Kiev - Ukraine's security service on Monday searched offices of Russian internet giant Yandex as part of a treason probe after Kiev banned its popular search engine earlier in May.

"Employees of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) conducted sanctioned searches in the offices of the subsidiary of the Russian company Yandex in Kiev and Odessa," the SBU said in a statement.

The security agency said the searches were part of a treason probe and accused Yandex of passing on the personal details of Ukrainian citizens, including military personnel, to authorities in Russia.

"The information was handed over to the Russian intelligence services for the purposes of planning, organising and carrying out espionage, sabotage and subversive operations in our country," it said.

Yandex confirmed the searches at its offices but said it had no "information" about the activities of the Ukrainian security agency.

"Yandex is ready to provide all information regarding its operations in Ukraine, according and limited by Ukrainian legal procedures," said company spokesperson Ksenia Korneyeva.

The latest move comes after Ukraine blocked Russia's most popular social media networks and the Yandex search engine earlier in May in response to the Kremlin's alleged backing of a three-year separatist war in the east.

Moscow and Kiev have been locked in a bitter feud since the Kremlin seized Crimea the Crimea peninsula in 2014.

The Kremlin described Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's decision to ban its sites as "another manifestation of unfriendly, short-sighted policy toward Russia".

The ban remains in effect for three years.

Source: This article was news24.com

Categorized in Search Engine

News in the section ‘Context’ are not fakes. We publish them in order to provide you with a deeper understanding of the techniques and methods used by the Russian government in its information war.

This research project by Aric Toler, a contributor at RuNet Echo and Bellingcat, offers a series of guides, tutorials, and walkthroughs on understanding and conducting open-source research on the Russian-language Internet (RuNet). The primary focus of the project is providing instruction on the nuances of Russian-language research relating to the conflict in eastern Ukraine by using contemporary case studies. To show how these methods are useful in other conflicts, this project will also explore some similar open-source work being done on the Syrian conflict. The finished product will help readers learn how to understand and conduct such research.

There are more Internet users in Russia than any other European country, yet there are no detailed guides or tutorials available to guide non-Russian speakers on navigating the wealth of open-source information on the RuNet. Many, if not most, of the guides will be accessible to those with little-to-no Russian skills, giving non-Russian speakers the tools and confidence to access information on the RuNet.

The project helps researchers, journalists, and anyone interested in understanding more about the Russian Internet to verify sources and understand information found on Russian social media. It also provides some techniques for media forensics involving images and videos, including the different levels of verification needed for different uses: journalistic, evidentiary, as well as other avenues.

The motivation for carrying out this project is to satisfy a demand among English-speakers for learning materials about carrying out and verifying open-source research on the RuNet. There is a wealth of information on the RuNet that is of interest to specialists, journalists, and the general public in the English-speaking world. There are currently no guides, however, that provide instruction for navigating and verifying these sources that differ from English-language counterparts. Important sources for research data include exclusively Russian-language social networks like Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, along with others that function in Russian-language pockets on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and elsewhere.

Open-source research can complement traditional journalism by generating leads and supplementing on-the-ground reporting. For example, the author of this project, Aric Toler, provided open-source research on a particular Russian soldier who fought in Ukraine to VICE News journalist Simon Ostrovsky to assist him in following his “journey” from his hometown to the battlefields of Ukraine (see “Selfie Soldiers: Russia Checks Into Ukraine”). In another example, open-source research from Bellingcat into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 provided material for a 60 Minutes Australia investigation at the site of the tragedy.

Each installment of RuNet Echo’s guidebook includes a detailed tutorial, accompanied by case studies, teaching readers how to conduct a particular kind of open-source research.

How to Conduct Open-Source Research on the Russian Internet

This entire guidebook is also available as a PDF. Download it. Print it. Share it with your research buddies and students. If you start using the methods described here, help RuNet Echo report on the Russian Internet! Contact our editors and let us know what stories you’d like to write about!


By Global Voices

Global Voices reporters cover how citizens use the Internet and social media to make their voices heard, often translating from and to different languages.

Source : http://www.stopfake.org/en/how-to-conduct-open-source-research-on-the-russian-internet/

Categorized in Online Research

The Internet search engine Yandex.ru is nowadays the most popular website in Russia. More than 25 million people use this resource daily. An annual income of over 200 million Euros makes Yandex the richest Internet company in the country. How did Yandex manage to become so successful and what methods did its inventors use to beat their business rivals?

