19 December 2016

*** Trump's Dilemma

By George Friedman 

The president-elect's ability to make changes depends on whether his support rises or falls. 

Donald Trump’s presidency will have geopolitical consequences. Most of the world wants to know what he will do. But that depends on what he can do. That, in turn, will be determined by the political dynamics within the United States as well as by counteractions of other nations. This is a case where politics rises to the level of geopolitics. Trump’s actions will be conditioned by the actions of other players, particularly in Congress. Trump, after all, will only be the president and his unilateral powers will be limited. For most of the things he wants to do, he needs Congress to go along. Therefore, the American stance toward the world will depend, for the moment, less on what Trump wishes than what Congress decides to do.

Trump has presented himself as a transformative leader, confronting a crisis in the U.S. with a radical new approach, both in policy and in political culture. Many presidents present themselves as transformative, but few are. In the 20th century, two were genuinely transformative. One was Franklin D. Roosevelt and the other Ronald Reagan. Both faced problems that the vast majority of Americans knew to be problems. Roosevelt confronted the Great Depression, Reagan the stagflation of the 1970s. Both also confronted significant geopolitical problems. Roosevelt had to deal with the emerging crisis in Europe and Asia, combined with his social and economic concerns. Reagan, in addition to an economic crisis, had to cope with the defeat in Vietnam and the subsequent relative increase of Soviet power. 

** Transformation with a capital T

By Michael Bucy, Stephen Hall, and Doug Yakola

Companies must be prepared to tear themselves away from routine thinking and behavior. Imagine. You lead a large basic-resources business. For the past decade, the global commodities supercycle has fueled volume growth and higher prices, shaping your company’s processes and culture and defining its outlook. Most of the top team cannot remember a time when the business priorities were different. Then one day it dawns on you that the party is over.

Or imagine again. You run a retail bank with a solid strategy, a strong brand, a well-positioned branch network, and a loyal customer base. But a growing and fast-moving ecosystem of fintech players—microloan sites, peer-to-peer lenders, algorithm-based financial advisers—is starting to nibble at your franchise. The board feels anxious about what no longer seems to be a marginal threat. It worries that management has grown complacent.

In industry after industry, scenarios that once appeared improbable are becoming all too real, prompting boards and CEOs of flagging (or perhaps merely drifting) businesses to embrace the T-word: transformation.

* Who are Russia's cyber-warriors and what should the West do about them?

Roland Oliphant

Who are Russia's cyber-warriors?

Western intelligence services and cyber security firms say they have identified two particular groups involved in the hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that led to a series of embarrassing emails being leaked to the public ahead of the US presidential election. 

The first group, known as APT 29, “Cozy Bear,” or “The Dukes,” penetrated the DNC in July 2015. It is believed to be linked to the FSB, the main successor agency to the KGB, the Soviet Union's sprawling intelligence outfit.

The second, which security experts call APT 28, or “Fancy Bear,” hacked in March 2016. Crowdstrike, the security firm hired by the DNC to investigate the hack, concluded it was linked to the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), the Russian ministry of defence's intelligence agency.

APT stands for Advanced Persistent Threat, a term cyber security experts use to refer to known networks of hackers. Cozy and Fancy Bear are not the only ones linked to national governments. APT-1, for example, is believed to be a Chinese government operation. 

Avoid delays over top posts’ choices

No government can feel comfortable if the head of the Army is perceived to be carrying political baggage.

The NDA government on Saturday appointed Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the next chief of the Indian Army.

At the pinnacle in every department of the state, the government of the day should be, and always is, at complete liberty to appoint anyone within a few obvious parameters related to competence, experience and integrity. That has not been breached in the appointment of Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat to the position of Army Chief, though he will be superseding two officers in rising to the highest rank.

In general, the seniority principle is a useful device. That is why the naming of the new Army Chief is only the second time since Independence that the seniormost individual has been overlooked. The last time this happened was in 1983 when Lt. Gen. S.K.Sinha was susperseded and his junior, Lt. Gen. A.S.Vaidya, was promoted over him. Then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had felt Lt. Gen Sinha was too close to the late Jayaprakash Narayan who had launched a “total revolution” against her government, and to the shortlived Janata Party government.

