‘Full-scale offensive against Ukraine’s government and critical infrastructure’

Some of the first evidence of the scale of the cyber conflict going on over Ukraine appears in this release from Microsoft. The key lines are:

“Before the Russian invasion, our teams began working around the clock to help organizations in Ukraine, including government agencies, defend against an onslaught of cyberwarfare that has escalated since the invasion began and has continued relentlessly.”

“Since then, we have observed nearly all of Russia’s nation-state actors engaged in the ongoing full-scale offensive against Ukraine’s government and critical infrastructure, and we continue to work closely with government and organizations of all kinds in Ukraine to help them defend against this onslaught. “

Full statement here:

https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2022/04/07/cyberattacks-ukraine-strontium-russia/

Chronicle of a crisis foretold: cryptocurrency

Now more than ever, protest movements and even armies can be self-funding. While we debate how the unidentified financial object that is cryptocurrency should be treated by markets, it’s increasingly becoming a form of power.

Ukraine is fundraising millions of dollars crowdsourced funds via Twitter and a crypto addresses.

“Ukraine’s official Twitter account made the appeal for cryptocurrency donations on Saturday following the country’s invasion by Russia, posting digital wallets addresses for tokens including bitcoin and ether.”

It’s also a way to self-fund movements.

For example, the Canadian Freedom trucker protest.

“The Ontario Provincial Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police ordered all regulated financial firms to cease facilitating any transactions from 34 crypto wallets tied to funding trucker-led protests in the country.”

And it’s also a way to shuffle funds from place to place, outside the view of state regulators, as say, Russian oligarchs flee to safety as their patron Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine.

“The effort comes as the Biden administration grapples with how to police the asset class amid concerns that tokens can be used to avoid the heavily-regulated traditional financial system.”

For now, these are disparate examples. But knowing where an organisation funds come from and go to now involves the sort of forensics we routinely see applied to researching social media misinformation, vast sets of data that are scrutinised for clues.

I imagine weaker states will struggle to understand the wealth flowing over their borders.

Ukraine: Biden’s info war blows up Russia’s cynical narrative on democracies

The strategy of declassifying intelligence around Russia’s intentions to invade Ukraine has recast the global narrative about Russia, and possibly about authoritarianism too.

The way the White House declassified and shared intelligence on Putin’s military intentions has effectively now robbed Russia of narrative control.

But the campaign to forewarn the public of an imminent invasion has had another collateral effect so far: It has blown up a certain unofficial view on US power, on the Western alliance, and on democracy that had come to colour the broader debate between democracy  and authoritarianism.