16 June 2017


Key mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai blasts case Mustafa Dossa and extradited gangster Abu Salem were today convicted by a special TADA court here.

While Dossa was convicted on charges of conspiracy and murder under various sections of the IPC besides offences under the TADA Act, the Arms Act and the Explosives Act, Salem was found guilty of transporting weapons from Gujarat to Mumbai ahead of the blasts.

He had also handed over to actor Sanjay Dutt-- who was an accused in the case for illegally possessing weapons-- AK 56 rifles, 250 rounds and some hand grenades at his residence on January 16, 1993. Two days later on January 18, 1993 Salem and two others went to Dutt's house and got back two rifles and some rounds.

Earlier, the court had dropped certain charges against Salem in 2013 after the investigating agency --CBI-- moved a plea, saying those charges were against the extradition treaty between India and Portugal.

*** China’s Emerging Power: Cooperation, Competition, or Conflict?

By Anthony H. Cordesman

The U.S. faces at least four critical challenges in shaping its strategy and military force posture for the next decades of the 21st century: 

Coping with the emergence of at China as a peer power in Asia and the Pacific, and in dealing with an increasingly multipolar world. 

Dealing with the reemergence of Russia as a competing great power. 
Defeating violent Islamic extremism, and working the moderate Islamic regimes to defeat terrorism and insurgency and bring stability to threatened countries. 

Finding the right balance between each of the previous challenges while maintaining the capability to deal with lessor problems and threats. 

China is the most critical of all these four challenges. Finding a way to cooperate, while limiting competition to peaceful means and avoiding the escalation of any incident or clash, now presents the greatest risk of a serious conflict and of some new form of arms race and competition in the Pacific that could take on the character of a new “Cold War.”

In an ideal world, the answer would be to focus almost exclusively on the cooperation. In the real world, some level of competition between two very different great powers is inevitable, and the risk of some form of low level clash or “incident” is high. This makes it critical for both sides to understand each other’s goals, strategy, and military forces as well as possible, and to maintain the kind of strategic and military-to-military dialogue and exchanges that will build up understanding and the willingness to compromise, limit the impact of any given area of competition, and avoid escalation when incidents do occur.


Colin S. Gray

There is nothing extraordinary about current Russian-American dislike, distrust, and antagonism. What is happening today is not a return to the much unbeloved Cold War of quite recent memory (only 26 years), but rather to the enduring reality of international politics as usual. This persisting condition has always been characterized by competition – political, economic, and inevitably military also. If we read history as we should, we learn that distrust or more active dislike among great powers, including actual warfare, is both normal and to a degree inevitable. The most persisting reason is not hard to fathom. When security/threat analysts of national security scan the current and anticipatable international horizon, quite properly they look out first and primarily for the larger, indeed existential, threats to the wellbeing of their home country. Americans today are almost spoiled for choice among somewhat villainous regional and even sub-regional local states, as well as a more serious malevolent one. The latter category only has one member, Vladimir Putin’s recovering Russia.

The Problem of Russia

When considered in historical context it is unlikely that Putin would warrant nomination even for the ‘B’ list of ‘bad guys’. Yes, he lies, cheats, bullies and threatens neighbors, and flexes his growing military muscles to change borders, which makes him seriously unsuited for partnership in a top state duopoly of cooperative powers alongside Uncle Sam. Lest we forget, the sundry crimes and misdemeanors his particular Russian regime has committed have been entirely standard practice by Moscow for decades. It is necessary to remember always that Russia lives, and has always lived, in a very rough geopolitical neighborhood, one bereft of geographical help for defense, save for sheer space with the distances it provides and its weather. From the time of Tamerlane’s rampaging Mongols in the late 14th Century to Hitler’s storming Teutons in the 20th, Russians have learnt that national history has been one characterized by loss of life on a very large scale. They know, really know, that history periodically produces horrific tragedies. Even if or when victory eventually is achieved, not infrequently it has been earned at an extremely high price.

** In Russia, Protests Demonstrate a Fundamental Change

Protests have swept across Russia once again, and the Kremlin has wasted no time in moving to quash them. Demonstrators, many of whom were answering the calls of prominent Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny, flooded into the streets of more than 145 cities across the country on June 12 to demand an end to corruption, better standards of living and some form of democracy. The protests highlighted the increasing willingness of young Russians to engage in political action, as well as the government's willingness to use mass arrests to crack down on them. As the Kremlin gears up for a prolonged election cycle, President Vladimir Putin's administration is concerned about protecting the margins of its electoral victories nationwide. And though the recent political commotion is not enough to drive Putin from office, it will lay the groundwork for a shift in Russia's political landscape down the road.

