22 June 2015

Muscle-flexing that may backfire

June 22, 2015

Special ArrangementCommandoes of the 21 Para Regiment (Special Forces) who were air dropped in helicopters for the Myanmar operation.

Those who preach the virtue of India adopting a new ‘muscular response strategy’ vis-à-vis its neighbours need to be careful not to overstate their case. India’s current policy is one of strategic restraint and is a well-thought-out one

Just three weeks ago, June 4 was a ‘Black Day’ for the Indian Army, when possibly, it suffered its highest-ever casualties in peace time; around 20 of its soldiers from the 6 Dogra Regiment were ambushed and killed and many more injured. The convoy was attacked in Chandel district of Manipur, in a well-planned and executed move by elements of the recently formed United National Liberation Front of WESEA (Western South East Asia) using improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons. Thirty-three years ago, in 1982, another Army contingent had suffered a similar deadly attack in the Northeast, claiming the lives of over 15 jawans.

The strategic implications of India’s cross-border raid

by Nitin Pai
June 12, 2015

The government’s challenge will be to quickly consolidate psychological and military gains from this conflict and use intelligence and political methods to prevent the need for such operations in the future.

In a classic study on the evolution of co-operation in the early 1980s, political scientist Robert Axelrod demonstrated that the best way to ensure desired behaviour in an adversary is to engage in tit-for-tat. This seems juvenile, even repugnant to many civilised people. Yet, counter-intuitive as it may be, tit-for-tat strategies are known to bring about peace and stability among irreconcilable adversaries who do not trust each other.

With this week’s cross-border raid by Indian special forces against militant camps, the Modi government has given it back to the NSCN(Khaplang) and KYKL guerrillas for their unprovoked ambush of Indian army troops a few days earlier. That the retaliation is heavier than the provocation is calculated to signal New Delhi’s new determination—both to the militants and to the Indian people—to take the fight to the enemy. If the militants get the message and desist from further attacks, then this chapter has ended for now. If they do not, and decide to up the ante, New Delhi will be faced with tougher decisions on escalating or deepening the conflict.

Central Asia: Central to India’s energy and security stakes

May 17, 2015

It is time for India to reconnect with a rapidly-changing Central Asia—increasingly the focus of world attention, and rivalry among the great powers over security and energy stakes. India too has high stakes in Central Asia, and a cogent policy outlook is long overdue.

A fresh narrative

MILITANT groups, including the Taliban and the Islamic State, have unleashed unspeakable terror in the world. Yet they also attract Muslims in large numbers, driven by a desire to establish what they believe is Islam’s supremacy and global power. This, to them, is the right of Islam that others have usurped.

They also believe that Islam gives them the right to enforce their understanding of the Sharia on everyone, and carry out punishments which they consider to be divine instructions. They view democracy as anti-Islam and a Western concept. Not only do they believe that polytheism, blasphemy, apostasy and adultery deserve capital punishment, they also demand that non-Muslims either convert to Islam, pay the jizya, or face death.

Combine these factors with strong hatred against other sects and lack of intellect-based debate on religious issues, and you have the fearsome environment that prevails, including in today’s Pakistan. The narrative of the militants has extensive support, underscored by the fact that few among the so-called ulema have denounced it, or produced a counter-narrative. In fact, according to Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, the renowned exegete and scholar, all of them seem to agree with this ideology: they differ only with the strategy that has been adopted.

Pakistan’s inroads into Afghanistan: Fighting for space

The Afghan war is not ending, and neither is the Taliban’s clout in Afghanistan. Recent developments indicate that the tussle is only entering a new phase, reaching new heights of geopolitics in which Afghans themselves might have little to do or gain. 

In May 2015, the intelligence agencies of Pakistan and Afghanistan entered into a mutual intelligence co-operation agreement according to which both agencies would “cooperate” to rid their countries of the menace of “terrorism.” It is interesting to note that while the U.S. no longer categorizes the Afghan Taliban as “terrorists,” both Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to categorize the Afghan Taliban as “terrorists” and their activities as “terrorism.” 

The first-of-its-kind deal between the two intelligence agencies was preceded by a visit by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif and ISI Chief Lt. Gen Rizwan Akhtar to Kabul during which the Pakistan government denounced the Taliban and said that future violence by the “militant group” would be treated as terrorism and responded to as such. While officials on both countries expressed hope for a “better future,” there are many existing challenges that would continue to defy any such possibility. 

