9 April 2017

*** Decoding India’s Nuclear Status


There has been much speculation that India might be reconsidering its no first use strategy, but such talk has found few takers in the government. For India, the only true purpose of nuclear weapons are as deterrents. 

India has been a declared nuclear weapon power for almost two decades. And yet, in the intervening period, not very much information has come to light about its nuclear program. The absence of information is deliberate and may even be necessary. Ambiguity confers advantages, particularly when a country has a small nuclear arsenal. Whatever the exact numbers, India’s nuclear weapon stockpile is probably smaller than every declared nuclear weapon power, other than North Korea. This has helped to keep down costs and minimise security risks, while maintaining a basic nuclear deterrent. 

But because a small nuclear arsenal has required a great deal of secrecy and ambiguity, the absence of information about India’s nuclear program has opened space for considerable speculation by observers, including in academic circles, both in India and abroad. Some of that speculation is informed, while much is extrapolated from scant statements made by current and former Indian officials. Some of the recent commentary on India’s changing nuclear strategy must be seen in this context. But it is important to highlight what we know about India’s nuclear strategy and why it matters, before analysing some of the present discussions about India’s future nuclear intentions. 

*** Stratfor explains why we are fighting in Yemen’s civil war

Summary: Stratfor explains what’s happening in Yemen, and the reasons for our mad involvement in that civil war. It is important to understand, with rumors swirling that Trump plans to expand our involvement while loosening the rules of engagement (i.e., more civilian casualties). Our involvement will makes it our war, just as our involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya made us partially responsible for the devastation of those nations. 


This week, it will have been two years since Saudi Arabia and the coalition led by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) began an aerial campaign against Yemen’s Houthi rebels. But a resolution to the conflict is as far out of reach as ever. Political negotiations have come to a standstill, and though the U.N. special envoy to Yemen is expected to call for renewed peace talks, if past attempts are any guide, there isn’t much hope that they will succeed. Yemeni President Abd Rabboh Mansour Hadi has so far proved unwilling to relinquish power, and Houthi rebels — along with the General People’s Congress they support — have been equally reluctant to cede the territory and arms they’ve acquired, leaving little room for negotiation. 

* Hungary’s Challenge to Trump


The Administration should fight to preserve Central European University. It’s a rare case where ethics and geopolitics are on the same side.

Ashoe has dropped in Europe. A small shoe, but one with a loud bang on a marble floor. The government of pro-Russian populist Viktor Orban in Hungary has introduced legislation that threatens to end the academic freedom of Central European University in Budapest, a private American-Hungarian graduate institution founded in 1991 by the Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros. The University’s president, Michael Ignatieff, and his network of allies at Oxford and elsewhere in the liberal humanist elite world, will present this potentially tragic affair as a threat to the Western ideal itself. And they are not exaggerating. I would go further, though. Orban’s attempt to place his neo-authoritarian paws on the school is, in a larger sense, a geopolitical event.

Yes, Orban has been expanding government control for years already in many directions: in the media, in the courts, and so forth. But there is a new geopolitical context afoot. The United States has elected a President, Donald Trump, with an avowed transactional approach to Russian relations, shorn of the historical and moral obligations that America has traditionally felt towards Europe since World War II. Trump’s right-hand man in the White House, Steve Bannon, has even championed the cause of anti-European populists in Western Europe of the Orban-Putin mold. Elements of the new Administration are assumed to have had untoward and perhaps compromising ties with the Kremlin. Moreover, Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has no experience in public policy whatsoever and his only moral obligations in the past have been to shareholders at Exxon. Orban knows all this. He knows, too, that Soros, a philanthropist to Democratic Party causes with few equals, is no friend of Trump, to put it mildly. In sum, this is a power grab that Orban must think he can easily get away with.

Narayana Murthy Has A Point On Infy COO Pay Hike, But The World Has Changed Too Since His Time

R Jagannathan

Those who believe that compassionate capitalism must make lower salary differentials the norm have the duty to demonstrate that it can work in today’s business environment.

Narayana Murthy is not too old to start or invest in companies that will attempt to follow his values. If he has something to prove, he should go out and prove it. The world will take note if he delivers.

N R Narayana Murthy, iconic founder of Infosys, is beginning to sound like an old grandpa railing against the decline in values among his grandchildren.

