In the fall of 2013 a little-known American website Veterans Today, which helps former military personnel in finding work and paying medical bills, has signed a new partnership agreement. He began to place the materials from the magazine about geopolitics “New Eastern Outlook”, which by order of the government published by the Russian Academy of Sciences, and where can you find headlines such as “Ukrainian of the ku-Klux-Klan — the new ally of NATO.” When the United States this spring, accused the Russian ally of Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons against Syrian children, this website trumpeted: “the Proof: Turkey in 2013, carried out the attack with sarin, and it is also her handiwork”. And there was other material: “Exclusive: trump apologized to Russia for the attack in Syria.”
As experts say exploration, Russia in recent years, with increasing size, is conducting “active measures” against the United States of America. It is a form of political war, which includes disinformation, propaganda and discrediting the leaders through bribes and blackmail. Currently, congressional committees, law enforcement agencies and the press all his attention focused on the successful actions of the Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin to discredit the political process in America. But analysis of the available evidence and the stories watching the Kremlin experts clearly indicate that the Russian government uses the same script against other foundations of American society, primarily against the army. Experts warn that action in this direction, which has received much less attention, is able to prevent the armed forces to correctly assess the intentions of Putin and effectively counter future aggression from Russia.
In addition to propaganda designed to influence people in uniform and ex-servicemen, mercenaries of the Russian state, posing as attractive young women, trying to make friends with soldiers in Facebook to gather intelligence and target’s Twitter accounts officers of the Ministry of defence, holding them against targeted phishing attacks. Hacker group the Russian army Fancy Bear, breaking into the computers of the National Committee of the Democratic party, is also responsible for the publication in 2015 online stolen military information. Hackers have organized this leak, posing as supporters of the “Islamic state” (banned in Russia organization — approx. TRANS.) Such conclusions were formulated in the report of one of the firms cyber security. The most common phishing attacks in the West, this hacker group is engaged against the military and members of their families, as reported by another firm of cybersecurity.
Soldiers and contractors have long been targets for cyber attacks by hostile foreign powers; however, the Russian actions have a high degree of intensity, especially after the introduction of Western sanctions in response to the annexation of Crimea in 2014. And Russian different innovative methods of work on the Internet. All this can be called hybrid war of low intensity, to effectively counter which Western countries are not yet able to.
“We focused on the uprooting underbrush, located on the edge of a huge oak forest,” said retired General Philip Breedlove (Philip Breedlove), for three years commander of NATO troops and personally supervised the strengthening of the Russian active measures against the Baltic States and actions to spread negative misinformation about hosted in Europe, soldiers of the Alliance.
Because such a campaign of active measures Breedlove sent home first, and then resigned. In July Russian fake website DC Leaks published correspondence from the mailbox in the General Gmail. According to Breedlove, the last time he received more than ten phishing messages supposedly from your Bank. Called the Bank, Breedlove refused, but noted that its services are used by most army officers. On this basis, the General concluded that the motives for conducting phishing attacks were political, not financial. “What Russia is doing against all of our internal audiences, including military audiences, it carries an astronomical scale,” said Breedlove.
In the 20th century the intelligence of other States to establish contacts with the foreign soldiers sent their agents in drinking establishments located near military bases, the Agents were waiting for the military, and then gradually reeled them in confidence using alcohol and their professional skills.
Now there are social networks through which you can easily, simply and economically to meet with former and current members in the virtual space, to extract from them intelligence and to influence them.
Analyst John Bambenek (John Bambenek) working in the company’s Fidelis Cybersecurity and the investigating ‘ hacking of the computers of the National Committee of the Democratic party, said that Russia is one of several foreign powers, who, with the help of various lures on social networks gather intelligence information of a military nature. “Some methods are pretty primitive (attractive women asking to sign up for their accounts), and some very sophisticated — written Bambenek email. Spy realize that watching the behavior and actions of the military, you can pretty much learn about the activities and plans of the armed forces.”
Establishing contacts through social networks helps to foreign countries to communicate directly with groups of American soldiers. Such tactics in past conflicts used both the Russians and the Americans. In the first days of annexation of the Crimea Ukrainian soldiers in huge amounts received demoralizing text messages like “Soldier, you’re just cannon fodder for their commanders.” Before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the us military also bombarded Iraqi soldiers mail messages urging them to surrender, as in his published in the 2010 book “cyber war” (Cyber War) writes Richard Clark (Richard Clarke).
