Posts Tagged ‘cyber’

Hackers steal $15 million from Mexico financial system

May 17, 2018

Hackers who targeted Mexico’s interbank payment system made off with more than $15 million in the past several weeks, the Bank of Mexico said Wednesday.

Mexican authorities say an investigation is under way, without indicating if the suspected hackers were domestic or international. (AFP)
The amount of funds involved in the irregular activity totaled “approximately 300 million pesos ($15.3 million),” central bank governor Alejandro Diaz de Leon told reporters.
He said commercial bank customers’ accounts were never in danger.
An investigation is under way, the governor said, without indicating if the suspected hackers were domestic or international.
The interbank payments system allows banks to make real-time transfers to each other.
They connect via their own computer systems or an external provider — the point where the attacks appear to have taken place, Lorenza Martinez, director general of the corporate payments and services system at the central bank, said on Monday.
Martinez revealed that at least five attacks had occurred but, at that time, said the amount taken was still being analyzed.
After the attacks were detected, banks switched to a slower but more secure method.

When Russia Becomes the U.S.S.R. on Steroids, Israel Can Become a Target Too

April 29, 2018

It seems Russia’s interest in Israel has only increased – in part due to the danger it will help ruin Moscow’s plan for Syria. And Netanyahu’s government shouldn’t forget the Chinese threat, either

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend an event marking the International Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day, Moscow, Russia, January 29, 2018.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend an event marking the International Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day, Moscow, Russia, January 29, 2018.\ MAXIM SHEMETOV/ REUTERS

Israel can become a target tooAlmost in passing at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last July, Israel Defense Forces chief Gadi Eisenkot mentioned the possibility of foreign intervention in Israel’s democratic processes.

Eisenkot didn’t name the country that’s likely to intervene, but the examples he listed – cyberattacks and incitement campaigns in the United States, France and Ukraine, most of them during election campaigns – pointed to one address: Russia. Shortly afterward, Haaretz reported that the National Cyber Security Authority was drawing up a program to prevent foreign intervention in elections.

Meanwhile, we’re hearing that the next Knesset election might take place this year, well before the deadline of November 2019. At the same time, it seems Russia’s interest in Israel has only increased – due to Israel’s geographic location, the danger that it will help ruin Moscow’s plan for a new order in Syria, and the many Israelis who immigrated from the Soviet Union and its successor states.

Across its borders in recent years, Russia has improved its access to what it calls “hybrid warfare,” which combines military force with political influence, propaganda campaigns and psychological warfare.

>> Everyone’s talking about Russia’s S-300. Should Israel be worried? >>

Russian intervention in the U.S. presidential election is a central part of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. The information Mueller is gleaning is being released only bit by bit – in court documents and selective leaks to the media. It’s subject to contradictory interpretations. According to extreme views, Donald Trump’s victory in November 2016 was the product of a Kremlin plot.

There are many claims of unusual intervention by Russia, from concealed ties with Trump’s campaign staff to the hacking of Democratic Party computers, which badly embarrassed Hillary Clinton at a crucial moment in the election campaign. But it’s possible that the Democrats’ emphasis on Russian intervention is designed to provide an explanation for the election’s inconceivable result.

Still, the events in the United States, the information gradually being revealed about the Russian campaigns of incitement and deception in European countries, the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in England, Moscow’s unqualified support for the murderous Assad regime – all this paints a very clear picture. Russia has returned to the international stage and considers itself an equal to the United States, despite Washington’s huge economic and military advantage.

And to gain dominance once again, the Russians are increasingly using all the tried and true methods of the Cold War (not that the Americans are innocent of using very similar methods). Cyberattacks, along with sophisticated propaganda and disinformation on social media, ramp up the consequences. This is already the Soviet Union on steroids, both because its rivals’ secrets are more accessible than in the past, and because it’s easier today to spread the messages to the general public.

