Considerable evidence shows that the Wikileaks dump was an orchestrated act by the Russian government, working through proxies, to undermine the U.S. presidential election, Defense One Technology Editor Patrick Tucker reported Sunday.
“On Friday, Wikileaks published 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee,” Tucker writes. “They reveal, among other things, thuggish infighting, a push by a top DNC official to use Bernie Sanders’ religious convictions against him in the South, and attempts to strong-arm media outlets. In other words, they reveal the Washington campaign monster for what it is.”
But, writes Tucker, leave aside the purported content of the Wikileaks data dump and consider its source.
So let’s go there: Cybersecurity company FireEye discovered APT 29 in 2014 and was quick to point out a clear Kremlin connection. “We suspect the Russian government sponsors the group because of the organizations it targets and the data it steals. Additionally, APT 29 appeared to cease operations on Russian holidays, and their work hours seem to align with the UTC +3 time zone, which contains cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg,” they wrote in their report on the group. Other U.S. officials have said that the group appears to have has sponsorship from the Russian government due in large part to the level of sophistication behind the group’s attacks.
And oh, by the way, “It’s the same group that hit the State Department, the White House, and the civilian email of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Tucker writes. “The group’s modus operandi (a spearphishing attack that uploads a distinctive remote access tool on the target’s computer) is well known to cyber-security researchers.”
Those researchers include Tom Kellermann, the CEO of Strategic Cyber Ventures, who told Defense One: “This has all the hallmarks of tradecraft. The only rationale to release such data from the Russian bulletproof host was to empower one candidate against another. The Cold War is alive and well.” Read the rest, here.
Ahead of this week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, here’s a window into the probable surveillance picture, via Buzzfeed News’ Peter Aldhous: “By analyzing transponder signals sent by aircraft flying over Cleveland, BuzzFeed News has found that the convention was the focus of intensive aerial surveillance. Three helicopters operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) led the way, backed by two more choppers registered to a mysterious company that evidence suggests is a front for the federal government.”
What’s more, “The aerial surveillance of the RNC wasn’t solely a federal operation. The convention site and nearby protests were also circled by a small Cessna plane operated by the Ohio Department of Public Safety. And BuzzFeed News spotted fleeting appearances by another small plane operated by the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary arm of the US Air Force, as well as a DHS spy plane.” All that and more, here.
Germany suffered its third attack since Friday late Sunday night when a 27-year-old “Syrian migrant set off a bomb near a music festival in southern Germany, killing himself and wounding a dozen others,” AFP reports. “Police said the man intended to target the open-air festival but was turned away as he did not have a ticket, and detonated the device outside a nearby cafe… the attacker, who came to Germany two years ago but had his asylum claim rejected after a year, had tried to kill himself twice in the past and had spent time in a psychiatric clinic.”
Added German police: “Because the rucksack and this bomb were packed with so many metal parts that could have killed and injured many more people, it cannot simply be considered a pure suicide attempt.”
The other two attacks killed “nine people died in a shopping centre shooting rampage in Munich on Friday and four people were wounded in an axe attack on a train in Wuerzburg on July 18.”
All three occurred in Bavaria, “a gateway for tens of thousands of refugees under Chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal asylum policy,” AFP writes. More here.
Two recent bombings near Baghdad kill 25, AFP reports once again: “A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle near a crowded checkpoint north of Baghdad on Monday, killing 12 people” and wounding more than three dozen others. “The blast came a day after a suicide bombing claimed by IS killed at least 15 people in Baghdad’s Kadhimiyah neighbourhood” and wounded another 29. ISIS claimed that one, and is believed to have been behind this morning’s attack as well, but no statement of responsibility has reportedly surfaced yet.
And Afghanistan suffered its worst bombing in the capital of Kabul since 2001 on Saturday when two suicide bombers detonated at a peaceful protest of minority Shi’a Hazaras, killing 81 and wounding at least 230, the BBC reported. ISIS took responsibility for that one, too; though some observers noted the attack bore the “hallmarks of Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group based in Pakistan.”
The UN says civilian casualties in Afghanistan’s war are on pace for a record high in 2016, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The numbers: “The U.N. recorded 1,601 civilian deaths and another 3,565 injuries in the first six months of 2016, a 4% increase in total casualties from the same period the previous year, it said in the report released Monday. Almost a third of those killed or wounded were children, it said.”
Context and key locations: “The rise in casualties was driven by an increase in fighting around heavily populated areas in provinces that are teetering toward Taliban control, including Helmand, where the U.S. has deployed additional forces, and Kunduz, whose capital briefly fell to the insurgents last year.” More here.
From Defense One
Trump’s loose NATO talk already has endangered us. Collective security only works when everyone is committed to the common defense, says Evelyn N. Farkas, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia from 2012 to 2015. Read her reasoning, here.
Here’s how Clinton and Trump stack up on national security, Russia, ISIS, and more. With foreign policy now central to the 2016 election, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Jonathan Masters offers this nonpartisan guide to the candidates’ positions on a range of issues.
A quick guide to the jihadist communications toolkit. Tucker writes up a new report that documents how extremist groups’ use of secure digital tools software has evolved, here.
Tim Kaine on national security. Long before he became Clinton’s VP pick, the Virginia senator spoke at the 2014 Defense One Summit. Watch, here.
Donald Trump doesn’t understand cyberwar. The nominee is woefully unprepared for questions about the future of digital conflict, says The Atlantic’s Kaveh Waddell. Read, here.
Military coups have become less common, but more successful. Coup d’etat attempts have been growing less frequent across the world, particularly since the end of the Cold War. Quartz runs the numbers, here.
Welcome to Monday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. On this day in 1898, the U.S. invaded Puerto Rico. Send your friends this link: http://get.defenseone.com/d-brief/. And let us know your news: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Al-Qaeda’s chief advocates kidnapping Westerners in order to facilitate the release of the group’s prisoners, Reuters reported Sunday from monitoring by SITE Intelligence Group. “In recording posted online, Al-Zawahiri called on the global militant network to kidnap Westerners ‘until they liberate the last Muslim male prisoner and last Muslim female prisoner in the prisons of the Crusaders, apostates, and enemies of Islam,’ according to SITE.” That, here.
ICYMI: Along with French and American special operators, British SOF are fighting in Libya, Middle East Eye reported off word from Libyan soldiers late last week in Misrata.
And the bodies of 60 bodies of presumed migrants washed up on Libya’s shores, The Libya Herald reported Saturday.
Hezbollah may have a lot more missiles than you might think. the Washington Post’s Hugh Naylor reported this weekend in a wider story relaying Israel’s warning that the next war with Hezbollah will be “far worse” than the last. The line: “Ten years ago, Hezbollah fired 4,000 short-range, relatively crude rockets at Israel, about 100 a day, killing some 50 Israeli civilians. Today, the group has 100,000 rockets, including thousands of more accurate mid-range weapons with larger warheads capable of striking anywhere in Israel, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, according to Israeli army commanders and military analysts in Israel and Lebanon.”
Lastly today, the U.S. military is turning to 3-D printing to help it blow stuff up, 3DPrintingIndustry.com reported this weekend. “It isn’t just planes, trains and automobiles that work more effectively when they’re lighter, stronger and 3D printed. Now the US Missile Defense Agency has turned to ExOne to create silicon carbide components. The three-year deal is worth more than 1.5 million and the end result should be lighter, faster and more efficient missiles that can travel further on a set fuel load. ExOne uses a binder jetting technique that is perfect for this job,” they write with enthusiasm. Find out a bit more about what “binder jetting” and “silicon carbide” are, and how they’re both integral to the process over here.