Young Afghans Leaving Afghanistan to Fight for ISIS in Iraq and Syria

Sudarsan Raghavan
June 20, 2015

An Afghan jihadist’s life and death in Iraq: ‘They misused his innocence’ 

KABUL — As he listened, Wali Mohammad Darwazi’s worst fears came true. His 23-year-old son, Mohammad Rafi, had vanished two months before with several former classmates from Kabul University. Now, Darwazi was on the phone with one of the classmates, whom he had reached in Syria. 

“Rafi has been martyred,” he told Darwazi, explaining that Rafi and other Afghans had been killed in a U.S. coalition airstrike near the Iraqi oil town of Baiji in May. As Darwazi recounted the conversation last week, he fought back tears. 

Afghanistan has long been known as a destination for jihadists. But for Rafi, it was a launching pad into the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. He and his comrades are thought to be the first known cases of Afghans killed there while fighting for the Islamic State, linking Afghanistan to other Muslim and Western nationsgrappling with the specter of their young men waging jihad in the Middle East. 

Here We Go Again: Taliban Fighters Overrun Key District in Helmand Province in Southern Afghanistan

Joseph Goldstein and Taimoor Shah
June 19, 2015

Taliban Strike Crucial District in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban fighters overran part of a crucial district in the southern province of Helmand early Thursday, residents of the area said, demonstrating the insurgents’ growing power in an area that American and British troops had long fought to keep out of Taliban control.

During a nighttime assault that lasted into early Thursday, Taliban fighters sacked part of the center of Musa Qala District, according to the residents, setting a clinic on fire and destroying government vehicles parked at a major police station.

Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the governor of Helmand Province, said that the Taliban never succeeded in overrunning the area but acknowledged that they had entered the district center and set fire to buildings and police vehicles. But some residents said that the Taliban controlled much of the district center early Thursday, at least temporarily.

Who’s Behind Asia-Pacific’s Growing Tensions? Curbing China’s Rising Power

June 18, 2015

Increasing tension in the Asia-Pacific between China and nations surrounding its territory, appears to be an unstoppable and inevitable lead-up to regional conflict and perhaps even global war.
In reality, for those who have studied history, this is a familiar rerun. Change the characters and place current events in the context of the early 1900’s and we see the lead up to World War II and more specifically, the events that set the stage for the fighting in the Pacific.

Some may believe this is a rerun of when Japan was the sole aggressor in the region, expanding beyond its means before finally meeting its match. Predicated on this misconception, these same people would believe that China has now traded places with Imperial Japan, and is expanding recklessly at the expense of regional and global peace and stability.

However, this is indeed a misconception.

China's Irregular Warfare in the Cyber Domain

June 18, 2015

As the political crisis in Ukraine reached a boiling point early last year, Ukrainian military forces at first found themselves confronting rag-tag groups of rebel militias ostensibly spurred on by a desire for greater autonomy and self-determination. Soon, however, rumors began to spread of “little green men” aiding separatists and seizing airports. They were not your run-of-the-mill militia volunteers. No, these were well-equipped, well-armed, Russian-accented soldiers

In the dark areas of our information networks, electronic scouts, spies, and saboteurs sneak from node to node and from terminal to terminal surreptitiously pilfering the intellectual property of foreign nations. In other areas, protocol attacks are executed at a small scale to disrupt websites and organizations that certain governments have deemed a threat to their regime. The United States remains a favorite target, and the post mortem of many attacks reveal the culprits to be coming from Russia or China. Neither have acknowledged that these “little red bots” are directed by the state, nor acknowledge that they serve their interest. The denial begs incredulity, and without attribution or clearly-defined lines of command and control, neither country has any incentive to halt or hold back their cyber espionage efforts.

Divine Eagle: A Chinese Airborne Early Warning and Surface Surveillance UAV?

June 18, 2015

I came across an interesting post at Popular Science’s Eastern Arsenal blog about a developmental PLA UAV equipped with UHF and X-band radars for detection of very low observable aircraft, naval surface forces, and possibly land-based mobile forces as well. Aprevious Eastern Arsenal post contains additional information including the UAV’s assumed maximum operating speed and altitude; the latter is suggested to be an impressive 25km (~82,000 feet). That makes for a pretty sizable line-of-sight radar horizon. 