At the same time, the Russians are helping to weaken Westerners’ confidence in the effectiveness and justness of their democracies. When Russia’s RT television films Syrians who deny that a chemical slaughter was carried out by the Assad regime, when on Twitter the Russian ambassador in London mocks the claims about the poisoning of the former spy, the purpose is the same. The propaganda isn’t designed to convince Westerners of the justness of the Kremlin’s ways, it’s to confuse their perception of reality to the point where they’ll no longer believe in anything.

With these rules of the game, which are being applied in a broad international arena, Israel is also a possible target. It’s not only the degree of the danger of the Iranian nuclear program or the strengthening of Hezbollah where Israel and Russia don’t see eye to eye. Russia is also fighting to weaken the standing of the United States in Israel, and of course America is Israel’s main strategic pillar.

“The Russians have an available target audience here and an ability to influence. The question is whether they’ll have any interest in doing so,” a defense official said. “Russia is the most sophisticated player in influence campaigns, but we haven’t seen evidence yet that it’s conducting such campaigns in Israel.”

One problem in protecting ourselves from influence campaigns is Russia’s plethora of methods, while our means of preventing them are divided among various government authorities. We can take the government’s promises at face value and believe that things are being handled properly. But it seems that the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, for example, should recall Eisenkot’s warning and examine whether we’re prepared for such campaigns, even before the election is announced.

When committee members visited Russia a few months ago to meet with their parliamentary counterparts, security experts advised them not to take their personal smartphones with them. “You’re liable to return with a friend for life,” they were told. Moscow may not believe in tears, but it certainly seems to believe in the advantages of technology.

China’s involvement a mixed bag

All the same, in the near future, a subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee will discuss the regional influence of another great power, China. Like Russia, China has in recent years shown increased interest in the Middle East, but it uses entirely different means. The Chinese strategy favors economic influence: large acquisitions and huge infrastructure projects. This week Bloomberg reported that private and state-owned companies have invested $318 billion in the past decade to acquire assets in Europe, from vital infrastructure to high-tech firms and soccer clubs.

Part of that is happening in Israel. Chinese companies, possibly with government subsidies from Beijing, have won large long-term infrastructure bids and are acquiring assets. In the long term, these steps also give them leverage to guarantee China future acquisitions at good terms.

Israel is responding enthusiastically to the Chinese approaches. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu often talks about the tremendous economic potential of the Chinese market, and in 2013 the government decided to encourage economic relations and made the National Economic Council responsible for coordinating the process.

In recent years Chinese companies have been building the Tel Aviv light rail. They’re also involved in the Trans-Israel Highway, dug the Carmel Tunnels, are expanding the Ashdod and Haifa ports and have been put in charge of maintaining part of the Haifa Port for the next 20 years.

In isolated cases, the government decided to restrict their activity. Dorit Salinger, the supervisor of capital markets, insurance and savings, halted Chinese acquisitions of the Clal and Phoenix insurers. Intervention by security organizations prevented the sale of part of cellular communications provider Pelephone to a Chinese company and halted Chinese participation in a construction project at Ben-Gurion Airport.

These steps, which are partial and uncoordinated, are related to Israel’s understanding of potential risks. As reported in Haaretz, China showed its bargaining power when it stopped a process in which a former Israeli defense official was supposed to testify on the use of Palestinian terror money via a Chinese bank. When the success of Netanyahu’s visit to China was on the agenda, Israel retreated and reconciled itself to the situation.

It seems Israel must be aware of the possible risks, both large and small. For example, was there any examination of putting China in charge of the Tel Aviv light rail, which passes only a few meters from the General Staff’s base at Defense Ministry headquarters? And what’s the significance of putting a foreign company in charge of a complex system of control, monitoring and cameras for years to come?

Other Western countries are more aware of these risks. Australia has passed laws requiring a special permit for foreign investments topping $150 million, and the United States has expanded legislation – with China in mind – requiring security permits (from the FBI among others) for large acquisitions by foreigners.

The Americans also forbid federal employees from using Chinese technology such as Huawei smartphones for fear that information-gathering components will be embedded in them. Israeli defense officials are thought to be exercising caution on this issue, although security sources refuse to confirm that there is a specific policy.

