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Cybersecurity has never been more important to Russian companies

As the digital world and the commercial realm of bricks and mortar industry inexorably grow together through e-Commerce as well as the many paths opened via blockchain, the responsibilities of business management are rapidly changing through this evolution.

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Russia has only recently finally codified and set out standards for corporate governance, transparency and paths to market trust. These past several years has also added a further fast developing area of concern, which is cyber risk, that today has become a major board responsibility and issue for both public and private companies.

Serving on and advising several Russian boards of directors over the years this has become ever more urgent, especially in the boardrooms. Business risk(s) are obviously a key factor to try to manage wherever on the planet one does business. One clear indication of how seriously this is taken is the rapid growth of budget allocations specific to getting a managed grip on cyber risks and cyber security.

Some companies place these responsibilities in the hands of risk management departments or similar, usually within the purview of an IT department, and that box was thereby ticked for better or for worse. Others push money at the challenge by retaining the services of a Dr. Web, Kaspersky, the Secret Studio and similar. Others may buy all sorts of cyber insurance mistakenly believing this will keep risks at bay, as insurers should/will recommend actions needed to qualify for comprehensive cover. The easy attitudes have changed, and ticking boxes, like passing the buck, will no longer suffice.

One of the challenges, among several, is the distance and differences in the understanding of the digital world and its language as opposed to the understanding of business, industry and the language of commerce. It was and to varying degrees still is a digital cultural divide at the general management and board level. With the blockchain and outgrowth applications in Fintech and elsewhere firmly gaining broad acceptance, the blending of these cultures is inevitable.

I have witnessed a real core change in the attitudes of Russian boards concerning cybersecurity and the increasing responsibility many directors are taking in addressing this area. Despite the reputation Russia has of being “hacker heaven” and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, or alter foreign national elections. The fact is that cyber risks affect Russian businesses every bit as much as business in every corner of the world. These are equal opportunity risks knowing no national borders, or geopolitical dissonances as these threats are globally equal.

The development of means and measures to confront cyber risks in many businesses throughout Russia have been mixed at best, just like the rest of the world. Some are now at the cutting edge of cybersecurity, and some are still avoiding the issue aside from tasking IT departments to “handle it”.

For any company anywhere in the world cyber-risks are the same, and the threats do not come from some shadowy “evil empire”, but across the entire digital realm of the planet in equal measure. The juicier and more developed the target, the more hungry and aggressive are the risks, be it in Silicon Valley, Vladivostok, Dubai, Beijing or Durban. Like in any other risk sphere, the lower the fruit, the easier the target of opportunity.

Some of the better-prepared boards here have taken some proactive steps, which may be of interest to overview and I have attempted to collect them into a narrative. These observations are nothing more than applied common sense, not rocket science. Many of these positions have become part of the operational fabric of several companies, both public and private in Russia, and globally as well. What makes them valuable is that they are now being woven into the mindsets and views of more and more personnel, their management and boards of directors.

Several boards have prioritized into their operational mandates the task of identifying those key assets that may be open to cyber-attack, which cyber risks to avoid, accept, or simply observe, and to develop specific plans associated with each approach.

The corporate culture of many boards has changed to view cybersecurity as a strategic and managerial issue and to hold management accountable for recommending and implementing overall cyber-risk management strategy and polices. This had led to concepts and policies of defensive response, and then intelligently adapting by continually gathering updated intelligence in this fast changing risk environment.

There is a far greater emphasis undertaken by the board and management to understand the company’s exposure to third-party linkages and vendors. This in many cases has been shown to be a poorly secured backdoor.

Most importantly, quite a few are actively budgeting to augment the development of a corporate and HR culture that places a high value on cybersecurity, and educating all employees in this risk reality.

The one thing shareholders remember when it comes to a cyber crisis and the subsequent board/management judgement calls is the outcome achieved. A positive outcome is usually the result of a well- considered, disciplined process that demonstrates responsible planning and a commitment to creating and implementing corrective results. Therefore, CYA does play an incentive role in this area.

Board meetings have become a vital time for corporate directors to reassess how they exercise their governance responsibilities with regard to the management of cybersecurity risk. In today’s global cyber minefield, it is essential that boards of directors not just monitor performance, but reward through incentives excellence achieved in this area.

