13 March 2019

Cybersecurity Study Of Dark Web Exposes Vulnerability To Machine Identities


A thriving marketplace for SSL and TLS certificates–small data files used to facilitate confidential communication between organizations’ servers and their clients’ computers–exists on a hidden part of the Internet, according to new research by Georgia State University’s Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Research Group (EBCS) and the University of Surrey.

Networked machines use keys and SSL/TLS certificates to identify and authenticate themselves when connecting to each other, much like humans employ user names and passwords to go online, according to Venafi®, a privately held provider of machine identity protection and sponsor of the research.

When these certificates are sold on the darknet, they are packaged with a wide range of crimeware that delivers machine identities to cybercriminals who use them to spoof websites, eavesdrop on encrypted traffic, perform attacks and steal sensitive data, among other activities.

The Case for a Cyber Deterrence Plan that Works

by Sandeep Baliga 
Source Link

U.S. strategy has not kept pace with the evolving cyber threat. Recent proposals ignore key strategic features of the cyber domain, resulting in overly narrow policies. We must take a global approach to cyber-deterrence, and we must blend aggressive retaliation when the origins of attacks are clear with forbearance when they aren’t.

Here’s a scenario that should trouble America’s political leaders:

Top-secret plans for a next-generation fighter jet are stolen from a U.S. defense contractor’s computer. It appears the intrusion originated in China. Then again, it’s easy for other actors to make it look as if the culprit is China. Also, some signs point to North Korea. Ultimately, the United States blames China. It launches a retaliatory cyber strike that paralyzes Chinese military computer networks for a week. U.S. diplomats tell their counterparts that they’ve been warned against future incursions, but the move backfires.

INSIDE THE HIGH-STAKES RACE TO MAKE QUANTUM COMPUTERS WORK

KATIA MOSKVITCH

DEEP BENEATH THE Franco-Swiss border, the Large Hadron Collider is sleeping. But it won’t be quiet for long. Over the coming years, the world’s largest particle accelerator will be supercharged, increasing the number of proton collisions per second by a factor of two and a half. Once the work is complete in 2026, researchers hope to unlock some of the most fundamental questions in the universe. But with the increased power will come a deluge of data the likes of which high-energy physics has never seen before. And, right now, humanity has no way of knowing what the collider might find.

To understand the scale of the problem, consider this: When it shut down in December 2018, the LHC generated about 300 gigabytes of data every second, adding up to 25 petabytes (PB) annually. For comparison, you’d have to spend 50,000 years listening to music to go through 25 PB of MP3 songs, while the human brain can store memories equivalent to just 2.5 PB of binary data. To make sense of all that information, the LHC data was pumped out to 170 computing centers in 42 countries. It was this global collaboration that helped discover the elusive Higgs boson, part of the Higgs field believed to give mass to elementary particles of matter.

Cyberization means it's not your daddy's war anymore

Metin Gurcan

It seems counterintuitive, but apparently some soldiers like to spend their free time ... playing soldier.

Turkey's army recently issued a directive warning that Kurdish militants have been trying to obtain logistical information about Turkish positions via an online war game app.

The directive was primarily for the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and Gendarmerie Command units tasked with combating terror in the field. It said the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey and the PKK-affiliated People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria have been communicating via the game Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). The app, from China gaming titan Tencent, is very popular in Turkey and widely used in mobile gaming to evade electronic detection of players' phones and wireless communications.

The Turkish notice pointed out that in PUBG’s locations/region section, players' positions are identified. PKK militants, by entering chat rooms, establish contact with Turkish soldiers — first to play and chat, and later on to collect intelligence data such as their locations, their units, personal information and their possible operational plans.

Genocide Swarms & Assassin Drones: The Case For Banning Lethal AI

By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.

M1 Abrams tank

You’re not? I’d reached out to Russell because of his criticism of the US Army’s ATLAS project to put Artificial Intelligence in armored vehicles, a system intended to assist human gunners that he argued could all too easily replace them altogether. Quartz.com headlined its story on ATLAS “The US Army wants to turn tanks into AI-powered killing machines.” Okay, so the US Army actually doesn’t want that at all — replacing loyal, well-trained soldiers with unproven technology justifiably gives generals the heebie-jeebies — but just the possibility of robot tanks got a lot of people pretty worried.

