10 June 2017

New perspectives on cyber security: The regulatory challenge

by Christian Hellwig

Cyber security is a rapidly evolving sector. Oftentimes, regulatory frameworks lag behind the latest developments. And when legislators finally act, companies, institutions and other influencing stakeholders must be fully aware of newly implemented regulations. In 2018, the new European Union (EU) regulation on data, cyber and information security will be a game changer. Here’s why.

Strategic foresight must take a regulatory lens. The vast majority of companies, institutions and other organisations underestimate both the significance and impact of a (slowly) changing legislative landscape – and therefore, often fail to respond to far-reaching challenges in proper time, damaging their own business and reputation.

Due to the volatility, force and pace with which technological innovation is moving through the global economy, cyber risk has become the biggest contemporary threat to all actors, especially companies. About 72% of all global CEOs do not think that they are fully prepared for a cyber attack. Potential targets have to factor in multiple variableswhen building their cyber defense capacities. And taking a regulatory perspective must be a key part of the overall equation. As regulations are growing increasingly complex, doing the minimum in compliance is not enough anymore.

Battery storage: The next disruptive technology in the power sector

By David Frankel and Amy Wagner

Low-cost storage could transform the power landscape. The implications are profound. 

Storage prices are dropping much faster than anyone expected, due to the growing market for consumer electronics and demand for electric vehicles (EVs). Major players in Asia, Europe, and the United States are all scaling up lithium-ion manufacturing to serve EV and other power applications. No surprise, then, that battery-pack costs are down to less than $230 per kilowatt-hour in 2016, compared with almost $1,000 per kilowatt-hour in 2010. 

McKinsey research has found that storage is already economical for many commercial customers to reduce their peak consumption levels. At today’s lower prices, storage is starting to play a broader role in energy markets, moving from niche uses such as grid balancing to broader ones such as replacing conventional power generators for reliability,1providing power-quality services, and supporting renewables integration. 

Further, given regulatory changes to pare back incentives for solar in many markets, the idea of combining solar with storage to enable households to make and consume their own power on demand, instead of exporting power to the grid, is beginning to be an attractive opportunity for customers (sometimes referred to as partial grid defection). We believe these markets will continue to expand, creating a significant challenge for utilities faced with flat or declining customer demand. Eventually, combining solar with storage and a small electrical generator (known as full grid defection) will make economic sense—in a matter of years, not decades, for some customers in high-cost markets. 

The Macron Leaks: The Defeat of Informational Warfare


As the United States was investigating Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election, many observers expressed concerns that France might be the next target of Russia’s information warfare strategy. History indeed repeats itself, unless one draws lessons from past mistakes. After France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, told a reporter during a press conference with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, that during the French electoral campaign Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik “were agents of influence which on several occasions spread fake news about me personally and my campaign. They behaved like organs of influence, of propaganda and of lying propaganda,” there are good reasons to think the lesson from the U.S. election has been learnt.

Until election day, it felt like somebody was playing the same trick in every election in the West. First came the hacking of several institutions and political parties. Then fake stories on Macron emerged, spread both via social networks or published directly by Russian state media outlets Sputnik and RT. These stories were aimed—in a somewhat awkward way—at casting doubts over Macron’s private life and professional ethics. Later on, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks told Izvestia with a menacing ambiguity that he owned “interesting documents” linked to Macron, echoing its statement late in the U.S. electoral campaign in October 2016. Many observers started to speculate that the leakers had established a precise timeline to cause maximum impact on French public opinion on election day. Finally, two days before the election—as a mandatory media blackout enforced by the electoral commission was beginning—came the “Macron leaks,” an anonymous dump on the Internet of an enormous collection of documents allegedly originating in the Macron campaign.

Information and information warfare primer


By Saso Virag.

This is really just a short brain dump of the basics to get started thinking about information warfare in a non-US way. Yes, that means Russian, Chinese, South African, Australian, etc. approach. It may come as a surprise to many, but information warfare has always been more and better researched by those that do not commandeer the world's biggest military. 

First of all we need to start with proper definitions of data, information, and knowledge. 

Typical definition is that data magically transforms into information and that assemblage of information turns into knowledge. For the visual learners: 



9 June 2017

*** The U.S.: A Hostile Environment for Climate Change?


It can be difficult to separate the important from unimportant on any given day. Reflections mean to do exactly that — by thinking about what happened today, we can consider what might happen tomorrow.