Murthy kicked up a fuss some time ago when Infosys’s last chief financial officer (CFO), Rajiv Bansal, got a platinum handshake as severance pay when he left the company in 2015. Now, after abstaining from voting on a resolution to give Infosys’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) U B Pravin Rao a hefty pay hike (60 per cent plus), he has let loose another fusillade of public accusations about poor corporate governance (read the full text of what he said here). Murthy had demurred last year when shareholders voted for a big hike in chief executive officer (CEO) Vishal Sikka’s compensation.

Murthy definitely has a point, as grandparents and elders generally do too. His crib has three prongs to it – all related to his belief in equity and fairness.

India’s Nuclear Debate Has Only Just Begun

By Harsh V. Pant

India needs to reassess its nuclear doctrine sooner or later, current debates notwithstanding. 

An interesting debate is taking place in India on the future of its nuclear doctrine. A number of factors have added a new sense of urgency to this debate – a center-right government in New Delhi that is not shy of dramatically recalibrating Indian foreign and security policy combined with growing concern among Indian strategic thinkers over Pakistan’s reliance on tactical nuclear weapons, as well as Pakistan-China collusion. These factors are rapidly closing India’s room for maneuverability and an ongoing power transition in the Indo-Pacific whereby the Trump Administration is indicating that it may not be averse to new nuclear powers emerging in Asia hasn’t helped.

Though the BJP-led government has so far not proposed any change in the doctrine or the No First Use (NFU) on which India’s declaratory nuclear doctrine is based, it had promised in its 2014 election manifesto to “study in detail India’s nuclear doctrine, and revise and update it, to make it relevant to challenges of current times.” Manohar Parrikar, who was until just three weeks ago India’s defense minister, has questioned India’s NFU policy on nuclear weapons, asking, “Why a lot of people say that India has No First Use policy… I should say I am a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it irresponsibly… And as an individual, I get a feeling sometime why do I say that I am not going to use it first. I am not saying that you have to use it first just because you don’t decide that you don’t use it first. The hoax can be called off.”

Is India Still the World's Largest Democracy?

Riju Agrawal

The failure of Delhi’s political institutions is rendering collateral damage upon the country’s social institutions.

As a country of 1.3 billion people, more than 800 million of whom are eligible to vote, India takes pride in being the “world’s largest democracy.” India has often lauded its ability to transfer power peacefully every five years since the first general election of 1951 (except for Indira Gandhi’s experiment with autocracy in 1975). Most recently, even news of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections is keen to point out that state elections in India are larger than the national elections of several European countries. However, while such self-aggrandizing statistics highlight the monumental task of the Election Commission of India, they do nothing to validate India’s success as a democracy. Rather, a superficial satisfaction with the size of India’s elections risks perpetuating ignorance of the underlying issues that plague India’s democracy.

The health of a democracy cannot be measured by the size of its voter base nor simply by the peaceful transition of power. Such standards of evaluation may be sufficient for nascent democracies struggling to implement the practice of universal adult suffrage (such as countries in the Middle East and North Africa that are experimenting with democracy in the wake of the Arab Spring), but not for India, which has a more mature democracy. India aspires to become a secular, liberal, global superpower and considers itself a counterweight to undemocratic regimes in its backyard. As such, voter participation is a necessary—but insufficient—measurement of how far the country has come since its independence and how much further it has to go to truly uphold the ideals of democracy. If much of India’s soft power (as well as its moral superiority) against China, Pakistan and other competing states arises from successful democratic tradition, then India must ensure a more complete understanding of the challenges its democracy is currently facing.

Brussels and Delhi: Converging Interests in the Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean today is critical for the future of the EU and India. The rise of piracy in the late 2000s demonstrated the pernicious effect non-traditional security threats can have on European and Indian economic growth prospects. While both aim to ensure a rules-based order, cooperative multilateralism, and sustainable growth and stability in the Indian Ocean Region, the European Union and India have rarely partnered to pursue these shared interests. Two deeply entrenched myths explain the absence of this dialogue and the consequent lack of cooperation: Indian perceptions of the EU as a strategic non-entity and irrelevant strategic actor beyond its borders; and similarly, European perceptions of an introverted India that is hesitant to take on a leadership role beyond South Asia and unwilling to work together with other middle powers. Based on consultations with policymakers and experts under the EU-India Policy Dialogue on Global Governance and Security, this brief emphasizes that, despite such perceptions, in practice the EU and India’s initiatives in the Indian Ocean are widely congruent and complementary.