Authorities detained Navalny outside his home June 12 after he called on protesters in Moscow to switch their planned demonstration route from Akademika Sakharova Prospekt to Tverskaya Street, a large and iconic thoroughfare that leads straight to Red Square and the Kremlin. The Moscow mayor's office had issued a permit allowing 15,000 people to march along Akademika Sakharova Prospekt, but Navalny made the street change after claiming officials had pressured suppliers not to provide audio and video equipment for the demonstration. Electricity to Navalny's Moscow YouTube channel was cut overnight, preventing protesters from livestreaming their march. In addition, authorities removed from two regional government websites Navalny's documentary accusing Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev of corruption, dubbing its placement on the websites a hack. Authorities also detained some individuals or barricaded others in their homes ahead of the protests.

** Iran, Qatar, Terrorism, and the Wars for the Future of Islam

By Anthony H. Cordesman

There are times as we rush from crisis to crisis, and headline to headline, that we need to look at the broader pattern and connect the dots. This is especially true in the case of terrorism, where far too often the focus is on the actual act of terrorism and not the patterns and causes of violence that generate it. Reporting on terrorism almost always focuses on what is only a symptom as is if it was the disease.

The real disease, however, is a series of far more critical wars for the future of Islam—where Iran has played a key role, along with its Arab neighbors. Critical as counterterrorism is, it is still only a sideshow in comparison with the need to terminate actual wars and prevent new ones.

Terrorist actions by extremist movements like ISIS do dominate the patterns of Islamic violence in the United States and Europe. Such attacks, however, make up only a tiny fraction of the level of terrorism casualties that occur in the MENA region and Islamic countries—something around 4%, based on the START database and other sources. A Washington Post graphic of terrorist fatalities in the world between January 1, 2015 and July 16, 2016—using IHS Janes data—found 658 deaths in the United States and Europe compared with 28,031—only 2.3%—in the rest of the world. Almost all of those other deaths were in largely Islamic areas, and the vast majority were Muslims killing Muslims.

The anniversary of a divide

Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Fear, like an invisible fume that you do not see, surrounds us. And it can ignite in our face

This year, the 70th anniversary of India’s independence is also the 70th anniversary of India’s partitioning. The division was not neat. It was a giant, bloody mess. Uprooted from their homes, some 14.5 million human beings, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, left the new Pakistan for India, or India for the new Pakistan.

They left in terror, travelled trembling, and ‘arrived’ traumatised to a ramshackle refuge. A new and powerful word moved from the small print of the English lexicon to everyday Indian speech: refugee. The very rich and the ridiculously poor were refugees together. One had left a manor, another a hut. Both begged together for food, shelter, medicines, clothes — and dignity. All these took time coming. The only immediate relief was that the claws of abduction, loot and death were no longer upon them.

The SCO Illusion Takes India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Kazakhstan to attend a summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) where India, along with Pakistan, will assume full membership of the grouping. The two will be the seventh and eighth members of the SCO after China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. India was admitted into the SCO as an observer at the 2005 Astana Summit along with Iran and Pakistan. Though the 2010 Tashkent Summit lifted the moratorium on new membership, India’s role in the grouping had remained a marginal one. And in last year’s summit, the SCO has also opened the doors for Iran’s entry as a full member which will also be considered this year.

The SCO region covers almost 60 percent of the Eurasian landmass, with over 1.5 billion people included in its population, including some of the world’s leading energy-rich nations. So its importance is likely to grow in the coming years. India’s growing stakes in Central Asia too are well-recognized. For India, therefore, a membership in the SCO is primarily its gateway to Central Asia. India is hoping to be able to access trade and transit routes between Russia and China, which pass through Central Asian countries. India would certainly like to a member of an organisation that is now becoming dominated by China’s growing clout if only to balance its Asian neighbor.


by Efraim Inbar

Efraim Inbar, Founding Director of Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, explains that “The two nations share a common threat: the radical offshoots of Islam in the greater Middle East.” 

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Promoting U.S.-Indian Defense Cooperation: Opportunities and Obstacles

Authored by Dr. Richard Weitz.