Just days before the election that won Donald Trump the U.S. presidency, the Paris Agreement on climate change was enacted. The deal's list of signatories grew to include most of the globe in the months that followed. Then on Thursday, Trump announced his plan to pull out of the accord, confirming rumors that have been circulating for the past week. Though he left the door open to renegotiation, the United States will now join the lonely ranks of nonparticipants, which currently comprise only Nicaragua and Syria. For the most part Trump's rejection of the deal, touted as a landmark achievement in December 2015, is symbolic. As various forces advance the effort to address climate change, the industries, investors and military interests underpinning Washington's environmental policy will continue to dictate its actions on the issue. But the United States' withdrawal from the pact nevertheless raises an important question: Will China be able to fill the hole in global leadership that its Western rival will leave behind?

Despite the overwhelming consensus it inspired, the Paris Agreement itself has always been weak at its core. International courts, after all, have few ways to enforce it, and without consequences for those who fail to comply with its stipulations, there is little opportunity to hold shirkers accountable. Instead, compliance with the deal is — and will continue to be — largely driven by technological progress, economics and the political imperatives of individual nations.

*** Inside the ISIS Social Network

BY SHIRAZ MAHER


We are learning ever more about Salman Abedi, the terrorist who walked into the Manchester Arena and killed 22 other people, including ten in their teens or younger. From the moment Abedi detonated his device on 22 May, it was clear this was a more sophisticated and ambitious plot than most previous acts of terrorism on our shores. He was not acting alone.

Since 2013, along with several ­colleagues from King’s College London, I have mapped the flow of foreign fighters travelling to Syria and Iraq. It has become clear to us, having closely examined these clusters, looking at the networks of interpersonal relationships and offline socialisation, that the challenge facing this country is complex and diverse.

What the data shows is that real-world interactions play a highly significant role in the process of someone moving from merely supporting extremism to becoming a terrorist.

It is best to think of this in the following terms. A large pool of people consumes extremist content for all sorts of reasons – by accident, for professional purposes, out of curiosity or through experimentation. Significantly smaller numbers then subscribe to it ideologically and become active supporters. An even smaller proportion mobilises and either travels abroad for terrorist purposes or conducts attacks at home.

** Pakistan Raises Defense Spending

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Pakistan is slated to increase its defense budget by around 7 percent in fiscal year 2017-2018. 

Pakistan is set to increase defense spending by $578 million to $8.78 billion in fiscal year 2017-2018, Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told the country’s National Assembly in late May.

This constitutes a projected 7 percent increase in overall defense expenditure. It should be noted, however, that Pakistan spends more on defense than its official estimates suggest. (Real defense expenditure could be up to 50 percent higher.)

According to Quwa Defense News & Analysis Group, the Pakistan Army will receive the lion share of funds amounting to around 47 percent or $4.17 billion, the Pakistan Air Force 20 percent or $1.8 billion, and the Pakistan Navy approximately 11 percent or 940 million respectively.

Almost 60 percent of the defense budget will be used for operating and personnel expenses. Around 20 percent or 1.87 billion will be used for military modernization and defense procurement. U.S. military aid accounts for around 10 percent of Pakistan’s official military budget.

** Avoiding Apocalypse on the Korean Peninsula

Why Diplomacy Is Not Naïve Appeasement in the Korean Crisis
By Rajan Menon

Defense Secretary James Mattis remarked recently that a war with North Korea would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale.” No kidding. “Tragic” doesn’t even begin to describe the horrors that would flow from such a conflict.

The Korean peninsula, all 85,270 square miles of it, is about the size of Idaho. It contains more soldiers (2.8 million, not counting reserves) and armaments (nearly 6,000 tanks, 31,000 artillery pieces, and 1,134 combat aircraft) than any other place on the planet. The armies of North and South Korea face each other across the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, and Seoul, South Korea’s capital, is a mere 35 miles away as the artillery shell flies. More than 25 million people inhabit that city’s greater metropolitan area, home to about half of South Korea’s population. Unsurprisingly, untold numbers of North Korean missiles and artillery pieces are trained on that city. Once the guns started firing, thousands of its denizens would undoubtedly die within hours. Of course, North Koreans, too, would be caught in an almost instant maelstrom of death.

Despite Wipro Denial Of Sale, It’s Double Or Quits Time For Indian IT Companies


R Jagannathan

A sale of Wipro would get Premji anywhere up to Rs 100,000 crore and Nadar up to Rs 75,000 crore. It’s not money to sniff at.