US-Pakistan Counterterrorism Needs a New Focus

By Ahmad Majidyar

While the U.S. and Pakistani counterterrorism efforts have degraded al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), sectarian violence across the country continues unabated and threatens to further destabilize Pakistan and the broader region.

On March 31, in the latest episode of attacks against Pakistan’s Shia minority, at least 22 people were killed and more than 100 injured in a bomb blast that apparently targeted a Shia women’s mosque in Parachinar, the capital of FATA’s Kurram Agency bordering Afghanistan. The Jammat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a branch of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed credit for the carnage. Parachinar’s majority Shia population has repeatedly been targeted by sectarian Punjabi outfits as well as Taliban militants that use the city as a corridor to enter Afghanistan. In January, another attack in the area – claimed by the TTP and a faction of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) – killed and injured more than 100, mainly Shia Muslims.

Sectarian strife is not a new phenomenon in Pakistan. While the Sunni-Shia divide was negligible during the first three decades of Pakistan’s existence (1947-77), the 1979 revolution in Iran and the Islamization policies of Pakistani military dictator Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (1977-88) radicalized Pakistani Sunnis and Shias alike and set the stage for ceaseless sectarian violence in the country throughout the 1980s and 1990s. After the 2001 U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, there was a lull in sectarian attacks in Pakistan, as then-President Pervez Musharraf banned most Sunni and Shia militant and sectarian groups. But Musharraf’s crackdown proved to be more a tactical gesture to impress Washington than a genuine effort to clamp down on terrorism and sectarianism at home; his government soon released most of the 2,000 militants associated with banned terrorist and sectarian outfits.

Should India join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor?


Advantages of joining Beijing’s multi-billion dollar One Belt One Road are quite apparent and the economic logic is compelling.

In a significant though controversial policy intervention, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti recently came out in support of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), saying it’s time to “move beyond border skirmishes” to be partners in economic growth.

She said that “J&K could become a corridor of economic activity in the region and the country could take huge benefit of the economic activities going on across the Line of Control. Why can’t we be partners in economic growth and share the benefits of projects like the CPEC?”


In the past too, Mufti had commented on this. She has suggested the need for building a corridor between South Asia and Central Asia with Jammu and Kashmir as its “nucleus”, on the lines of the CPEC, underlining that such a corridor between the two emerging economic hotspots would help forge a new regional cooperation, energy transformation, trade and transit.

Africom Commander Concerned About New Chinese Naval Base

By Yasmin Tadjdeh

As great power competition heats up, the commander of U.S. Africa Command is concerned about a new Chinese naval base being constructed in Djibouti.

“There are some very significant … operational security concerns,” said Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser on March 27.
Djibouti, a small country on the Horn of Africa, plays a major strategic role for the United States. It is home to Camp Lemonnier, an important U.S. foreign military installation.

China’s base is designed to be a port for the country’s ships that are transiting the region and that are involved in anti-piracy operations, Waldhauser noted. Already, China has several thousand peacekeepers in Africa, he added.

“You would have to characterize it as a military base,” he said during a meeting with defense reporters in Washington, D.C. “It’s a first for them. They’ve never had an overseas base, and we’ve never had a base of … a peer competitor as close as this one happens to be. So there’s a lot of learning going on and a lot of growing going on.”

China’s base will be located several miles away from Camp Lemonnier. Waldhauser anticipated that it would be completed sometime this summer.

PLA Strategic Support Force: The 'Information Umbrella' for China's Military

By Elsa Kania

Beyond cyber and space warfare, the SSF will play a key role in conventional joint operations. 

While the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) new Strategic Support Force (SSF) is a critical force for dominance in the space, cyber, and electromagnetic domains, the SSF’s function of “strategic support,” namely information support, will be equally vital to the PLA’s capabilities to fight and win wars.

Based on the available information, the SSF is composed of the Aerospace Systems Department, which has seemingly consolidated control over a critical mass of the PLA’s space-based C4ISR systems; and the Cyber (or Network) Systems Department, which appears to integrate the PLA’s information warfare capabilities, enabling the coordinated pursuit of electronic countermeasures, cyber attack and defense, and psychological warfare missions.

