21 November 2018

‘Two-factor authentication in India far more secure than digital payments in US’

Saket Modi

Saket Modi, Chief Executive and co-founder of Lucideus Technologies, has categorically stated that the digital payment companies in the US were 8 times more vulnerable to fraudulent attacks compared to India.

Thanks to the two-factor authentication introduced almost half-a-decade back in India, the number of frauds that are happening here are “very less”, he said, adding “we have a fairly good ecosystem. Even today, the US has not been able to mandate the two-factor authentication”.

He conceded to the rise in the number of hacking incidents, before pointing out that a majority of digital systems, not just in India, but around the world were very vulnerable to various kinds of hacks. “This can be seen from the low (single number) convictions over reported cyber crime incidents around the world. The primary reason being that for physical crime, there is the Penal Code or jurisdiction with a defined boundary, while in the internet, it is virtual.”
More job opportunities


by Kathy Gannon

The Taliban have held three days of talks with U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in the Gulf state of Qatar, where the Afghan insurgent group has a political office, a Taliban official and another individual close to the group said Sunday.

Without referring explicitly to the talks in Qatar, Khalilzad told a news conference Sunday in the Afghan capital Kabul “I am talking to all interested parties, all Afghan groups... and I think there is an opportunity for reconciliation and peace.”

"The Afghan government wants peace," he said. "The Taliban are saying they do not believe they can succeed militarily, that they would like to see the problems that remain, resolved by peaceful means, by political negotiations."…

Democracy in danger in yet another Asian nation

Brahma Chellaney

Democracy worldwide today “finds itself battered and weakened,” says the U.S.-based Freedom House think tank. Nowhere is this truer than in Asia, where only a small number of states are genuine democracies.

Political freedom is already losing ground from Bangladesh to Hong Kong. The latest developments in Sri Lanka put the future of one of Asia’s oldest democracies at serious risk.

The island’s strategic location close to the world’s busiest sea lanes has helped intensify international concern over President Maithripala Sirisena’s recent unconstitutional actions that smack of the kind of authoritarianism that his predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa, had mastered. Sri Lanka’s vantage location has made it a “swing state” in the regional tussle for maritime ascendancy between China and democratic allies headed by India, the U.S., Japan and Australia.

On China, the Trump Administration Needs to Weave Its Threads into a Narrativ


Vice President Mike Pence’s October 4 speech on China, which many commentators have referred to as the administration’s defining China moment, was a leaden litany of Chinese vices and a hyped-up assessment of the U.S. role in shaping Chinese history. The United States did not, as the vice president claims, derail China’s stock exchange nor did it rebuild China over the past 25 years. The responsibility for both of those rests squarely with China itself. Nevertheless, the Trump administration has an important story to sell around U.S. policy toward China—and more broadly toward Asia—that is more multilateral and principles-based than is immediately evident. Yet the White House does not know how to tell the story, much less sell it.

China Has Built ‘Great Wall of SAMs’ In Pacific: US Adm. Davidson


The militarization of the vital waterway for commercial shipping has been a major concern of Washington and its Asian neighbors for the past several years. But China’s increasingly aggressive challenges of American naval vessels operating in what the US and its allies consider international waters — including a near collisionof two ships in September — raises the specter of a deadly accident that might escalate into war. And if a war breaks out, the island bases become a strategic southward extension of China’s land-based defense against US ships and planes, known in the trade as Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD).

China Attempts Resetting Relations with Japan under Geo Political Pressures

By Dr Subhash Kapila

China’s invitation to Japanese PM Shinzo Abe to visit China in end-October 2018 may be significant in terms of China’s shift to reset relations with Japan due to prevailing geopolitical pressures but it certainly does not herald ‘game-changer’ long term perspective in established US-led security architecture in East Asia.

China’s latest attempt to reset relations with Japan is not the first such attempt as past attempts were prematurely abandoned by China. The Chinese reset attempt in 2018 seems to be prompted by geopolitical pressures weighing heavily on China. The foremost is the worsening conflictual contours of US-China confrontation in the Indo Pacific and the US-China trade wars.

Geopolitically, the United States continues to be in a position of global predominance and much as China wishes the United States is not a power in decline. In terms of Indo Pacific security, the United States is engaged with both Japan and India in putting in place security mechanisms to checkmate China’s unhindered rampage. China’s over-riding aim would be to at a minimal dilute this coalition if not unravel it.

Is there a new debt crisis on the horizon?

Zhu Ning

Chinese debt has increased from 160% of GDP in 2008 to 260% in 2016.

The US Federal Reserve governor, Jerome Powell, stated in the recent Jackson Hole meetings of global central bankers that the US economy is doing well at present and confirmed the continuation of interest-rate hikes in the foreseeable future.

