12 March 2017

*** Civilian Drones and India’s Regulatory Response


Summary: Unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as UAVs or drones, have decentralized airspace access, allowing agriculturists, construction workers, and other civilian users to integrate aerial monitoring into their daily work.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as UAVs or drones, have decentralized airspace access, allowing agriculturists, construction workers, and other civilian users to integrate aerial monitoring into their daily work. This technological revolution comes with a set of concerns, impinging as it does upon the proprietary, reputational, and security interests of individuals. An appropriate regulatory response and new policy recommendations must go beyond the current regulatory intervention in India.

Key Insights on Civilian Drones

Advancements in fields such as automation, robotics, miniaturization, materials science, spectral and thermal imaging, and light detection and ranging have resulted in drone-enabled solutions in areas as diverse as the agriculture, power, infrastructure, and telecom sectors, as well as crowd and disaster management.

UAV activity will impact proprietary interests because common law has not clearly demarcated the commons from owned airspaces. It will also raise huge privacy concerns, considering the potential deployment of drones for massive data capture and analytics.

** North Korea Is Approaching the Red Line

Friedman's Weekly
By George Friedman

The regime appeared to be bluffing about nuclear weapons, but has that changed?

North Korea is a despotic regime in the full sense of the term. It is a regime run for the benefit of the leadership. It is also a hereditary despotism. Kim Jong Un, the current despot, is the grandson of the regime’s founder, and by all evidence his right to rule derives not from any particular skill, but simply because of his bloodline. Like all true despotisms, the country’s fundamental interest is the perpetuation of the regime. North Korea justifies its political system by invoking Karl Marx, but its actual connection to Marxism is that the Soviet Union installed Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, on the throne.

Also like all other despotisms, the despot sleeps uneasily. There have been reports of members of the Kim family being executed by packs of wild dogs and anti-aircraft guns. To some extent this may be South Korean propaganda. But it all becomes more credible after the recent killing of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother in Malaysia by two women who smeared VX nerve agent on his face. Given that he killed another relative, once more by a novel means, it is becoming likely that Kim Jong Un feels insecure. His therapy for insecurity, like all despots, is killing anyone – including relatives – who might threaten him.

The Dragon, Dalai Lama and Mongolia: What diplomatic role should India play

By Dr Bawa Singh

China conceived its 'Neighbourhood Policy’ in 2007 to assure neighbours regarding its peaceful intentions -- seeking no hegemony, playing of power politics, interfering in internal affairs and imposition of its ideology on other countries are the important objectives of policy. However, seeing the Chinese reaction on the Dalai Lama’s visit to Mongolia in December 2016, it seems that China does not believe in pursuing its own neighbourhood policy in spirit and substance in the context of its small neighbour.

Tibet has long remained as one the most crucial issues of Chinese foreign policy in general and the neighbourhood policy in particular. In 1949, Tibet was taken over by China. The Tibetan leaders were compelled to sign a treaty known as the Seventeen Point Agreement (SPA), dictated by China in 1951. The agreement guaranteed the autonomy and respect of Buddhist religion along with the establishment of Chinese civil and military headquarters at Lhasa, capital of Tibet. 

Being communist, China controlled the freedom of religion, speech, and press of the Tibetan people. The Dalai Lama had met Chairman of the Communist Party of China Mao Zedong (1945-1976) in 1954 in an effort to sort out these issues and urged him to honour the SPA. 

In the face of Chinese obduracy, the Dalai Lama consistently fought for Tibet's autonomy and China took a tough stand against him. Consequently, he fled to India in 1959 and has since been living in India with 100,000 Tibetan refugees and their government-in-exile. The Dalai Lama has been perceived by Beijing as a separatist leader. Therefore, the Chinese leadership wanted that the neighbouring countries should follow the ‘One China Policy’ as well as not hosting the Dalai Lama.

The Shocking Way China Would Try and Crush America in a War (or World War III)

What if Beijing simply degraded and destroyed the ability of U.S. forces to have those advanced eyes and ears and brought back an old foe of U.S. forces— the much hated “fog of war?” If that was the goal, a Chinese military campaign might just begin in cyberspace. Beijing might launch massive cyber strikes against U.S. command and control centers around the world— trying to blind America and disrupt the ability of U.S. warfighters from seeing the coming battlefield in real time. Such strikes, at least if I was in charge in Beijing, would come from third party countries (or at least look like it thanks to proxy servers). America would know its systems were under attack, but it might not be clear from who— at least not right away. China would have the advantage, at least for now.

