Pentagon orders review of psyops after takedown of fake social accounts

Welcome to Cybersecurity 202! There is no need to choose one over the other between “The House of the Dragon” and “The Rings of Power”, is there? They’re not competing for a time slot or anything. (But if you make me choose, I’ll go “House of the Dragon”.)

Below: A hacker has appeared to leak much-anticipated footage of an upcoming video game, and industry groups are opposing legislation to designate the nation’s most important critical infrastructure. First:

Part of the mystery of fake banned and pro-American social media accounts is being solved

Remember how a few weeks ago Facebook and Twitter took down a network of fake accounts spreading a pro-American message, and we said the joint report that exposed the fake personas “raises[s] fascinating questions? »

Consider at least some of these questions now answered.

My colleague Ellen Nakashima reports this morning: “The Pentagon has ordered a thorough audit of how it conducts covert information warfare, after major social media companies identified and taken offline fake accounts suspected of being run by the US military – tactics used by countries like Russia and Iran in violation of platform rules.

Two officials said US Central Command (Centcom) was among those under investigation on tweets targeting audiences in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. Network analysis firm Graphika and Stanford University discovered in their joint report that one of the deleted accounts had links to a Twitter handle that had previously claimed to operate on behalf of Centcom, and there were numerous other links to Centcom material in addition.

A tweet from March claimed that Afghan refugees had reported bodies returning from Iran with missing organs, which would have “absolutely constitute a violation of doctrine and training practices” if found to be the work of Centcom, a defense official said.

US law permits the use of fictitious surrogate accounts, but Pentagon policy and doctrine discourage the dissemination of false information. The 2019 Congress effectively allowed the military to retaliate online when fighting foreign disinformation campaigns.

But the White House, State Department and some members of the Defense Department have expressed concern that existing policies are too broad, and state officials have chastised Defense officials over activities. army clandestine.

The fear of these officials is that using social media accounts for covert information warfare poses reputational risks to the United States, even if they are promoting truthful information.

“Our adversaries operate absolutely in the field of information”, said a second senior defense official. “Some think we shouldn’t do anything clandestine in this space. To cede an entire domain to an adversary would be unwise. But we need stronger political safeguards.

Colin Kohl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, on Tuesday gave military commands that conduct online psychological operations a deadline to report on their activities next month. He wants them to explain the types of operations, what tools they deploy and why they chose their tactics.

The White House declined to comment, as did Centcom.

As for the Ministry of Defence: Ellen reports, “Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement that the military’s information operations “support … our national security priorities” and must be conducted in accordance with relevant laws and policies. “We are committed to upholding those safeguards,” he said.

In 2020, Facebook removed fake personas intended to counter misinformation from other countries, The Post’s story has independently confirmed. Facebook and Twitter officials, suspecting the fake accounts they were deleting had ties to the military, contacted the Pentagon.

A conversation took place between David AgranovitchFacebook’s Director of Global Threat Disruption, and Christopher C. Millerwho was at the time Deputy Director for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict under President Donald Trump.

Agranovich’s “point was, ‘Guys, you got caught'” said a person familiar with the conversation. “It is a problem.”

Agranovich raised the issue again last year after Joe Biden became president. He spoke with Anne NeubergerDeputy National Security Advisor for Cyber ​​and Emerging Technologies, carrying a similar message that Facebook easily detected the accounts and would enforce its policies against such activity.

Facebook and Twitter declined to comment.

As a reminder, the accounts did not reach a very large audience.according to Graphika and Stanford, who did not assign responsibility in their joint report last month.

New ‘Grand Theft Auto’ Videos Leaked; a poster claims they were behind the Uber hack

An apparent hacker has posted dozens of leaked ‘Grand Theft Auto VI’ videos online, with the poster stating they got them from Rockstar Games’ internal Slack app, Axiosby Stephen Totilo reports.