Boards must lead by defining to management their vision and behavior for cybersecurity and then clearly demonstrate the priority the organization places upon strict adherence. After all, a risk culture gathers all aspects of risk-taking and risk management together through shared corporate values, beliefs, and attitudes.

Cybersecurity is no exception; establishing a strong cybersecurity culture is an essential component of any program, given that the vast majority of cyber risk can be initially traced to people and related behaviors, not technology. There are no offensive strategies in cybersecurity, only defensive ones.

The reality is that most employees are not interested in their personal digital security, much less that of their company. In consequence, changing a company’s culture to strengthen security is especially difficult and requires a top to bottom commitment “with teeth” to keep pace with evolving threats. Historically, anything to do with IT security was kept separate from users by IT teams. Little wonder that users show no or little interest in the company’s digital security.

The simple fact of the cyber risk issue is that the employees/users should be the first line of defense. They are the ones who create and handle the information, and they are in the best position to understand its value. Boards of directors worldwide, not only in Russia are more frequently demanding that management develop interactive training and accountability programs that work with users. In some cases, modern game based training is used and can then monitor how staff apply this training to help transform a company’s culture into one where cybersecurity is in everybody’s interests to enhance.

Without a strong risk culture, even the best cybersecurity management framework would be vulnerable to weaknesses and failures. Given the continuously changing and quickly evolving cyber environment, engendering a strong cyber risk culture provides employees with principles and values to guide activities while policies are still in the process of being drafted or updated. It also strongly narrows the divide between analog and digital thinking, which yields benefits to users on a personal level as well.

No longer is it a question of whether a company will be attacked but more a question of when this will happen, and how a company is going to prevent it or at least control damage. Smart network surveillance, early warning indicators, multiple layers of defense, and lessons from past events are all critical components of cyber resilience. When things go wrong, whether in a major or minor way, the ability to quickly identify and respond to a problem will determine the company’s ultimate recovery and ability to continue conducting business.

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Nicole Temple

Here is an interesting look at how WiFi can be used to actually track every keystroke that an individual makes:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.ca/2017/07/wifi-and-keystroke-recognition.html

It is only a matter of time before this technology is widely used by the world’s intelligence networks, prying even further into what little remains of our privacy.

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BARR: No collusion by any Americans

Trump never used his powers to interfere with Mueller, and thus had no “corrupt intent” in the matter.

Alex Christoforou

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Attorney General Barr found no one in the Trump campaign colluded with “Russia” to meddle in the 2016 US election.

A devastating blow to Democrats and their mainstream media stenographers.

Trump reacted immediately…

Via RT…

With the full report on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into claims President Donald Trump colluded with Russia about to be released, Attorney General William Barr is giving a press conference about its findings.

Barr maintains the allegation that the Russian government made efforts to interfere in the election through the Internet Research Agency, an alleged Kremlin-control “troll farm”, as well as “hacking efforts” by the Russian intelligence agency GRU.

The bottom line, Barr says, is that Mueller has found Russia tried to interfere in the election, but “no American” helped it.

Barr explained the White House’s interaction with the Mueller report, whether Trump used executive privilege to block any of its contents from release, as well as on how the Justice Department chose which bits of the 400-page paper to redact.

On the matter of obstruction of justice, Barr said he and his deputy Rod Rosenstein have reviewed Mueller’s evidence and “legal theories”, and found that there is no evidence to show Trump tried to disrupt the investigation.

He said Trump never used his powers to interfere with Mueller, and thus had no “corrupt intent” in the matter.

Most of the redactions in the report were made to protect ongoing investigations and personal information of “peripheral third parties”.

Barr said that no-one outside the Justice Department took part in the redacting process or saw the unredacted version, except for the intelligence community, which was given access to parts of it to protect sources.

Trump did not ask to make any changes to Mueller’s report, Barr said.

Trump’s personal counsel was given access to the redacted report before its release.

A number of Trump-affiliated people, as well as Russian nationals, have been indicted, charged or put on trial by Mueller over the course of the past two years, but none for election-related conspiracy. Still, Democrats in Congress as well as numerous establishment media personalities have been insisting that Barr, a Trump pick for AG office, is somehow “spinning” its findings in order to protect and exonerate Trump, and are calling to see the full report as soon as possible.

They have equally condemned Barr’s decision to hold a news conference before the report is release, claiming he is trying to shape the public perception in Trump’s favor.