The next blow would come before America could ascertain who was striking at the heart of its best military capabilities— and this one would have China’s fingerprints all over them. Beijing would begin to attack American satellites in orbit, attempting to destroy Washington’s massive intelligence gathering machine and communications systems. At this point, war has definitely started and there is no mistake who is behind it.

China Invested Over $50Bln in New 'Silk Road' States in Three Years - NDRC


Beijing has invested more than $50 billion in the countries of the Silk Road Economic Belt within the framework of the "One Belt, One Road" policy over the past three years, He Lifeng, the chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said Monday.

BEIJING (Sputnik) — He added that about 100 countries in the world had responded to the initiative and China had already signed some 50 intergovernmental agreeaments with the "One Belt, One Road" states and more than 70 accords with international organizations.

"In the last three years, China's foreign investments to the countries, adjacent to the borders of the 'One Belt, One Road' strategy have already exceeded $50 billion… the results of progress in the implementation of the projects [in such countries] are excellent," He said at a press conference.

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the launch of the "One Belt, One Road" strategy aimed at development of infrastructure and strengthening of ties between the Eurasian countries. The policy focused on two major projects, namely the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road.

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China ready to do a deal with India for concessions in Tawang?

By Sanjay Nirala

China's long-time negotiator on the border talks has said that Tawang in Arunachal is an "inalienable" part of Tibet. 


India sees China as occupying 38,000 sq km of its territory in Aksai Chin. 


China claims 90,000 sq km in Arunachal Pradesh 

China's long-time negotiator on the border talks, who retired in 2013, has said that Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh is an "inalienable" part of Tibet and that a boundary settlement would not be possible unless India agreed to make concessions in the eastern sector. 

But if India did so, China would also make concessions in Aksai Chin, suggested Dai Bingguo, spelling out in detail for the first time his thoughts on a solution. 

Dai, who was the Special Representative on the boundary issue for 15 rounds of talks until his retirement in 2013, said that India "held the key" to the settlement and that if it took into account China's concerns in the eastern sector, Beijing would similarly do so in other areas. 


India sees China as occupying 38,000 sq km of its territory in Aksai Chin, while China claims 90,000 sq km in Arunachal Pradesh. 

Food Security and Chinese “Comprehensive National Security”

By: Peter Wood

On February 6, China published “Central Document No. 1”, its annual statement of agricultural policy. Two weeks later, on February 20, China’s Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) announced that it will begin its annual moratorium on fishing starting on May 1 (MOA, February 20). Though on the surface somewhat innocuous, China’s agricultural and fishing policies are increasingly intersecting with its broader national security objectives. Both issues are connected by a view of national security that pulls together traditional security issues with domestic stability, economic issues and food security.

This connection can be seen in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s articulated vision of security. On February 22, Xi presided over a “National Security Work Conference” in which he continued his elaboration of his “Overall Security Concept (总体安全观) (81.cn, February 21). Peking University International Relations Professor Ye Zicheng (叶自成) explains that Xi’s concept brings together a full range of issues, both traditional (foreign policy and military security) and economic (such as food security) (PKU, April 19, 2016). Domestic economic realities will increasingly affect Chinese external security decision-making.

Most attention to Chinese security policy is given to its military development and foreign relations, particularly the eastern and southern axis encompassing Taiwan, Japan, and Southeast Asia. However, the most important “direction” for Chinese security thinkers is internal (内). Unsurprisingly China spends more on its stability maintenance budget (维稳) than it does on national defense (China Brief, March 6, 2014). Internal security brings sources of potential disruption into sharp focus, including social inequality and land distribution. This casts agricultural and fishing policies in a new light and makes understanding these policies more important.



After an election season that called into question the very survival of the U.S.-Japanese alliance, the first month of the Trump administration instead saw the development of the strongest personal relationship between American and Japanese leaders in over a decade. Yet underneath the golf course high fives and limousine hugs between Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe lay unanswered questions about America’s Asia policy, the viability of America’s other alliances, and the future of China’s relations with both Japan and the United States.

