15 December 2016

*** The Year That May Decide Europe's Fate

by Adriano Bosoni

By this time next year, the eurozone could be defunct. Despite the small chances of it actually happening, the fact that the collapse of the currency union is even possible speaks volumes about the size of the problems Europe faces.

Since financial, economic and political crises descended on the Continent almost a decade ago, Europe has endured many difficult moments. But 2017 will be the most important year yet for the continuity of the eurozone as political and economic risk reaches the bloc's very core in Germany, France and Italy.

Threats to the European Union and the eurozone become more acute as they spread to the bloc's key members. While Europe’s supranational structures could probably survive Greece's departure from the eurozone or Britain's exit from the European Union, for example, they probably couldn't overcome the withdrawal of Germany, France or Italy. These countries not only have the largest economies in Europe, but they are also the main forces driving the process of European integration.

*** The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.

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A filing cabinet broken into in 1972 as part of the Watergate burglary sits beside a computer server that Russian hackers breached during the 2016 presidential campaign at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in Washington. CreditJustin T. Gellerson for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — When Special Agent Adrian Hawkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation called the Democratic National Committee in September 2015 to pass along some troubling news about its computer network, he was transferred, naturally, to the help desk.

His message was brief, if alarming. At least one computer system belonging to the D.N.C. had been compromised by hackers federal investigators had named “the Dukes,” a cyberespionage team linked to the Russian government.

The F.B.I. knew it well: The bureau had spent the last few years trying to kick the Dukes out of the unclassified email systems of the White House, the State Department and even the Joint Chiefs of Staff, one of the government’s best-protected networks.

** After Surgical Strikes, Indo-Pak Relations Are Back To Square One

By Lt Gen H S Panag

If the much-applauded surgical strikes were supposed to make Pakistan cower, that hasn’t happened. If we really want to change the equation with our neighbor, we need a long-term strategy and reform.

t is two and a half months since India launched Special Forces (SF) raids across the Line of Control (LOC) and it is time to review their impact on national security.

The operations carried out across the LOC were notably different from the undeclared ones conducted earlier. This time India declared that it had deliberately targeted the 'launch pads' of terrorists perpetrating a Fourth Generation War (4GW) in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The operations were tactical in nature, but the intent and effect sought were strategic. The intent was to warn Pakistan that our response to its 4GW in J&K and hinterland of India, in future, will invite reprisals across the LOC and International Boundary (IB), and that India will go up the escalation scale if necessary. The effect sought was that Pakistan will stop its terrorist operations in India. There was also the implication that India will raise the ante as per its strategy if Pakistan does not comply.

At this juncture, the conclusion, unfortunately, is that neither Pakistan has paid any heed to the 'warning' nor has India done anything more to force it to comply. By all counts, not only has infiltration post-September 29 increased, incidents of terrorist violence (mostly focussed on security forces) have also increased manifold. The number of terrorists killed and security forces killed and wounded in action post-September 29 have been the highest in the last five years.

India, Russia to Hold Joint Naval Exercise

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The joint Indo-Russian naval drill is scheduled to kick off on December 14. 

The Indian Navy and Russian Navy will hold a joint naval drill, dubbed Indra Navy 2016, from December 14 to December 21 in the Indian port of Visakhapatnam and the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced in a December 13 press release. It is the ninth iteration of the joint naval exercise.

India and Russia have been engaged in joint naval drills since 2003. “Indra Navy is a bilateral maritime exercise between the Indian and Russian navies and epitomizes the strategic relationship between the two countries,” the MoD press release notes.

The main objective of this year’s exercise is to enhance inter-operability between the two navies and to develop common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations.

Indra Navy 2016 will be divided up into two parts.

‘Collective Punishment’ in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas

By Farooq Yousaf

Entire villages must pay the cost for insurgent activities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. 

On November 1, following the death of a Pakistan Army major, the political agent ordered the demolition of a two-story market in Wana, South Waziristan, citing a clause of collective responsibility and punishment in the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR). This was yet another example of a constitutional dilemma that Pakistan is currently facing while dealing with its fragile periphery, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Where the rest of Pakistani territory is governed under the country’s constitution, the FATA region, on the other hand, is still governed under the primitive and colonial era FCR.