If they choose to stay in the game and try to up it, the short-term future may well be a diminution in their wealth, not to speak of the risk of failing.

Tough call, this.

India’s world-beating software services companies are in the news. With skittish investors fretting about growth in an environment of protectionism, and employees concerned about retaining jobs in a market threatened by automation and plateauing salaries, top bosses have to fight on many fronts.

One of those is rumours. Recently, the management had to scotch rumours of the possibility of Wipro, one of India’s top five software services companies, selling out a part or whole of the business. While Moneycontrol.com said the management had approached investment bankers for a valuation, the management has dismissed the story as “baseless and malicious”.

The problem is that even if the story had been true, Wipro would have been forced to deny it, for these stories cannot be affirmed or even partially rebutted without undermining what may be going on behind the scenes. The management even put out a statement from chairman Azim Premji claiming that he continues to be “incredibly excited about the potential of the IT industry and Wipro.” But could he have said anything else? Could he ever have said he was unexcited about Wipro without seeing his wealth tank, since he owns nearly 75 per cent of the company?

Is India on the Verge of an Unemployment Crisis?

Arpita Mukherjee, Avantika Kapoor

Providing enough employment opportunities in India with a population of 1.34 billion is not easy. And the fact that half of the population is below the age of 25 and will soon enter the job market will only make matters worse.

In response, the government has come up with initiatives such as ‘Make in India’, ‘Skill India’ and ‘Start-up India’ to promote employment. But the 2015–16 Annual Employment and Unemployment Survey found that the labour force participation rate (LFPR) nationally was only 50.3 per cent. And the LFPR is much lower for females than for males. The survey shows sluggish employment growth and the growth varied across sectors. While sectors such as IT have seen growth, other sectors such as jewellery, automobile manufacturing and transport have seen a decline in employment in recent years.

In India, agriculture accounts for 46 per cent of the workforce, compared to 22 per cent in manufacturing and 32 per cent in services. Despite various policy initiatives, the manufacturing sector has not been able to create mass employment, unlike in countries such as China. Further, casual and contractual employment is replacing permanent jobs in the manufacturing sector.

In 2016, India’s unemployment rate was 7.97 per cent, with rural unemployment at 7.15 per cent and urban unemployment at 9.62 per cent. In rural areas, unemployment figures are lower due to the ‘Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act’ (MGNREGA). This act aims to guarantee the ‘right to work’ by providing at least 100 days of paid employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. In the Union Budget 2017–18, the MGNREGA received Rs 480 billion (US$7.5 billion). While the act has helped to lower the unemployment rates, it has not been able to tackle disguised unemployment/underemployment. And such programs focus only on unskilled employment.

India – The Asian Research Network: Survey on America’s role in the Indo-Pacific

Source Link
Dhruva Jaishankar

India stands at an important juncture today. Its central government has probably its strongest political mandate since the 1980s, and arguably since the 1970s. The country’s economic growth is going well by global standards, but with considerable room for improvement. It has also become more diplomatically active with unprecedented cooperation with the United States and Japan, continuing defence relations with Russia, complex security and economic ties with China, and new forms of outreach and engagements in its immediate neighbourhood, the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Today, the rest of the world matters more for India than ever before. India’s trade-to-GDP ratio is higher than China’s or the United States’, it is the world’s largest defence importer, it has a large diaspora that is a major source of investment and remittances, and it is among the most dependent major economies on energy imports.

Despite these developments the understanding of how the Indian public perceives international developments is poor, with few large-scale, face-to-face or telephone surveys conducted outside major metropolitan areas.

Many surveys also display a lack of awareness or opinions about international issues. The latest survey helps to fill the gap in understanding of public Indian attitudes concerning the United States, China, and the international system; India’s role and relations with Pakistan; Indian identity and democracy; and perspectives on trade, investment and immigration.


Afghanistan's Bloody Week Lays Bare Rifts in the 'Unity Government'

By Daud Khattak

Ethnic tensions are reaching a boil after three deadly incidents. 

The June 3 explosions at a high-profile funeral in Kabul marked the third attack in four days to hit the Afghan capital, killing and injuring hundreds, mostly civilians.

The first attack, on May 31, was a truck bomb that detonated in a high-security zone, followed on June 2 by police firing on protesters demanding the resignation of the National Unity Government (NUG) for what they called a failure to stop deadly militant attacks in the fortified capital.

