19 February 2017

*** Is America No Longer the Middle East's Greatest Power?

Richard Fontaine, Michael Singh

Russia’s intervention in Syria has won Putin a measure of grudging respect from regional leaders.

WHEN RUSSIA launched a dramatic military intervention in Syria in fall 2015, it stunned the world and announced its return to the Middle East. Its move also surprised American policymakers, who had not long before worked with Russia in an effort to rid Syria of its chemical weapons and expressed hope that such cooperation might lead to a broader push for peace. But with its air campaign on behalf of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, Moscow signaled a willingness to intervene more decisively in Middle Eastern politics than at any time since Anwar el-Sadat’s dismissal of Soviet military advisers in 1972 and the Yom Kippur War the following year. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, any attempt to resolve a festering regional conflict must take Russia’s role into account.

This outside intervention is new, but it is not limited to Russia. China has expanded its involvement in the Middle East in recent years. Even India, Japan and Europe, though distracted by crises in their own regions, have recently stepped up their Middle East roles amid perceived American disengagement. Layer on top of this the shattering of regional order in the wake of the Iraq War and the Arab Spring, and the result is the Middle East’s emergence as a commons for great-power competition. As Washington searches for a Middle East strategy and debates what a sustainable U.S. presence should entail, it will increasingly need to navigate the geopolitical game played by outside powers in the world’s least stable region.



“Leaders are responsible for everything their unit does or fails to do.” Some of us old soldiers reveled in that platitude as accolades were thrown our way regardless whether our accomplishments were truly caused by our own actions, or whether subordinates or even the circumstances of life actually played the larger role leading to our achievements. Of course, we also held our tongues as we took the blame for failures and missteps that happened without our knowledge or occurred outside our control. In either case, we accepted and promulgated the larger-than-life role of leadership in the military.

Leadership researchers have a theory for the tendency to over-attribute organizational successes and shortcomings to the leader. It’s called the romance of leadership. The romance of leadership implies that we are inclined to attribute to leaders the credit for thrilling victories or the blame for agonizing defeats, even if they don’t deserve it. We make these unconscious attributions to simplify the complex causal relationships often involved in significant organizational outcomes. As a result, we view the leader as the driving force for everything and anything that happens to an organization during the leader’s tenure. Unsurprisingly, military institutions embrace the romance of leadership. By design and perhaps by necessity, they almost fetishize leadership. While cadets may labor over the complexities of Austerlitz and Waterloo, what they remember most is Napoleon.

** 1.1 Cr Web Apps Were Hacked In India India – Akamai Report For Q4 2016

Mohul Ghosh

Recently, a 4-star hotel in Austria was hacked, wherein their guests were locked in their rooms. And substantial amount of bitcoinswere asked for ‘releasing’ them. Each room of the hotel was covered under Internet of Things ecosystem and the hackers hacked the entire platform.

If we believe Akamai’s latest report on the State of Internet/Security, then such IoT hacks can increase in the coming months. In fact, under DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, IoT was the biggest target during Q4 of 2016.

1.1 Crore Web Apps In India Were Hacked

India was 4th largest destination for hackers in Q4 2016, as a total of 1.1 crore web apps were successfully hacked in India.

This is indeed an alarming situation, as recently we reported how Ministry of Home Affairs website was shutdown even as the officials were not even aware whether the website was hacked or not. As per Govt. estimates, more than 2 Govt. websites are hacked every day in India.

Globally, 27% more hacks were reported, compared to the same period last year.

** How technology is reshaping supply and demand for natural

The ways we consume energy and produce commodities are changing. This transformation could benefit the global economy, but resource producers will have to adapt to stay competitive. 

The world of commodities over the past 15 years has been roiled by a “supercycle” that first sent prices for oil, gas, and metals soaring, only for them to come crashing back down. Now, as resource companies and exporting countries pick up the pieces, they face a new disruptive era. Technological innovation—including the adoption of robotics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things technology, and data analytics—along with macroeconomic trends and changing consumer behavior are transforming the way resources are consumed and produced. 

The facts left unstated about India’s Defence spending

Pavan Srinath

India’s defence spending is marching backwards. Caught between a fiscal squeeze, ballooning pensions and a bloated armed forces, India is running out of options. The only escape is reform, reform, reform.

