1 December 2019

Indian diaspora abroad sent USD 78.6 billion in remittances home, highest in the world: Reports

India continues to remain as the world’s highest recipient of remittance from abroad, with its diaspora sending back $78.6 billion in 2018. The 17.5 million-strong Indian diaspora, the largest in the world, makes 11.4% of the global remittance figure of $689 billion, reports Times of India.

According to the World Migration Report 2020, which was released on Wednesday by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), India has received $78.61 billion remittances in 2018, an increase of 14 per cent compared to 2015 in which India had received $68.91 billion. Remittances during 2010 were $53.48 billion, rising to $78.61 in 2018, an increase of nearly 47%.

China, which is next to India as per the data, received $67.41 billion, which is 9.8% of the global remittance figure. Mexico stands in third place with $35.7 billion, an increase in nearly 36 per cent in the last four years.

Reportedly, High-income countries have always been the largest source of remittances for developing and emerging economies. The US has consistently been the top remittance-sending country, with a total outflow of $68 billion, followed by UAE with $44.4 billion and Saudi Arabia with $36.1 billion, the report states.

What Shapes India’s View on the Quad?

By Ameya Pratap Singh

Scholars, analysts, and commentators on Indian strategic thought have devoted significant attention to the study of India’s “strategic autonomy” and its estranged relationship with alliances or formalized military arrangements. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) – which is an informal strategic dialogue between the United States, India, Japan, and Australia – is widely considered the latest casualty of New Delhi’s reservations on the matter. However, contrary to the frustrations of observers in Washington, historically generated ideas and institutional norms that have illustrated Indian thinking are not vestiges of the past; instead they continue to hold a high degree of strategic value. 

From Washington’s perspective, the limited uptake for the Quad in the Indo-Pacific is a puzzling feature. The alliance ostensibly has all the key ingredients necessary to underwrite and strengthen multilateral military and strategic cooperation. First, à la Stephan Walt, the threat of China’s hegemonic regional aspirations, amplifying offensive military capabilities and aggregate power, as well as its geographical contiguity to India, Japan, and Australia should typically elicit strong balancing behavior. Also, the pressing demand to prevent Chinese transgressions of established norms surrounding maritime security and “freedom of movement” in the Indo-Pacific ought to present a serendipitous confluence of interests between these regional powers and the United States. As U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated during a policy address in Washington, D.C., “[the Quad] will prove very important in the efforts ahead, ensuring that China retains only its proper place in the world.” 

Trump Visits Afghanistan and Says He Reopened Talks With Taliban

By Michael Crowley

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — President Trump paid an unannounced Thanksgiving visit to American troops in Afghanistan on Thursday and declared that he had reopened peace negotiations with the Taliban less than three months after scuttling talks in hopes of ending 18 years of war.

“The Taliban wants to make a deal, and we’re meeting with them,” Mr. Trump said during a meeting with Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, at the main base for American forces north of Kabul.

“We’re going to stay until such time as we have a deal, or we have total victory, and they want to make a deal very badly,” Mr. Trump added even as he reaffirmed his desire to reduce the American military presence to 8,600 troops, down from about 12,000 to 13,000.

Mr. Trump’s sudden announcement on peace talks came at a critical moment in the United States’ long, drawn-out military venture in Afghanistan, a time when the country is mired in turmoil over disputed election results and Americans at home are increasingly tired of an operation that began shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Iran foreign minister meets senior Taliban official in Tehran

GENEVA (Reuters) - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks in Tehran with a Taliban delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the group’s founders, the official IRNA news agency reported on Wednesday.

Zarif expressed Iran’s willingness to support dialogue between all Afghan parties with the participation of the Afghan government, according to IRNA.

The Taliban have refused to talk to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government, denouncing it as a U.S. puppet.

Last week, the Taliban released American and Australian university professors held hostage for more than three years, completing a delayed prisoner swap and raising hopes for a revival of peace talks.

Iran also held talks with a delegation from Afghanistan’s Taliban in September, a week after peace talks between the United States and the Islamist insurgents collapsed.

Iran said in December it had been meeting with Taliban representatives with the knowledge of the Afghan government, after reports of U.S.-Taliban talks about a ceasefire and a possible withdrawal of foreign troops.

China’s mobile missiles on the loose in Myanmar


Myanmar’s seizure last week of a large cache of mostly Chinese weapons from a rebel camp sparked a brief and predictable flurry of nationalist outrage, underscoring as it did the shadowy role of neighboring China in fueling the nation’s many long-running ethnic conflicts.