Russell, however, has bigger things to worry about — or rather, much, much smaller things.

Soldier with handheld quadcopter

The US Army Is Trying to Bury the Lessons of the Iraq War

BY FRANK SOBCHAK 

U.S. troops are still in Iraq — not to mention Syria, Afghanistan, and various African countries — to ward off or put down insurgencies. Within the national security apparatus, however, the Iraq War is old news. 

As has been explained to me by senior officers who are still on active duty, the conventional wisdom today is that our military has moved on — and in an odd redux, they note that we have returned to the philosophy of 1973. Similar to how the Pentagon abandoned its doctrine of fighting counterinsurgencies and irregular conflicts in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, today’s military has shifted away from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead of preparing to fight insurgents and guerrillas, our security establishment has refocused almost exclusively on the realm of great power conflict — in their parlance, peer or near-peer competitors such as Russia or China. 

A New Version of the ‘Gerasimov Doctrine’?

By: Pavel Felgenhauer

In January 2013, the newly appointed first deputy defense minister and chief of the General Staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov, spoke in Moscow at a meeting of the Academy of Military Science about modern war-making. In his remarks, he described so-called “hybrid warfare,” touting the use of nonmilitary means to achieve strategic aims and using as an example the events of the “Arab Spring,” in which anti-government protests and armed rebellions consumed much of the Middle East from 2010 to 2012. Gerasimov implied that these new nonmilitary or “hybrid” tactics were a Western invention, cooked up in Washington to achieve global domination as a supplement to more regular military capabilities like Prompt Global Strike (PGS). He declared that Moscow must find ways to counter all possible threats, including hybrid (Vpk-news, February 26, 2013). Yet, in March 2014, it was the Russians that, in fact, deployed such hybrid warfare tactics to covertly infiltrate, take over and eventually annex Crimea. Similar hybrid tactics were used to instigate a separatist pro-Russian armed rebellion in the Donbas region of Ukraine. As a result, hybrid warfare tactics became popularly linked in the West with the notion of a “Gerasimov doctrine.” But this connection has been misleading for several reasons, not least of which being the fact that Gerasimov originally had applied the concept of hybrid warfare to how the West allegedly pursues conflict. Furthermore, Gerasimov’s background is as a Russian tank general—not the domain of special forces operations methods and tactics. As such, he staunchly supports the massive use of armor, motorized infantry, heavy guns, missiles and air power to achieve practical strategic goals.

12 March 2019

India and Pakistan Are a Brewing Nuclear Nightmare

James Stavridis

James Stavridis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former supreme allied commander of NATO, and dean emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is also an operating executive consultant at the Carlyle Group and chairs the board of counselors at McLarty Associates.

While India and Pakistan seem to have stopped bombing one another, the causes behind the cross-border tensions aren’t going away any time soon. The two nations are nuclear-armed; have large conventional armed forces; have had four serious wars since they became independent in 1947; and have enormous cultural and religious antipathy. This is a prescription for a disaster, and yet the confrontation is flying below the international radar - well below North Korea, Brexit, China-U.S. trade confrontations, Iran and even the “yellow vests” of France. A full-blown war in the valleys and mountains of Kashmir is a very real possibility.

Modi understands Pakistan army’s Islamic doctrine. That’s why he called its nuclear bluff

SANJAY DIXIT

It came as a big surprise when a former Northern Army Commander said that the post-Pulwama conflict ended in a stalemate and was hence a defeat for India.

In all my interactions with past and present military commanders, I have always found them having a multi-dimensional awareness of the strategic compass of not just India, but of various theatres of the world.

But the general’s understanding of the 90-hour conflict is problematic, and confounds the tactical with the strategic, and military strategy with national strategy.

In a modern hybrid war, comprising aspects of fourth and fifth-generation warfare, military is but one aspect, albeit an important one. The economic, diplomatic, and information warfare are equally important, and so is the national will. Add to this, the fifth-generation warfare imposed on Kashmir by Pakistan, and the circle is complete.