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Moscow’s Strategy: To Win Everywhere, Every Time

The main feature of Moscow’s approach is to find areas of common interest with its interlocutor and to favor the creation of trade or knowledge exchange.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Important events have occurred in the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks that underline how the overall political reconfiguration of the region is in full swing. The Shia axis continues its diplomatic relations and, following Rouhani’s meeting in Baghdad, it was the turn of Adil Abdul-Mahdi to be received in Tehran by the highest government and religious authorities. Among the many statements released, two in particular reveal the high level of cooperation between the two countries, as well as demonstrating how the Shia axis is in full bloom, carrying significant prospects for the region. Abdul-Mahdi also reiterated that Iraq will not allow itself to be used as a platform from which to attack Iran: “Iraqi soil will not be allowed to be used by foreign troops to launch any attacks against Iran. The plan is to export electricity and gas for other countries in the region.”

Considering that these two countries were mortal enemies during Saddam Hussein’s time, their rapprochement is quite a (geo)political miracle, owing much of its success to Russia’s involvement in the region. The 4+1 coalition (Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria plus Hezbollah) and the anti-terrorism center in Baghdad came about as a result of Russia’s desire to coordinate all the allied parties in a single front. Russia’s military support of Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah (together with China’s economic support) has allowed Iran to begin to transform the region such that the Shia axis can effectively counteract the destabilizing chaos unleashed by the trio of the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

One of the gaps to be filled in the Shia axis lies in Lebanon, which has long experienced an internal conflict between the many religious and political currents in the country. The decision by Washington to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel pushed the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, to make an important symbolic visit to Moscow to meet with President Putin.

Once again, the destabilizing efforts of the Saudis, Israelis and Americans are having the unintended effect of strengthening the Shia axis. It seems that this trio fails to understood how such acts as murdering Khashoggi, using civilian planes to hide behind in order to conduct bombing runs in Syria, recognizing the occupied territories like the Golan Heights – how these produce the opposite effects to the ones desired.

The supply of S-300 systems to Syria after the downing of the Russian reconnaissance plane took place as a result of Tel Aviv failing to think ahead and anticipate how Russia may respond.

What is surprising in Moscow’s actions is the versatility of its diplomacy, from the deployment of the S-300s in Syria, or the bombers in Iran, to the prompt meetings with Netanyahu in Moscow and Mohammad bin Salman at the G20. The ability of the Russian Federation to mediate and be present in almost every conflict on the globe restores to the country the international stature that is indispensable in counterbalancing the belligerence of the United States.

The main feature of Moscow’s approach is to find areas of common interest with its interlocutor and to favor the creation of trade or knowledge exchange. Another military and economic example can be found in a third axis; not the Shia or Saudi-Israeli-US one but the Turkish-Qatari one. In Syria, Erdogan started from positions that were exactly opposite to those of Putin and Assad. But with decisive military action and skilled diplomacy, the creation of the Astana format between Iran, Turkey and Russia made Turkey and Qatar publicly take the defense of Islamist takfiris and criminals in Idlib. Qatar for its part has a two-way connection with Turkey, but it is also in open conflict with the Saudi-Israeli axis, with the prospect of abandoning OPEC within a few weeks. This situation has allowed Moscow to open a series of negotiations with Doha on the topic of LNG, with these two players controlling most of the LNG on the planet. It is evident that also the Turkish-Qatari axis is strongly conditioned by Moscow and by the potential military agreements between Turkey and Russia (sale of S-400) and economic and energy agreements between Moscow and Doha.

America’s actions in the region risks combining the Qatari-Turkish front with the Shia axis, again thanks to Moscow’s skilful diplomatic work. The recent sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, together with the withdrawal from the JCPOA (the Iranian nuclear agreement), has created concern and bewilderment in the region and among Washington’s allies. The act of recognizing the occupied Golan Heights as belonging to Israel has brought together the Arab world as few events have done in recent times. Added to this, Trump’s open complaints about OPEC’s high pricing of oil has forced Riyadh to start wondering out aloud whether to start selling oil in a currency other than the dollar. This rumination was quickly denied, but it had already been aired. Such a decision would have grave implications for the petrodollar and most of the financial and economic power of the United States.

If the Shia axis, with Russian protection, is strengthened throughout the Middle East, the Saudi-Israel-American triad loses momentum and falls apart, as seen in Libya, with Haftar now one step closer in unifying the country thanks to the support of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France and Russia, with Fayez al-Sarraj now abandoned by the Italians and Americans awaiting his final defeat.

