Combating Ransomware: Key Recommendations from the Ransomware Task Force

Ransomware, a cybercrime in which attackers remotely compromise computer systems until a ransom is given, is posing an increasing risk to national security. These attacks can potentially cripple critical government infrastructure, disrupt schools and businesses, shut down hospital systems and other institutions, withhold and/or expose private data, and are on the rise; in fact, almost 2,400 facilities were victims of ransomware crimes in 2020 alone.

In an attempt to fight these crimes and stop the flow of billions of dollars in ransom money to global criminal organizations, the Ransomware Task Force was created. This team of experts from software companies,

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Superspreaders of Malign and Subersive COVID-19 Information in U.S.: Russian and Chinese Efforts

RAND has released Superspreaders of Malign and Subversive Information on COVID-19: Russian and Chinese Efforts Targeting the United States. This report describes COVID-19 information manipulation by Russia and China targeting U.S. audiences for the first half of 2020. Although the two countries differ in their principal goals; Russia aiming to destabilize the United States, and China aiming to protect its international reputation, both focus on conspiracy theories and the inefficacy of U.S. systems. “Conspiracy theories are a prominent type of disinformation involving attempts to explain the ultimate cause of events with false claims of secret plots by two or

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Eighth ODNI Statistical Transparency Report Released

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has released its eighth annual Statistical Transparency Report Regarding the Intelligence Community Use of National Security Surveillance AuthoritiesThe report provides summary statistics and contextual information explaining how the Intelligence Community (IC) uses the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA).  As the document explains, “FISA is divided into Titles, each containing sections, which specify the means, requirements, and limitations on the collection of foreign intelligence information.” 

Following the Introduction, the report is broken into the following seven sections, which each contain relevant background information

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Neuroscience and Peacebuilding

“What can neuroscience contribute to peacebuilding?” NeuroPeace asks and aims to find answers to this question in their collective research on Neuroscience and Peacebuilding.  The inaugural volume is a three-part series, the first of which focuses on Individual Aggression (NeuroPeace no. 1), the second of which focuses on Group Dynamics (NeuroPeace no. 2), and the third will be focusing on Trauma (NeuroPeace no. 3) (pending release in May 2021).

Peacebuilding across nations endures many challenges in the face of different cultures, beliefs, traditions, and experiences.  This series delves into the individual psyche to determine,

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Amazon’s Dissemination of Conspiracy Theories and Extremist Literature

The  Institute for Strategic Dialogue has released Recommended Reading: Amazon’s Algorithms, Conspiracy Theories and Extremist Literature, a report examining how Amazon’s algorithm can spread disinformation and extremist ideology via literature recommendations. Aside from continuously suggesting more literature based on previously read extremist or misleading content, Amazon also outright suggests such content based on key search terms. In addition to this, Amazon allows for paid advertisements which can also lead to content with potentially negative influences. Not only can this serve to reinforce harmful ideology, but it can also allow for the spread of conspiracies previously unknown to the consumer.
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Antisemetic Incidents in 2020

According to the report, Audit of Antisemitic Incidents: Year in Review 2020, released by ADL (Anti-Defamation League)’s Center on Extremism, the United States has seen a large uptick of reported antisemitism and related hate crime incidents since 2017.

In 2020, ADL tabulated 2,024 antisemitic incidents throughout the United States […] the third highest number on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.

This report present statistical findings on incidents in 2020 that involve assault, extremist groups, school campuses, Jewish Institutions, vandalism and hate crimes specifically related to antisemitism, and provides an analysis of how the COVID-19

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Domestic Terrorism Threat: Analyzing the Q Conspiracy

This image shows the United States flag within the scope of a sniper's gun, signifying hate and extremism in the U.S.The Soufan Center has released Quantifying the Q Conspiracy: ‘A Data-Driven Approach to Understanding the Threat Posed by QAnon,’ a special report demonstrating QAnon’s potential to threaten national security and  encourage domestic violence. At the core of this organization is the belief that  “the ‘Deep State,’ led by a cabal of elitist pedophiles, is leading the United States,” encouraging many to consider violent action such as the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol.  QAnon, like other extremist organizations, utilizes already existing conflict and societal instability to further its agenda and recruit more members. The use of social media has
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The Domestic Extremist Next Door

How have digital media platforms contributed to anti-government rhetoric?  Digital Citizens Alliance and Coalition for a Safer Web teamed up to answer this question in their report, “The Domestic Extremist Next Door.”  The report analyzes some of the most popular social media platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok) and how domestic terrorists use them to promote disinformation and recruit members.  The extremist groups this report focuses on are QAnon, the Proud Boys, the Boogaloo Bois, the Three Percenters, and the Oath Keepers, comparing their online activities to those of global terrorists such as ISIS.  The report concludes

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2021 Annual Threat Assessment Released

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has just released their Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community for 2021. This annual report focuses on the worldwide threats to U.S. national security for the upcoming year, and specifically “provides the IC’s [Intelligence Community] baseline assessments of the most pressing threats to US national interests, while emphasizing the United States’ key adversaries and competitors.”

The words national security over encrypted code. cyberThe report examines China’s push for global power, provocative actions taken by Russia, Iran, and North Korea, and conflicts/instability taking place across the globe (Afghanistan, India-Pakistan, Middle East, Asia, Latin America, Africa). Additionally, the assessment

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