Last year, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did not mention defence at all in his budget speech. Here’s what he skipped mentioning:

Overall, the defence budget estimate for 2016–17 is Rs 3.4 trillion, about 10% more than the previous year’s budget estimate. This is broadly consistent with past increases.

However, what makes up this net increase is a radical departure from the past.

Thanks to OROP, the defence pensions budget has gone up by a whopping Rs 27,800 crore from the previous year — a full 50% increase. This increase is just Rs 2,000 crore short of the increase in the overall defence budget, making one wonder if all other expenditure increases have been frozen. 

Last year, the government had allocated close to Rs 86,000 crore as capital outlay, and we learn now that this was revised down to Rs 74,300 crore. The latest budget estimate is Rs 78,586 crore on capital expenditure.

Warning Against Wars Like Iraq and Afghanistan


WEST POINT, N.Y. — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates bluntly told an audience of West Point cadets on Friday that it would be unwise for the United States to ever fight another war like Iraq or Afghanistan, and that the chances of carrying out a change of government in that fashion again were slim.

“In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it,” Mr. Gates told an assembly of Army cadets here.

That reality, he said, meant that the Army would have to reshape its budget, since potential conflicts in places like Asia or the Persian Gulf were more likely to be fought with air and sea power, rather than with conventional ground forces.

“As the prospects for another head-on clash of large mechanized land armies seem less likely, the Army will be increasingly challenged to justify the number, size, and cost of its heavy formations,” Mr. Gates warned.

“The odds of repeating another Afghanistan or Iraq — invading, pacifying, and administering a large third-world country — may be low,” Mr. Gates said, but the Army and the rest of the government must focus on capabilities that can “prevent festering problems from growing into full-blown crises which require costly — and controversial — large-scale American military intervention.”

Indian concerns over Maldives island-lease: It’s not about China but about sovereignty talk

By N Sathiya Moorthy

At a New Year news conference in Male, Chinese Ambassador Wang Fukang reportedly expressed ‘surprise’ over “concerns raised by Indian journalists over the leasing of the Maldivian island of Feydhoo Finolhu (an uninhabited island close to the capital Male) to a Chinese company to develop a resort”. 

The SunOnline reported on January 4, 2017 that: “Some Indian media outlets have reportedly raised concern that giving an island close to the main airport of the country was a danger to the strategic interests of India. In response, the Chinese Ambassador said that the Indian attention on a Maldivian tourism lease with a Chinese company is very surprising.“

“The Ambassador said that he believes the Maldives is a popular tourist destination and so is always looking for foreign investors and is an opportunity open to the whole world”. He has a point. The web version of another local daily Miadhu quoted Ambassador Wang as recalling how “100 million Chinese travelled as tourists last year...(to Maldives), hence the number of visitors to Maldives can be increased”.

Ambassador Wang further pointed out that 700,000 Chinese tourists travelled to Bali, in Indonesia, alone. Around “500,000 Chinese tourists visited Japan last year, and 960,000 visited South Korea. So, it will not be difficult to get 1.5 million tourists to Maldives from China alone”, the Chinese envoy said.

Globalization In The Asian Century – Analysis

By Jonathan Perraton

Predictions that the 21st century will be the Asian century appear to have been borne out already. From the 1990s there has been a decisive shift in global economic activity—current projections pit the centre of economic activity globally between India and China by the middle of the century.[1] This shift in economic activity—arguably a return to patterns before the industrial revolution—has occurred over an unprecedentedly short period of time. Over 2003-2013, the global median level of real income nearly doubled.[2] This was essentially an Asian effect, the only region to experience sustained productivity growth and catch-up this century; above all, this transformation has been driven by Chinese and Indian growths.

China is likely to overtake the United States soon as the world’s largest economy and the World Economic Forum predicts that India will become the world’s third-largest economy by 2030.[3] Asian economies succeeded through embracing globalisation, but they did so on their terms. More subtly, emerging economies have come to play a much greater role in global economic governance, notably as the G7 was superseded by the G20 and through a more active role within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in particular. Further, emerging economies have started to construct institutions of international economic cooperation and governance parallel to existing ones established and dominated by Western powers.

Expect a Heavier US Presence in the South China Sea, But What Can It Achieve?

By Steven Stashwick

Administration objectives are still unclear, but maintaining the regional status quo may be the most realistic. 