The Pentagon naturally alarmed. Press Secretary of the Ministry of defence Linda Rojas (Rojas Linda) refused to comment on specific actions, but said that because of new technologies servicemen in cyberspace have become more vulnerable. “The spread of communication on the basis of the Internet and social networking apps allows you to more actively pursue dishonest game that affect our military personnel,” she wrote in a mail message. Rojas also noted that the military is trying to counter growing threats from hackers and influence operations online. “We work hard to inform and notify the personnel about such threats, and at the same time, increase our network defensive capabilities to protect IT infrastructure from external invasion,” she wrote.
Friendship in Facebook with American soldiers give foreign agents the ability to conduct propaganda for what they post propaganda on their news feeds.
A former military contractor and a family member of a serviceman Serena Moring (Moring Serena) said that last spring her for the first time worried the Pro-Russian sentiment amongst soldiers in social networks. Then there were unverified message about the heroic death of the Russian soldier who was killed in Syria in a battle with ISIS, and it quickly spread in social networks among American soldiers.
“All these military guys reacted the same way. It is awe-inspiring. What a heroic death, — says 39-year-old Moring. — These are the soldier’s bonds of brotherhood that have been formed through social networks”.
According to Moring, it even more alarmed by the fact that many of her military friends, including from intelligence, became open admirers of Putin. Now she has to make considerable efforts, telling a military audience about Russia in Instagram and Facebook.
In the Wild West is a social network, it is difficult to understand what Pro-Russian sentiments are genuine (after 2015, the ratings of Putin’s popularity among Republicans has sharply gone uphill, and the right of the media type Fox News to speak about it very positively), and which are created artificially. However, Breedlove said that in many ways, these sentiments were the result of a deliberate Kremlin campaign to increase its influence. “At veteran sites and then there are people singing the praises of Putin, and it’s safe to say that it is trolls and a part of our army who sit there every day and expose us to attacks”, — he said.
Putin has created a Pro “alternative media ecosystem” in order to, in his own words, “to destroy the Anglo-Saxon monopoly on information flows”. It has become a priority in his foreign policy. Largely these operations directed against the us military. Russian activity in this area has increased significantly in recent years when tensions have risen because of the sanctions, the annexation of the Crimea and expand NATO.
Veterans Today is a homegrown American website, created in 2003 in disagreement with the invasion of Iraq. Very soon he started publishing the wildest conspiracy theories. Before you enter into a partnership with the “New Eastern Outlook”, the website has collaborated with state Iranian TV channel PressTV. Among the Directors of the editorial Board including former head of Pakistani intelligence, and this site has published articles under the headlines like “bloodbath at the sandy hook involved the Israeli death squads” and “Water terrorism of India’s rivalry with Pakistan”.
“”New Eastern Outlook”, decided to cooperate with the Veterans Today after some time followed his materials and saw it as a unique platform,” explained in his article on the topic of cooperation is the chief editor of Jim Dean (Jim Dean). This deal he called “a marriage performed in heaven.”
In the biography of Dina on the website Veterans Today lists his relatives and ancestors who served in the armed forces, and referred to the participation of the journalist in some groups on military issues. But there’s no mention of the fact that he served in the army. The Chairman of the site Gordon Duff (Gordon Duff) served in the marine corps in Vietnam, and writing for the site began in 2008. In an interview from 2012, he said: “About 30% of what is written on the website Veterans Today, is an outright lie. About 40% of what I write is partially false information. The fact that if I didn’t write false information I wouldn’t be alive.”
Veterans Today — is the main property of the Association Veterans Today Network, which includes an employment Agency, the Fund of struggle against cancer and related website Veterans News Now calling itself “an independent online journal representing the positions of the military and veterans of the armed forces and tells them the news”. This Association is also linked to Fund Veterans Housing & Education, which as its goal has declared the collection of funds for housing and education for troops in the amount of $ 500 million over five years.
The website VeteransTodayCancerFoundation.org that at the time of this writing was at the service, invites veterans in need to fill out applications for assistance and to bring their personal data, including records of accounts in social networks.