“Rockstar Games has not confirmed the leak, but YouTube has removed some clips, citing copyright claims by GTA publisher Take-Two Interactive,” Totilo wrote. Bloomberg News and Axios have also confirmed that the leak is real.

Bloomberg Newsby Jason Schreier:

The hacker “is looking to broker a deal,” they wrote on a forum dedicated to the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise. They also teased the potential leak of valuable source code for “Grand Theft Auto V”, released in 2013, and “Grand Theft Auto VI”. And they also said they were behind the Uber hack last week, although their responsibility for the breach has not been confirmed.

Industry groups oppose legislation to designate ‘systemically important entities’

A provision in the annual Defense Authorization Bill to label top hacking targets is ‘not fixable as is and must be rejected’, more than a dozen industry groups say wrote to the best senators. The legislation would “create unnecessary programmatic redundancies and place aggregate industry cyber reports at high risk of exploitation by foreign adversaries of the United States,” wrote the groups, which represent members of the sectors of the insurance, energy, technology and others. The proposal had already been criticized by the banking sector.

  • Proponents of the idea of ​​designating particularly critical organizations say it can be difficult to take a risk-based approach to cyberattacks, as many organizations are among the 16 “critical infrastructure” sectors of states. United.
  • “If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority”, director of CISA jen easter said.

The battle over imposing tougher cybersecurity requirements on the nation’s most important organizations has been rage for more than a year. Following the hacks of Colonial Pipeline and other major corporations in 2021, pressure has grown for the nation’s most important industries to have heightened cybersecurity requirements.

  • In 2020, the bipartisan Cyberspace Solarium Commission proposed that the government create a list of “systemically important critical infrastructure” and institute “benefits and burdens” to get infrastructure owners to strengthen their cyber defenses.
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is moving forward with its own list of such infrastructures, which it calls “primary systemically important entities”.

Justice Department Creates Network of 150 Prosecutors Focused on Cryptocurrency Crimes

Members of the Justice Department’s Digital Asset Coordinators Network will be their offices’ subject matter experts on cryptocurrency as investigators investigate crimes involving cryptocurrencies, the Justice Department said. This follows a series of hacks on cryptocurrency sites and tools, some of which were allegedly carried out by North Korean hackers.

In the network, “prosecutors will learn the application of existing authorities and laws to digital assets and best practices for investigating crimes related to digital assets, including for writing search and seizure warrants, restraining orders restraining orders, criminal and civil forfeiture actions, indictments and other pleadings,” the Department of Justice said. It will also be a source of information on emerging issues in the digital asset space and will raise awareness of the “unique international considerations of the crypto ecosystem,” according to the Department of Justice.

How Russian trolls helped stop the Women’s March from going into lockdown (The New York Times)

A new Chinese threat faces the Taiwanese military: trolls with drones (CNN)

Indonesia hunts Bjorka, a hacker selling SIM 1.3b user data, taunting officials (The Straits Times)

Clearview AI, used by police to find criminals, now in the hands of public defenders (The New York Times)

IHG hack: ‘Vindictive’ couple deleted hotel chain’s data for fun (BBC News)

LastPass Says Hackers Had Internal Access For Four Days (Bleeping Computer)

  • representing Michael R. Turner (Ohio), the House Intelligence Committee’s top Republican, speak at a Heritage Foundation event on countering foreign misinformation and disinformation while protecting civil liberties today at 1 p.m.
  • Julienne GallinaAssociate Deputy Director of the CIA’s Digital Innovation Directorate, speak during an INSA event on Tuesday at 9 a.m.
  • HR-ISAC hosts its Cyber ​​Intelligence Summit Tuesday and Wednesday in Plano, Texas.
  • Your newsletter host hosts a chat with Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), co-chairs of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission 2.0, at a foundation in defense of democracies an event Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.
  • Emily Goldmanthe director of the combined US Cyber ​​Command/National Security Agency task force, speak at a Carnegie Endowment event Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Thanks for reading. Until tomorrow.

Lance B. Holton