New reports suggest that the United States is set to maintain a significantly more assertive presence in the South China Sea to counter Chinese claims and activity in the region. While proponents believe that the military presence in the region was insufficient during the Obama Administration to deter China’s massive island construction campaign in the Spratly Islands, the reported proposals are unlikely to roll-back current Chinese positions. The Trump Administration still needs to clearly define its objectives in the South China Sea and what its desired status quo is, and how expanded military presence will achieve it without inadvertently provoking China to build up its position further.

Early remarks by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during his confirmation hearings and follow-up comments by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer implied that the United States might seek to block China’s access to the island bases it has built up in the last several years, especially among the reefs in the Spratly Islands, and militarily defend other territory from incursion. Many analysts feared position implied tactics that China could construe as acts of war, or could at least foment a major crisis until it was revealed recently that Secretary Tillerson had amended his own remarks to specify that the U.S. only needed to be able to block China’s access to its islands in the event of a conflict.

China in the Middle East

PDF file 0.8 MB

China is becoming increasingly active in the Middle East, just as some regional states perceive a declining U.S. commitment to the region. This study examines China's interests in the region and assesses China's economic, political, and security activities in the Middle East to determine whether China has a strategy toward the region and what such a strategy means for the United States. The study focuses on China's relations with two of its key partners in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia and Iran. The study concludes that China has adopted a "wary dragon" strategy toward the Middle East, whereby China is reluctant to commit substantial diplomatic or military resources to protect its growing energy and other economic interests. China does not pose a threat to U.S. interests in the region, and the United States is likely to remain the dominant security actor in the Middle East for the foreseeable future. The study recommends that the United States adopt a two-pronged strategy where China and the Middle East are concerned. First, the United States should encourage China, along with other Asian powers, to become more involved in efforts to improve Middle East stability. Second, the United States should work to reassure Middle East partners of an enduring U.S. security commitment to the region.

Key Findings

China Has Adopted a "Wary Dragon" Strategy Toward the Middle East

China exhibits wariness in its engagement with the Middle East. China endeavors to protect its expanding interests by not taking sides in conflicts and controversies.

Ukraine charges Russia with new cyber attacks on infrastructure

By Natalia Zinets

Ukraine on Wednesday accused Russian hackers of targeting its power grid, financial system and other infrastructure with a new type of virus that attacks industrial processes, the latest in a series of cyber offensives against the country. 

Oleksandr Tkachuk, Ukraine's security service chief of staff, said at a press conference that the attacks were orchestrated by the Russian security service with help from private software firms and criminal hackers, and looked like they were designed by the same people who created malware known as "BlackEnergy." 

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) could not be reached for comment. Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations from Kiev that it has been waging a "cyber war" on Ukraine since relations between the two countries collapsed following Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of Russian-backed separatist fighting in Ukraine's Donbass region. 

The allegations are the latest sign that Russia's behavior in conflict areas has not changed markedly since Donald Trump became U.S. president last month, calling for warmer relations between Washington and Moscow. 

The new attacks caused some of Ukraine’s cyber defenders to cancel plans to attend this week’s RSA cyber security conference in San Francisco, according to one Western expert familiar with the situation. 

Can Artificial Intelligence Replace Human Intuition?

by Upasana Bhattacharjee

The International Conference for Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS) hosts competitions every other year where computer systems try to find solutions to planning problems (such as scheduling flights). Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory are discovering processes to augment the technology by imbuing human intuition in them. This is another reminder of how far the developments in artificial intelligence have come along with their pace especially when posed against the economic progress and ethical understanding they demand.

Understanding the technology

Automated planning and scheduling is an aspect of artificial intelligence that is concerned with constructing strategies for machines (intelligent agents, autonomous robots, etc.) based on factors like the observability, determinism and variables involved in the situation. ICAPS is a forum for researchers and practitioners to ensure progress in the field. This branch of artificial intelligence is extremely useful in fields like space systems, software engineering and robotics.

Russia Deploys Missile, Violating Treaty and Challenging Trump


WASHINGTON — Russia has secretly deployed a new cruise missile that American officials say violates a landmark arms control treaty, posing a major test for President Trump as his administration is facing a crisis over its ties to Moscow.

The new Russian missile deployment also comes as the Trump administration is struggling to fill key policy positions at the State Department and the Pentagon — and to settle on a permanent replacement for Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser who resigned late Monday. Mr. Flynn stepped down after it was revealed that he had misled the vice president and other officials over conversations with Moscow’s ambassador to Washington.

