back to article UK intel committee on Russia: Social media firms should remove state disinformation. What was that, MI5? ████████?

An influential UK Parliamentary committee has called on social media companies to remove covert hostile state material and said the government must "name and shame" those that fail to act. It also said that there was a "complicated wiring diagram of responsibilities amongst ministers" who might have to act in the event of a …

  1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU Referendum

    Well... it helps to try looking for evidence. If you don't look then of course you won't "see" any. But what the hell, it was only the key vote of a generation. Finding any suggestion of outside interference would have thrown the result into doubt, which of course the Tories didn't want to happen. Nothing to see here. Move along.

    1. b0llchit
      Facepalm

      Re: seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU Referendum

      Of course there was no evidence. It has all been ██████ under ████████ and ██████. Therefore, it is impossible for ██████ to ████████████ and ██████.

      You are right. Nothing to see here. Well, you could look at ██████ before you move along.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU Referendum

      They didn't look because then the result would have been called into question, and the little Englanders might have to declare it invalid and do it again.

      1. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge

        Re: seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU Referendum

        From the actual report:

        "The Agencies have emphasised that they see their role in this as providing secret intelligence as context for other organisations, as part of a wider HMG response: they do not view themselves as holding primary responsibility for the active defence of the UK’s democratic processes from hostile foreign interference, and indeed during the course of our Inquiry appeared determined to distance themselves from any suggestion that they might have a prominent role in relation to the democratic process itself, noting the caution which had to be applied in relation to intrusive powers in the context of a democratic process. They informed us that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) holds primary responsibility for disinformation campaigns, and that the Electoral Commission has responsibility for the overall security of democratic processes."

        So no.

        The security services stood back because as far as they were concerned it was the Electoral Commission's job to do it (and to ask for help if and when they wanted it).

        You remember the Electoral Commission? Who attempted to bring charges against various elements of the BREXIT campaign (and seem to have invariably lost when the case went to court and was tried to a proper legal of evidence), while ignoring well-founded accusations of wrong doing by the remain campaign?

        The Electoral Commission that did their best to find evidence of criminal behaviour in the BREXIT campaign but just kept on, not finding anything significant. Because there was nothing to find.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU Referendum

          Gas! gas! gas!

        2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU Referendum

          There were a lot of discussions about Russian influence on the Brexit referendum during the run up but the brexiters were saying at the time that it was just remainer rubbish.

          1. Dr_N Silver badge

            Re: seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU Referendum

            It's neither here nor there.

            As long as you supported and aided brexit then you are a friend of the brexiteers. No matter who you are or what you did, you are forgiven and/or feted. The end justifies the means.

      2. Graham 32

        Re: seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU Referendum

        It's more that you have to tell people their opinions are not their own and they are puppets of some nasty foreign bogeyman. Such influences exists in all elections on all sides. How much influence is too much? It's a messy subject.

        BTW there's an excellent series on the BBC at the moment about the Murdoch family. Just saying.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I see

    the russian bot has already come through downvoting everyone who mentions the russian bot.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: I see

      How do you know there's not another Russian bot who downvotes everyone who downvotes mention of the Russian bot in order to make it look like there isn't a Russian bot?

      Also, does a Russian bot have another, smaller, bot inside it?

      In the US Presidential campaign, there were (assumed due to other activities) Russian bots on both sides of quite a lot of the conflicts. For example pushing attendance at pro and anti-Trump rallies at the same plaace.

      I'm not sure the Russians are pushing a side, so much as pushing chaos. Basically they have no supporters. Nobody looks at the Russian system and says, "we want some of that". Or even looks at the Russian government and thinks they'd like them as allies. It's not like the old Soviet days when they had ideological supporters, who liked the idea of communism, despite the horrible disasters caused whenever it was tried. So rather than say, "our system is great" they are now reduced to screaming into the void, "your system is just as shit as ours."

      Despite the fact that the best places to live in the world are all democratic, and all the places that have ever achieved decent standards of living for most of their population have either been democracies, or societies transitioning towards democracy.

  3. David Shaw

    On Sunday Night

    a radio program mentioned that a certain British 'illionaire was having his m'learned friends to examine if his name was mentioned/wrongly/rightly/aaronically

    As the "Russia" document has apparently come out, and I haven't heard anyone mentioning him, then who knows how many other ppl/states got to tidy-it-up, as well?

    meanwhile on that specific point "social media companies to remove covert hostile state material"

    where & when can I start submitting the hard examples that I have of covert & hostile, state-material, that is endemic on Social Media?