Beyond information warfare, the SSF has taken responsibility for strategic-level information support, through activities including intelligence and technical reconnaissance, to the rest of the PLA. While the integration of information warfare capabilities is consistent with trends in the PLA’s doctrinal writings, this integrated approach to information support across these domains reflects a more novel change that could enhance the PLA’s capability to actualize integrated joint operations.

5 American Super Weapons Stolen by China

Kyle Mizokami

As China’s military has grown, the country’s military-industrial complex has struggled to keep up with the pace of demands. An arms embargo put in place after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre shut off the flow of weapons and technology transfers from the high-tech West to China. China’s state-run arms industries have acquired know-how by hook and crook, and occasionally churn out weapon systems that are entirely too similar to American designs to be a coincidence.
Type 726 Hovercraft

Introduced in 1987, the U.S. Navy’s Landing Craft, Air Cushion was a revolutionary development in amphibious warfare. Essentially a hovercraft with a flat cargo deck, the LCAC could transport sixty to seventy-five tons of cargo directly from an amphibious task force offshore at a brisk forty knots, then climbing onto the beach and depositing its cargo inland. The result is more cargo delivered faster.

The Type 726 “Yuyi” hovercraft is an exact clone of the LCAC. The Type 726 is identical in appearance to its American counterpart, but is smaller and carries less cargo. The Chinese hovercraft can carry just sixty tons, which is still enough to carry a single fully loaded Type 99 main battle tank. The Type 726 could be used to reinforce China’s fortified islands in the South China Sea or to land heavy armor in a Taiwan invasion scenario.

China's Anti-ship Missiles Threaten An Arms Race In The Western Pacific

by James Samuel Johnson

China has a new generation of stealthy, supersonic anti-ship missiles, and the US is clearly worried about them. Former US rear admiral Eric McVadon described them as the “strategic equivalent of China’s acquiring nuclear weapons in 1964". He wasn’t exaggerating.

The missiles can evade US missile defences and undermine the effectiveness of the carrier strike groups the US operates in the Western Pacific. By deploying them, China could be changing the future military balance in Asia, pulling the centre of power away from Washington and its allies and towards Beijing. If the US can’t sustain its monopoly on the development of precision missile systems, it will struggle to project its current level of power in the western Pacific - and its forward forces and bases in the region will be increasingly vulnerable.

Such a shift, or even the perception of one, carries all sorts of risks. Deterrents might lose their deterrent force; military miscalculations might be made, potentially leading to inadvertent war. Then there’s the arms race factor. Precision strike munitions might soon start to proliferate across the region - Japan, for one, has recently expressed a keen interest in exploring the development of a long-range strike capability similar to the US’s Tomahawk cruise missile.

Fukushima Six Years After: East Asia’s Nuclear Energy Conundrum

By Julius Cesar Imperial Trajano

Human factors such as complacency and lack of questioning attitude have been identified as key contributors to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. But six years after the incident, East Asian states have yet to address human factors to make nuclear energy safe and secure in the region.


JAPAN COMMEMORATED the sixth anniversary of the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster on 11 March 2017. Since the tsunami–triggered disaster, qualified observers assess that the biggest risk associated with nuclear power comes not from the technology of the infrastructure but from human factors. The Fukushima incident must be regarded as a technological disaster triggered not just by “unforeseeable” natural hazards (earthquake, tsunami), but also human errors.

Comprehensive reports on Fukushima, including findings made by the Japanese parliament and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), examine how human factors such as the complacency of operators due to ‘safety myth’, the absence of regulatory independence from the nuclear industry, and reluctance to question authority all contributed to the “accident”. The Fukushima incident, like others before it, accentuates the utmost importance of addressing human and organisational factors so as to prevent nuclear accidents from occurring, or mitigate their consequences if they do occur.

China Is Consolidating The Rise In Global Robotics

by Dan Steinbock

Chinese robotics is positioned for leadership in global robotics, as the emerging industry is moving toward increasing rivalry and consolidation.

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In the new and emerging industry, the rise of innovative robotics startups heralds the future. In 2016, almost 130 companies were funded by venture capital, including China-based RooBo, Israeli Roboteam, and German ReActive Robotics. While the most valuable deals involved unmanned aerial systems companies (read: drones), they were followed by agricultural robotics, service robots for businesses and personal use.