But the real significance of the November 22 incident had less to do with the seized weaponry’s quantity or provenance and much more with unambiguous confirmation that insurgents in active hostilities with government forces, or Tatmadaw, are now fielding man-portable air defense systems, or MANPADS, weapons that militarily and politically constitute potential game-changers.

Amidst the stack of over 150 assault rifles, machine-guns, grenade launchers and nearly 80 sacks of explosives seized in a village in northeastern Shan state’s Namhsan township troops also retrieved in an apparent first a single MANPADS launcher identified as a Chinese-manufactured FN-6.

What China has in common with Australia, Taiwan and the US: local and national priorities don’t always align

Yuan Jiang

The Victorian state government recently took flak for its belt and road deal, which is at odds with Canberra’s position. But local leaders – in countries taking Chinese money, and in China itself – often prioritise provincial economic needs

Xi Jinping, then China’s vice-president, is welcomed by then-governor of Iowa Terry Branstad in the governor's office in Des Moines, in February 2012. Branstad, who has cultivated a decades-long relationship with China and with Xi, has nonetheless defended tough new policies as the Trump administration’s ambassador to China. Photo: Reuters

Since the Victorian state government in Australia released news of the signing of a second memorandum of understanding on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, state premier Daniel Andrews has 
been criticised for not aligning with Canberra and neglecting the potential strategic and security risks the belt and road plan may bring.

Michael Shoebridge, of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, clarified the Victorian government’s decision by highlighting how “the federal government’s areas of responsibility – foreign affairs, defence and national security, including the intersections between them – equip it with agencies and insights that Victoria just does not have”.

Thus, the main roles of state and municipal governments are to maintain economic prosperity and social stability. Job creation is a priority. And, to enhance local employment prospects, attracting foreign investment has become necessary.

Four Theories of Modern China


What really drives China today—is it Xi Jinping himself, the Belt & Road Initiative, old habits of statecraft, or the regime’s authoritarian nature? Four recent books help us sort through the morass.

“There is no easy way to understand China,” the preeminent China historian Jonathan Spence wrote in 1990. Opening his comprehensive work, The Search for Modern China, Spence observed that “for a long time China was a completely unknown quantity to those living in the West.” That had changed, he suggested, but there were still enough questions to “keep us in a state of bewilderment as to China’s real nature.”

Thirty years later, the United States finds itself in the midst of a generational debate on China. Sitting at the heart of that debate are the same fundamental issues about China’s nature and direction that Spence raised three decades ago.

Seeking to answer these questions, three recent works of non-fiction and, surprisingly, one novel stand out in their ability to interpret modern China. Ranging in topic from Xi Jinping’s effect on Chinese society, to an examination of the Belt and Road Initiative, to an analysis of changes in Chinese grand strategy over the past hundred years, to the psychological effects of living under an increasingly authoritarian regime, these books were written by leading thinkers with deep knowledge of and experience in dealing with China. And while their focus and approaches vary considerably, they all seek to explain the nature of the modern Chinese state.

The New Geography of Global Diplomacy

By Bonnie Bley

As China’s rise has become a central force in global politics, analysts and policymakers have tracked its path to potential preeminence on a number of fronts: the size of its economy, the scale and reach of its investment and commercial relationships, the budget and capabilities of its military forces. But as of 2019, China has surpassed the United States in an underappreciated but crucial measure of global influence: the size of its diplomatic network.

For decades, Washington had the largest diplomatic network in the world. Now China does, boasting 276 diplomatic posts—including embassies, consulates, and permanent missions to international organizations. The United States’ network, meanwhile, stands at 273, down one post since 2017.

This shift could mark a turning point in great-power competition. As Beijing becomes more and more willing to deploy its global power, seemingly no longer interested in former leader Deng Xiaoping’s instruction to “hide your strength, bide your time,” it has invested in active and far-reaching diplomacy. Washington, meanwhile, has seen both a turn inward and a privileging of other tools. Where once the United States enjoyed global diplomatic primacy, the playing field is now leveling.

North Korea’s Economy: The View From China

By Mu Chunshan

Since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, he has held several rare meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, bringing global attention to the North Korean issue. However, even while Trump has engaged North Korea, sanctions against North Korea have not been relaxed. It’s this fact that most bothers North Koreas, and is also likely the reason why U.S.-North Korea relations haven’t had a true breakthrough.

In fact, the United States is not acting alone in the sanctions against North Korea. The United Nations, including China, implemented sanctions as well. North Korea cannot publicly complain about China, however, so it criticizes the United States as a way to air its grievances against U.N. sanctions.