Though Asia appears far more stable than the Middle East and possibly even Eastern Europe, the shifting geopolitical balance in Asia means that nothing can be taken for granted. In the face of China’s belligerence, North Korea’s continued threat, and regional populism, the alliance between the United States and Japan faces unique pressures. Whether those pressures forge a closer relationship or cause divisions between the two countries remains to be seen. Based on my extensive discussions with U.S. and Japanese policymakers and experts, it is clear that the alliance is strong, but is likely to be tested over the coming years.

Both countries will again reconsider the alliance’s role in their respective security policies as they attempt to defend particular and common interests and maintain global order. The alliance will remain primarily a tool for maintaining stability in Asia, but given the interests of both nations, Tokyo and Washington will likely feel pressure to push their cooperaton beyond regional issues to those with a more global character.

Japan’s Senkaku challenge


At a time of shifting power dynamics in Asia, Japan faces pressing security challenges. Of the 400 remote islands that serve as markers for determining Japan’s territorial waters, only about 50 are inhabited. But no group of islands poses a bigger challenge for its security than the Senkakus, a clutch of five uninhabited islets and three rocks.

The United States Faces Limited Options for Assault on Raqqa

By: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

The new U.S. administration has put on hold a plan proposed by former-President Barack Obama, and backed by the Pentagon, to directly arm the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG, Yekîneyên Parastina Gel) (al-Monitor, February 2). The intention is to review other options, with President Donald Trump saying during his election campaign that the ideal situation would be to get Kurds and Turks to work together. This move, however, could be a difficult one, as Turkey considers the YPG as linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and wants to weaken their presence in northern Syria (Rudaw, July 22, 2016).

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, meanwhile, has indicated he wants to re-engage with Turkey, while at the same time calling the Syrian Kurds the United States’ greatest allies in Syria (Daily Sabah, January 11; ARA news, January 14).

Closer cooperation with Russia, the main backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is also possible in the fight against Islamic State (IS), although it seems unlikely the administration would want to work with the Syrian government.

Nonetheless, the United States face some tough choices if it is to accelerate its campaign against IS and defeat the group in Raqqa, its de-facto capital in Syria and the base from where it coordinates its attacks abroad.

Unlike in Iraq, where there is a partnership with the Iraqi army, in Syria, U.S. options will likely come down to the choice between backing a non-Syrian Turkish force, or backing a Kurdish group with links to the PKK.

The Sub-Saharan Security Tracker

Mapping Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is made up of forty-eight countries and is home to approximately one billion people. It does not include Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. Continuing political violence in sub-Saharan Africa causes untold misery, and hampers political, economic, and social development. Mapping political violence is a valuable tool for identifying current and future trends.

The Sub-Saharan Security Tracker (SST) uses over three million data points to map the state of political violence, specifically deaths caused by such violence, in the region, including geographic distribution, trends over time, and actors involved.

The SST draws on data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) Project, which documents violent events across Africa by surveying open sources, such as the media, reports from nongovernmental organizations, and publicly available material from governments and international organizations.

The Plot Against Europe


May 9, 2022 — Standing on the viewing platform in Red Square, President Vladimir Putin observed the military parade commemorating the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany. This Victory Day, he had reason to be especially proud of his country.

Earlier that week, a group of 150 Russian special forces — bearing no insignia and disguised like the “little green men” who had occupied the Crimean peninsula eight years prior — had slipped into the tiny neighboring Baltic state of Estonia. Seizing a government building in Narva, a city on the border with an ethnic Russian majority, they planted a Russian flag on the roof and promptly declared the “Narva People’s Republic.” In a statement released to international media, leaders of the nascent breakaway state announced they were “defending ethnic Russians from the fascist regime in Tallinn,” Estonia’s capital. Most of Narva’s Russian-speaking citizens looked upon the tumultuous events with passivity. Ever since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, they suspected something like this would eventually happen.