The administrator of the Association Veterans Today Network, who asked not to be named, said that the database of the website of employment HireVeterans.com currently, there are 35 thousand summary, and that the site has partnered with major American companies helping veterans find work. The site lists dozens of employers, including Bank of America, Merck, Geico, and Westinghouse. According to the administrator, they contribute an annual fee for their membership. Fox Business in this article from 2011 recommends this site for employment to employers.
The administrator of the Veterans Today Network said Association, and employment agencies are owned by Success Spear, and foreign States could not obtain access to personal data of veterans, despite its partnership with Veterans Today. According to the administrator, the Fund of struggle against cancer is not yet fully operational.
In October 2013, when the website Veterans Today has begun to publish the materials of the “New Eastern review”, its sister site Veterans News Now has begun to publish the content of the Moscow analytical centre “strategic culture Foundation” which is headed by the former head of the Moscow organization of the Communist party and a member of the Soviet Politburo, Yuri Prokofiev.
In October 2015, the website Veterans Today has entered into a partnership with a well-designed website for military Affairs with anonymous authors under the name “the southern front”. This website was registered in April of the same year in Moscow, when Russia stepped up its operations to effect, in response to Western sanctions.
Since Veterans Today publishes articles in support of the Kremlin party line that it writes like a Russian partner, and their own authors. Now readers of your website, among which 45 thousand subscribers to Facebook, and the number of unique visitors is 900 thousand a month, learn about the “coming shift to a space of fascism”, read the news and get acquainted with free services offered to veterans. And it was full of headlines like “Ukrainians are indignant due to the fact that 80% of the seats in the government was taken by the Jews,” “the Humiliation of trump: Syria shot down 34 of 59 cruise missiles” or “Russia will modernize its antiaircraft-rocket complexes”. Here is the latest journalistic contribution of the “southern front” on the website Veterans Today: “US changes course, as Russia understood the plan of the trump aid terrorists”, “Political use of Russophobia” and so on. A “New Eastern Outlook” provided the material under the headings “If NATO wants peace and stability, he can stay home” and “Brussels, NATO and the globalists in complete disarray”.
At the end of 2014, Duff and Dean visited the Damascus conference on combating terrorism. There Duff introduced the participants from Russia, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon with his theory that “the American government is subordinate to the worldwide criminal organization.” In March of this year, the Chairman of Veterans Today booked an appointment in Damascus, where participants spoke against the backdrop of huge portraits of Assad and Putin, as evidenced by a video published on YouTube. Duff did not answer the question of whether it financed the trip to Syria any foreign organization.
Expert on Russian influence operations in the state Department, who was not authorized to make official statements, said that he has noticed the cooperation of Veterans Today with the “New Eastern Outlook” and “Southern front”, and that apparently a “southern front” is a Russian organization, deliberately hide their origin. The expert also said that the strategic culture Foundation is included in the Kremlin’s system of influence and that Russia has long been seeking to elevate the voices of Western conspiracy.
Professor, University of Washington Kate Starbird (Kate Starbird), studying the activities of the Veterans Today in the “alternative media ecosystem” refers to this website an active partner in efforts to spread Russian propaganda.
Despite the often implausible statements Veterans Today and a sense of clumsiness of this portal and other publications in the service of the Russian propagandists, Starbird believes they are very powerful engines of misinformation. “I thought that this and similar sites are far away on the periphery, she said. But meaningful impact on the us military, current and retired, like a strategy of information warfare. My friends, their relatives, and now total strangers tell me about their family members who are deeply mired in this information ecosystem”.
Former intelligence officer of the us army Joel Harding (Joel Harding), who now works as an independent analyst, calls Veterans Today, Veterans News Now and the “southern front” “puppet sites of Russia”. According to him, in combination with the other components of Russian efforts to influence these sites in the future will be able quite successfully to influence the military. “Veterans Today and Veterans News Now will not make soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors to defect and become a Pro. They do not, says Harding. But if a person considers them a reliable source of truthful information, not recognize that they are the Russian propaganda and further information from the Russian point of view, over time it will change.”
Representatives of the “southern front” written electronic communication, without signatures, where he said that their website is in no way affiliated with the Russian government. They noted that to include the “southern front” to the Kremlin apparatus of influence, it would be contrary to the principles of freedom of speech and to discriminate against the Russian (the usual tactics of the Russian influence operations is to appeal to Western values is to undermine Western society). Strategic culture Foundation has not responded to requests for comment, and the servers of the journal “New Eastern Outlook” returned the letters listed on their website addresses.