There were different accounts — both from local and foreign media — of what triggered this massive action by the security forces. The local administration and the office of the political agent suggest that action was taken after an improvised explosive device killed a Pakistan Army officer during a raid on a weapons shop. Eyewitness accounts could not verify the local administration’s version.

Report: China's Military Is Growing Super Powerful by Stealing America's Defense Secrets (Like the F-35)

Bill Gertz

China has gained military benefits in recent years from stealing defense secrets through industrial and cyber espionage carried out by its intelligence services, according to a US congressional report.

“In recent years, Chinese agents have extracted data on some of the most advanced weapons and weapons systems in the US arsenal, such as jet fighters and unmanned submersible vehicles,” states the annual report of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, released on November 16.

“The loss of these and other sensitive defense technologies undermines US military superiority by accelerating China’s military modernization and giving China insight into the capabilities and operation of US weapons and weapons systems,” the report adds.

The espionage operations are not limited to direct spying activities against the United States and include intelligence collection against US allies and friends in Asia, including Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand.

The Jihadi Threat: ISIS, Al Qaeda and Beyond

The West failed to predict the emergence of al-Qaeda in new forms across the Middle East and North Africa. It was blindsided by the ISIS sweep across Syria and Iraq, which at least temporarily changed the map of the Middle East. Both movements have skillfully continued to evolve and proliferate — and surprise. What’s next? Twenty experts from think tanks and universities across the United States explore the world’s deadliest movements, their strategies, the future scenarios, and policy considerations. This report reflects their analysis and diverse views. 

This report is a collaboration by 20 experts on the Middle East, Islamic extremism, and jihadism who held a series of conferences between August and November 2016. “The Jihadi Threat” reflects the broad — and often diverse — views of the coauthors. Not every one agreed on all points, but the variety of findings, trend lines, and scenarios for the future covers the best thinking about the evolution of the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and their affiliates.

The United States Institute of Peace was the primary sponsor of this initiative, with the backing of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Fifteen other think tanks and universities were represented in the Working Group on Extremism. The goal was always to reflect the widest expertise and the full spectrum of views.

How to Salvage Syria


Donald Trump wants to smash ISIS. We agree. But he can do so by giving a large number of Syrians what they’ve always wanted: American protection.

The war in Syria is more straightforward today than it was two years ago. That may sound counterintuitive, but “Syria,” properly speaking, exists now only in name.

A near-genocidal policy undertaken by the President Bashar Assad in Damascus has been followed by contradictory foreign interventions by Russia, Iran, Turkey and the United States, each of which has established its own zone of influence in the war-ravaged country. The resulting balkanization, a cauldron of endless conflict, has led to the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century; the deaths of 500,000, the wounding of more than 1,000,000, and the external or internal displacement of 11,000,000—roughly half the Syrian population.

There exists, however, a narrow window of opportunity for an incoming U.S. administration to achieve minimally defined objectives: defeating the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, guaranteeing that it cannot come back, and making sure that its main rival, al Qaeda, cannot exploit the power vacuum that will come with the collapse of the caliphate.

Trump’s generals, hardened by war, see militant Islam, Iran as dire dangers

By Greg Jaffe and Greg Miller

President-elect Donald Trump is assembling a national security team dominated by retired generals who share a deep distrust of Iran and have characterized the threat of militant Islam in far more dire terms than Obama administration officials and intelligence assessments.

The trio of ex-generals represents an emerging core of the Trump administration that is at odds with President Obama’s efforts to convince the American public that — 15 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — terrorism continues to pose a persistent threat to the nation, but not an existential one.

The generals’ views also cut against the grain of U.S. policies seeking to empower moderates in Iran and of U.S. intelligence assessments that terrorism no longer stands alone atop the rankings of global security threats now crowded by concerns about cyberattacks and renewed aggression by China and Russia.

Their views, though far from uniform, have been heavily influenced over the past 15 years by intensely personal battlefield losses, the country’s waning attention to the wars and an up-close view of a ruthless enemy.

Russia Tests Nuclear-Capable Underwater Drone

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The test of the unmanned underwater vehicle prototype reportedly took place on November 27. 

