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FBI has three probes looking into Russia’s election hacking

It’s no secret that the FBI has been investigating Russia’s alleged bid to influence US elections through hacking, but it’s now clear just how deep that investigation goes. Reuters tipsters understand that there are “at least” three FBI probes into the hacks, each of which focuses on a different aspect of the breaches targeting Democratic Party officials. A Pittsburgh field office wants to identify the people behind those intrusions, while a San Francisco office wants to identify the people behind “Guccifer 2.0,” the persona credited with key leaks and frequently linked to the Russian government. A third investigation in Washington, DC is orchestrating a counterintelligence campaign based on intercepted foreign communications and tips from informants.

The Washington team is focused on financial deals between Russians and companies that have links to Trump’s associates. It’s also looking into repeated contact between those Trump associates (including campaign members) and senior Russian intelligence officials in the months before the election. The New York Times reported the first details of this contact on February 14th.

A White House spokesperson didn’t directly comment on the investigations to Reuters, but did point to a statement Trump made during the campaign where he said he he “think[s] it was Russia” behind the hacks, but suggested that it could have been the work of “other countries and other people.”

Provided the leak is authentic, it suggests that the Russia case isn’t about to disappear any time soon despite Trump’s hopes for the contrary. It’s far from guaranteed that the investigations will turn up anything definitive, let alone something that leads to prosecution, but this is definitely more than a side project for the FBI.

Source: Reuters

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick

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