Ukraine is Russia's testbed for launching devastating cyberwar attacks with total impunity

Ever since the Ukrainian "Maidan" revolution, the country has been subjected to waves of punishing cyberwar attacks, targeting its power grids, finance ministry, TV networks, election officials, and other critical systems. Read the rest

Mammoth pirates plunder Russian arctic for "ethical ivory"

Reporter Amos Chapple went on an expedition with Russians engaging in the illegal but lucrative "ethical ivory" trade: pulling long-buried mammoth tusks from the permafrost, often by illegally gouging out entire hillsides. Read the rest

The Russian Britney Spears Instagram hackers also used satellites to hide their tracks

Pity poor Turla, the advanced persistent threat hacking group closely associated with the Russian government who were outed yesterday for their extremely clever gimmick of using Britney Spears's Instagram account as a covert channel for controlling compromised computers in the field while protecting their "command and control" servers; today, Turla faces another devastating disclosure, a report that Turla exploited gaps in the security model of satellite TV and internet systems to make it possible for compromised computers to contact the C&C servers without revealing their locations. Read the rest

Russian malware communicates by leaving comments in Britney Spears's Instagram account

A key weakness in malicious software is the "Command and Control" (C&C) system: a central server that the malware-infected systems contact to receive updates and instructions, and to send stolen data. Anti-malware researchers like to reverse engineer malicious code, discover the C&C server's address, and then shut it down or blacklist it from corporate routers.

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A vending machine in a Moscow shopping mall sells Instagram likes

Journalist Alexey Kovalev is in Moscow, whence tweeted this picture of "a vending machine in a mall for buying Likes for your Instagram pics." Read the rest

Sen. Mark Warner: Russia attacks on U.S. elections were way worse than NSA leaks and Intercept article suggest

What we already know is bad. But it's worse than we know.

Senator Mark Warner, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, says Russia's attacks on our election systems were more broad in scope, and targeted more states, than what the leaked NSA documents published yesterday by The Intercept indicate.

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Leaked NSA docs: Russian military hacked US voting software company, spearphished 122 election officials

An anonymously leaked Top Secret NSA report on Russian state hackers interfering with the US elections has been published by The Intercept, which had the documents independently analyzed by a who's-who of America's leading security experts. Read the rest

Senators Leahy, Franken asked Comey to investigate AG Jeff Sessions for possible perjury

CNN reports today that Patrick Leahy and Al Franken, two democratic senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked former FBI Director James Comey to investigate Attorney General Jeff Sessions over concerns Sessions may have had an undisclosed private meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

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House Intel panel to subpoena former WH aide Michael Flynn, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, and others

The House Intelligence Committee issued seven subpoenas today, as separate House and Senate investigations involving the 2016 U.S. presidential election accelerate and expand in scope. Four of the House subpoenas reported today are related to the Russia investigation, and three focus on the so-called ‘unmasking’ controversy, say unnamed sources cited in stories out today by the Wall Street Journal and Reuters, among other news organizations.

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Occam's Razor and 'the worst case' in Trump's Russia scandal align

TPM's Josh Marshall shares how Occam's Razor is coming into play, and the worst case scenario of corruption and scandal is quickly becoming the most likely. The simplest explanation of Kushner's alleged behavior is money from Russia, with love.

Via TPM:

We’ve heard it claimed that this secret channel to Moscow Kushner and Flynn wanted to set up was to discuss the situation in Syria. That is simply not plausible. At least it couldn’t have been just about Syria as there are numerous legitimate ways to do that. If the conversations were about Syria and ISIS, which I find dubious, they must have included other topics which had to be hidden from the US government, the intelligence agencies and US military.

The most plausible ‘bad’ story behind the Trump/Russia mystery has always been some kind of financial preferment to members of the Trump family in exchange for lifting the sanctions put in place after the Russian annexation of Crimea and subsequent low-intensity incursions into eastern Ukraine. This wouldn’t come out of the blue. It would probably come in the context of some ‘deal’ over Syria or Ukraine or perhaps some agreement about global counter-terrorism cooperation. As I’ve written, there is a more ‘innocent‘ explanation as well. It may not be any quid pro quo. It could simply be years of doing business with Russians and people from other parts of the former Soviet Union which has made Trump inclined to see their needs in a sympathetic light. His hostility toward the sanctions regime could also be driven by the fact that, with his dependence on Russian and FSU investments and purchases, they likely hurt him directly.

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Marc Kasowitz, tapped as Trump's private attorney in Russia probe, also represents Russia's largest bank

Fox News and Reuters report that U.S. President Donald Trump has retained New York-based trial attorney Marc Kasowitz to defend him in the escalating federal investigations involving Russia, espionage suspicions, and possible criminal activities.

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Russia criminal investigation expands to include senior WH official close to Trump: WaPo

"The intensity of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks."

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GOP leader in 2016 said ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump

A month before Donald Trump became the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, his ally House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said privately among GOP peers on Capitol Hill that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin makes payments to Trump.

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As Trump adviser, Flynn stopped a military plan Turkey opposed after being paid $500K as its agent

As Donald Trump's national security adviser, one of the first moves Michael Flynn made was aligned precisely with the wishes of Turkey. But Flynn had a secret. He'd been paid half a million dollars to represent the interests of the Turkish government. And team Trump knew.

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Trump team knew Flynn was under federal investigation when they made him national security adviser

Another hour, another bombshell in the accelerating pace of criminal and espionage inquiries into Donald Trump and his team.

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Robert Mueller, Ex-FBI Chief, appointed as special counsel in Trump-Russia investigation

The Justice Department has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel overseeing the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including questions about contact between Russian officials and Trump campaign associates.

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Feds subpoena Manafort over $3.5M tax-free loan he received right after he abruptly left Trump campaign

Paul Manafort received a 3.5 million dollar tax-free and payback-free loan from someone yet unknown, right after he left Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Federal investigators have subpoenaed Manafort's records to find out more about this weird real estate loan transaction, and his finances in general.

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