The total amounted to almost $2 billion; over 50 percent more than in 2015 - itself a record year.

Emerging high-growth industry

As emerging industries diffuse to mass markets, innovative startups typically become acquisition targets by major corporations that seek to consolidate the rapidly-growing industry. Last year was a milestone for such acquisitions in robotics and automation with 50 companies sold for more than $19 billion.


by Lela Gilbert

During recent years, dramatic political changes have shaken the Middle East. Some have described these events metaphorically as “shifting desert sands.” They have also been defined as dramatic realignments of political seismic plates.

Some of the more terrifying changes have called to mind the proverbial “end of days.” Others look a little like minor miracles, so unlikely are the players and so unexpected their praiseworthy actions.

Who could have predicted, for example, that a young Saudi intellectual would visit Jerusalem and then courageously write an open letter to his generation, expressing both hope and desire for political transformation?

His dream? That Saudi Arabia’s vibrant young defense minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud will embrace a new vision for Saudi Arabia – including peace with Israel.

Consider the writer’s opening paragraph:

Having read the article in Foreign Affairs about Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and in the wake of publicity following his meeting with President Trump this week, I would like to offer a candid view that speaks for many Saudis of my generation. Like King Talut of the Holy Quran (corresponding to the biblical King Saul), whom the Quran credits with saving the Jewish people from an enemy bent on their destruction, the young prince bears a similar responsibility — addressing many challenges in order to achieve the goal of transforming his people to greater strength. Prince Mohammad bin Salman may well be God’s chosen to help lead Saudi Arabia through the political, economic, and social challenges it faces. This letter offers suggestions he may consider useful in dealing with them.

Oman’s Unique Approach to Mediation: A Solution for Sunni-Shia Conflicts?

By Douglas Leonard

Mediation Perspectives is a periodic blog entry that’s provided by the CSS’ Mediation Support Team and occasional guest authors. Each entry is designed to highlight the utility of mediation approaches in dealing with violent political conflicts. To keep up to date with the Mediation Support Team, you can sign up to their newsletter here.

The Sultanate of Oman is a peaceful country on the southeastern shores of the Arabian Peninsula. The 2016 Global Terrorism Index gives the country a score of “0”, which means there is “no impact of terrorism” within its borders. It’s noteworthy that Oman is the only country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with such a score, which makes it one of the safest countries in the world.

There are several factors that explain Oman’s internal security. It is a relatively wealthy nation, its ruler – Sultan Qaboos – believes in progressive governance, and Omanis share a meticulous approach to mediation, which is shaped in part by Ibadi Islamic law. (Ibadism is the form of Islam practiced by the majority of the population in Oman. It’s an ancient and ascetic branch of Islam that dates to the first century A.H. and is respected by both Sunni and Shia jurists for its rigorous and scholastic approach to jurisprudence, among other features.) Given these helpful influences and the stature of Ibadism, it is justifiable to argue that Oman’s unique method of mediation may provide one of the keys to resolving conflicts that have both intra-extra-Islamic dimensions.

A History of Strategy

By John McRae

Strategists are a critical bunch. After all, critical analysis is an important skill for those involved in scrutinizing international relations, history, and policy to generate insights. It is therefore curious that Martin Van Creveld’s book A History of Strategy: From Sun Tzu to William S. Lind immediately opens itself to the nitpicking of strategists in two related regards. First, the treatment of such a vast topic is too brief, running just 124 pages. Second, as a natural extension of its brevity, the details about the strategists it addresses are rather sparse. If the reader is able to overlook these limitations, however, A History of Strategy is a useful overview of the figures and ideas that form the canon of strategic thought.

The text acknowledges these critiques by opening with an explanation for Van Creveld’s self-imposed limitations, namely his desire for “width over depth” and “comprehensiveness” over a more detailed treatment of the usual suspects such as Clausewitz, Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Thucydides. Van Creveld’s choices are ultimately wise ones, and he benefits by widening the circle of “important” strategic minds. At every juncture, A History of Strategy deftly balances the greats with more obscure names, such as Greek philosopher Onasander or WWI’s Erich Ludendorff, and each time justifying the compelling reasons for their inclusion. For Onasander, we get a healthy dose of the logical and ethical underpinnings of strategy, and with Ludendorff, the necessity of mustering the total means available to a country in wartime over military strength alone. These inclusions add richness to the journey, and help the reader appreciate strategy as a far more vast and interconnected field than the traditional staples covered in many military courses.