Even though such a stance is probably already priced in by the global financial market and did not stir up too much of a global ripple, what happened in Venezuela and Turkey earlier this year still unavoidably remind global policymakers and investors of how fragile certain economies may become in light of the US’s interest-rate hike cycle.

After all, the 1998 south-east Asian financial crisis and 2008 global financial crisis are not that distant, historically speaking; coincidentally enough, both years end with the number 8, significant in some oriental cultures, just as this year does. Therefore, even a slight hint from the Federal Reserve about future interest rate trends would keep investors all over the globe on their toes.

The United States Should Leave Yemen, Not Broker Peace

by Michael Zigismund
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Defense analysts around the world must have done a simultaneous spit-take on October 30 when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis demanded an immediate ceasefire in Yemen and peace talks within thirty days. After more than three and a half years, U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s brutal invasion of Yemen is finally wavering . This weekend, Washington even suspended airplane refueling assistance, though Mattis insisted that U.S. assistance would continue.

While these moves are long-overdue, the signal Mattis has given that the United States would continue its military involvement, while also now seeking to broker peace, is the wrong approach.

Time for General Mattis to Move On

by Harvey M. Sapolsky

There is word that President Donald Trump is thinking about pushing Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis out as his Secretary of Defense, tired apparently of Mattis’ slow rolling or blocking his defense initiatives. I hope if this happens President Trump picks me as Mattis’ replacement. Unlike Mattis, no one will think I am a hidden Democrat. Unlike Mattis, I heartily agree with Trump’s foreign-policy instincts. Expanding NATO to Russia’s borders wasn’t a good idea. And our allies from the Sea of Japan to our neighbor to the North are freeriding on the backs of American taxpayers by having our security guarantees without paying much to help defray the cost for their own defense. I am ready to sing the praises of our wonderful leader.

The Brexit Deal Won’t Destroy Britain

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Brexit poses the most serious constitutional and political problems that Britain has had to face since the end of World War II. Nevertheless, the more lurid prophecies about its outcome can be discounted. Even if the deal to leave the European Union is rejected by Parliament, there will not be stockpiling of vital foods and medicines. There will not be 20-mile lines of trucks at Dover and Folkestone. Nor will the United Kingdom fall apart. Indeed, whether or not there is a deal, Brexit makes Scottish independence less, not more, likely.

A majority of voters in Scotland, like Northern Ireland, opted to remain in the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum. The Scottish nationalists say that an independent Scotland would seek to remain in the EU in the event that the U.K. leaves. But it would have to rejoin by invoking Article 49 of the Lisbon Treaty, which lays down conditions of eligibility for joining the EU. If Brexit eventually leads, as is likely, to different regulations in Britain from those in the EU, then a Scotland in the EU would be confronted with serious non-tariff barriers with England, which is by far its largest market.

Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis

By Sheera Frenkel, Nicholas Confessore, Cecilia Kang, Matthew Rosenberg and Jack Nicas

Sheryl Sandberg was seething.

Inside Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters, top executives gathered in the glass-walled conference room of its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. It was September 2017, more than a year after Facebook engineers discovered suspicious Russia-linked activity on its site, an early warning of the Kremlin campaign to disrupt the 2016 American election. Congressional and federal investigators were closing in on evidence that would implicate the company.

But it wasn’t the looming disaster at Facebook that angered Ms. Sandberg. It was the social network’s security chief, Alex Stamos, who had informed company board members the day before that Facebook had yet to contain the Russian infestation. Mr. Stamos’s briefing had prompted a humiliating boardroom interrogation of Ms. Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, and her billionaire boss. She appeared to regard the admission as a betrayal.

Say Hello To The Affects Of the Trade War

by Steven Hansen

In past posts I have stated that the pundits expectations of a devastating trade war was overblown. For October, there were a record number of loaded sea container imports that passed through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The graph below shows the significant growth of import containers in October.

The View From Olympus: Losing at the Moral/Strategic Level

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One of war’s few rules is that failure at a higher level negates the successes at lower levels. This led to Germany’s defeats in both World Wars; she usually won at the tactical and operational levels but lost at the strategic level. The result was lost victories.

To look at our own situation today, we need to add John Boyd’s three levels of war, physical, mental, and moral, to the classic levels of tactical, operational, and strategic. If we plot these categories on a grid, we see that the highest and most powerful level of war is the moral/strategic. If we look at what we are doing around the world, we see that at the moral/strategic level we are taking actions likely to result in our defeat.