CPEC: Will it be a game-changer for Pakistan or a nightmare?

By Jyotishman Bhagawati

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project connecting Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang province to Gwadar in the Baluchistan province of Pakistan has captured a lot of international attention in recent days. Considering the disastrous state of Pakistan’s political and economic situation today, the $46 billion investment that China eventually plans to pour into Pakistan (which is more than twice the amount of FDI that Pakistan has received since 2008) has generated a lot of euphoria and optimism (Devasher, 2016). 

However the CPEC is also beset with a lot of scepticism with many experts raising doubts over its viability for the Pakistan economy in the long term. Part of the fear is about the mounting debts that the Pakistan’s power distribution companies are faced with which the CPEC is likely to aggravate. Take the case of the energy crisis in Pakistan. It is not due to lack of any power generating capacity but because of productivity and distribution issues. Even so instead of sorting out those problems, the Government has announced a whopping investment of $34.4 billion of the $46 billion backed by sovereign guarantees for the power sector alone which is likely to exacerbate their debts to such an extent that it will be unsustainable in the long run (Pal, 2016). 

Another important development that has raised eyebrows is regarding the possibility of some of the projects in Sindh and Baluchistan getting shelved apparently to benefit Punjab (Maini, 2016). In fact, Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have accused the federal government of changing the economic corridor for their own political reasons with some even going to the extent of calling it “China-Punjab Economic Corridor” (Devasher, 2016). If these reports are true, then the share derived by Baluchistan of $7 billion and that of other provinces will come down heavily and that of Punjab will increase further, which will aggravate inter-provincial discord more (Maini, 2016). 

The Genocide the U.S. Can't Remember, But Bangladesh Can't Forget

By Lorraine Boissoneault 

“Our government has failed to denounce the suppression of democracy. Our government has failed to denounce atrocities… Our government has evidenced what many will consider moral bankruptcy.” – Archer Blood, American diplomat, April 6, 1971.

Blood wrote this dispatch two weeks into the bloody massacre that would lead to the birth of Bangladesh. Unlike the Rwandan genocide, or the Holocaust, or the killing that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia, the genocide in Bangladesh that ended 45 years ago this week has largely slipped out of public awareness—even though the upper estimate for the death toll is 3 million. With the ongoing debate over how or even if America should assist Syria and those trapped in Aleppo, understanding how the U.S. has responded to genocides in the past is more crucial than ever.

In 1947, the partition of British India split the subcontinent into the independent nations of India and Pakistan, each a home for their respective religious majorities, the Hindus and the Muslims. But the unwieldy logistics of this divide meant Pakistan included two chunks of land separated by more than 1,000 miles of Indian territory.

Liaoning Live Fire Exercise Shows Off China's Ambitions

By Stratfor

China's first operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, carried out its first live fire exercise in the Bohai Sea a few days ago, according to the Chinese Ministry of National Defense. The carrier scrambled J-15 jets to engage targets with live ordnance while the ship itself practiced anti-missile defense drills by engaging incoming threats with its air defense systems. The flight deck of the Liaoning is of a ski-ramp design, which means that aircraft have to obey a weight limit in order to take off. This, in turn, negatively affects their fuel capacity and ordnance payload. Nevertheless, imagery and video released by the Chinese military highlighted how the embarked J-15 aircraft are still able to deploy with a limited number of PL-12 air-to-air missiles and YJ-83 anti-ship missiles.

In addition to launching and recovering aircraft, the Liaoning also practiced operating alongside other vessels as a combined battle group, with frigates and destroyers acting as escorts to the aircraft carrier, fulfilling various roles as dictated by the scenario. Despite rapid progress, China's carrier aviation remains in the early stages of development. The Liaoning has yet to embark a full compliment of aircraft and only initial batches of the carrier's actual aircrew have been trained. Furthermore, the live fire exercise carried out by the Liaoning battle group took place very close to Chinese shores, and not far from the carrier's homeport.