How serious is the impact of sanctions on North Korea? A friend of mine has recently been doing business with North Koreans and made several trips to North Korea. His observations help paint a picture of North Korea’s business environment and economy.

Chinese Spy Defects to Australia Offering a Trove of Security and Intelligence Information

By Joshua Mcdonald

In March, a 32-year-old father and luxury car dealer, Bo “Nick” Zhao was found dead in a suburban Melbourne motel room. Police investigated, but were unable to determine the cause of his death. 

Now, reports have emerged that Zhao, prior to his death, had been approached by a “Chinese espionage ring” which offered him 1 million Australian dollars (US$679,000) to run as a candidate for a parliamentary seat in Melbourne. 

Zhao had reportedly been facing legal and financial troubles since 2016. He had been charged with fraudulently obtaining loans to buy luxury vehicles and at least one of his car dealerships had collapsed. It’s reported that he was then approached by another Melbourne business figure who offered to put $1 million into a business for him, in return, he wanted Zhao to run for federal parliament. 

Zhao reportedly told the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) of the offer. Months later, he was dead. 

The Secret of China's Aircraft Carriers

by Bryan McGrath Mackenzie Eaglen
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China understands that in the steady-state security environment of the Western Pacific, its carrier force would be a pivotal and influential capability, essential to its quest for regional dominance. Furthermore, China understands that in a maritime conflict with virtually any nation but the United States, its carriers would be would be a powerful combat advantage. Finally, China understands that if conflict with the United States comes, its carriers’ warfighting capability would—like the rest of its arsenal—have to be employed based on the principle of calculated risk. It would be wise for strategists in the United States to remember these same principles.

China’s recent release of its first strategic white paper signals its official emergence as a maritime—and therefore global—power. Little in the document should surprise those who have monitored China’s rise, though it remains to be seen whether China watchers will discern nuance and inscrutability instead of taking Beijing at its word. Simply put, China views the United States as Asia’s hegemon, and its strategy seeks to deprive the United States of this role. 

USA – Iran: Cyber war part of hybrid war

By Vladimir Sazhin
Tensions are runing high again after a lull of several weeks in an open propaganda battle and a psychological war between the United States and its allies, on the one hand, and the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), on the other.

Apparently, the current situation could hardly be described as a lull as Washington, with a dogged consistency, kept reporting about new sanctions against Iran, flavoring the reports with anti-Iranian rhetoric. In Tehran, there appeared an array of anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments calling for a fight against the enemy. However, passions still fell short of reaching the degree of a “hot” war which was reported in the summer and early autumn.

Meanwhile, some secret invisible battles were fought in the cyberspace during this “quiet” period unabated. Just like it happens everywhere in our troubled times.

According to Reuters , in response to the September attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, the United States dealt a cyber strike at the technical facilities of Iran’s propaganda infrastructure with a view to undermine Iran’s capabilities in this area. According to Reuters, “Tehran is considered a major player that disseminates misinformation.” In 2018, according to this British agency, an inquiry uncovered more than 70 websites spreading Iranian propaganda in 15 countries.

One False Move By Israel or Iran Will Lead to War

by Seth J. Frantzman
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Israel has been monitoring Iranian entrenchment in Syria, weapons transfers that move to Iraq and also to Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as Iranian-backed groups in Gaza. On November 12 Jerusalem put in motion operation ‘Black Belt,’ the attack on a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander named Bahaa Abu al-Ata. He was a “ticking bomb,” Israel said after the operation, which led to 450 rockets being fired in retaliation from Gaza. There is another ticking bomb in Syria, where Israel struck numerous targets on November 20, a day after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired rockets at Israel. One false move by Israel or Iran now could lead to a major regional war. Jerusalem must gamble on its precision airstrikes to deter Tehran.

“The Iranian attack towards Israel is further clear proof of the purpose of the Iranian entrenchment in Syria, which threatens Israeli security, regional stability and the Syrian regime,” Israel’s IDF said on Wednesday, November 20. The airstrikes were a major attack on the IRGC’s Quds Force, and also on Syrian air defense systems. Headquarters units, weapons warehouses, and bases were struck. Like in Gaza though, the airstrikes are not unique. Israel has carried out more than one thousand airstrikes in Syria. At the same time, Iran or Iranian-backed groups have sought to attack Israel with rockets and drones five times in the last two years. This includes a drone attack in February 2018, rockets fired in May 2018, a rocket in January 2019, rockets fired in September and on November 19.

