In an Era of Russian Hacks, the U.S. is Still Installing Russian Software on Government Systems

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Congressional concern is climbing—not for the first time—about government agencies using an anti-virus tool made by the respected but Russia-based security firm Kaspersky Lab. The dustup is a case study in why securing government systems is devilishly complicated.

The fracas comes as congressional Democrats are squaring off against President Donald Trump over possible collusion between Russian intelligence agencies and members of his campaign. It also follows a presidential campaign upended by a Russian government influence operation and amid a deluge of leaks from U.S. intelligence agencies.

The competing priorities of security, intelligence, diplomacy and budget constraints play a role in the melee. So, too, do the rival power centers of a government that’s struggled for years, often unsuccessfully, to manage cybersecurity and technology buying in a unified way. Continue reading

Terror Threat Intelligence Not New — Agencies knew of threat to embassies, officials for months

Intelligence regarding al Qaeda plans to attack U.S. embassies, officials, and interests last Sunday was known for months by U.S. intelligence agencies but was used only recently to trigger the closure of embassies and issuance of public warnings of impending attacks.

Al Qaeda “chatter” about coming terrorist operations, mainly against 22 U.S. embassies and consulates, and threats to attack or bomb officials in the Middle East and elsewhere was widely reported in classified intelligence reports over several months. The report said an attack was planned for Sunday, although no attack was carried out. Continue reading