The ground-launched cruise missile at the center of American concerns is one that the Obama administration said in 2014 had been tested in violation of a 1987 treaty that bans American and Russian intermediate-range missiles based on land.

The Obama administration had sought to persuade the Russians to correct the violation while the missile was still in the test phase. Instead, the Russians have moved ahead with the system, deploying a fully operational unit.

In an age of robots, schools are teaching our children to be redundant

George Monbiot

In an age of robots, schools are teaching our children to be redundant

A regime of cramming and testing is crushing young people’s instinct to learn and destroying their future 

In the future, if you want a job, you must be as unlike a machine as possible: creative, critical and socially skilled. So why are children being taught to behave like machines?

Children learn best when teaching aligns with their natural exuberance, energy and curiosity. So why are they dragooned into rows and made to sit still while they are stuffed with facts?

We succeed in adulthood through collaboration. So why is collaboration in tests and exams called cheating?

Governments claim to want to reduce the number of children being excluded from school. So why are their curriculums and tests so narrow that they alienate any child whose mind does not work in a particular way?

The best teachers use their character, creativity and inspiration to trigger children’s instinct to learn. So why are character, creativity and inspiration suppressed by a stifling regime of micromanagement?

Russia's New RS-28 Sarmat ICBM: A U.S. Missile Defense Killer?

Malcolm Davis
Russian media recently claimed that the Federation’s new intercontinental ballistic missile will be able to penetrate even America’s most effective defense systems—but are they right? Russia claims the new RS-28 Sarmat heavy ICBM, being introduced as part of its nuclear modernization, can wipe out an area ‘the size of Texas or France’. They may be referring to the missile being able to deliver nuclear weapons via the South Pole rather than the traditional ‘over the north pole’ route. It may also be typical Russian grandstanding in an effort to intimidate. Whilst the RS-28 will certainly get US planners thinking about nuclear modernization, it seems unlikely that such hyperbole will have US leaders rushing for the nuclear bunkers.

For starters, the US missile early warning systems means it is not blind to its southern approaches, as it has radars on the east and west coasts that provide coverage out to 5,500 km along the southern approaches to North America. In addition, the US maintains effective space-based missile early warning systems which detect launches. There’s no way the Russians would be able to attack with sufficient surprise to catch US nuclear forces on the ground or to decapitate the US political leadership. In any case, the US always keeps sufficient numbers of ballistic missile submarines at sea to ensure devastating retaliation.

Imagining India’s first 100 Million City

Saurabh Chandra

Countries need moonshots. Without a goal in the future that excites a lot of young people (and we have a LOT of young people in India), things can get pretty restive and eventually messy. A feeling of a fixed pie focuses people into grabbing more of its share. Moonshots that can tremendously grow the pie focus people into thinking — how do I become a part of that. An obvious moonshot in front of humanity is a colony on Mars. For India, an obvious moonshot is available here on earth itself — world’s first 100 Million city.

The original moonshot was a leap of technology and it created a whole lot of technology spinoffs that created utilitarian justification for the Apollo programme. Making a 100 Million city is also a technological challenge but the benefits are humongous in the outcome itself and we don’t have to justify it in terms of spin-offs to the bean counters. Cities produce wealth and higher density of living is environmentally more sustainable (since we can optimise per person consumption).

The challenge is also not mere technological. It is sociological, political and even administrative. And that is what is great about this idea — it is a grand challenge in multiple dimensions and solving it will pull up our capabilities in all those terms. Compared to making 100 cities, creating exceptions and special laws for 1 is much more feasible. It also plays to India’s strengths and weaknesses where we have been far better at concentrating our best talent on a few problems and running them on mission mode.


ML Cavanaugh

I would never actively cheer an administrational death, but, paraphrasing Clarence Darrow, I did smile a bit while reading Michael Flynn’s resignation in the newspaper. It wasn’t for any personal ill will or partisan reason (my stance on political neutrality is well documented), but my grin formed because Flynn’s actions in retirement have directly contradicted two pillars of the Profession of Arms—its apolitical tradition and truth-telling character. And the end of his short tenure as national security advisor provides the Profession a ponderous moment to reflect on what Flynn hath wrought.

The Profession’s obligation is to hold an apolitical stance and provide absolute truth to maintain society’s trust and support. Many forget, but retired officers are still members of this Profession of Arms because they still hold their commissions—particularly generals and admirals, due to their outsize influence on the public’s opinion. What they do matters greatly to those actively serving. Even after the uniform comes off, an individual can do immense damage to the Profession.