The Chinese authorities aren’t hostile to Israel, and the impression is that the Chinese admire Israeli creativity and initiative. But considering the difference in size between the parties, China also seems to be indifferent to the strategic considerations that preoccupy Israel. Israel must do a better job preparing for the challenge posed by Chinese influence in the region, just as it’s beginning to understand the Russian challenge. And this isn’t because of Sinophobia; it’s simply realism.

Brig. Gen. (res.) Assaf Orion, head of the Israel-China research program at the Institute for National Security Studies, tells Haaretz that “China and to a great extent Russia present Israel with a new type of national-security challenge. These are countries with patience and the ability to plan and learn in depth and for the long term.”

As Orion puts it, “Relations with them represent an economic opportunity that Israel must learn how to exploit, while being aware of the differences in interests and the risks. That requires the government to organize differently, because the balance of power here is to our detriment and we haven’t acquired experience in tackling such challenges.”

Hacked Crypto Exchange Earned $490 Million Before Epic Heist — But good times may already be over

April 26, 2018

Coincheck made the money in 10 months before $500 million hack — Figures show how lucrative Bitcoin bubble was for bourses

Running a cryptocurrency exchange can be enormously profitable — so long as you don’t lose your clients’ assets to hackers.

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Japan-based Coincheck Inc., which suffered one of the biggest heists in history, earned 53.2 billion yen ($490 million) from April 2017 through January, when the theft occurred, according to its new owner Monex Group Inc. By comparison, Japan Exchange Group, which owns the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Osaka Exchange, earned 66.1 billion yen for all of 2017, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The figures illustrate how lucrative it’s been to operate a cryptocurrency venue in the past year, a period that saw prices and transaction values soar to all-time highs. Even after the theft, Coincheck made a profit of 500 million yen in February and March.

The good times may already be over, according to Coincheck’s new owner.

 Image result for Monex Chief Executive Officer Oki Matsumoto, photos
Monex Chief Executive Officer Oki Matsumoto

“Given that we expect tougher regulatory and internal measures going forward, naturally the profitability will change,” Monex Chief Executive Officer Oki Matsumoto said at a media event on Thursday. “However, as our entire group works toward creating a crypto exchange built on trust, it may be possible to grow our customer base even more, which would drive synergy and boost profitability.”

Read more: The $500 million heist — a QuickTake about the Coincheck hack

Japanese retail brokerage Monex bought Coincheck earlier this month, paying 3.6 billion yen for the bourse under an agreement that will see it split profits with the previous shareholders for the next three years. Monex shares jumped by the daily limit of 20 percent after the announcement.

According to Coincheck’s account of the hack, an unidentified thief stole 523 million coins tied to the NEM blockchain project on Jan. 26, which were trading at about 94 U.S. cents at the time. The company said it would reimburse customers who lost money, which led to a writedown of 47.3 billion yen, according to Monex.


The Next Step for Chinese Economic Policy

April 24, 2018

China now must adopt the necessary reforms to become fully compliant with the international rules that it accepted upon joining the World Trade Organization in 2001

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Now that it has risen to the top of the global economy, China must adopt the necessary reforms to become fully compliant with the international rules that it accepted upon joining the World Trade Organization in 2001. Its current policy will only lead to a serious trade conflict with the US.
CAMBRIDGE – I am a great admirer of China and its ability to adjust its economic policies to maintain rapid growth. But now that it has risen to the top of the global economy, it must adopt the necessary reforms to become fully compliant with the international rules that it accepted upon joining the World Trade Organization in 2001.

When I first went to China in 1982, it was a very poor country governed by a thoroughly communist regime. Agriculture was completely collectivized. Because peasants had lost the right to farm their own land, agricultural output was extremely low. Beyond agriculture, individual ownership of the means of production was outlawed. A Chinese family could own a sewing machine for its own use, but it could not own two sewing machines or hire a neighbor to help produce garments.2

Under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, this began to change. Plots of land were returned to their previous owners, who were allowed to keep any output exceeding the government’s mandatory quota. As a result, agricultural output soared, and farmers produced a range of additional crops, like flowers and vegetables, to sell directly to the public. Restrictions on ownership of productive assets and on hiring workers were gradually relaxed, such that the private sector now accounts for the majority of economic activity in China.

