INTEL TODAY DIARY — June 2 2017

Germany strengthens its Cyber Defense — James Comey due before Senate next week — Vladimir Putin has suggested “patriotic” Russian citizens might be engaged in hacking — Russia escalates spy games after years of U.S. neglect

Germany Strengthens Its Cyber Defense — Foreign Affairs

Germany’s most senior federal intelligence officials presented a united front about the potential threat of Russian cyber-influence in their country’s September elections.

Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV)—Germany’s domestic intelligence service—did not mince words: “We expect further attacks,” he said, adding that they recognized the threat as “a campaign being directed from Russia.”

Maassen was referring to the Russia-attributed 2015 hack that hoovered up massive amounts of e-mails, correspondence, and sensitive information from well-placed members of the German Bundestag.

The decision of whether to release the tranches of data “will be made in the Kremlin,” Maassen said, implicating President Vladimir Putin personally in any decision to use doxxed material, disinformation, or other cyber-actions to disrupt the integrity of the German elections.

In turn, Bruno Kahl, the head of Germany’s international intelligence arm, the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), called for more money to boost cyber offensive and defensive capabilities.

James Comey, FBI chief fired by Trump, due before Senate next week — BBC

Ex-FBI director James Comey will give evidence to the US Senate Intelligence Committee on 8 June as part of its investigation into Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.

The committee is also looking into whether or not President Donald Trump’s campaign team colluded in this.

Mr Comey was fired by President Trump last month.

He is expected to address reports that Mr Trump tried to get him to drop an FBI inquiry into Russian meddling.

However, there is speculation that the president might invoke executive privilege to prevent Mr Comey from testifying.

 The committee said Mr Comey would testify in an open session at 10:00 local time (14:00 GMT), followed by a closed session.

He is likely to be asked about conversations with Mr Trump in which the president reportedly asked him to drop an investigation into former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned when the details of his telephone conversations with the Russian ambassador to the US were made public.

Putin: Patriotic Russians may be involved in hacking — BBC

Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested “patriotic” Russian citizens might be engaged in hacking.

Such individuals might be joining “the justified fight against those speaking ill of Russia,” he said.

Like “artists” who get up and paint all day, he added, hackers spend their day attacking adversaries, he added.

Mr Putin also denied once again that his administration hacked the US election last year.

He added that this activity was “never” carried out at the government level and he expressed his belief that hackers could not influence voters’ minds.

 Some US politicians have suggested that Russia may have been involved in an attempt to sway the presidential election.

In March, the FBI confirmed that it has been investigating allegations of Russian interference.

The probe is examining potential links between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign.

President Trump’s administration has denied that there was any collusion.

Russia escalates spy games after years of U.S. neglect — Politico

In the throes of the 2016 campaign, the FBI found itself with an escalating problem: Russian diplomats, whose travel was supposed to be tracked by the State Department, were going missing.

The diplomats, widely assumed to be intelligence operatives, would eventually turn up in odd places, often in middle-of-nowhere USA. One was found on a beach, nowhere near where he was supposed to be.

In one particularly bizarre case, relayed by a U.S. intelligence official, another turned up wandering around in the middle of the desert. Interestingly, both seemed to be lingering where underground fiber-optic cables tend to run.

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INTEL TODAY DIARY — June 2 2017

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