The story of the search engine Yandex.ru began in Moscow in the 1980s. Back then a young mathematician Arkady Volozh worked in a research institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and did a study on different methods of processing large volumes of information. The Law on Cooperatives enacted in the Soviet Union in 1988 made it possible for people in the country to start their own businesses.

Volozh and his colleagues decided then to earn money by buying computers in Western Europe and selling them in the USSR. The business model of young entrepreneurs had the following structure: they bought seeds of sunflowers in Russia, transported them to Austria, sold them there and purchased new computers.

Although his business was quite successful, Arkady Volozh had a feeling that trade was not really his cup of tea. What fascinated the young man most was programming. Therefore Volozh eventually made up his mind to stop selling computers and founded together with a friend a company named “CompTek” that would write and design computer programs.

Particularly interesting for Volozh and his business partner was invention of new methods of searching for certain data in large amounts of information. The first products of “CompTek” were computer programs for patent classification (these were sold to diverse scientific institutions and patent offices in Russia) and applications for search of goods and services in catalogues of different companies.

In the early 1990s there existed already various computer search engines on the software market. They were all, however, based on grammar rules of English and thus did not take into account peculiarities of other languages.

In English, for example, there are no grammatical cases and declinations for nouns and adjectives: “I am a good student” and “I know a good student” – the noun and the adjective do not change. In Russian, on the contrary, there are six cases and all nouns and adjectives change their form depending on the case. Just like in the German language: “Ich bin ein guter Student” (“I am a good student”) but “Ich kenne einen guten Studenten” (“I know a good student”). A search for the word “Student” in a German text in one of the search engines would have shown you only the first phrase. The second sentence, where the word has another ending, would not have been displayed.

The same problem was with the Russian verbs that have a lot more conjugation forms than the English ones. Aware of that Arkady Volozh and his business partner came up with the idea of creating a new electronic search method suitable for the Russian language. They invented the so-called “morphological search” that could find not only the exact word entered but also all its grammatical forms and derivatives.

To see how the “morphological search” works, the owners of “CompTek” decided to test it on the Bible. The Old and New Testaments contain lots of various words and phrases that occur in different parts of the text. Already in the 12th century there existed a special book that contained references to all terms and expressions from the Holy Scripture – in which chapter and on which page one could find them.

In the 1990s “CompTek” created a special computer program that helped search for every word or phrase in an electronic text of the Bible. For example, if one entered the word “Faith”, the program displayed references to all verses where this word occurred in all its grammatical forms.

The search engine invented by “CompTek” was named “Yandex”, which is a combination of two words: “Ya” (“I” in Russian) and “Index” – i.e. “Index for me” or “My Index” that helps me find everything I want. There was created a newer version of the program that could be installed into different systems and databases, in order search for necessary data in large amounts of information. There existed, for example, a special application “Yandex.CD” that could conduct a search on a compact disc. Lots of different companies and organizations in Russia bought the program from “CompTek” and used it for their needs.

In the mid-1990s “CompTek” turned its attention to the fast growing World Wide Web and created a new version of “Yandex” for search on the Internet. Subsequently “CompTek” tried to sell the browsing program to different telecommunications companies in Russia for 15 thousand USD but everyone rejected the offer because the price was considered too high. The inventors of “Yandex” decided then to make their own website with an Internet search engine and in September 1997 a new domain www.yandex.ru was launched.

At that time there existed already several other search machines in the Russian part of the Internet but the competitive advantage of “Yandex” over all of them lay in the already mentioned “morphological search” that helped find a lot more references to words and phrases. Furthermore, the browsing system of “Yandex” was partly adapted to the natural language of people and could deal with such complicated inquiries as, for example, “What should one do when a thermometer is broken?” or “Where can I buy a vacuum cleaner?” All these conveniences led to a rapid rise in the popularity of “Yandex” in Russia.

