Interfor’s Weekly Digest | Global Security and Policy Insights – March 14, 2023
Global Security Matters
- On Wednesday, US intelligence leaders outlined National Security threats facing America, ranking China at the top of the list. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told the Senate Intelligence Committee that China presents a leading threat due to “Its intelligence-specific ambitions and capabilities.” Other threats discussed at the hearing included national security risks posed by TikTok, the debate surrounding the origins of Covid-19, the risk of escalation by Russia despite the unlikelihood of direct military conflict with the US or NATO forces, and White supremacist and extremist violence.
- Saudi Arabia and Iran announced they have agreed to reestablish diplomatic relations in a deal mediated by China. They plan to reopen their embassies within two months and reimplement a 22-year-old security pact. The deal will have wide-ranging implications for the Middle East and gives China an opportunity to play a larger role in global affairs.
Cyber Security and Cyber Espionage
- DC Health Link, a medical insurance company, was breached, resulting in the exposure of 170,000 records including sensitive information of House and Senate members. A threat actor referred to as “thekilob” or “IntelBroker” reportedly posted the dataset on a cybercriminal forum, including social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.
- An Iranian state-backed cyber-espionage campaign is targeting female human rights activists. Researchers suspect the group is acting on behalf of various Iranian government entities and the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC-IO) by contacting targets via a fake Twitter user, ‘Sara Shokouhi.’ The Twitter user speaks to the targets about an opportunity to contribute to an article for the Atlantic Council and then tries to phish for credentials via malware or malicious links. Researchers believe the intel gathered is used to inform military and security operations by Iran.
- Silicon Valley Bank (SBV) collapsed Friday morning, making it the second-largest failure of a financial institution in US history. On Wednesday, SVB announced it sold securities at a loss and would sell $2.25 billion in new shares. In response, venture capital firms reportedly advised companies to withdraw their money from the bank, causing the stock to crater. SVB’s shares were halted and continued to deteriorate quickly. California regulators closed the bank and placed it under control of the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The FDIC will likely liquidate the bank’s assets to pay back its customers and said it would pay uninsured depositors an “advance dividend within the next week.”
- At least 19 people were killed in Congo when rebels set fire to a health center and houses. The gunmen are suspected to be a part of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) which have ties to the Islamic State. On Saturday, Aamaq, a news agency linked to the Islamic State, claimed responsibility for killing more than 35 “Christians” last week in Eastern Congo. The US offered a reward of up to $35 million earlier this month for information leading to the capture of ADF’s leader, Seka Musa Baluku. ADF has been accused by the UN and human rights groups of raping and abducting civilians and children.
- A bomb blast in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Shari killed one security guard and injured eight others, including journalists and children. The bomb occurred at a cultural center in Mazar-i-Sharif during an event honoring Afghanistan’s media. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. This attack occurred two days after a suicide bombing, claimed by the Islamic State, which killed Mohammad Muzammi, the Taliban governor of northern Balkh.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will end 22 Covid-19-related policies when the public health emergency ends May 11 and allow 22 policies to continue for 180 days.
- The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, declared that discovering the origins of Covid-19 is a moral imperative and all hypotheses must be explored.
- The US House of Representatives voted unanimously to declassify US intelligence information about the origins of Covid-19.
- US Department of State Travel Advisories
- CISA: nation-state cybersecurity threats and other resources for cybersecurity matters.
- Our most recent blog posts look at how one reputation laundering firm helps their clients bury the past and NATO’s Role in the Russia-Ukraine War.