The UHF radar is likely the primary Airborne Early Warning system and the X-band radar would likely be used for surface/ground surveillance. Unlike our AEW and E-8 JSTARS aircraft, however, the battle management and command and control functions made possible by the radars would be “outsourced” to a command post somewhere else. The operational geometry of the associated networkwould do much to dictate whether this scheme could be effective in combat.

In theory, the UAV’s transmission of its radar data to “shooter” platforms could also enable Distributed Fire Control (DFC); the latter could use the former’s targeting-quality data to cue the launch of a weapon and guide it to the point that its onboard homing sensors could take over. This is how the Navy Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air concept works. DFC provides a tremendous advantage for survival in a contested zone where use of one’s onboard radar would tell any nearby adversary units with the necessary electronic warfare capabilities where to aim their own weapons.

China: A Solution in the Middle East?

By David Lai and Noah Lingwall
June 18, 2015

China’s growing presence and lack of baggage could make it an effective player in the troubled region.

U.S. President Barack Obama admitted at the June 2015 G-7 summit in Germany that his administration did not have a “complete strategy” for Islamic extremists in the Middle East. Although the admission was only a brief note in the president’s remarks, it spoke volumes about the United States’ predicament in dealing with the problems that plague that part of the world. Given their complicated nature, any future U.S. strategy will merely act as a bandage that covers deeply rooted and infested wounds. Until the underlying issues are addressed, the U.S. will find itself trapped in awkward positions again and again.

What should Washington do about the Middle East? It appears that at present, it has no choice but to help the Iraqi government drive ISIS out and restore order in Iraq. But in regard to the problems in Syria and Yemen, and for many other issues in the region, the United States does have choices and must come up with a long-term strategy.

China's Irregular Warfare in the Cyber Domain

June 18, 2015

As the political crisis in Ukraine reached a boiling point early last year, Ukrainian military forces at first found themselves confronting rag-tag groups of rebel militias ostensibly spurred on by a desire for greater autonomy and self-determination. Soon, however, rumors began to spread of “little green men” aiding separatists and seizing airports. They were not your run-of-the-mill militia volunteers. No, these were well-equipped, well-armed, Russian-accented soldiers

In the dark areas of our information networks, electronic scouts, spies, and saboteurs sneak from node to node and from terminal to terminal surreptitiously pilfering the intellectual property of foreign nations. In other areas, protocol attacks are executed at a small scale to disrupt websites and organizations that certain governments have deemed a threat to their regime. The United States remains a favorite target, and the post mortem of many attacks reveal the culprits to be coming from Russia or China. Neither have acknowledged that these “little red bots” are directed by the state, nor acknowledge that they serve their interest. The denial begs incredulity, and without attribution or clearly-defined lines of command and control, neither country has any incentive to halt or hold back their cyber espionage efforts.

The Military Situation in Iraq

June 19, 2015

ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) is fighting many battles in western and northern Iraq. ISIL takes advantage of the fact that Iraqi forces are not willing to just go charging into ISIL controlled territory. That is sort of suicidal, but ISIL fighters don’t seem to mind and ISIL convoys continue to advance at every opportunity. Most of these advances fail, either because the local resistance is too strong or because the vehicles are spotted by coalition aircraft and bombed. Coalition leaders believe this air support has killed about a thousand ISIL men a month in Iraq and Syria since last August. While the air support is helpful the most effective forces the Iraqis have are Kurdish troops (and militias) and largely pro-Iran Shia militias. There are also a growing number of Sunni militias in the west (Anbar) because like the Sunni tribes in eastern Syria, these Sunni tribes quickly grew hostile towards ISIL rule. Thus some troops plus Shia and Sunni militias are holding on in Anbar (and trying to liberate Ramadi) while troops and Shia militia are stalled in the advance north from Tikrit to Mosul. In the north Kurds continue to advance slowly from the north. ISIL continues to make terror attacks against all who oppose them (which means most Iraqis). 

The War Against ISIS and the Nagging Question “Tell Me How This Ends?”

Peter Apps
June 19, 2015

How will the war against Islamic State end?

“Tell me how this ends,” U.S. Army General David Petraeus said in 2003, not long after the invasion of Iraq. What started as a private comment to a journalist later became his mantra.