In the decades-long Afghan conflict, attacks such as the ones carried out during the first week of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of dawn-to-dusk fasting, are not the first and sadly not going to be the last. But the current wave of terror laid bare the stark realities of Afghanistan’s internal fissures and the prevailing confusion in this war of shadowy characters.

Sensing the apprehensions about widening ethnic rifts among Afghans in the aftermath of the deadly terrorist attacks in Kabul, the United Nations secretary general’s special representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, asked for calm. The UN official said that the attack on June 3 was “conducted by those opportunistically seeking to use these very fragile moments to destabilize Afghanistan[…]”

Problematic Privilege in Xinjiang

By Adrian Zenz

Xinjiang’s removal of the added points policy for university entrance is not all bad news for its ethnic minorities. 

On April 12, China’s Ministry of Education announced that the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), the restive Muslim province in China’s far west, would no longer provide added points to university entrance exam applicants from bilingual educational tracks. Bilingual education was established in 2004 with the aim to promote Chinese language education among the region’s ethnic minorities, especially the Uyghurs. In the bilingual system, the role of the minority language is typically restricted to that of a single language subject, creating a highly immersive Chinese language environment.

Since educational levels of China’s minorities have often been far inferior to that of the Han majority, the state instituted a series of preferential policies in order to equalize access to higher education and public employment. To this end, ethnic minorities receive extra points on the university entrance exam (gaokao) as well as public recruitment exams, provided they take them in Chinese instead of their own native language. Minorities in Xinjiang’s bilingual education take the gaokao in Chinese, and hence qualify for the added points.

Keeping ISIS On the Retreat in Iraq Will Depend on Health Care

Omar Mukhlis

A broken health system sets the stage for the next terrorist organization to rise up as a challenger to the integrity of Iraq.

The Trump administration is stressing that America is out of the nation-building enterprise as it crafts its policy toward the Middle East. However, as the Islamic State is territorially defeated within Iraq, the future stability of the country rests on how effectively the Iraqi government—with U.S. and international assistance—can reconstruct and reintegrate the previously alienated Sunni population. Many areas will require concentrated focus, including security, governance, economic stabilization and infrastructure. Unfortunately, there is one overlooked issue that will determine the long-term security of the country: the status of its public-health system. If Iraq fails to address health security in the areas liberated from the Islamic State, then the country may once again plunge into chaos, making all of the military gains in vain.

Need to Address Public-Health System

Rebuilding the public-health and health-care-delivery systems must not be dismissed as a secondary focus as conditions in former Islamic State–held territories, and much of the Middle East indicate an incipient vulnerability to an epidemic. The entire region is plagued by preventable diseases, displaced persons and low-state expenditures on health care. An Ebola-esque outbreak spreading across the Middle East is not unrealistic.

Ukraine in Conflict

DAVID R. MARPLES

This is a book in an unusual format. Like many other scholars working on Ukraine, I followed the events of Euromaidan and its aftermath daily. In my case, I wrote frequent analyses intended for an obscure blog site anticipating that the duration would be relatively short like the Orange Revolution of 2004. As events escalated, however, it became something of a habit. Occasionally I published the pieces in various places, like Open Democracy Russia or New Eastern Europe. But for the most part the articles remained limited to a very small audience. My original blog site was linked to the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS)’ Stasiuk Program for the Study of Contemporary Ukraine. My commitment was voluntary since I was not employed there full-time, but it was an arrangement of mutual satisfaction and I was supplied with an office and a computer. Earlier I had commissioned others to write articles, such as the Ukrainian publicist Mykola Riabchuk, who focused on the endemic corruption and crime during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych (2005-2010). But with the coming of Euromaidan, I was too intrigued by events to allow much space for my fellow scholars and writers.

How the British State Went to War with the Islamic State

Patrick Porter

Two brutal new attacks, a sterile old debate. Islamists slaughter civilians, some of them children, and cue a familiar argument about why. Is it because of who we are, Britain or the West? Or is the root cause rather what we do? It turns out that the two concepts of “being” and “doing” are hard to separate, and this battle of reductionisms won’t help us much. Britain needs to go beyond it. The country and its allies are at war with the Islamic State, objectively if not in full consciousness. Wars normally trigger retaliations. Blowback, like the Manchester attack, is not proof of failure. Reprisal is not defeat. The harder reality is something elected leaders rarely acknowledge: they cannot realistically promise safety. The true bargain on offer, an agonizing one, is that those people are asked to risk increased vulnerability to violence in exchange for a long-term effort to contain and suppress a dangerous movement. The potential for atrocities is not an aberration but built into the war’s logic.