The U.S.-Indian security relationship has markedly improved since the Cold War with increased cooperation in a range of areas. The two countries have established stronger military, economic, and political ties based on mutual interests in combating terrorism, promoting democracy, preventing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation, and addressing China’s rise. Their bilateral defense engagements now include a range of dialogues, exercises, educational exchanges, and joint training opportunities. The partnership benefits both countries, enabling them to realize their core security goals. Yet, U.S. and Indian national security leaders must take new steps to ensure that the relationship realizes its potential.

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Misperceptions About India-Pakistan Trade

BY: S. Akbar Zaidi; Saba Aslam; Farheen Ghaffar 

Larger political issues between India and Pakistan—from border conflicts to mutual government mistrust to long-standing rivalry—have been the main driver for the limited trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. This report, however, makes the case that working within existing protocols to enhance existing trade and cooperation, rather than addressing the more obvious and chronic political issues, is necessary to peacebuilding in the region. 


India and Pakistan have a troubled past that includes four wars and countless skirmishes. Even when some form of peace and tranquility has prevailed, conditions have been far from conducive for economic and trade relations. 

Despite these tensions, bilateral trade has grown many times and is officially reported to be around $2.2 billion today. Unofficial estimates suggest that it is twice this amount, and that the potential for trade is many times what is currently traded. 

Politics aside, the reasons for limited India-Pakistan trade are rooted in managerial, bureaucratic, transportation, and other local issues. 

US airstrike target Haqqani network commander in Pakistan


A commander of the Haqqani terrorist network has reportedly been targeted in a US airstrike in tribal regions of Pakistan.

According to the local officials, the airstrike was carried out late on Monday night in the vicinity of Hangu district located in northwestern parts of Pakistan.

A security official quoted by the Mashal Radio of Radio Liberty has said said on June 13 that the commander, identified as Abubakar, died in an overnight strike in the Speen Tal area of the Hangu district.

A resident of Dewal village, Behram Khan, said three more people were injured in the strike, including a boy.

Khan said Abubakar was from Afghanistan’s Khost Province and that his original name was Omar.

Haqqani network was formed in the late 1970s by Jalaluddin Haqqani. The group is allied with al-Qaida and the Afghan Taliban and cooperates with other terrorist organizations in the region.

The US Department of State designated the HQN as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 7, 2012.

The latest airstrike if confirmed by the US officials, has taken place days after the Afghan officials blamed the network for a series of deadly attacks in capital Kabul which left more than 150 dead and more than 400 others wounded.

The Challenge of Modernizing Nuclear Weapons

The Senate Armed Services Committee hosted a hearing last week on defense nuclear acquisition programs and doctrine.

Gen. Robin Rand, commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command, offered a robust defense of the United States’ follow-on intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). He argued that extending the life of the currently deployed Minuteman III ICBMs would not be cheaper than building a follow-on ICBM.

Reliability and survivability are increasingly challenged in the current system, which was developed during the 1960s and 1970s. Rand mentioned how U.S. ICBMs complicate adversaries’ targeting because of their quantity and geographic dispersion, also mentioning how they provide the president with a timely response option.

In combination with other elements of the nuclear triad, strategic submarines, and bombers, the system forces adversaries to spread their resources to take into account each of the legs of the triad as opposed to focusing on defeating one or two strategic systems.

Later, Robert Soofer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy, argued that Russian violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty are not sustainable and that the United States must take action and increase pressure on Russia on this issue.

Privatizing China’s Defense Industry

By Zi Yang

The Chinese defense industry has once again become the focus of world media after a string of attention-grabbing headlines this year. On April 25, the Thai government approved a $393 million submarine contract with China. The day after, China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier was launched at Dalian port. The following week, China’s first civilian airliner, the Comac C919 took its maiden flight, another feat for the defense corporations involved.

Now the world’s second-largest spender on national defense, China is advancing reforms in its defense state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Xi Jinping, as commander-in-chief, has long been vocal about deepening defense industry reform, a sentiment shared by his colleagues on the Central Military Commission (CMC). In 2015, General Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of the CMC, “called for China to develop a military-industrial complex like the one in the U.S.”—where the private sector and the invisible hand assume the leading role.

Hungai (混改), or mixed-ownership reform (MOR), is the vehicle for reaching this goal. Why is MOR needed? How does the state intend to implement MOR? What are the obstacles facing MOR? Will MOR succeed in helping China catch-up with the U.S. defense industry? I propose that MOR will have limited success because of the structural restrictions of the Chinese defense industry.