    There are rather a lot of countries at it , admittedly in an A-Z list, Russia does feature, but so does A & B & C...etc

    it'll be nice to get back to that internet of the early 2000's

    pre institute of statecraft, integrity initiative clusters, SC (Strategic Communications), "VE Disrupt/Undermine" UK MoD project (WTF?)

    sorry, I haven't yet read the equivalent name of the Russki groups, I'm sure there are loads. I have friends who were born in Soviet Kazakh republic, and in the 1970's they'd sometimes get a knock on the door "Go away comrade" - they were ordered - "The KGB need to use your apartment for a secret discussion for the next few hours" rather than build a perspex safe-house, 'bug free' the spooks would simply choose a random apartment, and do their stuff.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On Sunday Night

      " a certain British 'illionaire"

      Ooh is that the hypocritical brexspiv who's currently in the southern hemisphere interfering in another soverign nation's elections?

  4. uro

    What the..

    "This report reveals that no one in government knew if Russia interfered in or sought to influence that referendum, because they did not want to know. UK government has actively avoided looking for evidence that Russia interfered."

    ...

    'the government said it had "seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU Referendum" and that "a retrospective assessment of the EU Referendum is not necessary"'

    UKGov being told by a comittee's report that it has been negligent on its duties to the UK's national security, responds by being negligent about national security, you literally could not make that up.

    The lunatics have most definately taken over the asylum.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: What the..

      "a retrospective assessment of the EU Referendum is not necessary" [under breath] "because it would call our entire political position into question."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What the..

      "There has been credible open source commentary suggesting that Russia undertook influence campaigns in relation to the Scottish independence referendum in 2014"

      Looking forward to seeing the Scottish Parliament investigating that thoroughly.

      1. David Shaw

        Re: What the..

        Seems that Russian media, after the Scottish vote, pointed out that there were some dubious postal-vote practices. This was seen as bifurcation and an attempt at stirring mischief.

        Yes, these bl00dy Russians do point out some naughty practices from time-to-time.

        Craig Murray explains further on his blog , that weasel wording “undertook influence campaigns in relation to the Scottish independence referendum in 2014“ = afterwards!

      2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: What the..

        Won't they just Alex Salmond to comment on his RT show?

  5. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Naming maybe, but …

    You can name them all you like but past performance suggests the most egregious offenders(*) won't be the slightest bit shamed.

    (*) We all know who they are.

  6. EricM

    If you acknowledge Russian operations supporting UK separatism - what's the consequence?

    What can the government do? Go back to the people and declare THE major vote of the past years (which even turned out in your favor) to be invalid because the vote was influenced by Russia to an uncertain degree?

    Even though part of the electorate is still convinced that the arguments pushed by Russian bots are "true" and some of your own politicians including the PM heavily bought into these arguments?

    Sounds like a receipe for major disaster.

    Europe ( includeing the UK) needs to find an defensive and an offensive way to deal with this foreign influence and minimize its impact - even though this influence plays into the cards of some politicians.

    Otherwise Russia continues to play divide and conquer on a global scale unmitigated.

    The best way I see for the UK would be to minimize damage by making Brexit as soft as necessary as to not weaken combined UK and EU's economical and military capabilities more than absolutely necessary.

    Hard Brexit only will reward Russia for its efforts.

    1. DailyLlama

      Re: If you acknowledge Russian operations supporting UK separatism - what's the consequence?

      Turned out in our favour? Hardly...

      The best defence against Russian aggression is a united Europe, and trying to split it apart is what Russia has been trying to do for years.

      1. EricM

        Re: If you acknowledge Russian operations supporting UK separatism - what's the consequence?

        > Turned out in our favour? Hardly...

        No it did not turn out in favour of the IK, that remark was written from the perspective of the current UK PM, respectively from his party, who advocated for Brexit.

        So now the same party that profited from the Russian efforts would need to investigate ist ...

        > The best defence against Russian aggression is a united Europe,

        I fully agree.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: If you acknowledge Russian operations supporting UK separatism - what's the consequence?

          > The best defence against Russian aggression is a united Europe,

          That was tried in 1941.