The Russian Navy has reportedly conducted a test of a nuclear-capable underwater vehicle (UUV), code-named Kanyon by U.S. intelligence and known as Ocean Multipurpose System Status-6. The test took place on November 27, The Washington Free Beaconreported on December 8, based on information supplied by unidentified Pentagon sources.

According to Pentagon officials, the UUV was launched from a B-90 Sarov-class Project 20120 diesel-electric submarine specifically designed and used by the Russian Navy for testing new weapons and military equipment. It is the only submarine of its class currently in service with the Russian Navy.

Neither the location of the test site nor any other details surrounding the November 27 UUV test were revealed.

Great Powers in Decline: A Russian Free-fall and A Gentle U.S. Descent: Leveraging the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict to Ease the Pain

by Daniel H. McCauley and Sadi S. Sadyev

As the world’s only superpower, the U.S. has spent the last 25 years underwriting global security and is now feeling the strain of countering Russian, Chinese, Iranian, and other non-state actors’ actions while attempting to meet increasing domestic demands. During that same period, the Russian Federation has emerged not only as a regional challenger to U.S. hegemony in Europe, but also one that seeks to re-establish itself as a viable alternative to the U.S. in the global environment. Buoyed by vast petroleum deposits, energy sources, and easy access to needy markets, the Russian Federation has embarked on a path to challenge U.S. supremacy wherever it can. Although still easily the world’s dominant military power, the U.S. finds it increasingly difficult to translate this military advantage into the preferred political outcomes of the world’s sole superpower.

While frustrating to some, the United States’ increasing inability to dictate preferred outcomes should come as no surprise. As a natural outcome of primarily demographic and economic trends, the U.S. is no longer the global hegemon in a unipolar world; rather, it is one of several Great Powers operating in a multipolar environment. Likewise, there are those that see Russia as a rising Great Power that is once again challenging the U.S. for global supremacy. These same factors, however, that have undermined the United States’ global hegemon status will quickly reverse the recent Russian rise to Great Power status.


Franklin Holcomb

The United States and its partners can improve regional security and stability in Eastern Europe by supporting the modernization and reform of the Armed Forces of Ukraine more aggressively. Ukraine has suffered from consistent Russian military aggression since Russia occupied the Crimean Peninsula and militarily intervened in the eastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts in 2014. The overall unpreparedness of the Ukrainian military and its inability to match the capabilities of Russian forces allowed Russian and Russian proxy forces to gain a foothold in eastern Ukraine from which they continue to destabilize the entire country. The Ukrainian armed forces have been partially restructured and strengthened in the face of this constant pressure, enough to stabilize the front lines for a time. They require significantly more support of all varieties, however, if they are to stop the advance of Russia and its proxies permanently, to say nothing of reversing the armed occupation of Ukrainian territory.

The Illusion of a Restored Russian Superpowe

By: Vadim Shtepa

The new Russian foreign policy concept, signed by President Vladimir Putin, was published on December 1 (Gov.ru, December 1). It replaced the previous concept adopted in 2013. The Russian financial website Finanz.ru candidly named the new foreign policy concept a “Cold War doctrine,” because of its premise of confrontation with the West (Finanz.ru, December 1). Indeed, if in the 2013 foreign policy concept Russia considered itself “an integral part of Europe,” now such language is excluded and replaced instead with accusations of “geopolitical expansion” by the European Union (EU). The paper says that by restraining Russia, the EU together with the US, undermines regional and global stability. For the first time since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States has been declared a “threat” to Russia’s national security (Gov.ru, Finanz.ru, December 1).

Liudmila Kravchenko, an expert from the Sulakshin analytical center, observed an interesting pattern in the history of Russian foreign policy concepts—they usually become obsolete very quickly. Such concepts were adopted in 2000, 2008, 2013, and now there is a new one, very different from its most recent predecessor (Rusrand.ru, December, 6).