China’s tech a worry for India

Pranjal Sharma 

Two years ago, China unveiled a strategy paper that outlined its vision for growth in an area where it was seen as a weak player. The Internet Plus plan aims to convert and propel China as a superpower in technology. As the fourth industrial revolution gains momentum, China wants to be its leader, not follower. It’s not just Internet based systems, Chinese companies are becoming dominant in categories like robotics and drones. 

A report by Forrester says that China’s technology spending will rise to $234 billion in 2018 marking a rise of 8 per cent. This money is being spent on computing hardware, telecommunications equipment and tech software among other categories. The Forrester survey of business decision-makers offers insights into the level of commitment. Over 66 per cent will use data and analytics, 59 per cent will use IoT-based solutions and 58 per cent will invest in AI-based platforms. 

Competing in the Huge Digital Economies of China and India

Bhaskar Chakravorti

The global digital economy crossed an important milestone recently: the number of internet users in two countries — China, with just over 800 million users, and India, with 500 million users – surpassed the aggregate number of internet users across 37 OECD countries combined. In both countries, users spend more time on the internet than the worldwide average of 5.9 hours per day. They also have room to grow; China has just under 60% of its population online, while India, with one of the lowest ratesof internet penetration in the world, has under 25% of its population online.

While it’s tempting to group China and India together as a block of emerging digital markets, they offer several important distinctions, especially for international entities and countries looking to invest. In our Digital Evolution Index (DEI), we place them in the “digital south” which means the full deployment and adoption of online systems is still in development. Our DEI research classifies both China and India as “Break Out” countries, which means they are experiencing strong digital growth. China has 783 million smartphone users and, as reported by the Cyberspace Administration of China, had 469 million registered on a mobile payment platform in January 2017. It is also the world’s largest market for e-commerce. And India is on track to become the youngest country in the world by 2020 and its digital economy is expected to balloon from $413 billion today to $1 trillion dollars by 2025.

Can Indian Manufacturing Be the Next Chinese Manufacturing?

ALYSSA AYRES

Not long ago, India’s underwhelming manufacturing industry was symbolized by its best-known car: the Ambassador. Modeled on a British car from the ‘50s, the boxy Hindustan Motors sedan dominated Indian roads for decades. Well into the 1990s, it was to India what the Lada was to the Soviet Union or the Trabant to East Germany, testimony to the technological shortcomings of an economy cut off from the world and shaped more by bureaucrats than by market forces.

Manufacturing in India still faces problems, including poor infrastructure, red tape, disconnectedness from global supply chains, and restrictive labor laws that have stymied the growth of business and limited economic dynamism. Nonetheless, over the past decade, hardly noticed by much of the world, the country’s auto industry has quietly scripted a success story. The land of the clunky Ambassador now houses one of the world’s major automobile industries. In terms of output—nearly 3.8 million cars a year, according to the most recent figures—India now nearly matches South Korea, an automobile powerhouse, and is on track to catch up with Germany.

India’s ascent: Five opportunities for growth and transformationAugust 2016 | Report

By Noshir Kaka and Anu Madgavkar

Twenty-five years ago, India embarked on a journey of economic liberalization, opening its doors to globalization and market forces. We, and the rest of the world, have watched as the investment and trade regime introduced in 1991 raised economic growth, increased consumer choice, and reduced poverty significantly.

Now, as uncertainties cloud the global economic picture, the International Monetary Fund has projected that India’s GDP will grow by 7.4 percent for 2016–17, making it the world’s fastest-growing large economy. India also compares favorably with other emerging markets in growth potential. (Exhibit 1). The country offers an attractive long-term future powered largely by a consuming class that’s expected to more than triple, to 89 million households, by 2025.


Terror inc.: The dramatic shift in India-Pakistan relations

By Ramananda Sengupta

The release of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman by Pakistan days after his MiG 21 was shot down over Pakistan occupied Kashmir may have lowered the temperature in the subcontinent, but the events of the last three days of February mark a dramatic, and some would say dangerous, shift in India-Pakistan relations.

For one, this is the first time since the 1971 war that warplanes of the two perennially hostile neighbours have crossed the border and bombed targets in each other’s territory. And two, India has now publicly declared that if the world and Pakistan could not take out terrorists operating from Pakistani soil, India reserved the right to do so unilaterally.