The result was an explosion of economic growth and a rapid increase in living standards. Since 1982, China’s real (inflation-adjusted) GDP has grown at an average annual rate of more than 7%. Per capita real GDP is now 18 times higher, with some 800 million people having been lifted out of poverty since the start of Deng’s reforms. Although overall per capita output in China is still only a quarter of the US level, the standard of living in China’s major cities is impressively high. To see the gleaming skyscrapers and array of shops serving affluent young people is to appreciate the change that has occurred in just a few decades.

Deng once declared, “To get rich is glorious.” China’s people have responded. Private entities flourish, and a very active stock market allows widespread share ownership. China apparently has more self-made billionaires than the United States.

The combination of private incentives and effective education is a key reason for China’s rapid growth. China has an ancient tradition of promoting the brightest students based on extensive examinations. The officials who worked for the emperors were selected based on written exams of Confucian thought. Now literacy is universal and national examinations are used to decide who goes to the top universities. More than a million Chinese students have studied in the US, and several of the top government economic officials have done graduate work there.

In many ways, the Chinese economy now works like a large American multinational corporation. Broad strategy is set by management at the top: growth targets, the structural shift from heavy industry to consumption, the Belt and Road Initiative (which will guide exports and foreign aid), and so on. Individual managers are tried out in regional cities and promoted based on their success in achieving the goals set by national leaders.

The goals set by President Xi Jinping and the current government are to increase the sophistication of the economy and achieve a middle-class standard of living for the population. To succeed, China is investing large sums in research and technical education.

But in their eagerness to catch up to the West, China has also stolen technology from Western companies. Under President Barack Obama, the US accused China of engaging in cyber espionage against American firms and stealing their intellectual property. Presidents Xi and Obama subsequently signed a communiqué in 2013 renouncing such cyber theft.

  • GENEVA, SWITZERLAND -5 JUNE 2016- The headquarters of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is located in Centre William Rappard along Lake Geneva.

But China continues to take technology from US companies. It does so by requiring foreign companies that want to do business in China to form joint ventures with Chinese firms, allowing the Chinese partners to obtain US firms’ technology. And while the WTO prohibits member countries from conditioning market access on such mandatory technology transfers, the Chinese have responded that nothing is mandatory, because companies do not have to do business in China.

That is clearly disingenuous, and the announcement of large US tariffs on Chinese exports is intended to encourage China to comply with the WTO rule on technology transfer. The Chinese may be getting the message. In an important recent speech at this year’s Boao Forum, Xi said that China will no longer require such joint ventures in the auto industry – an implicit admission that the requirement is a violation of the WTO rule.

It is time for China to extend this new policy and eliminate the joint-venture requirement completely. Although the US does not have such a requirement, it would be helpful for both countries to state openly that in the future no foreign company will be required to enter a joint venture or to transfer technology in other ways as a condition of doing business.

China can continue its rapid growth and technological development through its own efforts. Its current policy will only lead to a serious trade conflict.

Dubai-based ride-hailing service Careem big in Pakistan — Personal data compromised in a massive cyber-security breach

April 24, 2018

Dawn (Pakistan)

Ride-hailing service Careem on Monday warned users that their personal data had been compromised in a massive cyber-security breach.

The breach affects all customers and captains who signed up with the service before January 14, 2018. Users who signed up with the service after that date have not been affected, Careem said in an emailed statement.

Responding to’s questions, a representative from Careem’s global press team said that at the time of the data breach, there were 14 million customers and 558,000 captains active on the system across 13 countries.

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The company separately reported that sensitive information like customers’ names, email addresses, phone numbers and trip history data (pick-up and drop-off points) had been stolen by hackers.