          It didn't end well. Not well at all.

          1. DailyLlama

            Re: If you acknowledge Russian operations supporting UK separatism - what's the consequence?

            That wasn't so much a defence as an attack by the Nazis on a former ally. And I wouldn't exactly say that Europe was "united" at the time, more under the yoke of occupation...

            I highly doubt that the EU would attack Russia, that's been proven time and time again to be a terrible idea. But if united, it's more of a deterrent to Russia deciding to walk in and take over one day.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: If you acknowledge Russian operations supporting UK separatism - what's the consequence?

          "IK, that remark was written from the perspective of the current UK PM,"

          Use of second person is tricky.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you acknowledge Russian operations supporting UK separatism - what's the consequence?

      "What can the government do? Go back to the people and declare THE major vote of the past years (which even turned out in your favor) to be invalid because the vote was influenced by Russia to an uncertain degree?"

      > Funny is that this thing shows more and more that the whole brexit thing has nothing to do with taking back control. Or even the UK for that matter. Brexit is about the EU and the geopolitical attempts to break up a (potential) powerful alliance threat at the Russian doorstep. As is the support for a certain presidential candidate who was identified early on with an intelligence and personality pattern certain to piss off and weaken that other annoying alliance. So they just peel at the corner of the label on the bottle and see what happens. And they aren't doing that bad THB. After all, it's always great to sell "it's all about you, your choice, your decision, your life" when in fact they are just self centred sock puppets, doing exactly what you thought out years ago during that drinking session. But hey, "now, with the most important vote of a generation you can determine your own faith!" LOL

  7. Cederic Silver badge

    big fat nothing burger

    The extent of Russian involvement in the EU referendum was.. 200 articles in Russian media that were anti-EU.

    As opposed to EU meddling in the referendum, with multiple EU leaders speaking out in public and hundreds of pro-EU articles in each of dozens of EU media outlets.

    As opposed to US meddling in the referendum, with the US President himself making baseless threats to the British people at the behest of the UK Government.

    As opposed to UK meddling in the referendum, with the Government misusing £9m of public funds to promote their own position in the referendum.

    As opposed to the fucking BBC, breaching their Charter by posting thousands of articles that were pro-EU.

    No, this report has nothing meaningful to say about the EU referendum, except to hopefully shut up the clowns bleating on about Russian interference for the past four bloody years.

    As for MI5, after reading the report this morning I wrote to them directly to thank them for not interfering with UK elections. Thank fuck they recognise the dangers of that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: big fat nothing burger

      It's neo-McCarthyism pure and simple.

      If the "muh Russians!" crowd are to be believed, Putin was instrumental in getting Trump elected, preventing Scotland leaving the union (not sure why that's an advantage to Russia?) and steering the Leave side to victory in 2016. All extremely impressive from a country with a GDP smaller than that of Italy!

    2. Killing Time

      Re: big fat nothing burger

      'this report has nothing meaningful to say about the EU referendum'

      Well that is about the only accurate statement in your post and precisely the reason most reasonable people are questioning it. For my part, your emotive descent into ridicule and expletives is just grist to the mill and additional evidence of you have no rational argument.

      If anyone who holds an opposing view to you, is in your view a bleating clown, then sign me up I am more than happy with that so insult away.

      If truth was established by an escalation of insults, civilization would have been screwed centuries ago, thankfully it's not.

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: big fat nothing burger

        I notice that you provide no rebuttal to any of the points I made, and merely insult me.

        I guess you voted Remain; you're certainly using their tactics.

        1. Killing Time

          Re: big fat nothing burger

          'I notice that you provide no rebuttal to any of the points I made, and merely insult me.'

          I was quite clear in that I believe your 'points' to be inaccurate.

          Not seeing any personal insult leveled at you. Perhaps you can be specific as to where you feel the personal insult lies, clearly you are quite emotional about this.

          How I voted is frankly quite immaterial, I have voted in the democratic process ever since I have been able to. It only appears to be since this particular vote went though that all further debate is expected to be shutdown.

          I have always understood the democratic process to be about civilised and respectful debate. Not in this case it seems.

          1. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: big fat nothing burger

            Which of my points is inaccurate?

            The report said fuck all.

            The EU interfered with the referendum.

            The US interfered with the referendum.