In the year 2000 the trademark “Yandex” left its parent company “CompTek” - a new firm with the name “Yandex” was founded. The value of the newborn company was estimated by experts at15 million USD. The biggest Russian Internet holding “Ru-Net” purchased then one third of all shares of “Yandex” for 5 million 280 thousand dollars. This business deal provided the company with a large sum of money for further development – numerous new services such as “Yandex-Mail”, “Yandex-News” etc. were launched. At this moment “Yandex” also started a brand new marketing campaign with advertising slogans “Yandex finds everything” and “Address all your questions to Yandex”. Since people in Russia saw and heard these slogans daily on TV, Radio and billboards, lots of them started to regard “Yandex” as a unique adviser in the World Wide Web. Phrases like “Let’s ask Yandex!” or “What did Yandex say?” went on to become fixed expressions in the vocabulary of many Russians.

In the first decade of the 21st century “Yandex” became the most visited Russian website on the Internet and with about 60 % market share the largest search engine in the country. Competition with other Internet companies, however, constantly forces “Yandex” to introduce various new services to its customers. In the last few years “Yandex” launched a lot of innovative applications such as “Yandex Postcards” (for making individual greeting cards for friends and family), “Yandex Money” (an electronic payment system for purchasing goods and services on the Internet) and “Yandex Jams” (a special online map for car drivers, that shows all traffic congestions in a selected area).

In spring 2011 “Yandex” raised 1.3 billion USD in an initial public offering on NASDAQ in New York City, which was the biggest U.S. IPO for an Internet company since Google went public in 2004. At the same time the value of the whole company was estimated at over 8 billion USD. Now if we recall, that in the mid-1990s the search engine cost only 15 thousand USD, we can calculate that in 15 years its value increased by more than 500 thousand times.

Author : Vladimir Ustyuzhanin

Source : https://sputniknews.com/voiceofrussia/2012_10_02/The-success-story-of-Yandex-Russian-Google-s-rival/

Categorized in Search Engine

By the time the Democratic National Committee had accused Russia of hacking into its emails and passing them to Wikileaks, Arkady Bukh's cybersecurity venture was a little over a year old.

Cybersec, set up in 2015, is a controversial business that uses the services of Russian and Russian-speaking hackers to provide cybersecurity services to companies. Bukh runs the startup from his Manhattan and Brooklyn law offices. He says he has "at least half a dozen" hackers who work for him, half in the U.S. and half in Russia or the former Soviet Union. They are paid on a per-project basis, usually via Bitcoin. 

Bukh said news about the DNC hack was good for business.

Bukh, originally from Baku in the former Soviet Union, is now a naturalized U.S. citizen. He made his name defending many of the Russian hackers who have been charged and found guilty in the U.S.

He has an extensive network of current and former "black hat" hackers -- those who use their extensive computer skills to break into secure networks or websites, often with illegal intent. Launching Cybersec grew out of a desire, Bukh says, to put their formidable skills to use, and to help meet a growing demand among U.S. businesses to protect themselves from the threat of cyberattacks.

It's certainly an unusual business model. Some of the hackers he has brought on as consultants have already served time. Several are wanted by the U.S. government and staying away from countries with extradition treaties. One or two, Bukh says, are still engaged in nefarious hacking activities. A lot of the consulting is done remotely -- over the phone or online. 

cybersecurity startup

Why use Russian hackers?

The simple answer: They're highly skilled. It's partly the education, Bukh says, that sets Russian hackers and those from the former Soviet Union apart.

"This is the culture of the country where math and computer science is a very important part of the college, of the school, and they do invest a lot of money into this effort."

Money also plays a big role. It's not easy to make a good living as a computer analyst in Russia, and hacking -- particularly stealing credit cards numbers -- is lucrative. And Bukh notes, the Russian government rarely prosecutes hackers. In fact, there's a wide consensus among global cybersecurity professionals that the Russian government freely allows Russian criminal hackers to operate as long as they don't attack Russian business and government interests.

One of the part-time consultants, Sergei Pavlovich, is a 33-year-old former credit card hacker. He turned up coatless to meet me in the Moscow snow, and said in return for his expertise, Arkady Bukh advises him on his own business ventures. He wrote a book about his hacking days called "How I stole a million," and has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to have it translated into English. He says he doesn't just advise on the technical methods of credit card hacking, but the social aspects of it too.

He described how the mother's maiden name was often the missing link to getting access to someone's bank account. On occasion, someone with good enough English would call the account holder to try to find it out. Pavlovich served 10 years in jail in his native Belarus and is still wanted by the U.S. government for his involvement in a credit card fraud ring back in 2008.