However, “there is no evidence that your password or credit card number have been compromised,” Careem assured its users. “Customers’ credit card information is kept on an external third-party PCP-compliant server,” Careem claimed.

Careem did not comment on the origin or nature of the cyber security breach. In response to a query, it simply said: “We do not know the identity of the hacker.”

What you can do to protect yourself

The company has recommended to users the following steps to safeguard their personal information:

“Implement good password management by updating your Careem password, as well as other accounts on which you use similar details. Use a strong mix of characters, and try not to use the same password for multiple sites,” the handout read.

In addition, users were advised to “remain cautious of any unsolicited communications that ask for personal information or refer to a web page asking for personal information”; to “avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unfamiliar emails”; and to “continue to review bank account and credit card statements for suspicious activity.”

“If you see anything unexpected, call your bank,” the statement read.

Steps taken by Careem

A Careem representative told that as soon as the breach was detected, “an internal security team engaged leading cybersecurity experts to investigate the issue and strengthen our security systems to protect us against further attack.”

“Specifically, we have introduced enhanced monitoring capabilities across our infrastructure that allows us to detect and respond quickly to security issues, as well as upgrading access controls for our users using market-leading, multi-factor authentication procedures.”

“While we feel our response has been robust, we are also implementing a further programme of updates to further develop our security capabilities over coming months,” read the statement.

“Throughout the incident, our priority has been to protect the data and privacy of our customers and captains. Since discovering the issue, we have worked to understand what happened, who was affected, and what we needed to do to strengthen our network defences,” the company said.

Responding to a query regarding the possible repercussions of the leaking of personal data and trip histories for journalists, politically exposed persons, social activists and other marginalised groups and what is being done to address the matter, the company simply said: “This is an ongoing investigation with law enforcement agencies, so we’re limited in the details we can provide at this time. Throughout the incident, our priority has been to protect the data and privacy of our customers and captains. We’ve seen no cases of fraud or misuse tied to the incident.”

When asked if Careem is aware of any attempt to sell or ransom the data acquired by the hackers, the representative only repeated that: “We’ve seen no cases of fraud or misuse tied to the incident.”

Possible extortion attempt?

The breach closely echoes an incident involving Careem rival Uber, which was hit by a similar data breach in October 2016.

“Hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber Technologies Inc, a massive breach that the company concealed for more than a year. This week, the ride-hailing firm ousted its chief security officer and one of his deputies for their roles in keeping the hack under wraps, which included a $100,000 payment to the attackers,” Bloomberg had reported on November 22, 2017.

“Compromised data from the October 2016 attack included names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million Uber riders around the world,” the company had told Bloomberg.

The personal information of about seven million drivers was accessed as well, including some 600,000 US driver’s license numbers, Bloomberg had reported.

In Uber’s case, however, users’ trip history data had not been compromised.

Careem, which launched in Pakistan in March 2016, has since become one of the most popular ride-sharing services in the country.

British Intelligence: ‘Absolute protection from cyber attacks not possible’

April 22, 2018

Russian flag is seen on the laptop screen in front of a computer screen on which cyber code is displayed

The head of GCHQ’s cyber defence unit says it is a matter of “when, not if” Britain faces a “serious cyber attack” CREDIT: KACPER PEMPEL


The Telegraph
21 APRIL 2018 • 9:31PM

Britain’s spy agencies cannot offer “absolute protection” against Russian cyber attacks and are instead focused on preventing assaults that would “most impact on our way of life”, in the wake of the Salisbury poisoningGCHQ is warning.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Ciaran Martin, the head of the agency’s cyber defence unit, says it is a matter of “when, not if” Britain faces a “serious cyber attack”.

He added that its focus was now on building “resilience” in “the systems we care about the most”, believed to be Britain’s power and water supplies, internet and transport networks, and health service.

The Sunday Telegraph understands that senior representatives of utility, transport and internet firms and the NHS have attended intelligence briefings at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on the specific methods – known as “attack vectors” – being used by Russia to target Britain’s critical national infrastructure, following the nerve agent attack in Salisbury last month.