It was a bold question, designed to cut through messy thinking from other officials as Washington tried to find its way out of the conflict. The result, of course, was much more complex than the U.S. military had hoped.

The most important answer to Petraeus’ question is that “it” wasn’t going to end. Rarely do wars have firm and tidy endings, an armistice or a final defeat like that of Germany in 1945 or Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers in 2009. Even if the killing stops, confrontations continue through politics and elsewhere.

Iraq was always going to be messy after the United States’ departure. Some of the Sunni groups who backed the Petraeus-led troop “surge” now fight with Islamic State. The attempted multiethnic Iraqi state began unraveling even before the United States left.

Why We Have Misread Events in Egypt Since the Arab Spring

Ali Ibrahim
June 18, 2015

Opinion: Why the West misread Egypt 

One of the problems the West has faced with the Arab world during the Arab Spring era has been its misinterpretation of the situation in Egypt. The scenario in that country has strayed off the path Western think-tanks hoped, or at least predicted, it would follow based on the findings of a new generation of researchers whose approach differs from that of past scholars whose love for the region led them to closely study its culture and live among its people for considerable periods of time, something which enabled them to adequately comprehend the countries of the region.

Most of the modern-day researchers, whose advice Western foreign ministries and decision-making centers seek, draw on the Internet as a source for their information, and thus fall captive to the views of social media activists who, although they represent a considerable segment of society, do not speak for all Egyptians. Therefore, their research is often limited in terms of the conclusions it reaches and the analysis it offers. This is similar to what happened during Egypt’s January 25 revolution and the subsequent events that led to the toppling of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi on June 30, 2013. In the first event, the West failed to realize that bringing about change in any given society is a tough job and that it was natural for opportunist, well-organized powers to hijack the scene. Those researchers also failed to realize that the deep-rooted old powers would fight back in a bid to maintain their interests, and that the ensuing conflict would see the dreamy, revolutionary powers emerging empty-handed, simply for lacking the tools for bringing about change.

What should the U.S. do about ISIS? Show Sunnis we care

Charles Lister
June 18, 2015 

Editors' Note: This piece originally appeared as part of an experts' discussion published in the National Journal.

National Journal Staff: The past few years have seen the official conclusions of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the United States had no time to breathe a collective sigh of relief before the rapid advances of ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) were presenting us with another political, ideological, possibly military quandary in the Middle East. How should the United States respond? We asked leading foreign policy intellectuals to propose their best answers.

Charles Lister: The United States cannot “degrade,” let alone defeat, ISIS through military means alone. Instead, it should place a far greater emphasis on ameliorating sociopolitical failures in Iraq and Syria—failures that ISIS seeks to sustain and feed upon in order to survive into the long term.

How the FIFA Scandal Could Turn Deadly

JUNE 17, 2015

Editor's Note: The following piece is part of an occasional series in which Fred Burton, our vice president of intelligence, reflects on his storied experience as a counterterrorism agent for the U.S. State Department.

Security professionals make it their business to be unseen. At concerts and sporting events, they are the ones standing unnoticed in corners and doorways, quietly blending into the walls while someone else takes center stage.

So it's no surprise that with all the recent coverage of the FIFA scandal, more attention has been paid to Rolex-clad executives, ostensibly sitting in well-lit offices and allegedly taking bribes ahead of their next golf outing, than to a group that has enormous insight into the day-to-day dealings of FIFA's administration: the security team. Someone from that team knows what meetings are happening when and where and with whom. Someone has access to his or her travel itineraries and hotel room numbers, business and personal schedules, phone records and emails — all vital evidence for the prosecution.

Iran Energy Profile: Holds Some Of World’s Largest Deposits Of Proved Oil, Natural Gas Reserves – Analysis

June 19, 2015

Iran holds some of the world’s largest deposits of proved oil and natural gas reserves, ranking as the world’s fourth-largest and second-largest reserve holder of oil and natural gas, respectively. Iran also ranks among the world’s top 10 oil producers and top 5 natural gas producers. Iran produced almost 3.4 million barrels per day (b/d) of petroleum and other liquids in 2014 and an estimated 5.7 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of dry natural gas in 2013.