In the months leading up to the incursion, Kremlin-backed television networks — widely watched by Estonia’s Russian-speaking minority — had beamed inflammatory reports about an impending Estonian “genocide” of ethnic Russians, much as they had warned of a similar phantom “genocide” allegedly perpetrated by the Ukrainian government against its own Russian-speaking population years earlier. Tensions reached a climax in March when Russian media accused an “Estonian fascist gang” of kidnapping an ethnic Russian teenager. Agents of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) in Narva were aware from the very beginning that the boy had actually died in an alcohol-induced accident after falling off a bridge. But such facts need not get in the way of a pretext, which came in the form of an ethnic Russian leader in Narva calling for Moscow’s “fraternal assistance” in staving off an incipient pogrom.

Within an hour of Russian Spetsnaz forces commandeering the administrative building in Narva, the Estonians rushed into action. Approaching the outskirts of the city, the Estonian army announced that if the men did not exit the premises with their hands above their heads, Estonian officers would enter and clear the structure by force. Yet it immediately became apparent to all involved that this was an idle threat: Over the course of the previous evening, 25,000 Russian soldiers had amassed on the eastern side of the Narva River, along with 200 tanks and 50 attack helicopters. The operation1) Putin’s hatred of Estonia is personal. During the Great Patriotic War, Putin’s father parachuted into the country ahead of the re-conquering Red Army. Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin was a member of the elite People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), Josef Stalin’s secret police force responsible for foreign operations, and he deployed to Estonia to wage sabotage attacks against the Germans and their local collaborators. Hiding in the woods and running out of food, as Putin recounted the story of his father’s exploits, the elder Putin and his comrades turned to some farmers for help. The ungrateful peasants soon alerted the Nazis to the location of their Russian liberators, and father had to submerge himself in a swamp. Using a piece of straw as a makeshift snorkel, he barely escaped with his life. took Western intelligence agencies completely by surprise. American spy satellites ought to have detected any Russian troop movement along the borders of one of its easternmost NATO allies, yet Moscow, having gained access to Washington’s European communications network, was able to mask its maneuvers. (Edward Snowden, on whose chest Putin had pinned a Hero of the Russian Federation Prize in 2018, had seen to that.)

Reducing Tensions Between Russia and NATO

Author: Kimberly Marten, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Political Science, Barnard College

“[Vladimir] Putin’s aggression makes the possibility of a war in Europe between nuclear-armed adversaries frighteningly real,” writes Kimberly Marten in a new Council Special Report on tensions between Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). She outlines how U.S. policymakers can deter Russian aggression with robust support for NATO, while reassuring Russia of NATO’s defensive intentions through clear words and actions based in international law.

Marten, a professor of political science at Barnard College, Columbia University, and director of the Program on U.S.-Russia Relations at Columbia’s Harriman Institute, lays out several scenarios that could lead to a dangerous confrontation, ranging from an inadvertent encounter between NATO and Russian military aircraft or ships to an intentional Russian land grab in Europe. The report, produced by the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations, offers a plan for how the Donald J. Trump administration could work with Congress and NATO allies to lessen the chances of crisis escalation.

Marten recommends that U.S. policymakers take the following steps to deter Russian threats: 

Reaffirm the U.S. commitment to NATO defense. “President Trump should immediately reaffirm, and the State Department and Pentagon should periodically restate, that the defense of all NATO member states is Washington’s highest priority in Europe.” 

McMaster Faces Limits in Overhauling Flynn’s NSC


President Donald Trump’s newly installed national security advisor was promised full authority to reorganize the National Security Council to his liking after his predecessor was forced to resign after misleading the vice president about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

But Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster is discovering the limits to any ambitious overhaul at the NSC, leaving him relying on people in many cases recruited by the former national security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and other Trump confidantes. A wholesale purge is not expected, and several key NSC officials focused on the Middle East and other vital areas will keep their positions in the near term, a senior White House official told Foreign Policy.

Israeli Travel Ban Draws Fire
The new law would stop some pro-Israel groups from visiting the Jewish state if they have publicly called for boycotts…

The survivors, whose fate came into question after Flynn’s surprise ouster, include: K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security advisor; Michael Anton, the deputy assistant to the president for strategic communications; and Victoria Coates, the senior director for strategic assessments who previously worked as an art historian and aide to Ted Cruz.