Separately, the NCSC is understood to have written to the Government setting out urgent actions that departments and individual officials should take to protect Whitehall from cyber assaults.

Ciaran Martin
Ciaran Martin, the head of the agency’s cyber defence unit CREDIT: WOLFGANG RATTAY

These are in response to retaliatory measures against the Kremlin following the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury with a nerve agent last month.

Mr Martin, the NCSC’s chief executive, confirmed GCHQ was on “heightened alert” for “follow-up activity” following the Salisbury attack – an explicit link the agency fell short of making when it issued an unprecedented joint warning with the FBI last week about cyber attacks by the Russian Government.

“Turning off the lights and the power supply by cyber attack is harder than Hollywood films sometimes make out,” he writes.

“But we’ve seen enough malicious cyber attacks across the world, including against UK health services by a North Korean group last year, to know how services can be disrupted.

“Absolute protection is neither possible nor desirable; it’s about having more resilience in the systems we care about the most, those where loss of service would have the most impact on our way of life.

“We have said that it is a matter of when, not if, the UK faces a serious cyber attack. So last week we presented detailed plans to Government departments about the priority areas where the NCSC will work with them, industry and law enforcement to improve the cyber resilience of the most important systems.”

The Sunday Telegraph understands that, in addition to setting out the “priority areas” it will focus on protecting, the NCSC provided the Government with fresh advice on preventing attacks, based on the latest intelligence about attempted intrusions by Russian hackers.

The advice is believed to have ranged from highly technical measures that should be taken by particular departments, to more basic preventative steps that could be adopted by all civil servants.

Separately, the agency is understood to have called in representatives of organisations involved in the UK’s critical national infrastructure for a series of briefings on ongoing activity in recent days, with the sessions including information on the warning signs to look out for, and advice on how to guard against the threats.

“Deepfake” — Using artificial intelligence to make anyone say or do anything on video — Next big danger for Facebook, Google, others

April 22, 2018

Times of India


  • Deepfake is the new frontier in fake news where artificial intelligence is used to make anyone say or do anything on video.
  • Desktop tools like FakeApp make deepfakes absurdly easy, a matter of hours to make. And it has already resulted in a spurt of AI porn.

No automatic alt text available.

Recently, someone claiming to represent an Indian political party approached an artificial intelligence engineer with a special request: Create “deepfakes” for propaganda.

Deepfake is the new frontier in fake news + where artificial intelligence is used to make anyone say or do anything on video. Last week, the usually quiet Barack Obama popped up in an online video calling US president Donald Trump “a total and complete dips**t”.

Well, Obama never said those things, and the video turned out to be what is called a deep fake, a type of video featuring realistic face swapping. It was created by director Jordan Peele in partnership with Buzzfeed as a warning about not automatically trusting anything on the internet.

Digital fakery is not new — we know photos can be morphed, videos can be edited. Face swapping tech is not new either. But now, with deep learning by machines, these tricks can be automated, and the tools are accessible to many more people, says Rishabh Srivastava of Loki Technologies, a machine learning startup.

Current forensic tools won’t detect this fakery: Cyber expert

Subodh Kumar, a professor at IIT Delhi who specialises in computer graphics and visualisation, explains that the idea is for a neural network to learn the points of the face, then find and learn the function that will describe each image. “It creates a succinct representation of the face — mathematically, not geometrically — and then a symmetric function that gives you back the image. So you do that for person X from the many images in a video, and reverse map it for person Y,” he says. By finding points of correspondence, you can overlay one face on another, then blend it to look smooth.

The big problem is that current forensic tools will not be able to detect this fakery, explains cybersecurity expert Akash Mahajan. “With deep learning, when you have recurrent multiple steps, it is hard to trace back the trail the machine took to reach the output,” he says. So the hoaxslayers and fact-checkers we now have, or even forensics experts who look for audio glitches, shadows and visual discrepancies to spot fakes, won’t be able to help.

