In 2016, Russia implemented an internal network system to house classified data for Russia’s Ministry of Defense, analogous to the United States’ Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communication System (JWICS). Using Diffeo, we explored Russian and English sources on the Web. We uncovered the companies and people who developed the network for Russia, as well as relevant technical design parameters of the network. Diffeo helped us understand the workings of academic and state-run organizations with a nexus to the developers.
As an adversarial nation, Russia has continually sought to technologically outpace and outmaneuver the United States since the Cold War. Both Russia and the U.S. have some of the most highly regarded intelligence capabilities in the world, and this comes with a need to secure collected intelligence. In the wake of massive classified leaks from Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and the onset of organizations like Wikileaks, intelligence services around the world are seeing how easy it is to become a victim of such damaging disclosures. Tackling insider threats requires specific strategies, and a foundational element of managing sensitive information is the compartmentalization of a secure network that limits access to only those people with a need to know.
In 2016, Russia completed the development and implementation of such a network, which it calls the Closed Data Transfer Segment (CDTS). It is designed to separate Russia’s Top Secret military data from data of lower sensitivity. This general approach is modeled after the United States’ Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communication System (JWICS). 1
In this intelligence bulletin, we focus on the specifics of the CDTS and its development. We identify companies and people involved with building and using the CDTS.
Collaborating with the Diffeo Agent
In this Web research, we use Diffeo’s AI-powered research assistant to explore connections related to CDTS.
Figure 1. Starting research with Diffeo for Browsers
We start with an article in the Defense One website, which announces the development of the CDTS. To start exploring beyond this initial seed, we “star” key concept and entities. In this initial example, Diffeo recommends people, systems, and program names all relevant to the CDTS which creates a foundation for our research. Diffeo starts digging for more details and related entities.
Figure 2. Diffeo recommends articles on the Closed Data Transfer Segment (CDTS).
The original RT article quoted by Defense One, names Dmitry Burkov as the head of the Russian Foundation
for Development of Internet Technology and Infrastructure. 2 Starring his name, we review related entities suggested by Diffeo.. Opening the evidence describing Burkov’s relationship with Izvestia, a Russian newspaper, we find an article from Szlifestyle.com that reports the name of the the operating system for CDTS as “MSVS, an acronym for the Russian name which translates as “Armed Forces’ Portable System.” 3
Starring “Armed forces portable system” reveals a 2002 article in which a public relations manager for ASP Linux, a Russian linux distribution, states that ASP Linux is assisting the Russian government with training and consulting on migrating their applications to ASP Linux in order to support the adoption and implementation of the MSVS OS. 4
Wanting to know what MSVS stands for in Russian, we use Google Translate to translate “Armed Forces’ Portable System” from English to Russian, and are given мобильная система вооруженных сил in return.
Figure 3. Diffeo substantiating evidence between Burkov and Izvestia
Diffeo is already searching for this translated phrase, and finding the Russian Wikipedia page for OS MSVS. The Wikipedia page on OS MSVS reveals a great amount of technical information on the operating system, and the fact that it was developed by the Al-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Automation Management in the Non-Industrial Sphere V. V. Solomatina (VNIINS) after the conclusion of a series of studies under the guidance of AV Pavlov, Head of Technical Development Department, Senior Vice President and Member of the Governing Board, Joint Stock Company Company TransTeleCom. 56
The entity suggestion for VNIINS leads us to a page for the National Research Nuclear University (MEPhI) where we can see potential feeder programs into VNIINS. Starring the various professors, research institutions, and state corporations involved in these programs asks Diffeo to explore further. This gives us a better of idea of who is involved in the development of the Closed Data Transfer Segment, allowing academic collaborators to further engage in like minded research. 7
Figure 4: Diffeo highlights professors and state entities with an academic nexus to VNIIS
How did Diffeo Help?
Beginning with a simple seed document from Defenseone.com, Diffeo helped us quickly find and understand a diverse array of foreign language websites and disparate connections between entities involved in the Closed Data Transfer Segment. Diffeo helped us identify people and state entities for further inquiries.
Figure 5: Diffeo knowledge graph created from user research