead of the US midterm elections
- Microsoft said Tuesday it has uncovered new Russian hacking attempts targeting U.S. political groups ahead of the midterm elections.
- The company said that a hacking group tied to the Russian government created fake internet domains that appeared to spoof two American conservative organizations: the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute.
- The revelation came just weeks after a similar Microsoft discovery led Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who is running for re-election, to reveal that Russian hackers tried unsuccessfully to infiltrate her Senate computer network.
- The hacking attempts mirror similar Russian attacks ahead of the 2016 election, which U.S. intelligence officials have said were focused on helping to elect Republican Donald Trump to the presidency by hurting his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Trump has options if he wants to exert control over the Russia investigation, but it won't help him
- President Donald Trump said in an interview with Reuters that he could take control over the ongoing Russia investigation if he chooses.
- Constitutional law experts say Trump has some options if he wants to exert control over the Russia investigation.
- Rebecca Brown, a Supreme Court and constitutional law expert at USC, said that while Trump has the authority to give orders to the Justice Department, there are conditions attached.
- Trump has ratcheted up his attacks on the Russia probe in the last few months, and has tweeted about the investigation dozens of times since June.
- Erman says, because Trump has made clear his position about the probe — that he is innocent of any wrongdoing and that the investigation is, as the president calls it, a "witch hunt," the idea of Trump exerting control over it would not likely be well-received.
Putin makes flying visit to Austrian foreign minister's wedding
- Putin dropped in on Karin Kneissl's wedding in a remote area of southern Austria, on his way to a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel in neighboring Germany later that day.
- Austria, which is led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the Austrian People's Party (OVP) in a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPO), was one of the few EU countries not to follow suit and expel Russian diplomats.
- The FPO has a cooperation agreement with Putin's United Russia party, according to Reuters.
- Joerg Leichtfried, from the opposition Social Democrats party, criticized the foreign minister for inviting Putin, particularly given Austria's current presidency of the Council of the European Union.
- Foreign Minister Kneissl is not known to have a particularly close friendship with Putin, reported Reuters.
- In an earlier version of this story we incorrectly stated Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's political party.
175 former US officials added to list denouncing Trump for revoking Brennan's security clearance
- Washington (CNN) - One hundred and seventy-five former US officials spanning service across intelligence agencies, the State Department, the National Security Council and the Department of Defense added their names on Monday to a list of intelligence officials denouncing President Donald Trump's decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance.
- Monday's additions to the list denouncing Trump's revocation of Brennan's clearance include former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.
- CNN reported in July that Trump was entertaining a proposal raised by Putin in their summit talks that would allow Russians to interrogate US officials, including McFaul, in exchange for allowing special counsel Robert Mueller to interrogate suspected Russian hackers accused of interfering in the 2016 American election.
- Brennan, who served under President Barack Obama, was one of the intelligence chiefs who signed off on the intelligence community's January 2017 assessment that Russia interfered with the intent to help Trump and to hurt Hillary Clinton.
Trump's White House is making Orwell's worst nightmares look tame
- Trump turned the real story of McGahn's 30 hours of testimony into a "Fake Story" about a "White House Councel [sic]" and said Collusion is "No Collusion" and Obstruction is "No Obstruction." Once mentored by Joseph McCarthy's right-hand man Roy Cohn, Trump declared that he is now the victim of McCarthyism.
- If Trump and his team can blow enough smoke and throw enough mud, we throw up our hands and give up on establishing what we do and don't know.
- That gives them the space to tear down their obstacles: be it those concerned about the environment, assessing the real state of the US economy or carrying out an investigation into a likely conspiracy between Trump's inner circle and Russian officials.
Rudy Giuliani tries to clarify his viral 'truth isn't truth' remark by saying it wasn't meant 'as a pontification on moral theology '
- Giuliani made the comment during a back-and-forth with Todd over why Trump's legal team had not reached an agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, to have a sit-down interview with the president.
- Giuliani for months has expressed the fear that Mueller's team is going to put more credit behind what fired FBI Director James Comey said of his meetings with Trump rather than what Trump has said of them.
- Of course, a problem for Trump in the battle for credibility in such a "he said, she said" with Comey is that Trump has already had to change his tune on major incidents regarding the Russia investigation, such as the controversial June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between top campaign officials, his eldest son Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer.
- Last week, Giuliani laid out how the Trump legal team planned to fight a possible subpoena from Mueller for such an interview with Trump.