A Strategy for Ending the Syrian Civil War

Tough talk notwithstanding, the Trump administration’s early actions in Iraq and Syria appear broadly consistent with the approach pursued by the Obama administration.1 The United States will continue to work by, with, and through local partners in Syria to defeat and destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) self-described caliphate, conduct counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda and its allies in Syria, and minimize America’s investment in western Syria’s more complex civil war. To be sure, there are some meaningful shifts. In the counter-ISIS fight, the new administration seems willing to take greater risk and put U.S. forces closer to the fight in Iraq and Syria, and it has thus far put much less emphasis on humanitarian assistance, reconstruction, and economic aid to areas liberated by ISIS than the Obama administration did.2 Moreover, President Donald J. Trump’s decision to conduct cruise missile strikes against the Assad regime’s al-Shayrat air base in response to Assad’s April 4 chemical weapons attack against civilians was a significant development, standing in contrast to President Barack Obama’s 2013 decision to pursue a diplomatic solution following Assad’s previous use of deadly gas. Nevertheless, despite confusing rhetoric coming from Trump administration officials, Trump’s decision to strike mostly signified an attempt to deter the future use of chemical weapons rather than a fundamental strategic change in policy toward Assad or the Syria war more generally.3

Fundamentally, the biggest challenge the Trump administration will face in Syria is the same one the Obama administration faced: how to end the devastating civil war that has been at the root of so many of the problems emanating from Syria and Iraq over the past six years.4 Indeed, only through a negotiated agreement that ends the conflict can the United States achieve its core objectives in Syria: eliminating ISIS and al Qaeda safe havens, and protecting its Middle Eastern and European partners from the destabilizing dangers posed by foreign fighters and refugee flows. 

European cybersecurity policy - Trends and prospects

Iva Tasheva

This paper looks at the priorities for EU action on cybersecurity, including efforts to improve information and systems’ security, tackle cybercrime, counter cyber warfare, and improve the security of citizens online. As more and more aspects of our lives are connected to the Internet, we are also becoming more vulnerable to malicious attacks. A demonstration of this was given in May 2017, when a ransomware attack affected 200,000 computers, disrupting the work of hospitals, public transport, banks, service providers, delivery services, and businesses across the globe. This and other, similar occurrences, underline the urgent need to come up with a coordinated crisis response and a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy at EU level. In this Policy Brief, Iva Tasheva explores the different tools the Union has at its disposal, and argues that it should pursue a more balanced course between security and freedom, putting EU values at the core of its approach. She also calls for cybersecurity to be included in all relevant areas of policymaking, such as the (Digital) Single Market (e.g. online platforms, the data, collaborative, and app economy), education (knowledge, skills, and life-long learning), industry, innovation, investment, and defence cooperation.

If Humble People Make the Best Leaders, Why Do We Fall for Charismatic Narcissists?

Margarita Mayo

The research is clear: when we choose humble, unassuming people as our leaders, the world around us becomes a better place.

Humble leaders improve the performance of a company in the long run because they create more collaborative environments. They have a balanced view of themselves – both their virtues and shortcomings – and a strong appreciation of others’ strengths and contributions, while being open to new ideas and feedback. These “unsung heroes” help their believers to build their self-esteem, go beyond their expectations, and create a community that channels individual efforts into an organized group that works for the good of the collective.

For example, one study examined 105 small-to-medium-sized companies in the computer software and hardware industry in the United Studies. The findings revealed that when a humble CEO is at the helm of a firm, its top management team is more likely to collaborate and share information, making the most of the firm’s talent.

Larry Summers: The Problem With Privatization

Lawrence Summers

We tend in modern economies to take progress for granted and debate only its pace. This is not true with respect to air travel times. A look at airline time tables reveals that today the 8:26 a.m. flight from Boston to Washington National took 103 minutes. The 8:15 a.m. flight in 1982 took 82 minutes. The difference is similar, if not greater, on other routes. For example, flights from Boston to Charlotte typically took 125 minutes in the early 1980s compared to 160+ today.

Why has this happened? The distances have not changed. Nor have we lost knowledge of aeronautical engineering. Perhaps fuel efficiency has something to do with it, but real fuel prices are actually lower today than they were in 1981. Almost certainly, the problem is increased congestion of finite facilities, airspace and air traffic control capacity.