            The BBC breached its Charter to promote just one side of the referendum.

            I have no issue with further debate, I'd just like it to be based on facts, not smear campaigns like "Leave voters didn't know what they were voting for" and "the Russians did it".

            As for personal insults, describing my post as an emotive descent into ridicule is very clearly a personal attack. Your inability to cope with simple logic and naughty words doesn't make me ridiculous.

            1. Killing Time

              Re: big fat nothing burger

              To 'interfere' is to 'intervene in a situation without invitation or necessity'.

              How can the EU interfere in a situation both the UK and the EU were both intrinsically part of?

              The US, when asked, expressed views on trade and political stability RE: Ireland. They were invited to comment.

              The BBC supposedly breaching it's Charter is entirely subjective depending on which side you happen to be but they will claim balance and neutrality. There are other broadcasters which have access to the majority of homes.

              If you feel my description of one part of your post is a personal attack that's unfortunate, you appeared to be quite emotionally robust in your initial post, you didn't expose your sensitive side.

              As for the situation being simple logic, if it were that easy it would all just be a function of maths.

              Chin up, I'm sure everyone here doesn't think you are ridiculous.

              1. Cederic Silver badge

                Re: big fat nothing burger

                How can the EU interfere in a situation both the UK and the EU were both intrinsically part of?

                The EU were not part of the referendum. That was a UK domestic matter, within the UK.

                The US, when asked, expressed views on trade

                The US tried to interfere. Whether that was by invitation or not is irrelevant. Obama intentionally tried to stop us leaving the EU. That was direct interference, unlike Russia's media.

                The BBC supposedly breaching it's Charter is entirely subjective

                That's laughable.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: big fat nothing burger

                How can the EU interfere in a situation both the UK and the EU were both intrinsically part of?

                As a sovereign nation, the decision to remain or leave the EU rested solely with the people of the UK and nobody else.

                Juncker's threats on the eve of the referendum followed by the exact opposite statements after the decision didn't go the "right" way, was just one clear example of the EU interfering in UK democracy.

                The president of the European Commission has warned British voters ahead of next month’s referendum on EU membership that “deserters will not be welcomed back with open arms”. Jean-Claude Juncker’s comments are the strongest intervention yet from the head of the EU’s executive arm, who previously said he would stay out of the Brexit debate.

                https://www.ft.com/content/5a40e4c0-1e6e-11e6-b286-cddde55ca122

                Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday doubled down on his calls for a second Brexit referendum and said he would help Britain re-join the bloc even if the UK finally does leave the European Union.

                Yesterday, he agreed with Donald Tusk, the European Council president, who told MEPs the EU’s “hearts are open” to a British Brexit reversal.

                On Wednesday, Mr Juncker went further in what appears to be the latest step in a carefully coordinated salvo to boost the spirits of those British politicians and people who want to stop Brexit.

                “Our hand remains outstretched. The British people, the British government may wish to find a different way out. We’re very much willing to deal with them,”

                https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/01/17/jean-claude-juncker-doubles-call-second-brexit-referendum/

    3. Dr_N Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: big fat nothing burger

      Cedric>As for MI5, after reading the report this morning I wrote to them directly to thank them for not interfering with UK elections. Thank fuck they recognise the dangers of that.

      Did you use green ink?

  8. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    If the cap fits, wear it * Denial is simply counter-productive and always self-defeating

    It also said that there was a "complicated wiring diagram of responsibilities amongst ministers" who might have to act in the event of a major state cyber attack.

    Ok, I'll keep it short, but it just has to be said .........

    WTF. What a palaver and guaranteed disaster just waiting to happen.

    Has the Steaming Cummings and BoJo Stream Train run right out of Puff ? What a pathetic disappointment that has turned out to be. It doesn't say much for Eton College and Oxbridge, does it? And even less for UKGBNI Government Servants and Services.

    Do you want to label that as fake news rather than realise it an all too apparent and rotten public view?

    * ..... https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/if%20the%20cap%20fits

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: If the cap fits, wear it * Denial is simply counter-productive and always self-defeating

      Of course there's a complicated wiring diagram of government responsibility. How could there not be? Nor is this anything new.