Chinese naval ship seized an unmanned U.S. underwater vehicle in South China Sea

A Chinese naval ship seized an underwater naval drone that was being used by the U.S. Navy to test water conditions in the South China Sea, the Pentagon said Friday.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the incident occurred on Dec. 15 about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay, in international waters in the South China Sea.

The USNS Bowditch, an oceanographic survey vessel with a mostly civilian crew, was in the process of recovering two unmanned ocean gliders, which are used to collect information about water conditions that can help U.S. vessels operate. A Chinese ship, a Dalang-III class submarine rescue vessel, approached the area, coming within about 500 yards of the Bowditch before dropping a small boat in the water. It seized one of the gliders and brought it aboard, Davis said.

The Bowditch contacted the Chinese ship and asked for the glider to be returned. Officials aboard the Chinese ship acknowledged the radio communication, Davis said, but said they were returning to normal operations. The ship then left the area.

“We would like it back and we would like this not to happen again,” Davis said, referring to the underwater drone. The incident occurred around 1:45 p.m. local time, the Navy said.

U.S. to China: "Immediately Return" Drone Seized in the South China Sea

Kris Osborn

The Chinese seizure of a U.S. underwater drone in waters near the Philippines raises significant international concern and underscores the growing strategic and tactical significance of Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, or UUVs. 

“Using appropriate government-to-government channels, the Department of Defense has called upon China to immediately return an unmanned underwater vehicle that China unlawfully seized on Dec. 15 in the South China Sea while it was being recovered by a U.S. Navy oceanographic survey ship,” a statement from Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.

Cook’s statement went on to specify that the Chinese seized an unclassified "ocean glider" system used around the world to gather military oceanographic data such as salinity, water temperature, and sound speed. The “ocean glider” was conducting routine operations in accordance with international law, Cook said.

While aerial drones have experienced an explosion in combat and strategic use since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, it is only in recent years that UUVs have gained added significance for the U.S. military. For instance, the U.S. Army operated merely a handful of drones at the beginning of OIF before growing the fleet exponentially to thousands of UAS in following years.

Russia to deliver Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets to China

BEIJING, Dec. 15 (UPI) – The first four planes in a batch of Russian Sukhoi-35 fighters may be delivered to China by the end of 2016, according to multiple reports.

Russia’s TASS news agency and China’s Global Times reported the fighter jets are to arrive in China in December.

TASS’ source said the “first four Sukhoi-35 are to fly over to China by Dec. 25,” but Sergey Chemezov, the head of Russia’s Rostec Corp., said no Sukhoi-35 planes would be delivered to China in 2016.

Rostec is a Russian state holding company that promotes the development of defense sector technology.

According to the Global Times, however, the four planes are scheduled for delivery by the end of the year, which is taking place on an accelerated timeline.

The Chinese newspaper’s source said it was the Russian side that decided to “speed up” delivery.

The fighter jets are strategically positioned to match the United States’ F-35 and F-15 aircraft in capability, according to South Korean news service News 1.

China Doesn’t Mind Islamic Extremists

By Alice Su

LANZHOU, China — Ma Xin couldn’t find the Salafi mosque. We were walking through the northwestern city’s Xiaoxihu neighborhood, a traditionally Muslim minority-dominated area. Ma, a 24-year-old Chinese Muslim who’d recently graduated from university and was working for a halal fruit juice company, had promised to bring me to one of the mosques adhering to Salafi teaching. Behind a busy shopping street, we found a dirt lot piled high with debris, the red character chai (“demolish”) still sprayed on the half-destroyed walls of a recently scrapped building.

But what looked like a sign of a crackdown turned out to be the opposite. A few minutes away from the lot, we met 38-year-old Hussein, an Arabic-language teacher at the mosque’s attached madrasa, or Islamic school, temporarily located in a set of portable trailers. It was the congregation that had decided to knock the mosque down, Hussein told us: “That mosque has already been renovated three times. Everything is funded by private donations.”