Which is an unfortunate trend that’s grown over time. Beginning in the modern era with retired Adm. William Crowe’s endorsement of then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton, the apolitical tradition of the Profession of Arms has experienced decay, continually corroded by the now-quadrennial race amongst retired officers to publicly vouch for political candidates (these partisan lists of retired generals and admirals now typically approaches the hundreds). While retired officers, as citizens, may have the right to exercise such speech, their choices make, in the words of former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, “the task of their successors—who continue to serve in uniform and are accountable for our security—more complicated.”

12 Tips for Effectively Counseling Your Subordinates

Counseling your team is a lot like creating a leader development program…if you overthink it, it’ll never get done. Plenty of leaders groan when we talk about counseling and typically cite any of the following reasons for not getting it done: 

“It takes so much time to counsel everyone each month.” 

“I give plenty of feedback in meetings and other times.” 

“My people already know where they stand.” 

“We have more pressing priorities than counseling. You know we’re deploying, right?” 

But most often, leaders don’t counsel because they’re uncomfortable with giving direct feedback. They also have difficulty telling subordinates that they’re doing an average job (it’s the best and the worst performers that are the easiest to give feedback to).

Leaders have to overcome these objections. Not only is formal feedback required in almost every organization, but the process brings incredible value to your team. Your subordinates want to hear how they are doing. They want to get better. They want to learn from you. The key to successful counseling is to make the sessions interesting and worth their (and your) time.

A Framework for Exploring Cybersecurity Policy Options

PDF file 1.1 MB 

Technical Details »

Today's cyber environment presents unlimited opportunities for innovation, interaction, commerce, and creativity, but these benefits also bring serious security challenges. Satisfactory solutions will require building partnerships among public and private organizations, establishing mechanisms and incentives to foster routine information sharing and collective defense, and educating users about their role in thwarting increasingly sophisticated attacks. With a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation's Cyber Initiative, RAND developed and conducted two cybersecurity-focused discovery games in Washington, D.C., and California's Silicon Valley that aimed to capture the widest possible range of stakeholder perspectives. Participants represented the tech sector, government agencies, think tanks and academic institutions, advocacy organizations promoting civil liberties and privacy, technology users, and more. The goals were to explore opportunities for improving cybersecurity, assess the implications of possible solutions, and develop an initial framework to support debate and inform decisions regarding cybersecurity policies and practices. The games were structured around two plausible cybersecurity scenarios set in the near future. In the first scenario, malicious actors have exploited vulnerabilities in the Internet of Things, causing both virtual and physical harm; in the second, massive data breaches have compromised the financial system, including authentication processes. Participants debated dimensions of each problem in multidisciplinary teams, then shared potential solutions and strategies in a large-group setting. The format and findings of the exercises offer insights that can help guide holistic approaches to addressing future cybersecurity challenges.

SPECIAL ANALYSIS: Cyber Ridicule - A New Weapon In The Global War On Terror?

By: Dave Sloggett, Senior Contributing Editor

The press coverage of British Prime Minister Theresa May to the White House was always going to be intense. How she and President Donald Trump would get together was in the focus of pundits; it seemed to preoccupy the majority of the mainstream media. But by focusing on what they believe wider audiences in today’s telegenic world are interested in, they missed critical issues.

One of those points was May’s short but nevertheless hugely important reference to cyber warfare. It came, almost as an afterthought, at the end of a section in her statement at the press conference on NATO.

Having made that important statement, she felt she and Trump had “re-affirmed their commitment to NATO” – at which point she looked across the stage to the President looking for confirmation that he agreed -- she threw in an extra, almost unscripted statement which clearly was not in her notes. The reference was to the need for NATO to “modernise,” adding, “NATO needs to find ways of fighting cyber warfare as well as preparing for conventional conflicts.”

Given that fighting cyber warfare is an approach many so-called experts worry has the potential for unintended consequences, this is quite a radical thought, and not one that is entirely new; the last US Defence Secretary had “declared cyber war” on the Islamic State in April 2016.

Tallinn cyber-warfare manual 2.0 refines definition of cyber-warfare

The Tallinn Manual 2.0 is here to not only underline the presence of international law in the shadowy world of cyberspace, but to refine the meaning of cyber warfare.

The second iteration of the landmark document was launched in Washington on 8 February by the Netherlands Government, the Asser Institute and principally the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence.