      The SIS (MI6) and GCHQ are responsible for spying on foreigners. In most cases they're not even supposed to be allowed to work in this country. So for obvious reasons they're under the direction of the Foreign Office. The National Cyber Security Centre hangs off GCHQ, because they're the guys with the computer expertise - hence also being under the FCO.

      The Security Service (MI5) are Home Office because their job is counter-espionage and counter-terrorism. So they're spying here - although again the counter-espionage thing could be under SIS and the Foreign Office, considering most of that involves spying on foreign diplomats operating in London. Also here there's always been overlap (and conflict) with Special Branch, which I think is now part of the Met's Counter Terrorism Command?

      There have always been power struggles, bureaucratic infighting and problems crossing the boundaries between the intelligence services. Traditionally the coordinating role was always the Cabinet Office, and the Cabinet Secretary, which ran the Joint Intelligence Committee (who also bring in the Defence Intelligence Agency) to write joint intelligence assesments as needed. It was the Cabinet Office who were supposed to at least keep the weasels fighting inside the same sack...

      That coordination role was increased by either Cameron or May by creating the National Security Council (and Advisor) - again under the Cabinet Office - to try and improve coordination.

      But it would be very hard to have it all in one department, given all the different organisations, and potentially dangerous too - as we don't want too many spies spying on us - we want most of them set on all those nasty foreigners. Hence keeping them separate.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the government must "name and shame" those that fail to act

    I bet the government will begin by naming and shaming themselves for failing to act. Not.

  10. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    Report from self-important people uncritically 'informed' by 'evidence' from untrustworthy sources?

    Apparently (based on the BBC account) mention of 'sensitive' material was omitted from the report. I take this to mean in addition to par for the course redaction.

    Committee members took on trust what they were told. They expect Parliament to do likewise. What other people think is irrelevant in their smug niche.

    Obviously state security agencies in the UK and maybe from elsewhere too (but definitely not Russia's FSB) offered what purports to be 'evidence', well laced with opinion in 'expert' interpretation, and obviously trustworthy at face value because who in right mind would suspect security agencies of being misinformed, of being incapable of applying sceptical mindset to supposed evidence, and of being party to politically convenient deception?

    Until recent times (Blair in the UK) security experts were given considerable latitude in trust. Occasionally it was revealed they got things wrong but accusation of duplicity was unusual; it was suspected MI5 sought on behalf of its master (The Privy Council inner core) to unseat Harold Wilson. US/UK aggression against Iraq destroyed trust in British and American overseas security operations. 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' demonstrated the incompetence and/or criminal association of senior security operatives as handmaidens of corrupt politicians. It also showed the breathtaking credulity of a British parliament under the spell of an evil man well practised in mendacity. Indifference to evidence became ingrained as we see, for example, in attitude toward Syria and Iran.

    Doubtless, 'evidence' presented to the committee was padded by ancillary agencies dedicated to supporting NATO by vilifying Russia. Be clear that official agencies and these para-agencies rely upon the US and UK facing a gaggle of putative enemies. Were it not so, defence expenditure would plummet and now plush security services would be cut to the bone. Jettisoned too would be a host of 'think tanks', notably the risible Atlantic Council, surplus to propaganda purposes.

    Boris Johnson has chosen to reject the report's findings. Is this because his finely honed mind recognises bullshit when it comes across it. The answer is a resounding NO. Said Johnson, in previous ministerial role, swallowed the ridiculous 'Skripal' narrative hook, line, and sinker. This time around he rejects risible evidence only because he fears it casts doubt over the validity of the Brexit vote.

    1. Killing Time

      Re: Report from self-important people uncritically 'informed' by 'evidence' from yada yada yada

      I'm afraid to say your title pretty much sums up your post. I read it twice just to reassure myself I hadn't missed something of importance. But no, it contributes very little other than conjecture, appears contradictory in places and reads like you just swallowed a thesaurus. If there was a point there to directly address I would happily try to reason with you but I fail to see one.

      it's just the pontificating kind of hot air and smoke, mischief makers have successfully been blowing up our asses for years now. It's a damning indictment of our society a significant proportion continue to fall for it.

      If you want to make your point (whatever it is) in the space of one sentence, I would be happy to debate it with you?

    2. First Light Bronze badge

      Re: Report from self-important people, etc.

      "finely-honed mind" !!!! LOLOL.

      When you say stuff like that, you sabotage your own argument.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Report from self-important people uncritically 'informed' by 'evidence' from untrustworthy sources?