Assessing the Glacial Progress in Russia’s Military Modernization

By: Roger McDermott
Russia’s political-military leadership places great emphasis upon military modernization, assumes its targets will be fully met, and offers frequent statistics to illustrate success in this long-term endeavor. Deputy Defense Minister Dmitry Rogozin, expresses confidence in the capacity of the defense sector to harness civilian technologies to benefit the Armed Forces. Yet, there are signs that the pace of rearmament may be slowing, while the finance and defense ministries openly argue about the scale of state funding required to ensure such modernization to 2025 (see EDM, October 6, November 3). Equally, based on the defense ministry figures for annual procurement, it is a complex task to establish the modernization priorities or define areas that are proving to be challenging (Rossiyskaya Gazeta, October 30; Armeskiy Sbornik, October 2016).

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu regularly expounds a message of relentless progress in military modernization. Reflecting on the achievements of the defense industry in the third quarter of this year, Shoigu noted that the share of advanced modern weapons and equipment had increased by 0.2 percent to reach an overall figure of 48 percent; 62 percent of the state defense order has already been fulfilled. By 2020, the share of modern or new weapons and equipment must reach 70 percent in order to declare the modernization program a success. Shoigu’s supporting evidence looks impressive. He notes the delivery of 4 aircraft, 13 helicopters and 21 radars; repairs of 13 aircraft; the Western Military District (MD) receiving Bal and Bastion coastal missile complexes as well as two regimental sets of advanced S-400 air defense systems; and the Navy receiving more than 100 Kalibr and Oniks cruise missiles (TASS, October 21).

Hegemonic Global Competition in the 21st Century

By Lt Gen HPS Klair

It is evident that the Great Power rivalry of the 21st Century has begun, which in Mackinder’s words, “Man and not nature initiates, but nature in large measure controls.” His prediction of the Chinese conquest of the ‘pivot’ or ‘heartland’ now appears more realistic. The US too has imbibed Mahan who saw the Indian and Pacific Oceans as the hinges of geo-political destiny, which will help maritime nations to project power all around the Eurasian rim and effect developments deep into Central Asia, now bandied as ‘offshore balancing’ supported by an air-sea doctrine and an Archipelagic Defence. As a hegemonic power, the US is cautious of entangling alliances that George Washington warned against. Similarly, Chinese scholars talk of inevitable wars that China must fight over the next five decades. Starting from Taiwan, South China Sea, Southern Tibet, East China Sea islands, outer Mongolia and Russia – the arch rival, the global hegemon, is not on the list. Smaller states seeking security in alliances need to learn from the actions of the big powers and hedge their bets so that they are partners, not pawns. That may also be a lesson for India, along with Spykman’s adage that, “Only power can achieve the objectives of foreign policy.”

According to Dr Paul Craig Roberts, US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, the US’ goal of ‘hegemony over the entirety of the Earth’ is seldom articulated. The US as the sole superpower frames the ‘agenda’ and sells the discourse. Classified ‘motives’ drive the agenda and ‘morals’ sell the discourse; any alternate narrative must bridge this reality. The most profound changes in the strategic affairs of the world over the next few decades will emanate from the rise of China. The Thucydides trap (coined by Graham T Alison) is inevitable. But despite the historical evidence ‘classical wars’ are unlikely with the advent of nuclear weapons. Hence, the more messy derivatives of ‘proxy’, ‘asymmetric’ and ‘hybrid’ variants will fester. Where elephants tango, the grass (smaller states) will be trampled upon.

Modern Siege Warfare How It Is Changing Counterinsurgency

By Michael JacksonLionel Beehner, and Benedetta Berti

The military campaign by the Syrian regime in Aleppo and by the U.S.-led coalition in Mosul reveal a strange new paradox of modern combat: the difficulty, if not impossibility, of reclaiming urban terrain from entrenched rebels or insurgents without paying a high humanitarian price. It is “strange” because at first blush, the offensive firepower of today’s armies would seem to work in their favor. Yet, even in the face of heavy artillery and indiscriminate air strikes, under-armed rebels have consistently been able to hold on to large swaths of cities. And civilians trapped in these rebel-held areas, sometimes against their own wishes, are the principal victims.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, for example, has now retaken 75 percent of the Rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo, but it took several years and Russia’s intervention to do so. The rebel's call for a ceasefire today, to allow for the evacuation of civilians, will either prolong the war, if honored, or cause extreme levels of civilian suffering, if not. (At this point, neither Assad nor Russia appear willing to negotiate a ceasefire.)