OBOR on the Ground

By Jonathan Hillman

This essay was prepared for the Naval War College Workshop on China’s Silk Road Initiative.

Asia’s Infrastructure Push

A massive infrastructure push is underway across Asia. The region’s infrastructure market could grow by 8 percent annually over the next decade, rising to nearly 60 percent of the global total. All told, the region’s infrastructure needs are estimated to exceed $1 trillion annually.

China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative is at the center of this push. Estimates vary, but all point toward an ambitious endeavor. Geographically, OBOR could span 65 countries responsible for roughly 70 percent of the world’s population. Economically, it could include Chinese investments approaching $4 trillion.

Behind these big numbers are some big questions. To begin with, how is this mega-initiative manifesting itself on the ground? Are new projects economically viable? Looking further ahead, how might these new connections reshape flows of goods, people, data and ideas? What new economic and political realities might emerge? 

China Captures a U.S. Navy Drone in the South China Sea

The USNS Bowditch, an oceanographic survey ship, carries an onboard complement of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). Military and commercial vessels have used ROVs for decades, mainly for oceanographic survey, search and rescue, and recovery missions. (Wikimedia) 

The Chinese navy has reportedly seized a U.S. Navy unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) in the South China Sea, adding a new layer of tension to the two countries’ uneasy relationship. According to several reports, China deployed a boat on Dec. 15 to capture the vehicle in waters 50-100 nautical miles northwest of the Philippines’ Subic Bay port, just before the USNS Bowditch was preparing to retrieve the UUV. U.S. defense officials have said that Washington has requested, through the appropriate diplomatic channels, that Beijing return the vehicle. The incident comes amid increasingly harsh rhetoric between Chinese leaders and the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, though frictions have been worsening between Washington and Beijing for years as the United States has sought to counter Chinese expansionism in the disputed waters.

No Peace Deal for Russia and Japan, But Slow Progress

By Bob Savic

Siberian energy deals are set to warm Japan-Russia ties while the peace treaty is put on ice. 

The much-heralded visit of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to Japan on December 15 and 16 facilitated a great deal of bonding and camaraderie between the two leaders. The Russian president was invited to a hot spring with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his hometown in southwest Japan. However, there was nothing in the way of diplomatic breakthroughs on key issues, including sovereignty over the disputed Kuril Islands and a long-awaited peace treaty formally ending the Japan-Russia conflict of World War II.

The visit did launch cooperation in economic areas including investments by Japan in industries ranging from Russia’s energy to healthcare, which could serve as a platform for developing mutual trust and cooperation – principles which both leaders acknowledged to be crucial in the goal of reaching political consensus on the Kuril Islands and a peace treaty. In the meantime, both leaders agreed to start talks on joint economic cooperation on the disputed islands, reportedly to be conducted through a special economic zone, regulated under Russian law, involving sectors such as tourism, culture, fishing, and medicine.

A Brief History of the First Russo-American Cyberwar


How Obama lost — and Putin won

It is fitting that, on the 75th anniversary of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, I’m writing about an attack that has been far worse in its overall effects on America than Pearl Harbor was.

If Dec. 7, 1941 is a date which will live in infamy, then 2016 is a year which will live in infamy.

All things being equal in an election that was decided by, at current count, fewer than 38,600 votes spread across three states, it’s pretty certain that without Russia’s political cyberwarfare offensive in the First Russo-American Cyberwar — and Pres. Barack Obama’s stunning lack of response — Hillary Clinton would now be the U.S. president-elect.

I’m a liberal Democrat who proudly voted twice for Obama, but I will make clear what no one seems to want to, although it pains me. I tried making excuses before and after the campaign — Obama thought Clinton would win anyway, he wanted to play it safe, maybe he has something secret in store, etc. — but I thought more about, the truth became clear.

Does Russia’s Election Hacking Signal a New Era in Espionage?