As a senior Indian official put it, “We have convinced the world that we have reasonable, strong and justifiable grounds to do what we had to on February 26 and that we will not tolerate any more attacks by terrorists on our soil. They will not go unanswered.”

View: Pakistan, and not just its 'non-State actors', are responsible for Pulwama attack

By Vikram Sood

india,-pak-flag-agenciesIt is not always easy to provide commentary on an episode that is still unfolding. Besides, there is so much ‘knowledgeable’ (sic) chatter in the media, with ‘both sides’ playing mind games, that it is difficult to do a reasonably accurate timeline. It’s certainly far more difficult than a running cricket commentary, especially with the Pakistanis not playing a ‘gentleman’s game’. 

They have not for the last 70 years, and they are not likely to in the foreseeable future. 

It is beyond Pakistan to understand that following the punitive strike by Indian forces against ‘terrorist launch pads’ on September 29, 2016, and the attack on Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camps in Pakistan and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) on Wednesday, the entire game has changed. The shift is that each time there is a major terrorist strike now, there will be reprisals. The evolving situation will continue to have many variables and consequences. 

Backdoor Became Bigger 

Why India and Pakistan Avoided Nuclear War

By Phillip Orchard & Xander Snyder

Tensions have been high in South Asia, to say the least. India and Pakistan are nuclear powers, and any time one nuclear power attacks another it reminds us how easy it would be to trigger nuclear annihilation. All it takes is one miscalculation or mistaken intention for none of us to be here anymore. Though these concerns are valid, they are sometimes overblown. The laws of deterrence that have governed nuclear brinksmanship since the advent of nuclear weapons are still in place today. And since India and Pakistan are constrained by these laws too, they were always unlikely to nuke each other into oblivion.

Still, the fact that they do occasionally engage in skirmishes makes the situation in South Asia unique among all territorial disputes and nuclear war games. Because the stakes are so high, it’s important to understand how India and Pakistan got to this point and why nuclear weapons are likely to prevent a major conventional conflict, even if nuclear war can’t be ruled out altogether.

US-India Trade Relationship Heads into Choppy Waters

BY MARK LINSCOTT

In a letter to the US Congress on March 4, US President Donald J. Trump wrotethat he intends to end preferential trade treatment for India. Trump wrote that he had taken the decision because “after intensive engagement between the United States and the Government of India, I have determined that India has not assured the United States that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to the markets of India.” It is important to assess exactly what this decision means and consider the full range of implications for the US-India trade relationship.

First, notwithstanding the terminology in the public announcement by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), this action is really a potential suspension of US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) status for India, which provides duty-free treatment to goods of designated beneficiary countries, rather than a termination. 

Why the Pakistan-Terrorist Nexus Persists

BRAHMA CHELLANEY

Though Pakistan’s civilian government is signaling its intent to crack down on terrorist groups based in the country, the international community should not get its hopes up. With the military still dominant, Pakistan is likely, yet again, to return to business as usual as soon as external pressure has eased.

BERLIN – Once again, an attack on India by a Pakistan-based terrorist group has raised the specter of a major confrontation on the Indian subcontinent – and fueled international pressure for Pakistan to take concrete action against the 22 United Nations-designated terrorist entities it hosts. But this time, the pressure is compounded by fury over attacks by Pakistan-based terrorists on the country’s other key neighbors, Iran and Afghanistan. Will Pakistan finally respond convincingly? 

Over the years, the footprints of many terrorist attacks in the West have been traced to Pakistan. The United States found al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden ensconced in the high-security garrison town of Abbottabad, in the shadow of the Pakistan Military Academy. Other terrorist leaders captured since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US – including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al-Qaeda’s third in command, and Abu Zubaydah, the network’s operations chief – were also found living in Pakistan’s heartland.

Why the Pakistan-Terrorist Nexus Persists

BRAHMA CHELLANEY

Though Pakistan’s civilian government is signaling its intent to crack down on terrorist groups based in the country, the international community should not get its hopes up. With the military still dominant, Pakistan is likely, yet again, to return to business as usual as soon as external pressure has eased.

