Ransomware gangs: today’s pirate fleets

“Cyber security experts, ex-military officials and some politicians are pushing for ransomware gangs to be treated not as hackers but like “pirates” of the past, in a rethink of how to best counter their growing threat to businesses, industries and society.”

“The shift recognises the way ransomware gangs are used by authoritarian nations to mount sustained attacks on Western businesses and sectors, a new dimension in the ongoing contest between strongmen and democracies.”

The full story here.

It’s an idea whose time has come.

I actually wrote about this idea right after the Sony hack on this little blog here in 2015.

China needles Australia on social media

China has lashed Australia on Twitter

A lower level Chinese Communist Party spokesman is helping to distort a discussion about Australian news on global social media. What has the CCP learned about antagonizing democracies from their post-revolutionary friends linked to the Kremlin?  

“All your democratic language are belong to us”

The invocation of the language of liberalism to damage our democracies is not new. In a system in which ideas compete for legitimacy, simply artificially pumping up one idea to an unnatural level skews the debate, and leads to damaging outcomes. The success of authoritarians and anti-democratic nations in doing this in recent years is a key feature of our time. Consequently, the voices that crow the loudest about “freedom” and “liberty” — our values — are often doing so to hijack the conversation, to polarize it, and to render it a weapon against sensible debate.

My latest: What happens when the language of democracy is hijacked?

(Photo: anastasiasoboleva/tumblr)

Forget the Internet Research Agency for a moment – what about Dispute, Monitor-3, and Sturm-12?

The Internet Research Agency has long crystallized in the mind of the Western public as the source of Russia’s information operations. But a detailed article from Russian media in 2012 suggests Moscow may actually be using more sophisticated tools.

From this article of mine from The Age:

Forget this place for a moment

In 2012, 30 million rubles (then the equivalent of $A900,000), were tendered by the Russian intelligence service SVR for firms to develop “new methods of monitoring the blogosphere”.

The contracts aims were “the massive expansion of information sources on social media platforms with the goal of shaping popular opinion.”

The first project described in the Kommersant article, called “Dispute” would “monitor the blogosphere, undertaking ‘research into processes of the shaping of internet social groups that spread information on social media platforms’ and ‘delineation of factors that influence the popularity and spread of information”.

That information would be analysed by another system called “Monitor-3” whose purpose was “the development of methods of organisation and control of virtual internet societies of designated experts”.

A third system, called “Sturm-12”, was designed to be a complex “for the automated dissemination” of information and the development of “mechanisms to initiate scripted scenarios for mass audiences on social media platforms”.

The article said the SVR systems could be used for internal as well as external audiences, beginning in Eastern Europe.

Why then, the Western obsession with the IRA? Could it because the IRA was introduced to audiences via a lush article in The New York Times Magazine. Am I alone and thinking that if the Russian state had a powerful tool for social media influence about, they wouldn’t have allowed a tech journalist access to it?