According to Dean, he is unknown, so the researchers called Veterans Today tool of Russian propaganda. “We appreciate the openness, — he wrote. — Please ask them, let them continue their useful work”. He did not answer the question of whether the website funding from abroad. Living in Dubai, the former chief editor of Veterans News Now Debbie Menon (Debbie Menon) did not reply to an email message with a request to comment.
Soldiers and veterans not only was under the influence of influence operations. In the framework of the Russian active measures against the United States they are much more often subjected to hacker attacks.
Those military Russian hackers that hacked e-mail of the National Committee of the Democratic party, apparently exert less effort to put political pressure on current and former military personnel. Analysis of the activities of the hacker group, which is often referred to as Fancy Bear, gave researchers the opportunity to look at the thousands of victims of phishing attacks carried out from March to September 2015. Among those, against whom were directed the efforts of Fancy Bear outside the former Soviet Union, 41% of current and former soldiers, made his conclusion firm SecureWorks cybersecurity. 22% of the victims of the attacks Fancy Bear is writers and journalists, 10% NGOs, 4% — political activists, and 8% are government employees. From among the victims of attacks, authors and journalists more than 20% are members of military families, leading blogs about military life.
The publication of the stolen information is a novelty in the Russian attack on the American political system has become an integral part of active measures against the us military. Last summer, Russian hackers leaked e-mails stolen from Breedlove to put NATO in an awkward position. And in 2015, a group called Cyber Caliphate stole the account of the U.S. Central command tweeted, directing his followers to another website, where hackers posted data stolen from the military. Cyber Caliphate claims that it supports ISIL, although in reality, it was a false flag, designed to hide the identity of the kidnappers themselves. But the kidnappers were Fancy Bear, as reported in the report of the cyber security firm Trend Micro, which said that the French authorities have confirmed its analysis of the involvement of the Russian hacker group.
Washington is beginning to realize the extent of Russian active measures, but the hacking campaign against military continues. Last month, Time reported on the findings of American counterintelligence, which in March concluded that Russian hackers conducted an attack against 10 thousand employees of the Ministry of defense, via Twitter by sending deceptive messages that forced them to download malware that can infect’s Twitter accounts, computers and phones.
There is no reason to talk about the Russian invasion in the United States in the image and likeness of “red dawn”, but the active measures of the Kremlin can reduce the efficiency of the army and to weaken the resolve of the military to confront Russian military aggression in other countries.
Active events are held not only against the military and the political system. It is an integral part of a larger effort aimed at weakening Western institutions, including the news media, financial markets, and intelligence. In the power of the multidimensional nature and unconventional tactics such actions the American government is very hard to resist these activities. “This is obviously a very serious challenge, and many are concerned that our response to today’s inefficient,” said one expert on active measures, recently testified in Congress on this subject.
The campaign did not abate after the presidential election, and became even more brazen and bold, says the head of the firm’s Strategic Cyber Ventures Tom Kellerman (Tom Kellermann), who closely follow Russian activities.
In may and June 2015 Kellerman, head of while the work on cyber security at Trend Micro, told how his company had warned the FBI and the office of the Director of National intelligence that Kremlin hackers have compiled a list of 2 300 people who are the most influential leaders in Washington and new York, and their spouses and lovers (lovers). The list was compiled to conduct a targeted hacking campaign. According to Kellerman, he does not know has the state passed any measures for their recommendations, but they warned that hackers able to turn on microphones and cameras on personal devices from a list of people to get sensitive information about their private lives. However, he believes that in this campaign, the Russian managed to compromise American leaders, and this emboldened the Kremlin. “When you wonder about why certain people act one way or another,’ said Kellerman, — it is necessary to remember how these people were warned that their dirty linen can post for everyone to see”. (Press Secretary office of the Director of national intelligence and the FBI declined to comment.)
Kellerman gave as an example the activities of the hacker group Shadow Brokers, which is considered a tool of the Kremlin. This group began publishing data stolen last summer at the NSA. The last piece of information was made public in April. The increasing online attacks is a harbinger of armed aggression, said Kellerman, who predicted that the conflict between USA and Russia is likely to break out in the Baltic States.
“I am very worried, he said. Actions in cyberspace are always preceded by actions in reality.”
Your story gave Shawn Musgrave (Shawn Musgrave) and Andrew Hanna (Andrew Hanna).