BERLIN – Once again, an attack on India by a Pakistan-based terrorist group has raised the specter of a major confrontation on the Indian subcontinent – and fueled international pressure for Pakistan to take concrete action against the 22 United Nations-designated terrorist entities it hosts. But this time, the pressure is compounded by fury over attacks by Pakistan-based terrorists on the country’s other key neighbors, Iran and Afghanistan. Will Pakistan finally respond convincingly? 

US Asia Strategy: Beyond the Quad

By Patrick M. Cronin

Last year, some five months after the revival of the “Quad” — the loose grouping of maritime democracies comprising the United States, Japan, Australia, and India — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi compared the process to “seafoam in the Pacific or the Indian Ocean: they may get some attention, but soon will dissipate.”

Wang may get his wish. On Thursday, the admiral in charge of the United States Indo-Pacific Command suggested shelving the Quad.

Some will scour Admiral Phil Davidson’s remarks on Thursday for hidden meaning, such as signs of U.S. retrenchment, growing discord with Delhi, or a pre-emptive move before a possible new Australian Labor government moves once again to put the quadrilateral community on ice (as it did in 2008). More advisable, however, would be to take Davidson at face-value when he noted that there is limited appetite for operationalizing the Quad.

The Army's killer drones: How a secretive special ops unit decimated ISIS

Sean D. Naylor

As the Islamic State’s physical caliphate shrinks to nothing after an almost five-year campaign led by U.S. special operations forces, military insiders say one small unit has killed more of the extremists than any other: the company of Gray Eagle drones in the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

Although the military has thrown a cloak of secrecy over its operations, the unit — officially called E (or “Echo”) Company of the regiment’s Second Battalion and established less than a decade ago — is increasingly being lauded in special operations and Army aviation circles.

“They are doing the most killing of anyone in the national mission force,” said a former 160th officer, referring to Joint Special Operations Command, which runs counterterrorism task forces in Afghanistan, and does battle against the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and the Horn of Africa. “They’re out there doing the nation’s bidding in a ferocious way.”

Deciphering ISIS Is More Important Than Defeating It

By Shazar Shafqat

The Islamic State released last month the latest issue of their newsletter Al-Naba, which translates to "the news." With all the eye-catching pictorial characterizations, the enunciation of their future warfare goals, and the type of content they've produced, it doesn't suggest the group's been down and out.

The 12-page document pertains, mostly, to the Islamic State’s campaign in Iraq and Syria. They’ve outlined strategies, modalities, and warfare tactics they think would best suit their operations in the region. In particular, they’ve focused much on assassinations, their primary modus operandi. So, when the United States is finalizing its Syria withdrawal plan, Baghdadi and his men are busy nailing down their tactical operations for the future. Interesting! 

The newsletter also entails and lays down the agenda with regards to launching, direct or indirect, attacks against Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), a group the United States has been supportive of to deter ISIS from making further inroads in the region.

The next crash: why the world is unprepared for the economic dangers ahead

BY GRACE BLAKELEY

A decade has passed since the start of the Great Recession – the momentous downturn that shook the global economy as none had since the 1930s. In the intervening years, the world has experienced a slow but consistent recovery. Economic dangers, however, are now apparent at every turn: a new global debt crisis, trade wars between great powers and a Chinese slowdown.

The IMF has cut its world growth forecast for 2019 to 3.5 per cent (compared to 3.9 per cent in July 2018), citing lower growth in both advanced and emerging economies and the rising likelihood of a negative economic shock. Some market analysts are now warning of a possible global recession this year – far earlier than most have anticipated. But how much danger are we in? And what would be the economic and political consequences of a new crash?

On the surface, it is unclear what explains the new mood of pessimism. In our interconnected world, global growth is intimately linked to the fortunes of the largest economies, most of which have enjoyed sustained recoveries since the 2008 crisis.

Gerasimov Unveils Russia’s ‘Strategy of Limited Actions’

By: Roger McDermott

The Russian Academy of Military Sciences held its annual defense conference on March 2. The theme this year covered future wars, armed conflicts and the challenges facing the defense sector. The president of the Academy, Army General (ret.) Makhmut Gareev, provided the opening speech. However, the keynote address was given by the chief of the General Staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov (Krasnaya Zvezda, March 4). Gerasimov reported on the main developments in military strategy and the tasks facing the military science community. It is highly likely that Gerasimov’s speech, as well as others during the conference, will play a role in the formulation of Russia’s the new military doctrine ordered by President Vladimir Putin in December 2018.