What Is America’s Role in the World? Three Authors Offer Very Different View

By Zachary Karabell

Sachs, whose long career has spanned academia and public policy, has never been one to focus on shades of gray. In stark prose, he announces that the United States today faces a binary choice, “poised between two possible futures — one of conflict, even nuclear war, and one of peaceful cooperation.” The only way to avoid the former, he argues, is for America to abandon its toxic notion of exceptionalism, the deep-seated (and in Sachs’s view mistaken) conviction that the United States is a nation unlike any other, destined for greatness and bound to lead. Whether that has taken the form of a belief in the American Century, which propelled the country throughout the 1900s, or the harsh strains of America First animating the current White House, the idea of exceptionalism has at times served American power but today, Sachs says, is a recipe for disaster.

Et Tu, Jim Mattis?

By Frank Bruni

If almost any other member of President Trump’s cabinet had sought to justify his deployment of thousands of troops to the border by talking about the threat of Mexican revolutionaries more than a century ago, it probably would have sailed right past me. Hyperbole, hysteria and convenient invocations of history are the native tongue of this administration, whose members were either fluent in it beforehand or picked it up quickly.

But Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who recently evoked that specter, was supposed to speak a better language. He was known to be a saner sort — not just the proverbial adult in the room but the conscience amid the corruption and the barricade against disaster. I like to think that millions of American parents instructed their children to expand their bedtime prayers. Watch over Mommy. Protect Daddy. And don’t let anything bad happen to General Mattis.

Well, something bad happened to General Mattis.

Five Experts Share What Scares Them the Most About AI

Sophisticated AI could make the world a better place. It might let us fight cancer and improve healthcare around the world, or simply free us from the menial tasks that dominate our lives.

That was the primary topic of conversation last month when engineers, investors, researchers, and policymakers got together at The Joint Multi-Conference on Human-Level Artificial Intelligence.

But there was an undercurrent of fear that ran through some of the talks, too. Some people are anxious about losing their jobs to a robot or line of code; others fear a robot uprising. Where’s the line between fearmongering and legitimate concern?

In an effort to separate the two, Futurism asked five AI experts at the conference about what they fear most about a future with advanced artificial intelligence. Their responses, below, have been lightly edited.

The Speed of War: Faster Weapons; Faster Organisations

Technological change is revolutionising the decision-making process for militaries, while at the same time, weapons are being developed that can travel faster, farther and with greater precision than was previously possible; this offers a huge advantage for the first state to develop such capability.

Western military dominance has been eroded across land, sea, air, space and in the electromagnetic spectrum. Advanced military capabilities are proliferating, and systems that were previously the preserve of Western states, such as armed uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAVs) and high-precision guided weapons, are increasingly operated by others, including potential adversaries, who are also developing new types of capabilities for themselves. There is now contestation in all domains, and the pace of change is accelerating. In 2017, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that it took several thousand years of war on sea and land, and around 100 years in the air, for those domains to be brought to the current position, but only ten years for space and cyberspace to mature into war-fighting realms.

Robot soldiers and 'invisible' jets to fight future US wars amid China WW3 fears

A war battled out with robot soldiers, 'invisible' jets and lasers that shoot missiles from the sky may sound like something out of a sci-fi film - but this is already becoming a reality.

At a sprawling high-security army research base dedicated to reshaping the US military over the next 50 years scientists are preparing for high-tech wars of the future over fears of an impending World War 3 with China.

The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL), based at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, is creating emerging tactical offensive warfare in cyber and electronics, with the tagline of "making today’s army and the next army obsolete."

Pentagon Frustrated By Silicon Valley Rejection: Joint Chiefs Chairman

Gen. Joseph Dunford speaks at the Halifax Security Conference

HALIFAX: The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs expressed frustration Saturday over the refusal of some tech giants to work with the US military.

“I have a hard time with companies that are working very hard to engage in the market inside China,” said Gen. Joe Dunford at the Halifax Security Forum, “then don’t want to work with the U.S. military.”

“We are the good guys,” Dunford said.

The four-star Marine Corps officer pointedly didn’t mention Google by name, but the company pulled its engineers out of Project Maven, a Pentagon program to develop artificial intelligence to help analyze data pulled from drones. The move came after thousands of Google employees wrote a letter of protest to management demanding that Google pull out.

Electronic warfare technology heading-up the battlefield

By J.R. Wilson

For thousands of years, combat was a relatively simple operation; warriors were on foot, in chariots, on horses, and in ships clashing in close and bloody conflict with swords, spears, and arrows. The tools of war began evolving more quickly in the 19th Century, then the 20th Century saw more advances in weaponry and concepts of operation (CONOPs) than the previous 10,000 years of warfare combined.