McFarland, a former Fox News commentator, secured her status through a conversation with Trump, the official said. “The president has asked K.T. to stay so she’s staying,” the official said.

Derek Harvey, the top Middle East adviser, worked with McMaster in Iraq. He is expected to continue on along with his deputies, including Joel Rayburn, Joe Rank, and Michael Bell.

Warning: Your New Digital World Is Highly Addictive

By Gareth Cook

Science has learned many lessons about what makes something addictive. And now this knowledge is being used by the tech business to gain our attention, and keep us coming back for more. In his new book, “Irresistible,” New York University associate professor of marketing Adam Alter argues that society is experiencing the beginnings of an epidemic of “behavioral addiction,” and that this could have dangerous and far-reaching implications for us all. He answered questions from Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook.

Early in your book, you say that our understanding of addiction is too narrow. Can you explain what you mean by that? 

MDC2: Air Force Works On Huge Command, Control System; Allies Key By COLIN CLARK

Jack Blackhurst, head of SPDE

ORLANDO: Want to defeat an enemy? Get inside his decision cycle. Hammer away at his forces, confuse his command, steal his intelligence. Sun Tzu said most of it ages ago, but it remains true today. The key to such success is, first, understanding what you and the enemy are doing and, second, communicating that understanding to all your forces at great speed and with high certainty it is accurate. That’s why the Air Force is trying to figure out whether and how to build what it’s calling a Multi-Domain Command and Control (MDC2) system.

This will be an Air Force-wide system, one that takes into account the standards and needs of the Air Force, the three other armed services, our allies and partners, says the man leading the effort. Jack Blackhurst, director of the Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SPDE) Office, is the man behind this and other studies into other major capability gaps faced by the Air Force. 

Gen. David Goldfein

As we reported last week, the SPDE is led by Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, the commander of Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson AFB. It reports directly to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, who has publicly enthused about “multi-domain” operations in which air, space, cyber, sea, and land-power all work together as a single seamless force.

“The Air Force wants to create an effect with the adversary’s air, space and cyber assets,” Blackhurst says. The goal is for “the commander to understand his situational awareness. He knows what assets he has in the zone of control — everything from space to undersea — and can act quickly.” This is designed in the long run — and we’re probably talking 2030 before we see a finished system — to meet the challenge of what every senior officer I’ve spoken with says is the top Pentagon effort to cope with the incredibly complex world we face, what’s known as multi-domain warfare. The Army’s been most public of the services with wargaming its version of the concept, Multi-Domain Battle, and Blackhurst confirmed Army officers were part of his team.

CIA Has an Impressive List of Ways to Hack Into Your Smartphone, Wikileaks Files Indicate


A concerted effort by the CIA produced a library of software attacks to crack into Android smartphones and Apple iPhones, including some that could take full control of the devices, according to documents in a trove of files released by Wikileaks Tuesday.

The attacks allow for varying levels of access—many powerful enough to allow the attacker to remotely take over the “kernel,” the heart of the operating system that controls the operation of the phone, or at least to have so-called “root” access, meaning extensive control over files and software processes on a device. These types of techniques would give access to information like geolocation, communications, contacts, and more. They would most likely be useful for targeted hacking, rather than mass surveillance. Indeed, one document describes a process by which a specific unit within the CIA “develops software exploits and implants for high priority target cellphones for intelligence collection.”

The Wikileaks documents also include detailed charts concerning specific attacks the CIA can apparently perform on different types of cellphones and operating systems, including recent versions of iOS and Android—in addition to attacks the CIA has borrowed from other, public sources of malware. Some of the exploits, in addition to those purportedly developed by the CIA, were discovered and released by cybersecurity companies, hacker groups, and independent researchers, and purchased, downloaded, or otherwise acquired by the CIA, in some cases through other members of the intelligence community, including the FBI, NSA, and the NSA’s British counterpart GCHQ , the documents indicate.

One borrowed attack, Shamoon, is a notorious computer virus capable of stealing data and then completely destroying hardware.Persistence, a tool found by the CIA, allows the Agency control over the device whenever it boots up again. Another acquired attack, SwampMonkey, allows CIA to get root privileges on undisclosed Android devices.