Should We Rethink Nuclear Power? – Analysis

By Haley Zaremba

While it seems to fly in the face of everything we believe and have been taught about nuclear power, it may actually be the safest form of power production that we have. Ironically, the immense potency of the power of splitting an atom is simultaneously what makes nuclear weapons so dangerous as well as what makes nuclear power so safe.

Despite high-profile nuclear disasters like Chernobyl in Ukraine (then the Soviet Union), Fukushima in Japan, and Three Mile Island in the United States, the deaths related to nuclear meltdowns are actually very few. In fact, climate scientists Pushker Kharecha and James Hanson discovered that overall, nuclear energy actually saves lives–their study found that up until now, nuclear power has already saved nearly two million lives that would have been lost to air pollution-related deaths from the contamination that would have been produced by other, more traditional, sources of energy.

Gerasimov Unveils Russia’s ‘Strategy of Limited Actions’

By: Roger McDermott

The Russian Academy of Military Sciences held its annual defense conference on March 2. The theme this year covered future wars, armed conflicts and the challenges facing the defense sector. The president of the Academy, Army General (ret.) Makhmut Gareev, provided the opening speech. However, the keynote address was given by the chief of the General Staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov (Krasnaya Zvezda, March 4). Gerasimov reported on the main developments in military strategy and the tasks facing the military science community. It is highly likely that Gerasimov’s speech, as well as others during the conference, will play a role in the formulation of Russia’s the new military doctrine ordered by President Vladimir Putin in December 2018.

‘No First Use’ and Nuclear Weapons

by Ankit Panda

Strategic planners for nuclear weapons powers see the credible threat of the first use of nuclear weapons as a powerful deterrent against a range of significant nonnuclear threats, including major conventional, chemical, and biological attacks, as well as cyberattacks. Even states with significant conventional military forces, such as the United States, consider it necessary to retain nuclear first use as an option. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, under the administration of President Donald J. Trump, retains the option of nuclear first use.
What is an NFU pledge?

A so-called NFU pledge, first publicly made by China in 1964, refers to any authoritative statement by a nuclear weapon state to never be the first to use these weapons in a conflict, reserving them strictly to retaliate in the aftermath of a nuclear attack against its territory or military personnel. These pledges are a component of nuclear declaratory policies. As such, there can be no diplomatic arrangement to verify or enforce a declaratory NFU pledge, and such pledges alone do not affect capabilities. States with such pledges would be technically able to still use nuclear weapons first in a conflict, and their adversaries have generally not trusted NFU assurances. Today, China is the only nuclear weapon state to maintain an unconditional NFU pledge.

Trump Seeks Huge Premium From Allies Hosting U.S. Troops

By Nick Wadhams and Jennifer Jacobs

Under White House direction, the administration is drawing up demands that Germany, Japan and eventually any other country hosting U.S. troops pay the full price of American soldiers deployed on their soil -- plus 50 percent or more for the privilege of hosting them, according to a dozen administration officials and people briefed on the matter.

In some cases, nations hosting American forces could be asked to pay five to six times as much as they do now under the “Cost Plus 50” formula.

Trump has championed the idea for months. His insistence on it almost derailed recent talks with South Korea over the status of 28,000 U.S. troops in the country when he overruled his negotiators with a note to National Security Adviser John Bolton saying, “We want cost plus 50.”