      Long John Silver,

      US/UK aggression against Iraq destroyed trust in British and American overseas security operations. 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' demonstrated the incompetence and/or criminal association of senior security operatives as handmaidens of corrupt politicians.

      The Joint Intelligence Committee actually went to the unusual step of publishing their evidence on Iraqi WMDs. Which means we know they didn't lie about it, because they told us what they knew - which was very little. If you actually read the published report (as I did at the time), it was almost all publicly available evidence - such as the UN weapons inspectors reports from the 1990s. Which told you what parts of Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons program the UN had so far discovered - and what they'd destroyed before being forced out of the country. What they'd found was more than what they'd destroyed. Hence the estimates of what Iraq had left.

      The JIC report didn't say we have secret intel on what Iraq currently has, it was merely a process of counting.

      The one bit of that dossier that you might unfairly call a lie was the intelligence source who said that Iraq's remaining chemical weapons were deployable and useable at 45 minute's notice. Almost every serious intelligence agency in the world believed that Iraq still had the stuff, but many didn't believe Iraq had the capability to use it. Given the UN inspections in the 90s had commented on the poor quality of their chemcal purity, meaning they had short shelf lives. The original JIC report said that there was a report from a single source that Iraq might have this capability (turns out that source was from a defector held by German intelligence at the time) - and it was re-written for the "dodgy dossier" to say the slightly more positive that we had intelligence to say that... Thus making it seem like the information was sligtly more credible than the actual info. As I understand it, real intel reports are full of such caveats - because information is scarce.

      At the time of the Iraq war I was reading the excellent 'The Secret State' by Peter Hennessey. Which is about UK intelligence in the early Cold War. And it was frightening to see how little intel they had on the Soviet Union. Military intel was what stuff they could see - but they had very little political information to speak of about what the Soviet government was planning or thought were in its interests. So it was clear to me that we were suffering from a similar lack of info on Iraq, just with better military info from satellites. It's hard to get inside information on governments that shoot people who talk to ousiders, or in Saddam's case sometimes people that just annoy him a bit.

      A lie would imply that the British government thought Iraq didn't have chemical weapons. Iraq had used chemical weapons, as well as deploying them at Corps HQ level in 1991 - the whole reason for the sanctions regime in the 90s was to destroy that, and it was never finished.

      Johnson, in previous ministerial role, swallowed the ridiculous 'Skripal' narrative hook, line, and sinker.

      Are you accusing Boris Johnson of buying the ridiculous Russian story that 2 tourists from Russia who just happened to have sequentially numbered passports, were scared to walk a mile in Salisbury to get to the Cathedral because of slush? Oh no, I see, you've fallen down the whole conspiracy theory bollocks rabbithole that thinks the UK government made the whole thing up and spend a few tens of millions of pounds decontaminating a small city just for fun and to allow them to be rude to the poor innocent Russian government. I'm afraid I can't help you then.

  11. Mike Richards

    Responsibility

    'For example, the Foreign Secretary has responsibility for the National Cyber Security Centre, which is responsible for incident response, while the Home Secretary leads on the response to major cyber incidents. To add to the confusion, the Defence Secretary has overall responsibility for cyber techniques as "warfighting tools" and for the National Offensive Cyber Programme, while the Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) leads on digital matters'

    So that would be:

    Foreign Secretary - Dominic Raab

    Home Secretary - Priti Patel

    Minister of Fun - Oliver Dowden

    You'd be hard-pressed to find three less suitable people to oversee intelligence matters. Though Gavin Williamson probably comes close.

    1. Anomalous Cowturd
      Boffin

      Re: Responsibility

      > You'd be hard-pressed to find three less suitable people to oversee intelligence matters. Though Gavin Williamson probably comes close.

      Step up to the plate, Chris Grayling. A shoe in for Defence Secretary, if ever I saw one. ;o)

      [/sarc]

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For those who forget history...

    "...Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. ... voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country." - H. Goering.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whether they successfully meddled in any vote or policy decision comes down to one thing. Did they change minds?

    So hunt out and publish their forum and social media posts and let people decide for themselves if they were duped by these paid professionals seeking to destabilise nations. Accounts identified as being run by state actors should be preserved and flagged as such so people can realise they've been "retweeting the enemy".