The Strait of Hormuz, off the southeastern coast of Iran, is an important route for oil exports from Iran and other Persian Gulf countries. At its narrowest point, the Strait of Hormuz is 21 miles wide, yet an estimated 17 million b/d of crude oil and refined products flowed through it in 2013 (roughly 30% of all seaborne traded oil and almost 20% of total oil produced globally). Liquefied natural gas (LNG) volumes also flow through the Strait of Hormuz. Approximately 3.7 Tcf of LNG was transported from Qatar via the Strait of Hormuz in 2013, accounting for more than 30% of global LNG trade.
Effects of recent sanctions

Iraq and Syria: The Problem of Strategy

The United States has now been actively at war with terrorism movements since 2001. Throughout that time, it has struggled to find ways to develop some form of meaningful strategy, measure its progress, and give that progress some degree of transparency and credibility to the Congress, the American people and our strategic partners, and the media.

So far, its success has been erratic at best. On most occasions, the U.S. has issued policy statements that set broad goals, but did not really amount to a strategy. There was no real assessment of the situation and the reasons for selecting a given course of action, there was no real plan and set of milestones to measure progress by, there were no real details as to the required resources, and any supporting measures of effectiveness have often added up to little more than political justification and spin.

An Arabian warrior prince in Putin’s court

The unannounced arrival by the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman al Saud in Russia and his meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Thursday is a dramatic development in the politics of the Middle East. It might draw comparison with Henry Kissinger’s secretive China visit forty-four years ago.

Without doubt, to borrow the immemorial words from the English poet Matthew Arnold, the sea seems calm and the air is sweet, and yet if you come to the window, you can hear the grating roar of pebbles, which the waves draw back, and fling at their turn at the high strand. To be sure, the Sea of Faith between the United States and Saudi Arabia that was full and round the earth’s shore ever since the improbable meeting between Franklin Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia on board a cruiser 70 years ago in the Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal, seems reduced to a melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, retreating.

Why Obama’s Plan to Send Advisers to Iraq Will Fail

JUNE 18, 2015

LAST week President Obama approved an additional 450 troops to join the roughly 3,000 already in Iraq. Living inside secure bases nicknamed “lily pads,” they will train Iraqi soldiers for a few weeks via lecture and drill instruction. The graduates will then be sent outside the wire to fight the Islamic State.

This strategy is no more resolute than a lily pad, and our generals know it. It is tokenism that reflects confusion at the top, and it will fail.

Mr. Obama has declared that advisers are not combat troops. But in fact, to influence battlefield performance, the adviser’s first job is to set the example in combat. The goal is to instill in the local force a sense of professional aggression — of seizing the offense — that must be demonstrated firsthand.

And Who Shall Watch the Watchers?

June 19, 2015

THE careworn but anonymous-looking types slipping in and out of the riverside ziggurat which houses Britain’s intelligence headquarters have a bit more spring in their step these days, thanks to a popular new chief and a revived appreciation of the value of old-style espionage.

But the spy agencies are still suffering the effects of probably the biggest disaster in recent Western intelligence history: the theft of up to 1.7m secret documents by Edward Snowden, formerly a contractor for America’s National Security Agency (NSA), who then fled to Moscow via Hong Kong. His revelations about the capabilities of the NSA, and its code-cracking British ally, GCHQ, in hoovering up data from the internet and telephone network, outraged privacy campaigners (others thought the real outrage was his spilling of the secrets).

That two-year-old breach still echoes: on June 14th the Sunday Times ran a front-page story quoting anonymous officials as claiming Russia and China had cracked a trove of unpublished (and supposedly encrypted) documents taken by Mr Snowden. This, it said, meant MI6 had to move agents to safety because their identities were known.


June 17, 2015

Editor’s Note: It is with great pride that I announce Patrick Porter joining WOTR’s stable of regular contributors. He will be writing a monthly column for us titled “Offshore Balancer.” – RE

Almost 30 years ago, Yale historian Paul Kennedy touched an American nerve. His study, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000, argued for a broad historical pattern. Great powers, in order to remain great powers, had a task that was simple to understand but difficult to execute: to balance wealth and their economic base with their military power and strategic commitments. These states therefore faced a constant triple tension between investment, defense and consumption. Failure to get this balance right risked overextension as a large economy vulnerable to predators like nineteenth century China, as a stagnating over-militarized power like the Soviet Union, or as a credit-addicted, inflexible failure like Phillip II’s Spain.