The Counterterrorism Yearbook 2017: The United States

By Colin P. Clarke

In November 2016, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration was set to authorise the use of military force to include broader authorities to strike al-Shabaab, the militant Islamist group operating throughout the Horn of Africa. This change in legislation demonstrates just how protean the threat posed by violent non-state actors remains more than 15 years after the attacks of 9/11.

For the United States countering terrorism saw both progress and setbacks in 2016. Barack Obama acknowledged as much in a speech in December when he asserted that, while the US has made great strides against both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS), terrorism would remain a threat to the US for the foreseeable future. Terrorism continues to pose a range of challenges for the US across the globe.

Middle East: Throughout 2016, US CT policy grew more assertive in combating IS. Working with elements of the Iraqi military and Kurdish Peshmerga, the US has led a multinational coalition to retake critical territory from the group in both Iraq and Syria. The current operation to retake Mosul is perhaps the centrepiece of this policy, alongside the forthcoming operation to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa, IS’s headquarters in Syria.

Stopping the Unstoppable: How will the U.S. Defeat Missiles of the Future?

By Collin Meisel

Earlier this year, former U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert asserted that current ballistic missile defense technology would "reac[h] the asymptote of our limits” within “about ten years.” This fact stands in stark contrast to another cold reality: the offensive ballistic missile capabilities of U.S. adversaries only appear to be accelerating. Despite critics’ calls to shy away from investing in ballistic missile defense (BMD) to address this threat, the U.S. must continue to vigorously research and develop revolutionary BMD technologies. Otherwise, it risks allowing the balance of offensive and defensive ballistic missile capabilities to grow increasingly asymmetric as defensive technological progress becomes asymptotic.

As then-Commanding General of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Lieutenant General David L. Mann testified before the Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee last April, “many foreign ballistic and cruise missile systems are progressively incorporating advanced countermeasures” to defeat present BMD systems. For example, along with integrating “maneuverable reentry vehicles, [maneuverable independent reentry vehicles], decoys, chaff, jamming, and thermal shielding” technologies into its ballistic missile arsenal, China has constructed the world’s largest hypersonic wind tunnel to realize its goal of developing a hypersonic re-entry vehicle. Russia reportedly has plans to deploy its own hypersonic glide vehicle by 2020. For context, these hypersonic weapons can travel at speeds up to Mach 10 – more than double the speed of most current BMD systems.

The Terminal Decline Of BlackBerry

by Felix Richter

Econintersect note: We have added a discussion of the history and current status of Blackberry stock (NASDAQ:BBRY) at the end of this note.

In the fourth quarter of 2016, BlackBerry has hit another milestone in its steady decline from "Crackberry" (so addictive was the use of its phones) to a place in the gallery of failed phone manufacturers.

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According to Gartner, BlackBerry sold just 207,900 devices running its own operating system between October and December, putting the company’s market share at 0.0 percent (or 0.048 percent to be exact).

Prior to the iPhone’s launch in 2007 and the subsequent surge in smartphone sales around the world, BlackBerry phones were immensely popular for their secure messaging and email functionality, especially among professional users. The company never quite managed the transition to smartphones successfully though, and after several strategic shifts announced in September that it would no longer make its own phones.

That won’t be the end of BlackBerry phones though, as the company reiterated in a blog post published in December. The company is merely shifting all of its efforts to software and plans to work with third-party phone manufacturers in keeping the BlackBerry platform alive (or bringing it back to life for that matter).

Why be concerned with data privacy?

Amit Jaju

Mobile devices and internet have emerged from being a ‘want’ to a ‘necessity’. In recent months, telecom price wars in India have brought down the cost of high-speed mobile data. At the same time, demonetization has made many consumers become more dependant on their mobile phones to make payments. These two instances alone led to a surge in mobile phone purchases, along with users downloading new apps and signing up for mobile-based payment platforms.

A juxtaposition of these developments has resulted in an explosion in the amount of data or information being posted online.