This weekend, Michael Morell, the former acting director of the CIA, was asked about the intelligence community’s findings that Russia interfered in the presidential election. His answer was unequivocal: The country isn’t grasping the magnitude of the story, he told The Cipher Brief. “To me, and this is to me not an overstatement, this is the political equivalent of 9/11.” 

Morell’s comments went even further than what members of Congress—mostly Democrats—have been saying for months: that the Russian-directed cyberattacks are an unprecedented attack on American democracy. 

In the heat of moment, it’s easy to lose sight of the context around the Russian hacking operation. In spite of the distinctive 21st-century flavor of the digital intrusions, the data breaches that affected Democrats are just a modern example of routine country-on-country spying. What sets them apart, though, is the high profile of their mark—an American presidential election—and the hackers’ willingness to leak stolen information to influence voters’ opinions. Altogether, it’s perhaps one of the greatest examples of a successful espionage operation in history. 

It’s useful to think of the operation as two distinct parts, says Vince Houghton, the International Spy Museum’s historian and curator. The first part—intrusions into the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee and the personal email of Hillary Clinton’s senior campaign manager, John Podesta—was intelligence-gathering, plain and simple. It’s the sort of activity that every spy agency in the world engages in on a routine basis. Once, this required rifling through others’ mail; later, as technology progressed, it involved tapping phones, and now, it can be done with a well-crafted phishing email

How much economic growth comes from our cities?

Parag Khanna

Cities are mankind’s most enduring and stable mode of social organization, outlasting all empires and nations over which they have presided. Today cities have become the world’s dominant demographic and economic clusters.

As Christopher Chase-Dunn has pointed out, it is not population or territorial size that drives world-city status, but economic weight, proximity to zones of growth, political stability, and attractiveness for foreign capital. In other words, connectivity matters more than size. Cities thus deserve more nuanced treatment on our maps than simply as homogeneous black dots.

This map from Connectography shows the distribution of the entire world’s population, with yellow representing the most dense areas. These zones are, not surprisingly, where you find the dashed ovals that represent the world’s burgeoning megacities, each of which represents a large percentage of national GDP (indicated by the larger circles) in addition to its role as a global hub.


How should modern militaries adapt when they discover that their adversaries are literally tunneling beneath them? How does the pervasiveness of social media on the battlefield affect the way wars are fought? What impact will increasingly autonomous systems, 3-D printing, and cutting-edge off-the-shelf technology have on tomorrow’s battlefield? These were among the questions discussed by Brig. Gen. Nechemya Sokal, chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces’ Technology Branch, at an event organized by the Modern War Institute (MWI) at West Point on November 29.

MWI Director Col. Liam Collins first asked Sokal about Israeli forces’ experiences with subterranean warfare. Tunnels have long been used for smuggling purposes in the region, Sokal said. Many of the buildings in Gaza are connected by these underground passageways. But tunnels have also been used for more offensive purposes: In 2006, IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by attackers who tunneled from Gaza into Israeli territory. Sokal pointed to an increase in the number of these infiltration tunnels encountered during the Israel–Gaza conflict in the summer of 2014. Because these tunnels were deep underground, were up to 1.5 miles long, and emerged in many cases near Israeli towns, Sokal described them as a new threat for which the IDF needed to find a solution.

The Good Fight: Making the Case for Intellectual Combat in the Military

By Andy Dziengeleski

One of the requirements of any profession is a capacity for growth, introspection, and reflection. In the military profession, this happens in several ways. At a personal level, members pursue intellectual development through self-study and periodic civilian and military schooling. At the unit level, leaders engage and are engaged by seniors in mentorship activities designed to cultivate knowledge and critical thinking skills. Organizationally, updates in doctrine, policy, and priorities reflect continuously evolving thinking about the organization and what it does. Meanwhile, professional dialogue at each of these echelons helps sharpen analysis, challenge deeply held viewpoints, and push communities of interest toward profound insights. Today as in ecclesiastical times, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Therefore, it is only through a dialectical approach—a community of professionals engaging in a rational and logical dialogue—that innovative ideas are put forth, challenged, refined or synthesized, and applied.