While the globe continues its multipolar transformation, the delicate balancing role played by Russia in the Middle East and North Africa is emphasized. The Venezuelan foreign minister’s recent visit to Syria shows how the front opposed to US imperialist bullying is not confined to the Middle East, with countries in direct or indirect conflict with Washington gathering together under the same protective Sino-Russian umbrella.

Trump’s “America First” policy, coupled with the conviction of American exceptionalism, is driving international relations towards two poles rather than multipolar ones, pushing China, Russia and all other countries opposed to the US to unite in order to collectively resist US diktats.

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Nigel Farage stuns political elite, as Brexit Party and UKIP surge in polls (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 144.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party’s stunning rise in the latest UK polls, which show Tory support splintering and collapsing to new lows. Theresa May’s Brexit debacle has all but destroyed the Conservative party, which is now seeing voters turn to UKIP and The Brexit Party.

Corbyn’s Labour Party is not finding much favor from UK voters either, as anger over how Britain’s two main parties conspired to sell out the country to EU globalists, is now being voiced in various polling data ahead of EU Parliament elections.

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Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk:


The Guardian reports Tories Hit by New Defections and Slump in Opinion Polls as Party Divide Widens.

The bitter fallout from Brexit is threatening to break the Tory party apart, as a Europhile former cabinet minister Stephen Dorrell on Sunday announces he is defecting to the independent MPs’ group Change UK, and a new opinion poll shows Conservative support plummeting to a five-year low as anti-EU parties surge.

The latest defections come as a new Opinium poll for the Observer shows a dramatic fall in Tory support in the past two weeks and a surge for anti-EU parties. The Conservatives have fallen by six percentage points to 29% compared to a fortnight ago. It is their worst position since December 2014. Labour is up one point on 36% while Ukip is up two points on 11%.

Even more alarmingly for the Tories, their prospects for the European elections appear dire. Only 17% of those certain to vote said they would choose the Conservatives in the European poll, while 29% would back Labour, and 25% either Ukip (13%) or Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party (12%).

YouGov Poll

A more recent YouGov Poll looks even worse for the Tories

In the YouGov poll, UKIP and BREX total 29%.

Polls Volatile

Eurointellingence has these thoughts on the polls.

We have noted before that classic opinion polls at a time like this are next to useless. But we found an interesting constituency-level poll, by Electoral Calculus, showing for the first time that Labour would get enough constituency MPs to form a minority government with the support of the SNP. This is a shift from previous such exercises, which predicted a continuation of the status quo with the Tories still in command.

This latest poll, too, is subject to our observation of massively intruding volatility. It says that some of the Tory’s most prominent MPs would be at risk, including Amber Rudd and Iain Duncan-Smith. And we agree with the bottom-line analysis of John Curtice, the pollster, who said the abrupt fall in support for Tories is due entirely to their failure to have delivered Brexit on time.

The Tories are facing two electoral tests in May – local elections on May 2 and European elections on May 23. Early polls are show Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party shooting up, taking votes away from the Tories. If European elections were held, we would expect the Brexit party to come ahead of the Tories. Labour is rock-solid in the polls, but Labour unity is at risk as the pro-referendum supporters want Jeremy Corbyn to put the second referendum on the party’s manifesto.

Tory Labour Talks

The Tory/Labour talks on a compromise have stalled, but are set to continue next week with three working groups: on security, on environmental protection, and on workers’ rights. A separate meeting is scheduled between Philip Hammond and John McDonnell, the chancellor and shadow chancellor. The big outstanding issue is the customs union. Theresa May has not yet moved on this one. We noted David Liddington, the effective deputy prime minister, saying that the minimum outcome of the talks would be an agreed and binding decision-making procedure to flush out all options but one in a series of parliamentary votes.

May’s task is to get at least half of her party on board for a compromise. What makes a deal attractive to the Tories is that May would resign soon afterwards, giving enough time for the Tory conference in October to select a successor before possible elections in early 2020.

This relative alignment of interests is why we would not rule out a deal – either on an agreed joint future relationship, or at least on a method to deliver an outcome.

Customs Union

A customs union, depending on how it is structured, would likely be worse than remaining. The UK would have to abide by all the EU rules and regulations without having any say.

Effectively, it will not be delivering Brexit.

Perhaps May’s deal has a resurrection.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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