A passage through Europe

Harsh V. Pant

While talking trade and terrorism, the Prime Minister also presented India as a defender of the global order

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Europe last week to galvanise India’s ties with key European powers as well as to keep the momentum of his past visit to Europe going. In what has now become his signature style, he touched upon key aspects of Indian foreign policy interests pertaining to each of the four nations — Germany, Russia, Spain and France. Despite Europe’s inward-looking foreign policy orientation at the moment, several aspects of Mr. Modi’s visit stand out which will help India over the long term.

Trade, ties and terrorism 

The cyber-enabled information struggle: Russia's approach and Western vulnerabilities



Cyber operations related to recent elections are symptomatic of the ongoing ‘information struggle’ with the West that Russia sees itself as being engaged in.

To the Russian way of thinking, the information space ties the technical and psychological domains together, both of which are utilized to achieve the desired effects. Cyberspace is not restricted to the technical domain, but can also be used to achieve effects in the psychological domain.

Individuals are currently insufficiently protected against nation-state actors in cyberspace, creating vulnerabilities in democratic societies. Governments need to find ways to counter and deter attacks against their citizens in cyberspace as well.

Attributing cyber attacks is an effort in interpreting the technical breadcrumb trail left behind after attacks, but when dealing with nation-state actors, the political cost of attribution becomes a factor in determining responses.Download PDF (647 Kb)

What America Needs to Learn from the Six-Day War

Gabriel Glickman

Egypt labeled the United States as a co-conspirator with Israel during the Six-Day War because it refused to choose a side.

In June 1967 there was at first impression a clear picture on the ground in the Middle East after six days of war: Israel had taken possession of large swaths of Jordanian, Syrian and Egyptian territory; Israeli tourists were crossing the border into previously off-limit Palestinian neighborhoods; Egyptian soldiers, some barefoot, were running in retreat through the Sinai desert to get across the Suez Canal; the scattered remnants of Egypt’s artillery and tanks littered a desert landscape that for three tense weeks had housed the operations of the most powerful Arab military in the modern world.

A possible resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, one that could be brokered by the United States, appeared in the offing: Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser was on state television announcing his abdication of power due to a spectacular defeat by Israel; President Lyndon B. Johnson announced that Israel was, for the first time ever, in a powerful position to bargain for its security and to establish an unprecedented peaceful coexistence with its regional neighbors; while the Soviet representative to the United Nations looked foolish telling the security council that Israel had acted like Hitler and committed an illegal war to expand its national territory.

Trump’s Selective Responses to Terror

ALEX WAGNER

It is no secret that the President of the United States is a quick draw when it comes to expressing indignation or anger in response to news of the day. This is especially true when it comes to certain acts of terror—in the immediate aftermath of the Paris, Manchester and London attacks, Trump expressed his feelings within hours. And indeed, the American public has seen its commander in chief at turns combative, sneering, dyspeptic and outraged when extremists maim and kill in the name of Islam.

Very often there is some policy prescription laced in his responses, as well—a push for “extreme vetting” or a renewed call for his original and apparently not-politically correct version of a ban targeting Muslim travelers. These are Trump’s targeted solutions to what he calls the problem of “Islamic extremism,” dished out with the same munificence and gusto as his often emotional responses.

And yet in other, equally horrific instances, when innocents have been attacked or killed in the name of a different sort of extremism, President Trump has remained mostly quiet. Either he has said nothing at all, or he has waited days to respond—and when the responses have been issued, they are missing Trump’s signature fury and attendant solutions. Sometimes, these responses don’t even sound like the president.

The Consequences of Leaving the Paris Agreement

By James McBride

President Donald J. Trump has strongly criticized the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate reached by President Barack Obama’s administration, arguing that the global deal to cut back carbon emissions would kill jobs and impose onerous regulations on the U.S. economy. As a result, in June 2017 he announced that the United States will exit the agreement. With the United States producing nearly one-fifth of all global emissions, the U.S. withdrawal from the accord could undercut collective efforts to reduce carbon output, transition to renewable energy sources, and lock in future climate measures.

Debate over the impact of withdrawal continues. While Trump has rolled back climate regulations at a federal level, thirty-four states, led by California and New York, have undertaken their own ambitious carbon reduction plans.

What is the status of the Paris Agreement?