“This is a very impressive list,” tweeted former GCHQ analyst Matt Tait, noting that at least some of the attacks appeared to still be viable.

Missile Defense and Defeat: Considerations for the New Policy Review

The national defense authorization act signed into law in 2016 contained a provision mandating a review of missile defeat policy, strategy, and capability, to be completed and submitted to Congress by January 2018. This Missile Defeat Review (MDR) appears likely to serve as a successor to both the Department of Defense’s 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review and other publications by the Joint Staff. The first of its kind, the MDR represents a unique opportunity for the Donald Trump administration to articulate a vision for the future of air and missile defense and determine how that vision is to be implemented by the Missile Defense Agency, the Joint Staff, the services, and other entities. This review will take place in the context of both an evolving strategic environment and several recent strategic analyses on related issues.

Featuring contributions from Thomas Karako, Keith B. Payne, Brad Roberts, Henry A. Obering III, and Kenneth Todorov, this collection of essays explores how the strategic environment has evolved since 2010, and offers recommendations to help guide and inform the MDR’s development.Download full report here

VAULT 7: WikiLeaks Publishes Cache of CIA Documents About Agency Hacking Operations

Scott Shane, Mark Mazzetti and Matthew Rosenberg

WASHINGTON — WikiLeaks on Tuesday released thousands of documents that it said described sophisticated software tools used by the Central Intelligence Agency to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions.

If the documents are authentic, as appeared likely at first review, the release would be the latest coup for the anti-secrecy organization and a serious blow to the C.I.A., which maintains its own hacking capabilities to be used for espionage.

The initial release, which WikiLeaks said was only the first part of the document collection, included 7,818 web pages with 943 attachments, the group said. The entire archive of C.I.A. material consists of several hundred million lines of computer code, it said.

Among other disclosures that, if confirmed, would rock the technology world, the WikiLeaks release said that the C.I.A. and allied intelligence services had managed to bypass encryption on popular phone and messaging services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram. According to the statement from WikiLeaks, government hackers can penetrate Android phones and collect “audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.”

Missile Defense: Targeting a Technological Solution

Will Edwards

Despite UN resolutions and international opposition, North Korea test-launched four intermediate range ballistic missiles on Monday that reached within 200 miles of Japan. The test demonstrates not only Pyongyang’s disregard for more sanctions, but also its progress in missile technology. Besides North Korea, Russia, China, and Iran have also devoted resources to acquiring new missiles with improved range, speed, and accuracy. This evolving threat demands an equally, if not more advanced, technical solution. However, an effective one has been elusive.

A key challenge for developing missile defense systems lies in the speed and unpredictability of an offensive missile. The defender must react to the threat without knowing precisely where the launch will come from or where it will go. Therefore, any defense inevitably trades response time for information – the longer the defender waits, the more information there is on where the missile is going, but there is less time to react.

Technical solutions, therefore, are geared at disrupting a missile at three different stages during its flight path.

The first stage, known as the rocket’s boost phase, is the most difficult phase to defend against. While the missile is easy to spot once the engines are lit, it will be at its fastest, and its trajectory—and final target—is most difficult to calculate. There are currently no viable technical defenses for this phase, however lasers mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or aircraft could offer a potential solution.

Cyber is a ‘tool to knock down fake news,’ says former top DoD official

By: Mark Pomerleau,

Following the alleged influence operation attributed to Russia during the presidential election, many are asking how the U.S. and allies can combat these efforts that string together propaganda, misinformation and social media “trolls,” to name a few. The questions come in the wake of the official announcement of a Russian information operations division within the Russian military.

There is consensus the U.S. can stand up an architecture to swat down these efforts, but the “how” will be difficult given the bureaucratic structure of the government.

The government needs to say this is how it’s going to defend the nation from these types of attacks be it information warfare, destroying data or stealing data, former director of the NSA and commander of Cyber Command Keith Alexander told the Senate Armed Services committee March 2.

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), noted that cyber can be closely related to information warfare in that so much of cyber attacks is to suck out personal information and with that “target false information to people and it’s part of a propaganda campaign.” He pointed to testimony given to the committee in January by the former director of national intelligence James Clapper, who said “we need a U.S. information agency on steroids to fight this information war a lot more aggressively than we’re doing right now” … one that deals with the “totality of the information realm in all forms to include social media.”