'New’ Terrorism and the National Security Strategy

1 June, 2015 

Written by Chris Mackmurdo and Dr Alia Brahimi, Visiting Fellow at the Changing Character of War Programme, University of Oxford

The threat to the UK from terrorism is increasing and, in important ways, so is our vulnerability. The revised National Security Strategy, which will be launched in the coming months, represents a unique opportunity for the UK government to reformulate its approach to counter-terrorism.
New threat

In the past decade or so, two main types of terrorist plots confronted the UK security services.

The Sino-Russian Marriage

JUN 18, 2015

Robert Skidelsky, Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University and a fellow of the British Academy in history and economics, is a member of the British House of Lords. The author of a three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes, he began his political career in the Labour party, b

LONDON – The Chinese are the most historically minded of peoples. In his conquest of power, Mao Zedong used military tactics derived from Sun Tzu, who lived around 500 BC; Confucianism, dating from around the same time, remains at the heart of China’s social thinking, despite Mao’s ruthless attempts to suppress it.

So when President Xi Jinping launched his “New Silk Road” initiative in 2013, no one should have been surprised by the historical reference. “More than two millennia ago,” explains China’s National Development and Reform Commission, “the diligent and courageous people of Eurasia explored and opened up several routes of trade and cultural exchanges that linked the major civilisations of Asia, Europe, and Africa, collectively called the Silk Road by later generations.” In China, old history is often called to aid new doctrine.

Russia as Seen by Two Chinese Scholars of Russia

In this issue of the RAD, two Chinese scholars outline their perspectives of contemporary Russian politics and the Ukraine conflict. The first article examines the interaction between changes in Russian society and the discourse and policy choices of the country's political actors. The second considers the implications of the Ukraine crisis for the strategic policies and position of major political powers, particularly the EU, the US and Russia.

© 2015 Research Centre for East European Studies (FSOE), Center for Security Studies (CSS).


London Cyber Discussion: Key Takeaways


On Wednesday, January 28, 2015 PS21 hosted a roundtable of the record discussion in London with former GCHQ official John Bassett, also a founding member of the PS21 International Advisory Group. The event was attended by more than 30 people including current and former UK and foreign officials as well as representatives of the insurance, banking and technology industries amongst others.The discussion itself was off the record, primarily to allow those currently working for companies and governments to express themselves freely.

“It was very useful and very engaging,” said Frances Hudson, investment director and global thematic strategist at UK insurance and pensions firm Standard Life. “What I particularly liked was the range of perspectives and viewpoints. “We had former spies, academics, people from my industry and they all bought something different.”

It was, most participants agreed, a great start to PS21’s London operations.

Anonymous vs ISIS: “Post-Government Organizations” Rise

BY PS21 

Ryan Hagemann is a masters student in public policy at George Mason University and the co-author of a recent Mercatus paper, “Removing Roadblocks to Autonomous Vehicles.” His research interests include decentralized peer-to-peer networks, Transhumanism, stateless social organization, robotics and automation, and studies at the intersection of sociology, economics, and technology. 

In 1648, the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years’ War in Europe, spawning the modern international system of state relations. What resulted was an order that relied on the premise that state actors would serve as the fundamental units of analysis in diplomatic affairs and global politics – that co-existing sovereign states would serve as a continual check on the balance of power between states. This system, a long stable institution of world order, has recently begun to experience an existential crisis. 

The Internet and disruptive communications technologies have begun changing our world; they are leveling power disparities between individuals and institutions to such a degree that non-state actors are now gaining significant influence on the world stage. 

Deepnet: is the “dark web” good or evil?

BY PS21 
Deepnet: is the “dark web” good or evil?

A member of Anonymous attends a protest in Montreal (2012). 

Mike Gillespie is Director of cyber research and strategy at The Security Institute, Managing Director of Advent IM Consultancy and a member of the CSCSS Global Select Committee on Cyber Security 

The worldwide web wasn’t really designed, as such – it grew out of itself and so privacy was never really a massive consideration. In part as a result, it exists on different levels. There is the indexed and therefore searchable regular internet with which we are all familiar, there is the regular i­­­nternet accessed via an anonymising browser or sites built specifically for anonymised browsers (such as .onion sites), and then there’s the Darknet – or Deepnet – a virtual private world of connected sites that are hard to access by accident. The last two are obviously much more opaque and harder to track, monitor, measure or market to. Some people refer to the whole area of non-standard browsing as Darknet and this is the way it has been presented in mainstream media too. 