SECOND SIGHT OCCASIONAL COMMENTARIES ON SECURITY & STRATEGY


Data and assessments from SECOND SIGHT can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

Pakistan: Another Eyewash

On March 5, 2019, Pakistan’s Federal Ministry of Interior claimed that 44 ‘under-observation’ members of proscribed organisations, including Mufti Abdul Raoof and Hamad Azhar, the brother and son, respectively, of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar, had been taken into "preventive detention" for investigation’. Though open sources do not have access to the list of members ‘under-observation’, according to the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) Website 70 organisations were proscribed

Azam Suleman Khan, Secretary Federal Ministry of the Interior, acknowledged that some of the people who had been detained — including Raoof and Azhar — were named in the dossier on the Pulwama (Jammu and Kashmir) attack handed over by India to Pakistan. He asserted, however, "it does not mean that action is being taken against only those individuals who are mentioned in the dossier”. He did not reveal the name of the detainees other than Raoof and Hamad Azhar, stating, “we cannot reveal any more names at this point”. The detentions are at present for just two weeks, and if no evidence is found against the detainees, they will be released.

US Foreign Policy Will Continue to Divide Americans Beyond 2020

Bruce Stokes

Former US vice-president Joe Biden asserted at the 2019 Munich Security Conference that ‘this too shall pass’, referring to the Trump administration’s challenges to the transatlantic alliance structure and US commitment to multilateralism. Unfortunately, any assumption that America’s commitment to global engagement will revert to the status quo ante in 2021 if President Donald Trump is not re-elected belies the growing polarization in US public opinion about America’s role in the world.

This partisan divide in Americans’ sentiment pre-dated Trump’s election and is likely to continue whatever the outcome of the next US presidential election. Americans have long held ambivalent feelings about their relationship with the rest of the world. Many are descendants of people who turned their backs on their homelands to seek a better life in the New World. Thomas Jefferson’s admonition against ‘entangling alliances’ was a mantra taken up by isolationists in the first half of the 20th century who argued against early US entry into both world wars.

Hacker Militias or Cyber Command? The U.S. and Russian Institutionalization of Cyber Warfare

By: Madison Creery

If a Russian state-sponsored hacking group attacks a computer network, the target only has nineteen minutes to defend itself before the initial penetration becomes wider network access, data theft, or information destruction.[i] The speed and agility of Russian hackers has long been known, demonstrated by their degrading cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure in both Georgia and Ukraine, as well as by their attacks on the Democratic National Committee’s network during the US elections.[ii] The use of this state sponsored hacker system has allowed Russia to become one of the most aggressive and destructive actors in cyberspace.[iii] Further, its reliance on this hacker network for talent maximizes the country’s deniability in cyber operations (plausible or not), while remaining low-cost.[iv]

However, Russia’s reliance on proxy “hackers-for-hire” to accomplish strategic objectives have led some to question why Russia has yet to institutionalize its cyber workforce into its military. Over the last 20 years, Moscow has relied on hackers and criminals to conduct cyber operations,[v] while the United States has chosen to delegate its cyber capabilities to US Cyber Command (CyberCom).[vi] No such military structure exists in Russia, despite the preeminent role both cyber and information play in its military operations.[vii] For years the Russian government has toyed with the idea of creating “Information Troops” to fill the space previously held by hackers, but this dream has yet to become reality.[viii] However, Russia may not have to. What works for the U.S. cannot be expected to work for Russia because of their fundamentally different views on how to conduct cyber warfare. Indeed, “hacker militias” may just be good enough to meet Russia’s current strategic objectives.

The Technology That Will Define 2019

Lance Ulanoff

Ayear ago, I picked seven technologies that would play significant roles in 2018. Some of my predictions were correct, and some of them reappear on this list — 5G hasn’t quite happened yet, but we’re getting closer.

As George Saville, the 17th-century English statesman and essayist, once wrote, “The best qualification of a prophet is to have a good memory.” It’s a fancy way of saying the past is prologue, and no vision for the near-future is possible without analyzing past trends. That’s what I’ve done to concoct these informed guesses about the state of tech in 2019.

Of course, there are bound to be surprises and off-base prognostications. Don’t sue me if things go a bit differently than expected.

1. Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin opened 2018 at almost $17,000 in value and exited at under $4,000. This does not mean the end of it or other emerging cryptocurrencies.

Why A.I. Is a Threat to Democracy — and What We Can Do to Stop It

By Karen Hao

Amy Webb, futurist, NYU professor, and award-winning author, has spent much of the last decade researching, discussing, and meeting with people and organizations about artificial intelligence. “We’ve reached a fever pitch in all things AI,” she says. Now it’s time to step back to see where it’s going.