Reports estimated the approximate number of webpages (around the globe) was a little more than 45 billion in 2016. Millions of social media updates, photos and videos are posted every minute, which reach out to billions of people worldwide. These numbers are bound to increase manifold in 2017. But in many cases, users do not understand the information uploaded online and the legalities involved around their rights related to this information.

Most websites and apps, which seemingly provide ‘free’ sign-up services, are not really free. They typically generate revenue by using personal, behavioural or location-based data of the users to display advertisements directly, or even by selling the data to other companies. These are governed by two factors:

DNA Exclusive: Pakistan organising cyber workshops to instigate unrest in Kashmir


With setting in of summer and melting of the snow, Pakistan has upped its game on social media to instigate the civil society in Kashmir Valley against the state government and security forces.

Apart from laying importance on physical attacks on public property and damage to security forces, there is a renewed attempt to use cyberspace to mobilise public opinion against the Indian Army. A look at it anti-India cyber operation reveals its sophistication.

A social media publicity material in possession of DNA is an example. The publicity material clearly states the days and the dates of social media workshops in different parts of Pakistan to organise cyber warfare against India. Not only does it inform them of the time but numbers are available, which are working and can be used to take quick notes if internet connection is slow. The most important is the message saying only thing required to wage cyber war in Kashmir is a phone and an internet connection. It also clearly states that the current workshops are only focused on the year 2017, indicating that every year terror organisations based in Pakistan would use social media platforms differently.

DNA spoke to Arun Chaudhary, a retired Intelligence Bureau officer who headed the Kashmir division on this matter. He is of the view that social media is being increasingly used to organise people in the valley and its power should not be underestimated.

The best example of this is the recent phenomena of quick mobilisation of people against security forces to pelt stones at them during an operation against militants. “Reach of social media in Kashmir is huge. It should be understood that Pakistan continues to heavily invest in technology to ensure that their assets remain safe inside the valley,” said Arun Chaudhary.

The political establishment continues to be tense because the mobilisation of people in isolated pockets during anti-terror operations is making the job of the Indian Army tough and delicate at the same time. Though the government in the state would like lesser publicity in television when anti-terrorist operations are on, it acknowledges the power of social media as it continues to shape a different narrative in the valley despite a different position taken by the mainstream media. Despite different content running on main channels, social media continues to create a different political landscape where heroes are martyrs and protest is both physical and digital at the same time.

SecDef adviser: ’99 percent sure we’ll elevate’ CYBERCOM

by Mark Pomerleau

Following the passage of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which directed the Defense Department to elevate Cyber Command from a subunified combatant command under Strategic Command to a full-fledged combatant command, DoD is making this action a key priority.

“We are driving very hard at that solution,” Maj. Gen. Burke “Ed” Wilson, deputy principle cyber adviser to the Secretary of Defense, said March 30 at the AFCEA NOVA Warfighter IT Day.

He noted strong consensus for the move among the entire U.S. government, to include the new administration.

“I don’t see anybody that has come in and said that’s not a smart thing to do across the department or interagency,” he said, adding he is “99 percent sure we’ll elevate and do it fairly quickly.”

This marks an important milestone as it signals that the U.S. as a nation is taking all facets of cyberspace operations seriously, he said, citing network operations, defensive operations and offensive operations, which the U.S. has been using very heavily, especially in the fight to counter Islamic State group, he added.

Microsoft Zero Day to Stay Unpatched

Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0 has a Zero Day vulnerability attackers leveraged last summer and is likely undergoing exploitation now, researchers said.

The vulnerability is a buffer overflow in a function in the WebDAV service in IIS 6.0 in Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2, and can end up triggered by attackers sending an overlong IF header in a PROPFIND request, said researchers at Trend Micro.

Unfortunately, Microsoft won’t patch the flaw because they stopped supporting Windows Server 2003 a few years ago (IIS 6.0 was in the OS).

There are a little over 600,000 publicly accessible IIS 6.0 servers on the Internet, and most of them are probably running on Windows Server 2003, according to a search of Shodan. Of these, a good 10 percent has WebDAV enabled to allow for remote web authoring, meaning there are possibly millions of websites out there exposed to this exploit.

The risk of exploitation can end up mitigated by disabling the WebDAV service on the vulnerable IIS 6.0 installation, but not all administrators will want to do it.