Another of Bukh's hackers, Vladislav Horohorin, first came into contact with Bukh when he hired him as his defense attorney. Horohorin helps out from his Massachusetts prison cell, where he's serving the last few months of a 3-and-a-half year sentence for stealing $9 million from an Atlanta-based credit card processor. "We just think the way actual attackers might," he told me via email.

It's complicated

The fact that Cybersec shares a space with Arkady Bukh's law offices isn't just to save on overhead. The lawyers are on hand to help iron out any liability issues that come with using consultants who are wanted for crimes or have a criminal record. And Bukh says he is in constant contact with the FBI, who's aware he is working with some people on their wanted list. He would not say which hackers the FBI was pursuing, but said he cooperates if they try to negotiate a surrender with one of his associates.

Cybersec's clients have so far been small and medium-sized businesses, and some wealthy individuals. Large and publicly listed companies have shied away from the legal gray area, Bukh admits.

As for the consultants themselves, it's been easy convincing them to come aboard. It's just another way to make money, Bukh says. "Hackers are usually businessmen."

Author : Clare Sebastian

Source : http://money.cnn.com/2016/12/12/technology/russian-hackers-cybersec.cnnw/index.html

Categorized in Internet Privacy

PALM BEACH, Fla. – President-elect Donald Trump, in the final hours of 2016, restated his doubt about the validity of U.S. intelligence analyses that the Russian government hacked various political organizations with the goal of putting him in the Oval Office.

“I just want them to be sure, because it’s a pretty serious charge, and I want them to be sure,” Trump said in a brief question-and-answer session as he prepared to enter a New Year’s Eve party at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

“And if you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster, and they were wrong. And so I want them to be sure,” Trump said, referring to the faulty argument pushed by proponents of the 2003 Iraq invasion that dictator Saddam Hussein possessed banned weapons. “I think it’s unfair if they don’t know. And I know a lot about hacking. And hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.”

Trump then stated his belief that extremely sensitive information should not be communicated via computers at all, citing the expertise of his pre-teen son.

“It’s very important, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way because I’ll tell you what, no computer is safe. I don’t care what they say, no computer is safe,” Trump said. “I have a boy who’s 10 years old. He can do anything with a computer. You want something to really go without detection, write it out and have it sent by courier.”

President-elect Donald Trump talks to reporters as he and his wife, Melania, arrive for a New Year’s Eve celebration with members and guests at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, on Dec. 31.

When asked what, specifically, he knew about alleged Russian hacking that others did not, Trump said he would reveal his insights into the controversy in due time. “You’ll find out Tuesday or Wednesday,” he said.

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI this week released a 13-page document outlining how Russian-based hackers stole emails of Democratic officials, which were then released online and to the outlet WikiLeaks in the closing months of the campaign.

Following the release of that report, Trump announced that during the coming days he would meet with U.S. intelligence leaders to discuss Russia’s interference in the election, even though he thought it was better for the country to move on from the election.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton herself raised the issue of Russia’s involvement during one of the presidential debates. But Trump said it was impossible to know who actually had done the hacking, suggesting it might have been a 400-pound hacker sitting in his bed and, later, that it was someone in New Jersey.

Author: S.V. Date
Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-russian-hacking_us_58686f8de4b0d9a5945bc5e9

Categorized in News & Politics

Nearly two weeks after Donald Trump won the 2016 Presidential Election — and month before the Electoral College is set to vote, making the results permanent — a new movement wants to audit the November 8 vote, to investigate whether Trump won the election fair and square, or whether error and even fraud may have placed him in the White House.

One element of the vote audit movement is a Change.org online petition calling for election officials to “double-check the electronic results by conducting a ‘risk-limiting’ audit of the presidential election in every state that uses paper ballots.”

Even a United States Senator, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, has called for a congressional investigation into possible election tampering, particularly by Russian intelligence agencies.

Audit Vote, #AuditTheVote, Was election rigged, Donald Trump wins election, Russian election hack, vote fraud

A vote-counting computer used to tabulate ballots in the 2016 presidential election.