This is the task of her new book, The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity, where she takes a bird’s-eye view of trends that, she warns, have put the development of technology on a dangerous path. In the US, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and Apple (the “G-MAFIA”) are hamstrung by the relentless short-term demands of a capitalistic market, making long-term, thoughtful planning for A.I. impossible. In China, Tencent, Alibaba, and Baidu are consolidating and mining massive amounts of data to fuel the government’s authoritarian ambitions.

We Can’t Combat Fake News If We Don’t Really Understand It

Brendan Nyhan

Even now, more than two years after the 2016 election, the debate over the influence of social media on our political system still relies largely on scary anecdotes (Twitter’s 50,000-plus impostor accounts are sowing chaos!) and speculation (YouTube is turning our younger generations into conspiracy theorists!). As a result, governments around the world are taking actions to counter misinformation campaigns, many of them based on flawed understandings or illiberal impulses. It’s time for this debate to get serious and start drawing on actual research and evidence.

A quick reality check first. Social media is creating real problems for the world, but moral panics rarely result in good policy. Take the debate over the factually dubious for-profit sites whose content was shared millions of times on Facebook in the period before the 2016 election. These sites certainly polluted the public debate, but contrary to some reports, there’s no evidencethat they were responsible for Donald Trump’s victory.

In reality, research I co-authored finds that most people didn’t visit these sites at all in 2016. The same principle applies to Facebook political ads, which still have quite limited reach in 2018 relative to television ads; deepfake videos in politics, an idea where the media coverage radically outstrips the evidence of a crisis; and Russian hacking and information operations, a worrisome violation of our democratic sovereignty that was nonetheless relativelyinconsequential to 2016’s electoral outcome.

Fear & Loathing In AI: How The Army Triggered Fears Of Killer Robots

By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.

No, the US Army is not building this.

WASHINGTON: The Army rolled out its ATLAS targeting AI so clumsily that it blindsided the Pentagon’s own Joint Artificial Intelligence Center and inspired headlines about “AI-powered killing machines.” What went wrong? The answer lies in an ugly mix of misperceptions — fueled by the Army’s own longstanding struggles with the English language — and some very real loopholes in the Pentagon’s policyon lethal AI.

“The US Defense Department policy on autonomy in weapons doesn’t say that the DoD has to keep the human in the loop,” Army Ranger turned technologist Paul Scharre told me. “It doesn’t say that. That’s a common misconception.”

The Yellow Vests Set Paris on a Delicate Path to Reform


In the coming months, Paris will seek a balance between pushing ahead with its reform agenda and maintaining a lid on more extreme social unrest. As a result, the French government is likely to scale down or postpone some of its original plans. Slowing economic growth and a worsening deficit will reduce the room for Paris to honor its promises to lower taxes, while circumstances might also force the government to introduce unpopular spending cuts. While the French government has flirted with the idea of a referendum on reforms, it would only be a last-resort decision, considering the high risks associated with holding a vote at a time of popular discontent. 

Editor's Note: This assessment is part of a series of analyses supporting Stratfor's upcoming 2019 Second-Quarter Forecast. These assessments are designed to provide more context and in-depth analysis on key developments over the next quarter.

Battleship Down: The Shocking Facts Most People Don't Know about the Pearl Harbor Attack


During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 the primary target was Battleship Row. These capital ships had to suffice since the American carriers were away. Among the battleships lined up alongside Ford Island was the USS West Virginia, a twenty-year-old warship with a crew of over a thousand. During the battle the ship took seven torpedo hits along the port side along with two bomb strikes around its superstructure. The ship rapidly flooded, settling on the floor of the harbor with her superstructure above water.

In the aftermath of the attack frantic efforts were made to save survivors trapped below decks on the sunken and damaged ships. Hulls were cut open and divers darted beneath the waves in desperate attempts to save them. The minesweeper Tern lay alongside the “Weevee,” as the battleship was nicknamed, playing water over the fires burning aboard her. When the fires were extinguished at 2PM, the Tern moved over to the Arizona. Commander D. H. Clark, the Fleet Maintenance Officer, reported on December 9 the West Virginia was “doubtful,” estimating twelve to eighteen months for repairs if she could be saved at all.