The Paris Agreement was finalized at a global climate conference in 2015, and entered into force in November 2016 after enough countries, including China and the United States, ratified it. The nearly two hundred parties to the deal—only Syria and Nicaragua have failed to sign on—committed to voluntary reductions in carbon emissions with the goal of keeping global temperature increases below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), a level that the assembled nations warned could lead to an “urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet.”

Army relying on ‘situational understanding’ to secure legacy devices

by Mark Pomerleau

The Army, which continues to field a variety of legacy equipment, knows it is going to get hacked. The solution: provide commanders with information to understand what these compromises will mean to their mission.

The Army is grappling with how to retrofit and make legacy equipment relevant in a 21 century environment, as it’s not going to purchase an entire new arsenal of radios or other legacy equipment it operates.

Acknowledging a common adage, Mike Monteleone, acting deputy director of Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate (S&TCD) at the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, told FifthDomain during an interview at their headquarters at Aberdeen Proving Ground that cybersecurity was never baked into programs. So, with programs or equipment with inherent vulnerabilities that have been out for 20 or 30 years, “There’s nothing you can do, you’re not going to open a radio system and change certain things,” despite the vulnerabilities, “because there are hundreds of thousands of them in the Army’s inventory.”

At the lab level, the Army is testing out several situational awareness and situational understanding tools to help provide commanders more actionable information to be able to discern what a potential intrusion might mean to their mission.

Containing the Pocket-sized Threat to America’s Military

By ML Cavanaugh

The scary/cool juxtaposition of the recent global ransomware attack with Google’s annual developer’s conference should, if nothing else, prompt us to reevaluate our relationship with the digital world. Google’s event (and the settled consensus) tells us the information age enables better, more productive lives. But this latest attack and mounting evidence suggest that the accompanying costs are serious, even rising to national security concern levels as an ongoing threat to American lives and liberty in the pursuit of false happiness.

As a military officer and strategist, I’m bound by an oath charging defense “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” For several years I’ve noticed the growing impact of the persistent, dependent link between the majority of our soldiers and the internet, often enabled by and embodied in the smartphone. Officers responsible for teaching compass-driven land navigation, a critical ground combat skill, worry they’re fighting an unwinnable battle with recruits unable to see the forest from their screen. Cadets, as with their non-military, college-age contemporaries, can’t concentrate in class when they’re so wired to the web. Social media divides units over inappropriate online sexual behavior in garrison, and while on deployment, as one officer reports, the “band of brothers” is coming apart due to “too much connectivity.”

These alarming anecdotes extend beyond military bases, as armies reflect their societies: Smartphones are killing, dividing, and weakening Americans.

Who Can Keep the Peace? Insurgent Organizational Control of Collective Violence

Alec Worsnop

ABSTRACT

Every armed organization seeks the ability to turn violence on and off by getting fighters to fight when ordered and to stop fighting when similarly ordered. This ability is a defining feature of what makes organized violence, in fact, organized. While state militaries develop clear hierarchies and disciplinary procedures to accomplish this goal, the complexity of civil war makes the task more difficult for insurgent groups. I argue that the leaders of insurgent organizations are able to turn violence on and off when they have deliberately established resource control through the direct, and exclusive, distribution of resources to their followers and those followers are socially embedded, meaning that members are united by strong horizontal ties and group norms. In contrast to existing approaches, I argue that material and social endowments do not predetermine whether leaders can establish resource control or embeddedness. Further, laying out the precise organizational mechanisms that determine when organizations can turn violence on and off challenges the utility of conceptions such as “fragmentation” or “cohesion” for explaining insurgent behavior and conflict outcomes. I test the theory by examining variation in behavior over time in two organizations facing different structural contexts—Jaysh al-Mahdi in Iraq and the Viet Minh in Vietnam—and find strong support for my argument while casting doubt on existing explanations. 

WannaCry and Vulnerabilities


There is plenty of blame to go around for the WannaCry ransomware that spread throughout the Internet earlier this month, disrupting work at hospitals, factories, businesses, and universities. First, there are the writers of the malicious software, which blocks victims' access to their computers until they pay a fee. Then there are the users who didn't install the Windows security patch that would have prevented an attack. A small portion of the blame falls on Microsoft, which wrote the insecure code in the first place. One could certainly condemn the Shadow Brokers, a group of hackers with links to Russia who stole and published the National Security Agency attack tools that included the exploit code used in the ransomware. But before all of this, there was the NSA, which found the vulnerability years ago and decided to exploit it rather than disclose it.

