Dispatch (June 10th) from the Alliance for Securing Democracy

Our Take

Political campaigns lack the necessary resources and expertise to defend against cyberattacks, ASD Director Laura Rosenberger said to the New York Times.

The US-China “tech cold war” puts Europe in the middle, writes ASD Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman in Defense One.

Huawei’s PR push shows the CCP has more tools than ever to influence democratic countries’ politics, argues ASD Analyst Matt Schrader in Foreign Policy.

Anti-immigrant and anti-EU narratives spread on Facebook before campaigning had even begun in Europe, ASD Program Manager Nad’a Kovalcikova told Bloomberg.

Campaign finance laws regarding foreign funding remain dangerously lax in a number of EU member states, notes ASD’s Thomas Morley in a blog post.

The growing alliance between China and Russia signals the rise of illiberalism, said ASD Senior Fellow Kristine Berzina in an interview with Euronews’ Raw Politics.

News and Commentary

Russian hackers may have accessed North Carolina voter rolls in 2016: VR Systems, the election software company targeted by Russia in 2016, may have inadvertently opened the door for hackers to alter voter records in a county in North Carolina. Recent reporting reveals that the company used remote-access software to troubleshoot a problem with voter lists on the eve of the presidential election, which created substantial delays and potentially gave intruders the ability to prevent people from voting by erroneously showing that some voters had already cast their ballot when they had not. The case calls attention to the difficulties elected officials continue to face in shoring up election security ahead of 2020. ASD’s Policy Blueprint for Countering Authoritarian Interference lays out various methods for state and local officials to address vulnerabilities in their election infrastructure, including through the use of electronic voting machines that issue voter-verified paper ballots, as well as through audits and threat analysis of voter registration systems ahead of elections. (Politico, Washington Post, ASD)

Russia hacks EU’s Moscow embassy as China breaches Australian National University: Last week, BuzzFeed News revealed that Russian actors hacked and stole information from the computer network of the European Union’s embassy in Moscow in February 2017, while separately, Australian intelligence officials have blamed China for a major data breach of Australian National University. The sophisticated cyberattacks underscore Russia and China’s increasingly extensive targeting of Western institutions to gain strategic advantages and subvert democracies. ASD Director Laura Rosenberger recently discussed the continuing threat of authoritarian actors’ hacking and political interference campaigns against democracies on the Future State podcast. (BuzzFeed News, Sydney Morning Herald, ASD)

U.S. Department of State proposes $20.8 million to fund new cybersecurity bureau: Last week, the U.S. Department of State sent Congress its proposal to create the Bureau of Cyberspace and Emerging Technologies, which would have a $20.8 million budget and a staff of 80, led by a Senate-confirmed coordinator and an “ambassador-at-large.” According to the plan, the new Bureau would “lead U.S. government diplomatic efforts to secure cyberspace and its technologies, reduce the likelihood of cyber conflict, and prevail in strategic cyber competition.” ASD Director Laura Rosenberger has argued that as Americans become more and more connected online through the growing “Internet of Things,” the surface area for cyber-attacks is going to increase, demanding stronger cyber security measures. (CyberScoop, ASD)

In other news:

● A leaked concept paper from the German government outlines potential elements of a new cyber defense strategy to counter threats.

● Twitter announced that it acquired the U.K.-based startup Fabula AI, which analyzes large swaths of online data to identify network manipulations, patterns and misinformation.

● A House Appropriations subcommittee approved $600 million in federal funding to strengthen election security and implement voter-verified paper ballots.

● The House Judiciary Committee launched a bipartisan antitrust probe into major tech companies, including Facebook and Google.

● Japan’s national defense policy includes updates to its cyber and artificial intelligence capabilities.

● Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is cracking down on media freedom in his country, according to a recent Freedom House report.

● The New York State Senate introduced a privacy bill that would require social media companies to obtain consent from consumers before they share personal information.

● Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed an agreement allowing Huawei to build Russia’s first 5G network for MTS, the country’s largest carrier.

● Amazon announced its plans to use self-piloted drones to deliver packages to customers.

● Russia and Iran are working to ensure their own domestic internet networks to enhance state control over the flow of information.

● Fourteen Russia-backed YouTube channels discovered recently are spreading disinformation, generating millions of dollars in advertising revenue.