Siege warfare, of course, predates medieval times. It occurs when an invading army, unable to capture a castle or city outright, surrounds it as a way to starve one’s enemies into capitulation. The tactic is generally associated with conventional wars between countries of relatively equal stature, in which an adversary besieges a city with particular significance for its opponent in order to tangibly impact the military or government, as well as psychologically affect the population. Think Stalingrad or Warsaw during World War II. Siege warfare has also been used over time by rebel armies as a form of irregular warfare against an established government. Anyone who has seen Hamilton: An American Musical knows that George Washington’s ragtag Continental army effectively employed this strategy against the larger and better-trained British forces in Boston and Yorktown. Siege warfare was also used in other civil wars, including during the U.S.

Currency Recall – Modi’s Austerlitz Or Waterloo?

P R Srinivasan 

I don’t think sudden currency recall will be Modi’s Austerlitz. But hopefully it may not be his Waterloo either. It may be a hard battle that teaches Modi to seriously upgrade talent in his Cabinet.

I became a Narendra Modi fan after his speech in Sri Ram College of Commerce, New Delhi when he coined the slogan, “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance”. I was ecstatic when Modi formed the first “non-socialist” single party majority government in India’s history. I strongly believe that India needs to be weaned from socialism and desperately needs market-oriented reforms that the Modi government can champion. For 30 months, I thought that Modi deserved more plaudits than brickbats. Now, I am wondering if the “abrupt currency recall without adequate replacement” announced on 8 November is going to be Modi’s crowning victory or historical blunder. I am probably not wise but I am full of doubts.

China and India set to drive a 10-year global arms race

David Reid 

Emerging global powers China and India are set to drive stronger defense spending over the next decade, according to a new report released by IHS Markit.

Global military spending rose in 2016 to $1.57 trillion and annual budgets should return to pre-financial crisis levels by 2018.

There is now a risk of an arms race as Asia Pacific nations increase their military spending as they move their focus from territorial defense to power projection, analysts believe.

"This is new for the region and is likely to increase military-to-military contact between states," Craig Caffrey, principal analyst at IHS Jane's, said in a release Monday.

"Rising defense spending could therefore be indirectly responsible for increased tension within the region which in turn could spur faster budget growth," he said.



“Land-based forces now are going to have to penetrate denied areas to facilitate air and naval forces. This is exact opposite of what we have done for the last 70 years, where air and naval forces have enabled ground forces.”.

–General Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the Army

Inter-service tussles are a staple of the Pentagon experience, particularly in lean times. Mostly harmless, they are the symptoms of the constant effort by leadership to scrape up together the resources to organize, train, equip, and operate their services. At the end of the day, however, the Department of Defense still provides the nation with a jointforce composed of specialized but interdependent services, each with a specific role to play in America’s defense and each with a carefully thought-out role in obtaining military superiority in their various domains. So, it was with great interest that I read that the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley had proposed an acute shift in roles, wherein the Army would take the lead not only in major ground combat, but in “penetrating denied areas” to enable the other services. And it would do it without air or maritime superiority.

Rebuilding America's Military

President-elect Trump’s book The Art of the Deal applies the principles of negotiation to business, but they are universal to human nature. A century ago, a previous president indicated similar sentiment when Theodore Roosevelt wrote "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Latent power fuels deals. Upon entering the highest office in the land, President-elect Trump will engage in entirely new types of negotiations. And in this new venue, military power is the new trump card.

Military power is not organic or constant. It requires investment, innovation, and maintenance. Deploying military power degrades it and requires later revitalization. Adversaries adapt to the most advanced equipment and effective tactics. New threats emerge while old ones wane. Military leverage stems from warfighting advantage, which encompasses two simultaneous requirements: the ability to project military power abroad and to protect the U.S. homeland.

Digital Payments Con Tricks Senior Execs Out of Millions

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CEOs, MDs and board level execs are being targeted in the latest online security scam which takes advantage of the busy diaries of senior business figures.

‘Whaling’ – a form of spear phishing – sees high-net-worth individuals hoodwinked into authorising online payments to cyber scammers posing as employees or legitimate suppliers.