The dialectic method has its roots in the philosopher Socrates’ approach to learning. Rejecting more emotional forms of truth-seeking, Socrates instead encouraged his students to engage in logical combat, wherein ideas were confronted on all sides by challenging viewpoints and left to die or to emerge from the heap, bloodied but victorious. This contrasts with the practice of sophistry, the feigned appearance of truth-seeking designed to impress. Whereas the dialectic method welcomes all challengers to rebut, refine, or reject ideas in the marketplace of ideas, sophistry avoids conflict altogether by taking both assumptions and conclusions at face value. The former can generate understanding; the latter merely perpetuates the status quo.

The Obama way of war

TO AMERICANS who despise Barack Obama—and even to some who admire him—it is jarring to hear the 44th president refer to himself as commander-in-chief. Mr Obama leaves office with critics convinced that he is a passive observer of a chaotic world. That notion is enthusiastically advanced by Donald Trump, who charges that a soft Obama administration has stupidly—and he has even hinted, treasonously—refused to keep the country safe, notably by attacking Islamic State (IS).

Mr Trump promises to end nation-building overseas and start spending money on American roads, bridges and airports. He pledges to be more self-interested, obliging feckless allies to pay for their own security. Above all Mr Trump, a skilful storyteller, has a tale to tell patriotic Americans about why the country they love has been fighting terrorism worldwide for 15 years without winning. His story involves elites (and he includes President George W. Bush in this group) who naively toppled autocrats—“foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn’t be involved with,” as he puts it—when they should have been hunting down terrorists with pitiless, single-minded violence.

To Protect Civilians, Pentagon Tightens Rules on Combat

by Charlie Savage, New York Times

The Pentagon has revised a 2015 manual for waging combat while obeying the international laws of war, tightening rules for when it is lawful to fire on a military target even though civilians — from human shields to workers at weapons factories — are nearby.

The changes, announced late on Tuesday, are the second time this year that the Defense Department has modified its Law of War Manual in response to criticism that portions were inaccurate or dangerous. In July, it overhauled sections of the manual to better protect journalists working in battlefield areas.

“Protecting civilians in armed conflict is critical, and it’s important that our legal guidance is clear and practical,” said Jennifer O’Connor, the Pentagon’s general counsel. “This version of the manual provides greater clarity and also reflects important developments such as the president’s recent executive order on civilian casualties.”

Several legal specialists, who had criticized the old version of the manual as misrepresenting the law of armed conflict in ways that endangered civilians, praised some of the changes but criticized others as still muddle.

Adil Haque, a law professor at Rutgers University who has criticized the manual, offered a mixed review of the changes, saying, “It’s definitely an improvement,” but arguing that some parts still fell short.

World Order 2.0

By Richard N. Haass

For nearly four centuries, since the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years’ War, the concept of sovereignty—the right of nations to an independent existence and autonomy—has occupied the core of what international order there has been. This made sense, for as every century including the current one has witnessed, a world in which borders are forcibly violated is a world of instability and conflict.

But an approach to international order premised solely on respect for sovereignty, together with the maintenance of the balance of power necessary to secure it, is no longer sufficient. The globe’s traditional operating system—call it World Order 1.0—has been built around the protection and prerogatives of states. It is increasingly inadequate in today’s globalized world. Little now stays local; just about anyone and anything, from tourists, terrorists, and refugees to e-mails, diseases, dollars, and greenhouse gases, can reach almost anywhere. The result is that what goes on inside a country can no longer be considered the concern of that country alone. Today’s circumstances call for an updated operating system—call it World Order 2.0—that includes not only the rights of sovereign states but also those states’ obligations to others.

Russia and Cyber Operations: Challenges and Opportunities for the Next U.S. Administration


Summary: Russian cyber operations against the United States aim to both collect information and develop offensive capabilities against future targets. Washington must strengthen its defenses in response.