    There is no need to invalidate any referendum, just let people see what these foreign agents have been saying and where they've been saying it. The "will of the people" will do the rest (but probably just shrug).

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      This is not the answer. I doubt these accounts would exist for more than 24 hours after being flagged. Also, I doubt that many people actually care about their sources of information as long as it feeds their preferred narrative.

      What Putin appears to have done is provide covert support for a position that was being openly pushed by a minority. (That, incidentally is the difference between his intervention and that of the EU and US. All three had a public position. Only Putin had an army of anonymous influecers.) That would have been almost impossible with proper fact checking, but proved fairly easy if you can get away with lying on an industrial scale.

      So blame all round, really. Still, we'll learn. Experience is a hard mistress, but fools will learn from no other.

  14. Anonymous Coward
  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yet despite such obvious threats from Russia and North Korea in the CNI space, government regulators at OFWAT and OFGEM still actively refuse to fund the necessary replacement of early protection and control equipment. AC because job security. Maybe we need an active attack to make the point that there is a problem.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Some things one never gets to know about until it is far too late to influence.

      Maybe we need an active attack to make the point that there is a problem. .... Anonymous Coward

      Maybe there are more than just a few already doing their stealthy anonymous active internetworking attack thing, AC, for they always appear to be invisible and intangible and only sketchily reported on long after the event.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Some things one never gets to know about until it is far too late to influence.

        From firsthand experience I have seen all manner of probing attempts being made. To the extent that even new hardware needs to be quarantined and monitored carefully in a controlled environment before deployment; such is the degree of supply chain unreliability. Huawei are in the media at the moment but only a small part of the overarching problem. Little things like managing firmware updates on air-gapped networks are non-trivial.

  16. Chris the bean counter Bronze badge

    One of the first redactions was

    The principal target of Russia was ***.

    Which is quite an irritating redaction.

    TBH fully understand why intelligence services would not want to touch elections with a barge pole. They would be ripped apart. Happened before with Harold Wilson (almost certainly untrue) rumours.

    Given Corbyn & Foot were both named as an "asset" by East European spy agencies in the past and Corbyn's interviews on RT it is little wonder that any interference in elections by intelligence services would be seen as biased.

    Yes I expect Russia made mischief and I expect it was more noise with little effect. Bit like comments posted under a news article.

  17. Danny 2 Silver badge

    The primary reason for investigation into a hack

    The primary reason for investigation into a hack isn't punishment, it's to prevent further hacks.

    The failure to prevent the hack may be forgiven; the failure to investigate is both unforgivable and incriminating.

    I'm pro Scottish independence, but a year or two ago I helped got a Russian state puppet thrown out of the Edinburgh Chambers of Commerce. Now how on earth did a Russian state puppet get into the Edinburgh Chambers of Commerce? Filthy lucre.

    We need the complicit corrupt Lords and MPs named, shamed, blamed and arrested. We need to deport the oligarchs, seize all Russian assets in Londongrad, and arrest all their local money launderers.

    That won't happen, obviously. It's telling how Trumpish Johnson is.

    But first we have to investigate the previous crimes to prevent further crimes.

  18. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Interestingly ...

    The only place you can download this report from seems to be goooooogledocs, which requires you to run a shitload of potentially snoopy javascript in order to get at it.

    I wonder why this report is not available from the parliamentary web site via a simple hyperlink. Might they be trying to discourage security conscious members of the public from reading it? Or are the brains just turned off as usual?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    *Alleged* attacks

    There is still no independently verified evidence that the incident with the Skripals was caused by Russian agents or materiel. Please do not repeat propaganda in passing as if it were facts. One would think journalists concerned with security and spying would know better.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Outrage.....we've been attacked!!

    ....but not much coverage when the boot is on the other foot:

    1. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/21/british-spies-hacked-into-belgacom-on-ministers-orders-claims-report

    2. https://www.wired.co.uk/article/uk-offensive-cyber-security-attacks

    *

    Then there's the billion++ (with a "b") which Philip Hammond sent to Cheltenham......are they doing anything for the money....or is attack (but no defence) now considered to be "value for money" (see item #2 above).

    *

    Ah....sorry....I didn't realise......it's ABSOLUTELY OK when the attacking is done by Cheltenham.....but ABSOLUTELY ABHORRENT when it's done by anyone else!

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