Notably different to other spear-phishing attacks because of the sums of money involved, cases of the online ‘confidence trick’ are on the rise with huge sums at stake – one MD approved a £30m payment in a single incident.

The targeted spear-phishing attacks use methods such as pretexting and baiting – creating fabricated scenarios and offering free products to build up a fake sense of trust before stealing sensitive information.

Often frontline workers are targeted to gain access to bosses’ credentials and information, helping attackers build a credible method of approach to their target.

Posted as urgent and looking legitimate, employees are being duped by the ‘whaling’ techniques, resulting in CFOs and CEOs making massive payments into accounts not run by the company.

Israeli Defense In The Age Of Cyber War – Analysis

By Gil Baram*

From the early days of statehood, technology occupied a prominent place in Israel’s national security concept as it sought to establish a qualitative edge over its vastly more populated and better endowed Arab adversaries. In the past few years, a new tech-nological challenge, that of cyber warfare, has grown to the point of becoming among the most critical threats to Israel’s vital infrastructures in both the civil and the military-security sectors. Energy, water, communications and traffic networks, and an economy that relies heavily on computers must be viewed as being at risk. To respond to the new, evolving threats, Jerusalem must revise certain aspects of its security concept so as to ensure cyber superiority as an inseparable part of its national defense capabilities.

What Is the Cyber Threat?

Cyber warfare is commonly defined as “the actions by a nation-state or international organization to attack and attempt to damage another nation’s computers or information networks through, for example, computer viruses or denial-of-service attacks.”[1] A virus or a worm is essentially a program, often self-replicating and usually destructive, loaded onto a computer without the user’s knowledge or wishes. A denial-of-service attack is a disruption to a user’s access to a computer network caused by malicious intent.

FBI and CIA give differing accounts to lawmakers on Russia’s motives in 2016 hacks

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By Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous 

In a secure meeting room under the Capitol last week, lawmakers held in their hands a classified letter written by colleagues in the Senate summing up a secret, new CIA assessment of Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election. 

Sitting before the House Intelligence Committee was a senior FBI counterintelligence official. The question the Republicans and Democrats in attendance wanted answered was whether the bureau concurred with the conclusions the CIA had just shared with senators that Russia “quite” clearly intended to help Republican Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton and clinch the White House. 

For the Democrats in the room, the FBI’s response was frustrating — even shocking. 

During a similar Senate Intelligence Committee briefing held the previous week, the CIA’s statements, as reflected in the letter the lawmakers now held in their hands, were “direct and bald and unqualified” about Russia’s intentions to help Trump, according to one of the officials who attended the House briefing. 

The FBI official’s remarks to the lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee were, in comparison, “fuzzy” and “ambiguous,” suggesting to those in the room that the bureau and the agency weren’t on the same page, the official said. 

Predicting the Future: Anticipating Security Events with Data Analytics


Is a future where people can be arrested for crimes they have not yet committed dystopian or utopian? While this scenario remains the fodder of science fiction, new tools are rapidly challenging our libertarian conceptions of innocent until proven guilty.

In the last few decades there has been enormous growth in available electronic data, including anything from social media posts, internet browsing logs, and communications metadata—the who, when, where, and how of our digital interactions—to surveillance camera footage, biometric datasets, criminal databases, and credit card records. The result? An unprecedented pool of information at the fingertips of law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

But bulk collection efforts have simultaneously created a data deluge that cannot be effectively tackled by human analysts without creating some level of analysis paralysis. Only a small sliver of the troves of data collected is pertinent to security threats, raising concerns about both efficiency and privacy.

What You Need To Know About The Deep Web

The digital privacy movement has taken huge strides since Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA's information gathering protocols.

I know a lot of us had a hunch that we were being watched, but no one knew the true extent until Snowden’s leaks went public. Since the initial reports, more information about the real extent of our online privacy has been exposed almost daily. Data mining – the fuel behind social media networks – is something we just take with our services now. We don’t wonder what info Facebook is creeping in on now, we only question what they aren’t are listening to. We seem to be fine with the the trade off: social interaction for less privacy. [click here to enlarge infographic]