I have, therefore, long been interested in the issue raised by the Trump administration last week of improving our air traffic control system. I remember well meeting a group of airline CEOs at the beginning of the Obama administration as they argued for inclusion in the President’s Recovery Act for a NEXTGEN system that could, over the next two decades, transform American air traffic control.

Corridor of economic uncertainty

by Christophe Jaffrelot 

China presents the BRI, also known as the One Belt One Road initiative (OBOR), as a connectivity project — hence, the reference to the old Silk Road and a new maritime silk road. Illustration by C R Sasikumar

Last week, the Pentagon’s annual report to the Congress forecast that China will build a military base in Pakistan in order to have in the subcontinent facilities akin to what Beijing is developing in Djibouti. These plans are well in tune with the proposals presented last month during the Belt and Road Forum (BARF) in Beijing in the presence of 29 heads of state. India skipped it because a section of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), infringes New Delhi’s sovereignty as it passes through Kashmir. But the CPEC probably affects Pakistan’s sovereignty even more, since this project is more than a corridor; it is an expansionist plan, as the military base singled out by the Pentagon also suggests.


By Imran Shamsunahar

The first part of this two-part series on the Strait of Hormuz analyzed the strategic importance of the Strait for global energy shipping and political stability in the Arabian Gulf, and provided an overview of Iran’s overall strategy of using its asymmetric doctrine to disrupt commercial shipping within the vital waterways to both deter enemies and fight a protracted war if necessary. This second part will focus on Iran’s actual maritime capabilities and discusses whether their threats to close down oil shipment in the Strait of Hormuz are credible or not.

Asymmetric Weapons and Tactics

Although Tehran has frequently made clear their intentions to close the Strait of Hormuz in times of war or heightened tensions, do they actually have the military capability to do so? Both the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) and the Revolutionary Guards’ Navy (IRGCN) have invested in a multitude of asymmetrical weaponry which would be used to harass and disrupt shipping coming through the Strait.

Terror Finance in the Age of Bitcoin


Terrorists’ tactics evolve with the times. Just as we have seen an adaption of terrorist methods for sowing fear and distrust, so, too, we have seen their propaganda machines evolve to inspire audiences globally. Gone are the days of printed manifestos, pamphlets, or fuzzy VHS tapes. The internet now facilitates many-to-many recruitment messaging that reaches spectators in real time.

The key to bankrolling terrorist causes could also soon be found in the cyber domain.

Once such mode of financing is the growth of virtual currencies, particularly pseudo-anonymous cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, capable of obscuring the identities of those transacting, and efficiently and verifiably funneling finances around the world. Bitcoin is the most common cryptocurrency, with one bitcoin worth about $2,800 in a market capped at $17 billion, but others exist. Terrorist use of virtual currency remains anecdotal at the moment, but that does not mean the strategic threat that extremist groups use of the technology could pose should be ignored.

The Military’s Role in Countering Violent Extremism

The U.S. military, through its stabilizing mission, has a role to play in countering and eliminating the drivers of violent extremism (VE). Though the military has effective counterterrorism (CT) capability, there is a gap in its counter-VE (CVE) strategies that can be closed by linking reactive CT operations to preventative efforts to remove the drivers of VE. Stability operations construed as part of a CVE strategy should be grounded in an understanding of local context that identifies and addresses the grievances that lead to VE. Such operations require close partnering with civil society organizations and building their capacity, for a strong civil society is the best defense against VE. 


Despite persistent counterterrorism (CT) operations, globally the threat of violent extremism (VE) is higher today than in August 2001. 

Though it has effective CT capability, the U.S. military lacks a comprehensive strategy for countering and eliminating the drivers of VE. 

Because unstable, fragile states provide gateways for violent extremist organizations to establish a territorial base and recruit, the Department of Defense should adopt a comprehensive counter-VE strategy that complements reactive CT operations with preventative, proactive stability operations. 

Stability operations as part of CVE strategy should be grounded in an understanding of local context that identifies and addresses the grievances that lead to VE. Such operations require close partnering with civil society organizations. 
A Gap in the U.S. Military Strategy 

Think, Write, and Publish: An Army Captain’s Perspective

Junior to mid-grade leaders, both officers and NCOs, do a lot of thinking! These leaders constantly develop innovative solutions for problems, ranging from the simple to extremely complex, during combat deployments, training exercises, and garrison activities. These solutions or ideas are worth hearing about, however many of these young leaders remain professionally silent. Published articles by this demographic of Army leaders are extremely important to their personal development and to our profession, but are also extremely rare. It’s not that these leaders necessarily have better ideas than the Command Sergeants Major, Colonels, or General Officers, it’s simply that they bring a fresh outlook to the professional discourse that takes place in our military journals and other outlets. To further illustrate this point, think about when you PCS. If you’re anything like me, after living in a new house for only a month, I no longer notice those things that bothered me when I first moved in. It usually takes someone who doesn’t live with me, to bring them back to my attention. Similarly, NCOs and officers that have been in the service for a decade or more may have become blind to those blemishes and annoyances that still are fresh in the eyes of younger leaders. It is this voice we need to continue to hear through publication in printed journals and online blogs.

