Announcements

The Alliance for Securing Democracy launched Hamilton 2.0, a new dashboard tracking Russian government-backed information operations online and on state-sponsored broadcast television. The interactive, publicly accessible dashboard captures content from more than 140 diplomatic and media accounts on Twitter, four state-sponsored news websites, RT’s television news broadcasts, and RT America and RT UK’s YouTube channels. You can access the dashboard here.

Our Take

The Hamilton 2.0 Dashboard will offer researchers and the public a curated view of the Russian government’s presence in traditional news outlets and on social media, Head of External Affairs Rachael Dean Wilson told the Washington Post.

Russia has become a big booster for China in its official messaging as the two countries have grown closer, reported NPR using ASD’s new Hamilton 2.0 Dashboard.

In the run-up to Election Day, foreign actors may seek to recruit real Americans to unwittingly organize political rallies or create new groups online, argued Director Laura Rosenberger in a new report from the Stern School’s Center for Business and Human Rights at New York University.

China has long focused on denying space to unfavorable narratives outside its borders, but now seems to be shifting towards actively spreading disinformation on Western social media, China Analyst Matthew Schrader told NPR.

Confucius Institutes are platforms for an authoritarian party that is hostile to liberal ideas, including free inquiry, to propagate state-approved narratives, China Analyst Matt Schrader warned the BBC.

News and Commentary

Online forum used by Hong Kong protesters hit with cyber-attacks: One of the forums used by protesters in Hong Kong to organize mass rallies was hit by unprecedented DDoS cyber-attacks that flooded and shut down website servers last weekend. The forum posted a statement online claiming that some of these attacks originated from websites in China. The incident resembles a previous attack by China on the Telegram app, raising questions as to whether the Chinese government may be trying to limit the effectiveness of online forums as an organizing tool for protesters. Research Assistant Étienne Soula has argued that the methods used by Beijing to suppress the protesters are analogous to those it and other authoritarian states use to interfere in democracies around the world. (Gizmodo, Bloomberg, Twitter, The Verge, Protego Press)

U.S. government officials meet with tech companies to discuss strategy for 2020: Last week, officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence met with major tech companies, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, to discuss election security ahead of 2020. Participants identified potential steps for improving information sharing and coordination to better deter foreign threats, building on previous discussions about further strengthening strategic collaboration. In testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Director Laura Rosenberger argued for greater cooperation between the national security and tech communities to safeguard social media platforms from foreign disinformation campaigns. (CNBC, Washington Post, ASD)

Poland and the United States sign joint declaration on 5G networks: Poland tightened its guidelines for companies seeking to build 5G networks in a joint agreement with the United States, establishing a more careful vetting process to determine whether the supplier is subject to control by a foreign government. The agreement does not mention Chinese telecom giant Huawei by name but appears to be part of a larger effort to impose restrictions on the company. Research Assistant Thomas Morley and Schrader have warned that European countries should be wary of allowing Huawei access to their communications infrastructure after its employees in Poland were implicated in espionage activities earlier this year. (Wall Street Journal, Interference Matters)

In other news

  • Cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike linked the recent surge in ransomware attacks to a Russian criminal hacker group. Separately, top U.S. cybersecurity officials expressed concerns that ransomware may be used to sow chaos during the 2020 election.
  • The Canadian government continues to develop a comprehensive plan to protect against foreign interference ahead of the country’s October parliamentary elections.
  • Companies that make voting machines gave the Department of Homeland Security access to its engineering details, helping the government to identify potential vulnerabilities hackers may exploit ahead of the 2020 election.
  • House lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill to modernize a Department of Homeland Security program that provides tools and services to federal agencies to increase cybersecurity.
  • Huawei accused the United States of launching cyber-attacks against its networks and threatening its staff to curb its leadership position in the industry.
  • Malicious websites targeted the Uyghur Muslim population for two years in a hacking campaign linked to China, according to TechCrunch.

Quote of the Week

“Now, we know there is still more work to do on many fronts, because despite years of negotiations, Russian forces still illegally occupy large parts of Georgia and Ukraine. The truth is, Moscow seeks to divide our alliance, now with its oil and gas reserves. But Poland has taken a strong stand, as we have, to promote energy independence and security.  And with its efforts to meddle in elections across Europe and around the world, now is the time for us to remain vigilant about the intentions and the actions being taken by Russia.”

  • Vice President Mike Pence speaking at a press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw, September 2, 2019
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The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.