US media is reporting that a German national accused of numerous links to Russian influence and intelligence operations traveled to the US last year and met with US cybersecurity officials and corporate executives from Amazon and Microsoft. According two the Daily Beast report:
A German national accused by counterintelligence officials in Germany of being part of a Russian influence operation traveled to the United States last year and met with a host of U.S. cybersecurity officials from the Department of Homeland Security and public utility companies as well as corporate executives from Amazon and Microsoft—all of whom were seemingly unaware of his controversial status back home. On Nov. 11, 2019, Hans-Wilhelm Dünn, president of the German Cyber-Security Council, a Berlin-based non-governmental association, visited the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C. He posted photos on Twitter showing him smiling beside Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard Driggers and a number of other DHS officials. Several days earlier, on his first night in the United States, Dünn dined with Michael Chertoff, former secretary of homeland security and now the CEO of the Chertoff Group, a security risk and management company. More pics followed, including one of Dünn and Chertoff shaking hands and scenic night shots of the White House and the Washington Monument. The meetings and visual evidence of them might have otherwise counted as any other ho-hum calendar event for America’s busy national security establishment and the many friendly specialists from overseas looking to liaise with it. Except there was one very glaring and easily google-able problem: about six months before he arrived in America, Dünn had been publicly exposed in the German media as having numerous links to Russian intelligence and influence operations, including one financed by the U.S.-sanctioned oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin. As a result of the exposés the German government announced it was distancing itself from Dünn’s Cyber-Security Council (CSRD) owing to its proximity to a high-ranking officer from Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, the country’s domestic spy agency.
Read the rest here.
The report goes on later to note:
Americans weren’t the only ones apparently oblivious to the German’s Moscow connections. He was also granted meetings in 2018 in Paris with Guillaume Poupard, director general of the National Agency for Information System Security, as well as other senior law enforcement figures. The following year, just weeks after the ARD programme went out, he was participating at a cybersecurity conference in Estonia. It seems likely that the official-sounding nature of his organization, its membership of major companies, and its close prior cooperation with the German government, enabled Dünn to evade scrutiny and gain privileged access.
Dünn appears to have used the CSRD as a vehicle to gain access to some of the top cybersecurity officials in the world, not only in the countries discussed above, but also Israel, the U.K., and numerous other European states. Particularly concerning are his visits to critical infrastructure-related security centers such as the California Public Utilities Commission, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation or the New York Fire Department.
The Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported last month that US intelligence agencies had warned the White House late last year that Russian intelligence officers were using President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani as a means to transmit disinformation aimed at undermining the presidential campaign of Democratic candidate Joe Biden