Cambridge Analytica's daddy biz had 'routine access' to UK secrets

Letter shows SCL gave psyops training to Brit defence staff


Cambridge Analytica's parent biz had "routine access to UK secret information" as part of training it offered to the UK's psyops group, according to documents released today.

A letter, published as part of a cache handed over to MPs by whisteblower Chris Wylie, details work that Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) carried out for the 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group.

Dated 11 January 2012, it said that the group – which has since been subsumed into the unit 77 Brigade – received training from SCL, first as part of a commission and then on a continued basis without additional cost to the Ministry of Defence.

The author's name is redacted, but it stated that SCL were a "UK List 'X' accredited company cleared to routine access to UK secret information".

It said that five training staff from SCL provided the group with measurement of effect training over the course of two weeks, with students including Defence Science and Technology Ltd scientists, deploying military officers and senior soldiers.

It said that, because of SCL's clearance, the final part of the package "was a classified case study from current operations in Helmand, Afghanistan".

The author commented: "Such contemporary realism added enormous value to the course."

The letter went on to say that, since delivery, SCL has continued to support the group "without additional charge to the MoD", which involved "further testing of the trained product on operations in Libya and Afghanistan".

Finally, the document's author offered their recommendation for the service provided by SCL.

It said that, although the MoD is "officially disbarred from offering commercial endorsement", the author would have "no hesitation in inviting SCL to tender for further contracts of this nature".

They added: "Indeed it is my personal view that there are very few, if any, other commercial organisations that can deliver proven training and education of this very specialist nature."

SCL was set up by Alexander Nix, but when Steve Bannon later came onboard it operated under the name Cambridge Analytica, which Wylie said on Tuesday was aimed at appealing to Bannon's interest in focusing on the academic side of its work.

The firm is at the heart of the allegations about the use of 50 million Facebook users' data for political profiling and microtargeting. ®


Other stories you might like

  • The future: Windows streaming through notched Apple screens

    Choice is the word for Jamf's Dean Hager

    Interview As Apple's devices continue to find favour with enterprise users, the fortress that is Windows appears to be under attack in the corporate world.

    Speaking to The Register as the Jamf Nation User Conference wound down, the software firm's CEO, Dean Hager, is - unsurprisingly - ebullient when it comes to the prospects for Apple gear in the world of suits.

    Jamf specialises in device management and authentication, and has long been associated with managing Apple hardware in business and education environments. In recent years it has begun connecting its products with services such as Microsoft's Azure Active Directory as administrators face up to a hybrid working future.

    Continue reading
  • There’s a wave of ransomware coming down the pipeline. What can you do about it?

    AI can help. Here’s how…

    Sponsored The Colonial Pipeline attack earlier this year showed just how devastating a ransomware attack is when it is targeted at critical infrastructure.

    It also illustrated how traditional security techniques are increasingly struggling to keep pace with determined cyber attackers, whether their aim is exfiltrating data, extorting organisations, or simply causing chaos. Or, indeed an unpleasant combination of all three.

    So, what are your options? More people looking for more flaws isn’t going to be enough – there simply aren’t enough skilled people, there are too many bugs, and there are way too many attackers. So, it’s clear that smart cyber defenders need to be supplemented by even smarter technology incorporating AI. You can learn what this looks like by checking out this upcoming Regcast, “Securing Critical Infrastructure from Cyber-attack” on October 28 at 5pm.

    Continue reading
  • Ransomware criminals have feelings too: BlackMatter abuse caused crims to shut down negotiation portal

    Or so says infsec outfit Emsisoft

    Hurling online abuse at ransomware gangs may have contributed to a hardline policy of dumping victims' data online, according to counter-ransomware company Emsisoft.

    Earlier this month, the Conti ransomware gang declared it would publish victims' data and break off ransom negotiations if anyone other than "respected journalist and researcher personalities" [sic] dared publish snippets of ransomware negotiations, amid a general hardening of attitudes among ransomware gangs.

    Typically these conversation snippets make it into the public domain because curious people log into ransomware negotiation portals hosted by the criminals. The BlackMatter (aka DarkSide) gang's portal credentials (detailed in a ransom note) became exposed to the wider world, however, and the resulting wave of furious abuse hurled at the crims prompted them to pull up the virtual drawbridge.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021