U.S. Cyberweapons, Used Against Iran and North Korea, Are a Disappointment Against ISIS


WASHINGTON — America’s fast-growing ranks of secret cyberwarriors have in recent years blown up nuclear centrifuges in Iran and turned to computer code and electronic warfare to sabotage North Korea’s missile launches, with mixed results.

But since they began training their arsenal of cyberweapons on a more elusive target, internet use by the Islamic State, the results have been a consistent disappointment, American officials say. The effectiveness of the nation’s arsenal of cyberweapons hit its limits, they have discovered, against an enemy that exploits the internet largely to recruit, spread propaganda and use encrypted communications, all of which can be quickly reconstituted after American “mission teams” freeze their computers or manipulate their data.

DoD fighting wars on multiple cyber fronts simultaneously

by Mark Pomerleau

This is the second year in a row the Defense Department has increased funding for cyber and electronic warfare, the top uniformed officer told Congress, as the military continues to conduct cyber operations against multiple adversaries at once.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee in a rare dusk hearing June 12 that this is the second year the department has provided an increase in funding for cyber, space and electronic warfare after a period of reduced funding.

Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of Cyber Command, told Congress last month that he asked for a 16 percent increase in funding.

Stateless Attribution Toward International Accountability in Cyberspace

The public attribution of a malicious cyber incident consists of identifying the responsible party behind the activity. A cyber attribution finding is a necessary prerequisite for holding actors accountable for malicious activity. Recently, several cyber incidents with geopolitical implications and the attribution findings associated with those incidents have received high-profile press coverage. Many segments of the general public disputed and questioned the credibility of the declared attributions. This report reviews the state of cyber attribution and examines alternative options for producing standardized and transparent attribution that may overcome concerns about credibility. In particular, this exploratory work considers the value of an independent, global organization whose mission consists of investigating and publicly attributing major cyber attacks.
Key Findings

Cyber Attribution Efforts Lack Uniformity and Credibility Analysis of recent cases indicates that the practice of attribution has been diffuse and discordant, with no standard methodology used in the investigations to assess evidence, nor a universal confidence metric for reaching a finding. 


AT MIDNIGHT, A week before last Christmas, hackers struck an electric transmission station north of the city of Kiev, blacking out a portion of the Ukrainian capital equivalent to a fifth of its total power capacity. The outage lasted about an hour—hardly a catastrophe. But now cybersecurity researchers have found disturbing evidence that the blackout may have only been a dry run. The hackers appear to have been testing the most evolved specimen of grid-sabotaging malware ever observed in the wild.

Cybersecurity firms ESET and Dragos Inc. plan today to release detailed analyses of a piece of malware used to attack the Ukrainian electric utility Ukrenergo seven months ago, what they say represents a dangerous advancement in critical infrastructure hacking. The researchers describe that malware, which they’ve alternately named “Industroyer” or “Crash Override,” as only the second-ever known case of malicious code purpose-built to disrupt physical systems. The first, Stuxnet, was used by the US and Israel to destroy centrifuges in an Iranian nuclear enrichment facility in 2009.

U.S. Cyberweapons, Used Against Iran and North Korea, Are a Disappointment Against ISIS**


WASHINGTON — America’s fast-growing ranks of secret cyberwarriors have in recent years blown up nuclear centrifuges in Iran and turned to computer code and electronic warfare to sabotage North Korea’s missile launches, with mixed results.

But since they began training their arsenal of cyberweapons on a more elusive target, internet use by the Islamic State, the results have been a consistent disappointment, American officials say. The effectiveness of the nation’s arsenal of cyberweapons hit its limits, they have discovered, against an enemy that exploits the internet largely to recruit, spread propaganda and use encrypted communications, all of which can be quickly reconstituted after American “mission teams” freeze their computers or manipulate their data.