All software contains bugs or errors in the code. Some of these bugs have security implications, granting an attacker unauthorized access to or control of a computer. These vulnerabilities are rampant in the software we all use. A piece of software as large and complex as Microsoft Windows will contain hundreds of them, maybe more. These vulnerabilities have obvious criminal uses that can be neutralized if patched. Modern software is patched all the time -- either on a fixed schedule, such as once a month with Microsoft, or whenever required, as with the Chrome browser.

When the US government discovers a vulnerability in a piece of software, however, it decides between two competing equities. It can keep it secret and use it offensively, to gather foreign intelligence, help execute search warrants, or deliver malware. Or it can alert the software vendor and see that the vulnerability is patched, protecting the country -- and, for that matter, the world -- from similar attacks by foreign governments and cybercriminals. It's an either-or choice. As former US Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith has said, "Every offensive weapon is a (potential) chink in our defense -- and vice versa."

War Without Fear: DepSecDef Work On How AI Changes Conflict

By Sydney J. Freedberg

APPLIED PHYSICS LABORATORY: “Brothers and sisters, my name is Bob Work, and I have sinned,” the Deputy Secretary of Defense said to laughter. There’s widespread agreement in the military that artificial intelligence, robotics, and human-machine teaming will change the way that war is waged, Work told an AI conference here Thursday, “but I am starting to believe very, very deeply that it is also going to change the nature of war.”

“There’s no greater sin in the profession” than to suggest that new technology could change the “immutable” nature of human conflict, rather than just change the tools with which it’s waged, Work acknowledged. (He wryly noted he’d waited to make this statement until “my boss, the warrior monk, happens to be out of the country”). But Work is both a classically trained Marine Corps officer and the Pentagon’s foremost advocate of artificial intelligence.

“The nature of war is all about a collision of will, fear, uncertainty, and chance, Work said, summarizing Clausewitz. “You have to ask yourself, how does fear play out in a world when a lot of the action is taking place between unmanned systems?”

North Korea, Cyberattacks And ‘Lazarus’: What We Really Know


TOKYO — With the dust now settling after “WannaCry,” the biggest ransomware attack in history, cybersecurity experts are taking a deep dive into how it was carried out, what can be done to protect computers from future breaches and, trickiest of all, who is to blame.

Beyond the frequently used shorthand that North Korea was likely behind the attack lies a more complicated story of the rise of an infamous group of hackers known as “Lazarus,” who may be using secret lairs in northeast China and have created a virtual “malware factory” that could wreak a lot more havoc in the future.

Who are they?

On Dec. 19, 2014, just one month after a devastating hack hobbled Sony Pictures Entertainment, the FBI’s field office in San Diego issued a press release stating North Korea was the culprit and saying such cyberattacks pose “one of the gravest national security dangers” to the United States.

Its claim North Korea was to blame has been disputed.

Hackers Hide Cyberattacks in Social Media Posts


By SHEERA FRENKEL

SAN FRANCISCO — It took only one attempt for Russian hackers to make their way into the computer of a Pentagon official. But the attack didn’t come through an email or a file buried within a seemingly innocuous document.

A link, attached to a Twitter post put out by a robot account, promised a family-friendly vacation package for the summer. It was the kind of thing anyone might click on, according to the official hit by the attack, who was not authorized to speak publicly about it.

That is exactly the problem, Pentagon officials and cybersecurity experts said. While corporations and government agencies around the world are training their staff to think twice before opening anything sent by email, hackers have already moved on to a new kind of attack, targeting social media accounts, where people are more likely to be trusting.

Cyber Command reevaluating defensive cyber tools



A communications officer with the 7th Iraqi army division adds computers to a network during an advanced computer networking class at Camp Mejid, Al Asad, Iraq, Nov. 23, 2008. The training will help build the communication infrastructure within the division. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Chad Simon/Army) 

Cyber Command, while still a relatively infant organization with its mission force not yet fully operationally capable, is reassessing capabilities and concepts as operations and threat actors evolve in a space that seems to change at a previously incomprehensible pace.

“One place that we are reassessing is a key capability for each cyber protection reams – the CPTs – that is their service provided Deployable Mission Support System or DMSS,” Brig. Gen. Maria Barrett, deputy of operations J-3 at Cyber Command, said during a keynote address at an AFCEA hosted event in northern Virginia June 1.

AP Interview: France warns of risk of war in cyberspace


By JOHN LEICESTER

Cyberspace faces an approaching risk of "permanent war" between states and criminal or extremist organizations because of increasingly destructive hacking attacks, the head of the French government's cybersecurity agency warned Thursday.