DARPA Research Could Help Soldiers See Around Corners

JUN 18, 2015 
It's nowhere near battlefield-ready yet, but it's possible.

It's getting harder and harder to hide these days. Thanks to through-the-wall sensors, such as Camero-Tech's line of Xaver tactical radars, law enforcement and the military can detect anyone inside a closed room and determine his distance from the device. In fact, the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service have been secretly using these sensors for more than two years, according to USA Today.

Now DARPA wants to go one step further: It is researching ways of seeing around corners and behind walls, something not possible with conventional line-of-sight cameras and scopes. Called theRevolutionary Enhancement of Visibility by Exploiting Active Light-fields (REVEAL) program, the idea is to use bouncing photons of light to construct a 3D image of a person otherwise hidden from view.

DARPA didn't respond to a request from PM for an interview with REVEAL program manager Predrag Milojkovic. But DARPA's recent announcement of REVEAL indicates the agency is using as a springboard the pioneering work of Ramesh Raskar, head of the MIT Media Lab, and Andreas Velten, a University of Wisconsin-Madison physicist.

Missile Defense Strategy ‘Not Sustainable,’ Salvation Lies In R&D

June 18, 2015

A Ground-Based Interceptor is lowered into its missile silo in Alaska.

CAPITOL HILL: America’s missile defense strategy is “not sustainable,” the deputy directorof the Missile Defense Agency said today. We can’t keep buying multi-million-dollar interceptors to shoot down adversaries’ ever-growing arsenals of much cheaper offensive missiles, said Brig. Gen. Kenneth Todorov.

We have to find a better way, Todorov said: lasers, jammers, something. That means MDA must buy fewer Ground-Based Interceptors and invest more in R&D. This shift is beginning in the current 2016 budget plan, he said — although the House Appropriations Committee has cut $60 million from one key program he’s hoping to get back, the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) — and it will become still more pronounced in the request for 2017.

“The strategy is not sustainable,” Todorov told reporters this morning after a Peter Huessy breakfast talk, sponsored by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute. As potential adversaries buy ever more missiles, he said, “you can’t continue to buy these interceptors and have enough to necessarily intercept everything that’s out there.”

These 5 Facts Explain the Threat of Cyber Warfare

June 19, 2015

James Lawler Duggan—ReutersWorkers arrive at the Office of Personnel Management in Washington on October 17, 2013.
The disastrous hack of the federal government's Office of Personnel Management is the tip of the iceberg 

America has spent decades and trillions of dollars building up the greatest military force the world has ever seen. But the biggest threat to national security these days comes from not from aircraft carriers or infantry divisions, but a computer with a simple Internet connection. That much became clear after the catastrophic hack—most likely by a foreign power—of sensitive federal employee data stored online. These 5 stats explain the evolution of cyber warfare, its astronomical costs and its increasingly important role in geopolitics. 

1. Government Threats 

There’s a Massive Security Flaw in the iPhone and Mac

June 18, 2015

George Frey—Getty ImagesApple's iPhone 6 (R) and iPhone 6 Plus (L) phones are shown together at a Verizon store in Orem, Utah on September 18, 2014 in Orem, Utah.
Malicious app that can steal passwords was approved for the App Store 

Apple devices are often thought to be more secure than open platforms such as Windows and Android, but a recent study shows there are still significant malware threats for iPhone and Mac owners. 

Researchers from Indiana University, Peking University and Georgia Tech have published a study highlighting security issues with the way apps communicate with each other on iOS and OS X. The researchers created an app that was able to steal users’ data from the password-storing keychain in OS X, as well as pilfer passwords from banking and email accounts via Google Chrome. 

This Tiny Box Is Your Home’s Defense Against Hackers

June 17, 2015
In Batman Begins, there’s a scene where the Dark Knight’s nemesis Scarecrow pours psychoactive drugs into the water supply in order to poison the people of Gotham City. Never in my life have I imagined that I’d ever use a Christian Bale movie as a metaphor for the Internet, but I can’t deny the reality that I’ve recently witnessed firsthand. Never mind super-villains — the web is crawling with real criminals continually pouring nastiness into our system of tubes, and as a result, we’re gulping down data from some seriously tainted pipes. 