Desktop tools like FakeApp make deepfakes absurdly easy, a matter of hours to make. And it has already resulted in a spurt of AI porn. Late last year, a Reddit user called Deepfakes showed how you could transpose a celebrity’s face onto someone else’s body, while keeping the expressions of the original.

Even a few Bollywood actresses like Priyanka Chopra have been deepfaked, in violation of their rights and dignity. Crude splice and dice videos are already commonplace — Arvind Kejriwal’s speech was allegedly faked during the Punjab election to suggest he wanted people to vote for the Congress — but AI could bring a new sophistication to these attempts. “We are vigilant to the danger of deepfakes, but the media and the public are not,” says Ankit Lal, social media head of the Aam Aadmi Party. “Some media organisation could get a deepfaked video of Arvind (Kejriwal) or any other politician and run it as the truth: that is the danger we anticipate,” he adds.

Of course, right now it doesn’t take deepfakery to dupe people, points out Pankaj Jain of SM Hoax Slayer.

“People will believe even a celebrity picture with a fake quote, as recently happened with Amitabh Bachchan,” he says. While this gullibility is generally true, and people tend to believe what we want to believe, realistic video footage is usually taken as documentary proof. It could be hugely destabilising if phony videos are passed off as truth on social media.

“While we have not seen deepfakes of Indian politicians on open platforms like Facebook and Google yet, it’s hard to know if they have been spread on closed platforms like WhatsApp,” says Srivastava. It’s entirely likely to happen soon, given the flood of misinformation that already exists.

In today’s world, when machines can recombine audio and video to create an alternative reality, seeing is not believing.


Trump taunts Democrats over Russia collusion lawsuit

April 22, 2018

Democratic Party files suit alleging Russia, the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and others all in a conspiracy to help Trump win the 2016 election

April 20, 2018


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The Democratic Party on Friday sued President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the Russian government and the Wikileaks group, claiming a broad conspiracy to help Trump win the 2016 election.

The multi-million-dollar lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court says that “In the Trump campaign, Russia found a willing and active partner in this effort” to mount “a brazen attack on American Democracy.”

The named defendants include Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, former campaign chief Paul Manafort and campaign official Richard Gates, and Trump ally Roger Stone.

Also named is the Russian Federation, the general state of the Russian armed force, a Russian intelligence services hacker known as Guccifer 2.0., Wikileaks and its leader Julian Assange, and 10 unidentified people.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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Here are the primary source documents.

Suing a foreign country presents a number of legal challenges for the Democrats, partly because other nations have immunity from most U.S. lawsuits.

Part of the thinking here may be to force the government to disclose evidence, via the legal discovery process.

From reporters Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman and Ellen Nakashima in the Washington Post:

The complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump by hacking the computer networks of the Democratic Party and disseminating stolen material found there.

“During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.

“This constituted an act of unprecedented treachery: the campaign of a nominee for President of the United States in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency,” he said.

The case asserts that the Russian hacking campaign — combined with Trump associates’ contacts with Russia and the campaign’s public cheerleading of the hacks — amounted to an illegal conspiracy to interfere in the election that caused serious damage to the Democratic Party.



“Document: DNC Sues Russia, Trump Campaign and WikiLeaks for Election Interference,” the latest from Matthew Kahn: 

Document: DNC Sues Russia, Trump Campaign and WikiLeaks for Election Interference

On Friday, the Democratic National Committee filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and associated…


[Silently hopes to self the DNC lawsuit will be more competently managed than the Fusion oppo research.]

[Oh did I say that out loud?]


Well that’s a hell of a caption. 


Should someone tell the DNC lawyers they forgot to plead that the DNC computers meet the 1030(e)(1) definition?