The closing decades of the last century also saw the rise of electronics and their evolution into the heart of military capabilities at all levels, in all domains, and across all services worldwide.

How the Generals Are Routing the Policy Wonks at the Pentagon


Frustrated by lack of influence and disheartened by U.S. President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, Department of Defense civilians are heading for the door, leaving key positions unfilled in a Pentagon increasingly run by active-duty or retired military officers.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense, or OSD for short, is the civilian arm of the department, crucial in assisting the secretary in policy development, operations planning, resource management, and more. OSD is traditionally a place where people spend entire careers—one former official likened it to “joining a priesthood”—but today it appears to be eroding at all levels. Interviews with a dozen current and former Department of Defense civilians reveal an increasingly hollow and demoralized workforce, with staffers feeling they no longer have a seat at the table.

Information Attacks on Democracies

By Henry Farrell, Bruce Schneier

That's the starting place of our new paper: “Common-Knowledge Attacks on Democracy.” In it, we look at democracy through the lens of information security, trying to understand the current waves of Internet disinformation attacks. Specifically, we wanted to explain why the same disinformation campaigns that act as a stabilizing influence in Russia are destabilizing in the United States.

The answer revolves around the different ways autocracies and democracies work as information systems. We start by differentiating between two types of knowledge that societies use in their political systems. The first is common political knowledge, which is the body of information that people in a society broadly agree on. People agree on who the rulers are and what their claim to legitimacy is. People agree broadly on how their government works, even if they don't like it. In a democracy, people agree about how elections work: how districts are created and defined, how candidates are chosen, and that their votes count—even if only roughly and imperfectly.

DARPA Pushes ‘Mosaic Warfare’ Concept

By Stew Magnuson

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is known for developing cutting edge weapon systems and technology, but when it came time to celebrate its 60th anniversary at a big conference held at National Harbor, Maryland, in September, it was a concept its leaders wanted to talk about.

The military can spend its time developing weapons that are just a bit more faster, a bit more protected or a bit more deadlier than its competitors, but at the end of the day, potential adversaries will come up with something to counter them, said Timothy Grayson, director of DARPA’s strategic technology office.

“Sure, we can try to spend more money and apply advanced technology to our weapon systems and try to stay ahead, but this is ultimately a losing proposition,” he said at the conference. “Every single step in this competition is more complex, more challenging, more costly, and time consuming than the one before.”

DoD and the Cloud: Moving Out Bureaucracy to Focus on National Security

By Keith B. Alexander, Jamil N. Jaffer

Recent months have seen much controversy over the Defense Department’s move to a cloud-based infrastructure. In the last year alone, multiple contract protests have been filed, and the award has been delayed numerous times. While there may be much to argue about on process, what has gotten lost in this debate is the fact that Defense Secretary Mattis’s move to the cloud is the right move for our national security. Little, if any of the debate, has focused on the concrete benefits that DoD’s shift to the cloud offers our warfighters, much less its critical cybersecurity benefits. The fact is that continued delays in implementing the Secretary’s plan impose a significant cost on military effectiveness. 

What is most surprising about these delays is that the White House itself—within five months of entering office—correctly identified some of the key cybersecurity challenges facing the government and moved to fix them. Bureaucratic process has successfully stymied an otherwise a strong plan coming out of the White House and DoD leadership. This plan recognizes that to truly defend the nation in cyberspace, the government must be able to see all the pieces of the puzzle, and the cloud architectures is a key component. In any national system, some of the key elements that have to be defended include mobile networks, enterprise information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT), cloud architectures, and communications backbones.

The future of war Robots, drone swarms, lasers, hypersonic missiles . . . The US military is in a race to devise the next generation of weaponry before China beats America to it

By Katrina Mason. Photographs by Jason Koxvold

Above: Lockheed Martin test pilot Billie Flynn in an F-35 simulator at the company’s in HQ Arlington, Virginia

Below: President Xi Jinping, dresssed in military fatigues, reviews the Chinese naval fleet in the South China Sea this year

Couscous might not be the most obvious harbinger of World War III. But in the corner of a spartan army warehouse on the coast of Maryland, I find myself eyeballing a pallet of 48 boxes of the foodstuff more usually associated with peacenik vegans.

Jason Pusey, a mechanical engineer, thinks these dry particles, when shot through with air, will fluff up enough to approximate the conditions of water without electrocuting him in the process. That will help him in his quest to develop the perfect set of gaits for his military robot. “I’m trying to develop the fundamental technologies, transitioning between walking to trotting to galloping to maybe bounding or to jumping,” he says. “What if I want to run through water? When a lifeguard runs out into the water, he high-steps.”