In a wide-ranging interview in his office with The Associated Press, Guillaume Poupard lamented a lack of commonly agreed rules to govern cyberspace and said: "We must work collectively, not just with two or three Western countries, but on a global scale."

"With what we see today — attacks that are criminal, from states, often for espionage or fraud but also more and more for sabotage or destruction — we are getting closer, clearly, to a state of war, a state of war that could be more complicated, probably, than those we've known until now," he said.

His comments echoed testimony from the head of the U.S. National Security Agency, Adm. Michael Rogers, to the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 9. Rogers spoke of "cyber effects" being used by states "to maintain the initiative just short of war" and said: "'Cyber war' is not some future concept or cinematic spectacle, it is real and here to stay."

8 June 2017

*** Modi is Pretty Impressive, says Francis Fukuyama

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by Tunku Varadarajan

On the day after Donald Trump sacked James Comey, his FBI director, I interviewed Francis Fukuyama, an American political scientist who has for decades been a source of wisdom (and occasionally of controversy) on the state of the world. The author, most notably, of The End of History and the Last Man (1992), Fukuyama is currently a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and director of that institute’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. I had last met Frank— as he’s known to his friends and colleagues—in 2007, and he appeared not to have aged at all. Unchanged also was his impressive—and essentially Japanese—courtesy. He is a quiet American, and there are few better people to talk to if one wishes to comprehend the current global shambles. 

The Middle East is a violent mess, as always—only more so, and is exporting its violence to foreign parts. Russia has become a malign force in global affairs, adding interference in foreign elections to its repertoire of misdeeds. 

China is pushing hard—and stridently—to be an alternative to the United States as a global superpower, without any of the democratic aura that America has, and with a hard-edged hegemonic impulse that would appear to brook no opposition. Europe is rudderless and fragmented, a continent struggling with the unraveling of its union. India and Japan are peripheral: India by virtue of its lack of ambition and its self-diminishing obsession with an antagonistic neighbour (Pakistan); Japan because of a demographic crisis that exacerbates every aspect of its innate conservatism and insularity. 

But most disconcerting of all is the part that the United States appears to play in this mess. Under a president for whom few outside America’s Red states have genuine respect, the most powerful country in the world is in the throes of a major national redefinition. It does not help that President Trump is so mercurial: what he says one week he unsays the next. Without the United States as a strategic and moral compass, the world is in terra incognita, unsure of where it is going, and of what horrors lie around the corner. 

*** Sino-Indian Nuclear Rivalry: Glacially Declassified

By Jayita Sarkar

Official documents from a 1966 Air India crash on Mont Blanc could shed light on a key time in India’s modern history. 

On January 24, 1966, at about 7:02 in the morning, Air India 101 ‘Kanchenjanga’­– a Boeing 707 airliner– crashed on Mont Blanc near the Franco-Italian border. All 117 people on board were killed, including Homi Jehangir Bhabha, hailed as the father of the Indian nuclear program. His remains were never recovered from the Alps: Vikram Sarabhai delivered his condolences in Bombay (present-day Mumbai) on January 25, and became Bhabha’s successor as the chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission.

In summer 2016, over half a century later, the Bossons glacier in Chamonix, in the French Alps, elicited a series of treasures: not rubies or sapphires but documents marked “Top Secret,” originating from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and on board the ill-fated Air India flight of 1966. What do these documents tell us? Do they warrant a trip to the Alps for the archive-hungry historian?
Front page of the newspaper The Statesman, January 25, 1966. Image from the book A Masterful Spirit: Homi Bhabha, 1909-1966 by Indira Chowdhury and Ananya Dasgupta.

Two Crashes, One Location

Climate change and the resultant evanescence of the Alpine glacier have been spewing surprises to the inhabitants and mountaineers that visit this certain area in the Alps. According to Françoise Rey, a long-time inhabitant of Chamonix, both human curiosity and avarice have a role to play. “People dig around hoping for jewels from the plane,” and sometimes, “just for cadavers,” she told me during our meeting in Geneva in May 2017.

Rey is a novelist, who has authored several books including the 2015 Crashs au Mont Blanc: La Fin des Secrets? (The Crashes on Mont Blanc: The End of Secrets?) She thinks that a lot can be done about the incessant surprises that the glacier is offering, if only the people who run into jewels, trinkets, government documents, and sometimes human body parts on the glacier, could deposit those into a recognized repository, like, perhaps an “Archive of Mont Blanc Crashes.”