The Cyberwar Information Gap


Unlike a conventional military strike, state-on-state cyberattacks can go unreported for years.

U.S. government hackers began developing destructive malware meant to disrupt Iran’s nascent nuclear program as early as 2006, and deployed an early version of the worm in Iran the following year. But it wasn’t until 2010 that the first public reports about the cyberattack—dubbed Stuxnet—began to surface.

At around the same time as the U.S. was working on Stuxnet, it attempted a similar attack on North Korea’s nuclear program. That effort failed: The malware never reached the computers that controlled the country’s nuclear centrifuges. But it wasn’t reported until 2015, years after it happened. Just this weekend, The New York Times described a series of cyberattacks on North Korea’s missile launches that took place in 2016, during Barack Obama’s final year as president.

The timing of these landmark reports emphasizes the yawning gap that often opens between a high-profile state-on-state cyberattack and the moment it’s revealed to the public.

Hacked: Energy industry's controls provide an alluring target for cyberattacks

by Collin Eaton

A ship docked along the Port Arthur Ship Channel Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in Port Arthur.

A Coast Guard cutter glides along the waters of the Sabine-Neches waterway, conducting sweeps for unprotected wireless signals that hackers could use to gain access to oil, gas and petrochemical facilities.

Four massive refineries sit along the 79-mile channel that cuts through this stretch of Gulf Coast. It's one of the largest concentration of refineries, pipelines, chemical plants and natural gas terminals in the United States - and an alluring target for espionage, disruption or worse.

"There are actors that are scanning for these vulnerable systems and taking advantage of those weaknesses when they find them," said Marty Edwards, director of U.S. Homeland Security's Cyber Emergency Response Team for industrial systems.

As national attention focuses on Russian cyberattacks aimed at influencing the last presidential election, oil and gas companies face increasingly sophisticated hackers seeking to steal trade secrets and manipulate industrial sensors and operations.

Stuxnet ushered in era of government hacking, say experts

By Charles Poladian

When cybersecurity researchers discovered the computer worm known as Stuxnet in 2010, they reacted with a mix of excitement and anxiety.

The excitement came from the apparent sophistication that went into crafting the malicious code designed to harm Iran's nuclear program by causing centrifuges to spin rapidly out of control. But there was trepidation, too: If one government had the technical prowess to launch such a devastating cyberattack, it wouldn’t be long before others followed suit.

Symantec researchers Liam O’Murchu and Eric Chien, two of the first cybersecurity experts to analyze Stuxnet, say that time has arrived. 

“When we first started looking at Stuxnet, we had, maybe, one or two attacks we believed were nation-state related. Now, we’re looking at over 100 campaigns from all over the world,” Mr. O’Murchu told Passcode.

O'Murchu and and Mr. Chien are among the cadre of cybersecurity professionals and intelligence officials interviewed for Alex Gibney's new film "Zero Days" that explores how Stuxnet sparked a global cyberweapons arms race.

The next chapter in Internet governance

Samir Saran

The inclusion of “civil society”—an umbrella group of activists, advocates, not-for-profit organizations, and even the academia—in Internet governance ranks among the most significant achievements of this decade in international relations. For a while, it appeared the “global, multistakeholder community” that drove normative processes like the 2014 NetMundial conference in Brazil, would stitch together rules for managing the global commons of cyberspace.

That assumption today stands on shaky ground. If multistakeholder models of Internet governance were itself a product of globalization, its future appears uncertain in this current climate of “de-globalization” and localism.

So, if states and strongmen have reclaimed political authority over national governance, why would they allow digital economies to function outside their remit? What’s more, these popular political leaders have discredited the private sector, which was expected to underwrite the global expansion of digital networks.

Today, companies have neither the appetite nor the legitimacy to incubate such governing platforms. Instruments of globalization like the Trans-Pacific Partnership were supported by big technology corporations, but as the TPP’s demise shows, the mood across much of the world appears to favour protectionism over expanded trade. If the private sector recedes, multistakeholderism loses its most powerful advocate.