The document itself updates the legal advice of the original manual, the world's first attempt to define the legal framework of cyber-warfare.

The original manual brought together 20 of the world's top international law experts to determine what the legal implications of an act of cyber warfare were. The legal scholars created an academic, non-binding study on how international law applies to cyber conflicts and cyber-warfare, and is widely referenced by lawyers globally. 

Version 2.0 builds on that to discuss “cyber operations”, acts which fall below the threshold of acts of war, yet trouble the cyberspace of nation states on a far more regular basis.

While version 1.0 dealt with clearer acts of war, like the 2007 cyber-attacks on Estonia for which the manual was named, 2.0 deals with operations like The Sony breach of 2012 and the more recent breach of the Democratic National Committee.

How Democracies Lose in Cyberwar

In 2016, Russia used the American system against itself.

“War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.” This 19th-century quip, often attributed to the satirist Ambrose Bierce, deserves a 21st-century update: “Attacks against the U.S. are God’s way of teaching Americans how weaker enemies are stronger than they seem.”

Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda are the paradigmatic examples of this. On September 11, 2001, they gave Americans, along with the rest of the world, a lesson in “asymmetric warfare”—armed conflict between two sides whose relative military power differs significantly, and in which one party can gain advantage by targeting the other one’s weak points.

Did Putin Direct Russian Hacking? And Other Big QuestionsIn that case, 19 suicidal terrorists armed with box cutters gained control of three commercial jetliners and used them to strike some of the most sensitive and symbolic targets of the most powerful and technologically advanced nation in the world. Al-Qaeda spent an estimated $500,000 on the attacks, which killed almost 3,000 people and cost hundreds of billions of dollars in material losses. The reactions that followed were even larger and more consequential than the attacks themselves: The United States launched what is to date its longest war ever (in Afghanistan), and its third-longest (in Iraq), at the estimated combined cost of $3 trillion to $5 trillion. Moreover, the geopolitical disruptions from all these events are still shaping today’s world.

Microsoft's president wants a Geneva Convention for cyberwar

By Blair Hanley Frank

Smith calls for international agreements on digital rules of engagement. 

Microsoft is calling for a Digital Geneva Convention, as global tensions over digital attacks continue to rise. The tech giant wants to see civilian use of the internet protected as part of an international set of accords, Brad Smith, the company’s president and chief legal officer, said in a blog post.

The manifesto, published alongside his keynote address at the RSA conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, argued for codifying recent international norms around cyberwarfare and for establishing an independent agency to respond to and analyze cyberattacks.

What’s more, he called on the tech industry to band together to protect users.

Such an agreement is necessary, in his opinion, because warfare in cyberspace involves infrastructure that’s controlled and operated by private companies like Microsoft. Furthermore, some attacks, like the 2014 Sony hack widely attributed to North Korea, have targeted civilians.

What Cybersecurity Threats Should Most Worry You?

By Jennifer Golbeck

When it comes to your data—be it Facebook posts, emails, or credit card information—there is a lot to worry about. Recent years have brought us a slew of cyber breaches and attacks that have put millions of people’s financial data on the black market, exposed company secrets, and maybe even swung the 2016 presidential election. With so many attacks, it can be difficult to know where to start protecting yourself.

The important first step—something that’s often overlooked—is to figure out what and whom you are worried about. If you are in the middle of a nasty divorce and custody battle, your emails and social media posts could be a lot more sensitive than if everything is going along smoothly in life. And just as life circumstances change, your cybersecurity priorities may change too.

Knowing how much you worry about each group will guide your decisions about how to protect yourself.

Let’s start by considering whom you are afraid of. There are a lot of ways to break this down, but I think there are a few major categories that can effectively guide almost all of your decisions.

1. Criminal hackers: This group, obviously, attacks basically any system they can get access to. They may put a virus or ransomware on your computer, intercept your credit card number, or hijack your social media account to post spam. While their targets are broad, their goal is generally to make money off what they steal. Note that there are other kinds of hackers (kids messing around, snoopers, etc.), but any measures you take against the more dedicated criminal hackers will work for all types. If you are worried about hackers, you want to take measures to lock up your systems and data to make it hard to access and difficult to use if it is accessed.

Infographic Of The Day: Defending Your Data

Our personal info is, well personal. From credit card numbers to embarrassing poetry, we all have data we want to keep private.