View image on Twitter

Reuters Politics


MORE: Lawsuit alleges Trump campaign and Russian agents agreed to promote Trump’s candidacy through illegal means 

Jennifer Epstein


DNC suit is against: Russian Federation, GRU, Guccifer 2.0,  Aras & Emin Agalarov, Joseph Mifsud, WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, Donald J. Trump for President, Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Jared Kushner, George Papadopoulos, & Richard Gates 

DNC Sues Trump Campaign, WikiLeaks, Russia Over Election Interference

The Democratic National Committee sued Russia, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks over interference in the 2016 election, saying Russia launched a “brazen attack on American democracy” that began with…

Russia’s Terrorism Sponsorship

April 20, 2018
Emergency workers at the site where a former Russian intelligence agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter were poisoned with what the authorities say was a Russian military-grade nerve agent.Credit Daniel Leal-Olivas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Despite the imposition of unprecedented sanctions against Russia by the Trump administration and Congress over the past year, President Vladimir Putin only seems more intent on causing grievous harm to international peace and stability.

Alongside increased financial sanctions against Mr. Putin and his cronies, there is another arrow in the American quiver that would add diplomatic pressure against Russia: The State Department should consider adding the country to its list of state sponsors of terrorism, alongside its close allies Iran and Syria.

The moral case for such a designation is sound. Russia has invaded its neighbors Georgia and Ukraine, it supports the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad and our enemies in Afghanistan, and it is engaged in active information warfare against Western democracies, including meddling in the 2016 United States elections.

This week, the Organization for Prevention of Chemical Weapons announced that the Kremlin had crossed yet another previously unimaginable line, when it confirmed findings by the British government that a Russian military-grade nerve agent, which British authorities identified as Novichok, was used to poison a former Russian intelligence agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury. The attack also resulted in the hospitalization of British law enforcement officials who responded to the scene, as well as bystanders.

Russia has denied the charges, but the evidence is overwhelming. So is the attack’s significance: Russia is now officially responsible for a chemical weapons attack against a NATO member state on its own soil — a brazen violation of sovereignty of our closest ally. It requires a serious American response.

This startling confirmation comes on the heels of horrendous chemical weapons attacks by Mr. Assad against his own people in Syria. He is in power only because the Kremlin provides him with extensive diplomatic, military and economic support. The use of chemical weapons against civilians is illegal under international law, particularly the Chemical Weapons Convention. In fact, Syria’s illicit chemical program is part of the reason the United States continues to designate Syria as a state sponsor of terrorism.

There is also evidence that Russia is playing both sides of the conflict in Syria — defending the murderous Assad regime, but also fueling the radical insurgency against it. Reporting by Ukrainian news outlets has shown that Russia has provided material support to the Islamic State, including assistance in recruitment. According to these reports, the Islamic State now counts thousands of Russian-speaking jihadis among its forces.

We also know that Russia is ramping up its support for anti-American insurgents in Afghanistan. On Feb. 9, 2017, Gen. John Nicholson, the American commander in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Russia has “begun to publicly legitimize the Taliban” as a means “to undermine the United States and NATO.”

Moreover, Russia’s illegal and immoral war against Ukraine shows no signs of ending. Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and subsequent support for Russian-controlled proxies in the Donbas region, the international community has failed to adequately respond to continued Russian aggression — and there has been a devastating price to pay. More than 10,000 Ukrainians have died in the war and more than 1.7 million have been displaced. On July 17, 2014, Russian proxies shot down a civilian airliner, killing all 298 onboard — including an American.

This is why I plan to introduce legislation that would require the State Department to determine within 90 days whether the Russian Federation meets the criteria to be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism. If the answer is yes, Russia would face restrictions on American foreign assistance, a ban on American defense exports and sales, limits on American sales of certain items that have both civilian and military uses, and other financial and other restrictions. Many of these penalties are already required under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, and the Trump administration is contemplating others.

Some will argue that applying such a toxic label to a major global power, one with a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, will not get it to back down, and might even further damage American-Russia ties, already at an all-time low. Those are important policy questions, which is why my legislation leaves a final determination to the professionals at the State Department.

However, it is clear that the blame for today’s distrust and tensions between Moscow and Washington lies entirely with the Kremlin and its atrocious behavior. We must take every diplomatic step necessary to protect our allies and our democracy, and to deter a revanchist Russia that is intent on rewriting history and threatening our way of life.

Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.