On October 7, 1996, well before such things were commonplace, the Colorado School of Mines suffered a digital break-in. The intruders gained access to a computer nicknamed “Baby Doe” in the school’s Brown Building. To do this, they exploited vulnerabilities in the machine’s Sun OS4 operating system. From there, they hopscotched to NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Navy and Air Force, and a long list of other computers spread across American universities and military installations. The operation went on for years, with the intruders collecting sensitive information as they went.

A later investigation would conclude that the data taken during this period, if printed out, would stretch as high as the towering obelisk of the Washington Monument. The investigators noticed something else: the bulk of the intruders’ activities took place at night. From this fact, and from the tangled international web of hop points through which the intruders carried out their operations, the case acquired a name—Moonlight Maze. As the investigation proceeded, the perpetrators came more clearly into view: Russian operators.

2017 Will Be The Year Of Cyber Warfare

Paul Laudicina

It has recently come to light that more than 1 billion accounts were compromised in a hack of Yahoo that occurred in 2013. This new revelation, on top of the ever-deepening story about how Russian cyber operations possibly influenced the U.S. election results, further illustrates that 2016 is ending in a way no one would have predicted.

Historical reflections on 2016 will likely be rife with words like “shocking” and “unprecedented” as so many developments this year confounded conventional wisdom, sober assessments and big data-denominated predictions. Yet, human nature compels us to wonder about the future, perhaps with even greater interest since uncertainty looms larger than ever in a world where old rules no longer seem to apply. It is with those caveats in mind that I am pleased to share the “top ten” predictions for the year ahead from A.T. Kearney’s Global Business Policy Council.

The first prediction among these top ten, that a crippling cyber attack on critical infrastructure in a major economy will occur—an attack we all won’t miss in the headlines, or forget —is the one I believe merits the most attention. It demonstrates clearly that the current power politics dynamic has shifted dramatically. In the space of the last half century, hard power has given way to soft power which has in turn now yielded increasingly to cyber power. And the challenge to leadership at every level of both the public and private sector to protect our physical, financial, institutional and ideological assets is considerable.


Where Cyber Criminals Go To Buy Your Stolen Data; What Malicious Cites Provide Both Free, And Paid Access To Stolen Credit Cards, Company Data Bases, Malware, & More

In light of the news that a billion or so Yahoo accounts have been hacked/compromised, there was a timely article on DarkReading.com’s website about where cyber criminals go to purchase your stolen data. Sean Martin had a December 3, 2016 article on the cyber security publication’s website with the title above. 

“With nothing more than a standard Web browser, cyber criminals can find personal, private information all over the public Internet,” Mr. Martin wrote. “It just isn’t legitimate services — from the genealogy sites, to the public records and social media — that can be mined and exploited for nefarious purposes. Openly malicious criminal activities are also happening on the public Internet.” Though Mr. Martin does note that “much of the cyber crime underground consists of private, and established [digital gated] communities, that don’t appear in a normal search engine, and are not accessible by regular users — without authorization.” In other words, this is the digital equivalent of a gated community; and, a way these malicious sites attempt to keep out the prying eyes of law enforcement. 

How should 1 billion users respond to epic Yahoo hack?

Nathaniel Mott

The scope of the breach is a harsh reminder how everyone on the web needs to be vigilant about protecting their data in an era of widespread criminal and government hacking.

December 15, 2016 —Just three months after it said a "state-sponsored actor" compromised data from 500 million user accounts, Yahoo revealed Wednesday another incident that exposed an estimated 1 billion people to criminal hackers.

The size of the intrusion is historic. Other recent hacks have affected hundreds of millions of people, but not anywhere near 1 billion. Yet, the havoc wreaked on Americans' computer networks over the past few years – whether by criminal hackers or meddling intelligence agencies – makes even the Yahoo hack seem like little more than the latest plot development in a long-running drama about digital insecurity.

Yahoo hasn’t identified the intruders, who are said to have taken email addresses, encrypted passwords, names, dates of birth, and potentially unencrypted answers to security questions, but the company suspects a government-supported group is involved. Yahoo said it doesn’t believe that credit card information or bank account data was affected by this breach, and is careful to note that unencrypted passwords don’t seem to have been taken.