Recent research from Distil Networks has shown that 60% of the Internet’s traffic consists of bots, not people. Nearly a quarter of those bots are up to some pretty nasty stuff, like stealing passwords and credit card numbers. It’s an epidemic that’s only getting worse the more we rely on cloud computing. According to the report, the biggest culprits behind this — besides the hackers who unleash these bots on the web — are services like Amazon’s cloud services (where many bad bots make their home) and data networks like T-Mobile (which doesn’t do a great job of monitoring its traffic). 

How Bad Bots Are Destroying The Internet

May 28, 2015

The web is at war, and the good guys are losing 

The Internet has been described in many different ways over the years. We don’t use the term “information superhighway” much anymore, but a recent report may make you reconsider where and how you cruise around on it, regardless. That’s because a quarter of the cars on this road with you, dear reader, are being driven by mindless bandits looking to steal anything they can. Now, imagine traveling a road like that in the real world. No thanks, I’d rather walk. 

Last year was the first time in history that bots outnumbered people on the web. According to research from Distil Networks, almost 60% of 2014’s web traffic consisted of automated bits of code, 23% of which exist to do dirty work for fraudsters and hackers. “It’s getting worse,” says Rami Essaid, Distil’s CEO. “Over the past ten years, they went from just kind of being out there and easy to detect to being really, really sophisticated.” 

Naikon APT steals geopolitical data from the South China Sea

May 19, 2015

The Chinese-language Naikon advanced persistent threat group is targeting military, government and civil organizations located in and around the South China Sea, which is an increasingly contentious hot-bed of territorial disputes between various Southeast Asian nations.

Naikon is also known as APT-30. Its targets, according to a new report from Kaspersky Lab’s global research and analysis team, are said to include the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, and Nepal.

Targeted Cyber-Attacks to Infiltrate Nations around the South China Sea

Virus News
14 May 2015

From setting up spying infrastructure within a country’s borders for real-time connections and data mining, to spying tools with 48 commands, a new report by Kaspersky Lab shows how the threat actor Naikon has spent the last five years successfully infiltrating national organisations around the South China Sea.

Experts have discovered that Naikon attackers appear to be Chinese-speaking and that their primary targets are top-level government agencies and civil and military organizations in countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, Nepal, Thailand, Laos and China.

The Chronicles of the Hellsing APT: the Empire Strikes Back

April 15, 2015. 


One of the most active APT groups in Asia, and especially around the South China Sea area is “Naikon”. Naikon plays a key part in our story, but the focus of this report is on another threat actor entirely; one who came to our attention when they hit back at a Naikon attack.

Glenn Reynolds: What if Pearl Harbor happened and nobody noticed?

Glenn Harlan Reynolds
June 14, 2015 

In cyberwar, the U.S. doesn't have an edge.
Last week, while people were going on about the white woman who posed as black to get an NAACP job, Hillary Clinton's (latest) campaign relaunch andPresident Obama's trade-bill debacle in the House, a much bigger story slipped by with much less hoopla: the successful seizure of a vast trove of federal personnel records, reportedly by the Chinese.

And then it got worse. "Hackers linked to China have gained access to the sensitive background information submitted by intelligence and military personnel for security clearances, U.S. officials said Friday, describing a cyberbreach of federal records dramatically worse than first acknowledged."

Cyber warfare overshadows 'netwar' concept putting US at risk, new ODNI paper argues

June 15, 2015

While many government officials are focused on cyberwarfare following a spate of high-profile cyberattacks including the recent Office of Personnel Management data breach allegedly by Chinese hackers, a new paper states that another concept called "netwar" – a psychological force that's increasingly related to cyber – deserves more attention.

The paper (pdf), released June 11 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, defines netwar as "intentional activities [meant] to influence the domain of human perception via either overt or hidden channels, in which one or more actors seeks to impose a desired change upon the perception of another actor, in order that this change facilitate second-and third order effects of benefit to them."

Specifically, the term, coined in the 1990s and redefined in this paper, refers not to physical force but to elements of psychological force such as propaganda, although netwar perpetrators might use cyber systems and tools to carry out their objectives.