Meet the internet researchers unmasking Russian assassins

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Aric Toler is part of Bellingcat, an international Internet research organization that has meticulously investigated conflicts around the world. This week, the online group outed one of two Russian agents believed to have been involved in poisonings in the U.K.

Aric Toler isn’t exactly sure what to call himself.

“Digital researcher, digital investigator, digital something probably works,” Toler says.

Toler, 30, is part of an Internet research organization known as Bellingcat. Formed in 2014, the group first got attention for its meticulous documentation of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Toler used posts to Russia’s equivalent of Facebook, VK, to track Russian soldiers as they slipped in and out of eastern Ukraine — where they covertly aided local rebels.

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Assassin drones are here. Now what?

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It was perhaps inevitable that would-be political assassins would turn to off-the-shelf drones.

Security forces check a nearby building after an explosion was heard while Maduro attended a ceremony in Caracas on August 4, 2018. Photo: JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images

A failed attack by explosives-laden drones on Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro could be a harbinger of a new era. Cheap, easy-to-use, remotely-piloted aerial vehicles aren’t just toys, anymore. They’re potential tools of assassination.

But don’t panic. This is not the first time assassins have adapted a new technology for nefarious ends. Politicians and their protectors have ways of coping.

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