Photo of a computer screen displaying lines of code provided by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

As the United States and Russian presidential elections draw closer, both superpowers have accused each other of election meddling. Russia is currently rolling out a referendum that would allow President Vladamir Putin to remain in office until 2036. This move has stirred controversy as claims of compulsory voting and election meddling being to surface. Russian government-owned news agency TASS reports that the Russian Central Election Commission believes it was meddled with by hackers from the U.S., U.K., Ukraine, and other European nations.

U.S. officials have reported similar concerns regarding potential Russian meddling in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. According to the Mueller investigation, Russians were able to successfully hack the Democratic National Committee’s servers, as well as run successful disinformation campaigns to sway voters via social media.

Former CIA analyst Cindy Otis told the New York Times that the Russian’s new approach was to spread existing fake news posts created by Americans in order to circumvent security measures. “They aren’t looking for their own accounts to go viral anymore, because it draws attention to themselves,” said Otis. “The bulk of their approach is to slip into existing narratives.” Twitter has reportedly shut down thousands of accounts for spreading fake news on the platform, including accounts tied to the Russian government

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says – The New York Times – 6/26/2020
The United States concluded months ago that the Russian unit, which has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert operations in Europe intended to destabilize the West or take revenge on turncoats, had covertly offered rewards for successful attacks last year. Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected some bounty money, the officials said. Twenty Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, but it was not clear which killings were under suspicion.

Russian hackers Evil Corp target US workers at home – BBC News – 6/26/2020
The attacks used what Symantec described as a relatively new type of ransomware called WastedLocker, which has been attributed to Evil Corp. Ransomware are computer viruses that threaten to delete files unless the ransom is paid. The WastedLocker ransomware virus demands ransoms of $500,000 to $1m to unlock computer files it seizes.

Pssst—the Russians and Chinese Are Still Trying to Interfere in the 2020 Election – The Bulwark – 6/26/2020
On the misinformation side, the Russians have shifted tactics for this election. Working from servers located in the United States, Russia-linked accounts are now spreading conspiracies and disinformation created by Americans—rather than inventing the theories themselves. This is their attempt to evade social media companies’ policies regarding “inauthentic speech.”

The US Navy’s top admiral in Europe says China is copying Russia’s interference playbook there – Business Insider – 6/26/2020
“We’ve seen a more aggressive Russia illegally taking territory from sovereign countries, conducting cyber operations against many countries, meddling in domestic politics throughout the [NATO] alliance, militarizing the Baltic and Black seas and now the Arctic … all while making threats to restrict access to the Northern Sea Route,” Adm. James Foggo, head of US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, said at an International Institute of Strategic Studies event Thursday.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Nicole Perloth on Twitter, 6/26/2020: This story is no joke. Not since WannaCry has Symantec seen these many brand names hit with Evil Corp ransomware. Please DM me for my Signal # if you can share more on victims, demands, collateral damage etc.

Kim Masters on Twitter, 6/26/2020: There is literally a Russian group called Evil Corp. that could steal the election. How do I get out of this insane movie?

Aaron Mate on Twitter, 6/26/2020: The US intel claim that Moscow waged a covert operation to elect Trump & “sow chaos” laid the basis for a fear-mongering campaign against Russia that very few liberals are skeptical of. Every claim, like this one, is now taken on faith:

Jim Clancy on Twitter, 6/26/2020: When you get in a war, both sides will do bad things. Russia may have offered bounties. The U-S paid up front to Afghan militias during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan by supplying shoulder fired surface to air missiles to take down Russian planes and helicopters.

Anastasia Golovashkina on Twitter, 6/26/2020: Struggling to remember the last time the United States and Russia were both in the same headline about anything positive

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