The petition started by the Verified Voting Foundation seeks 75,000 signatures which will be forwarded to Secretaries of State, election officials, and state governors. As of Sunday morning, November 20, the petition had received 65,199 supporters.

“The FBI determined some months ago that hacking, originating from Russia, was having an influence on our electoral process,” the petition states. “These hackers interfered with our presidential election through attempted and successful penetration of email and voter registration databases, among other systems. This created fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the safety of our electoral processes.”

In fact, it was not only the FBI but the National Security Agency itself — the intelligence bureau responsible for America’s online and digital spying and counter-espionage efforts — which detected attempts to tip the United States election by what NSA chief Michael Rogers called “a nation state,” as seen in the excerpted interview with Rogers in the video below.

“This was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance,” Rogers said in the Wall Street Journal interview. “This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily.”

While Russian ties to hacked emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee that were subsequently released online by the document-dumping site WikiLeaks were confirmed by U.S. intelligence agencies as well as independent investigators weeks before the election, hackers connected to the Russian government are also known to have broken into a voter registration system in Illinois.

The Russian hackers also entered at least one other state’s voter database — and in theory could have penetrated many more which have yet to be detected. Once inside, the hackers could have altered voter information to create fake registrations and alter voting patterns.

Audit Vote, #AuditTheVote, Was election rigged, Donald Trump wins election, Russian election hack, vote fraud

Russian President Vladimir Putin, suspected of engineering manipulation of the presidential election that tipped the vote to Donald Trump.

According to Alexandra Chalupa, a consultant to the DNC investigating the Russian hacks, told the Gothamist news site that in Pennsylvania, especially, the voting results appeared strange, with between 50 and 75 percent of provisional ballots rejected. Even more alarming, “a large number of voters who voted for a Republican president and senator, but voted for Democrats down the rest of the ballot.”

“That’s not usually the pattern,” Chalupa said.

Trump ended up beating Clinton in Pennsylvania by a mere 57,588 votes — less than one percentage point — winning the state’s crucial 20 electoral votes, despite the fact that Pennsylvania had voted for the Democrat in six consecutive presidential elections.

A new Twitter hashtag, #AuditTheVote, appeared on Saturday, and one of the hashtag creators, Melinda Byerley, explained that the purpose was to collect public information and data that could either verify or disprove claims of election tampering and fraud.

“This is not about (Hillary Clinton) or (Donald Trump),” Byerley wrote. “This is about national sovereignty and a potential foreign breach of our voting system. “America is a beacon to the world for free and fair elections. Our ability to remain a superpower rests on the trust the world has in us.”

Author:  Jonathan Vankin

Source:  http://www.inquisitr.com/

Categorized in News & Politics

Yandex, Russia’s leading search engine which is thought to be mulling over an IPO for up to $1.5 billion, is rolling out a new feature today that aims to make its search experience seem a lot more intelligent.

Dubbed “Spectrum” and claiming to be able to read users’ minds, it uses what sounds like a combination of semantic technology and machine learning to “infer implicit queries and return matching search results.” In other words, Spectrum is able to make better sense of the meaning of searches based on its own classification system.

It’s based on what Yandex describes as query statistics:

The system analyses users’ searches and identifies objects like personal names, films or cars. Each object is then classified into one or more categories, e.g. ‘film’, ‘car’, ‘medicine’. For each category there is a range of search intents. [For example] the ‘product’ category will have search intents such as buy something or read customer reviews.

So we have a degree of natural language processing, taxonomy, all tied into “intent”, which sounds like a very good recipe for highly efficient advertising.

But what if a search query has many potential meanings? Yandex says that Spectrum is able to choose the category and the range of potential user intents for each query to match a user’s expectations as close as possible. It does this by looking at historic search patterns. If the majority of users searching for “gone with the wind” expect to find a film, the majority of search results will be about the film, not the book.

“As users’ interests and intents tend to change, the system performs query analysis several times a week”, says Yandex. This amounts to Spectrum analysing about five billion search queries.

Earlier this month we reported on how Yandex was also getting smarter through partnering with VKontakte, which is the largest social network in Russia. Under the arrangement, the public-facing elements of VKontakte user profiles will show up in Yandex searches in realtime, essentially creating a people search engine since results, where publicly available, will link to and/or display a person’s date of birth, place of birth, university or place of work.


Categorized in Search Engine


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