What the Arab-Israeli War of 1973 Can Teach Us Today

by Lorris Beverelli
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It is widely agreed that there are three levels of war. From the general to the local, they are the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. Strategy is the alignment of means and ways to accomplish a political end. Strategy is about winning the war. Tactics consist of locally achieving victory through a series of actions that, taken globally, participate directly or indirectly in the accomplishment of strategy. Tactics are typically about winning battles. Finally, operations consist of connecting the tactics to the strategy. To do so, the operational level aims to create campaigns—a series of tactical actions which pursue specific operational aims—to ultimately accomplish specific strategic goals. The operational level is typically about winning a series of campaigns to accomplish the stated strategy.

Each level of war is essential to achieve success, and are all equally important. The Arab-Israeli War of 1973 provides an illustration of why the tactical level is essential. This article will first provide elements to understand the broader aspect of the conflict, before demonstrating how the lack of tactical skill doomed the attackers.


U.S. unveils procedure to shield telecom networks from national security threats

by David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday set out a procedure to protect its telecommunications networks and their supply chains from national security threats, saying it would consider whether to bar transactions on a case-by-case basis.

U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order in May declaring a national emergency and barring U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by firms posing national security risks. The order was widely seen as being aimed at Chinese firms such as telecoms equipment market leader Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL] and ZTE Corp.

The Trump administration added Huawei to its trade blacklist in May, citing national security concerns, but has issued licenses to allow some U.S. companies to continue to do business with the world’s second-largest smartphone maker, a leader in next-generation 5G network technology.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that Secretary Wilbur Ross had chosen to adopt a “case-by-case, fact-specific approach to determine which transactions must be prohibited, or which can be mitigated.”

Drones and Air Defense

By Mike Rogers

The September 14th attacks on the Saudi oil facilities were a master class the application of new technologies in non-traditional ways. Someone fired cruise missiles and drones, circumventing an apparently advanced air defense network, scoring remarkable—if un-attributable—successes for relatively low costs.

If you take a step back, the strikes themselves were masterful in their signaling despite their opacity. From where did the attacks originate? That's unclear. Who is responsible for the attacks? That too is unclear. Houthi rebels from Yemen claimed responsibility, but such an attack is well beyond their capabilities. It is all but certain that their patron and regional destabilizer in Tehran is behind the strike, escalating the long simmering, but largely covert, conflict with Riyadh fought with proxies.

Of course, the Iranians denied any involvement, but Tehran must be patting themselves on the back at finding vulnerabilities in the armor of the Saudi air defense network. The Russians, for their part, are clearly happy with the strike.

Making the Case for Increased US Basing in the Pacific

By Matt Tuzel

A 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-52 Stratofortress prepares to taxi down the flightline on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 22, 2019.

Recently, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper called for increased basing in the Pacific, but provided few details regarding exact locations or operating concepts. Given the security situation in the Pacific, the U.S. should look to establish hub and spoke base networks in the Marianas Islands, Palau, and eventually the Philippines. Furthermore, operating concepts for the hub and spoke base networks should aim to enhance resiliency, frustrate Chinese targeting, and further the United States’ geostrategic position.

Esper’s call for additional basing is necessary based on U.S. interests, lack of current basing options, and China’s assertiveness. The recent Chinese Defense White Paper highlights China’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric, which is matched by actions in the South China Sea (SCS) and around Taiwan. These actions threaten American interests in the region, including freedom of navigation and the military geography of the U.S. position in the Pacific. Ultimately, U.S and allied military power in the region is the guarantor of the fair trade upon which the United States depends. Unfortunately, the United States has limited air bases in the region from which to project power. On the Asian mainland, the United States has only two air bases in South Korea, both of which are focused on preparing for and deterring war with North Korea. Beyond the mainland, the United States maintains air bases in Japan, but only Kadena Air Base in Okinawa is positioned to secure U.S. interests in the East China Sea (ECS) or SCS. The United States also maintains a base on Guam; however, the concentration of forces there make it a prime target for enemy operations. To help safeguard U.S. interests and to check China, the United States needs to establish a more robust base network in the region.

Confucius Institutes as State Policy: Clumsy or Effective Purveyors of Influence?

By Robert Farley

How dangerous are Confucius Institutes? As tensions between the United States and China have grown, the Institutes (CIs) have become increasingly suspect in various corners. Changes in China’s domestic politics, including the development of a cult of personality around Xi Jinping, aggressive repression in Xinjiang, and most recently the protests in Hong Kong, have further served to bring the centers of China’s cultural foreign policy into disrepute. Still, CIs serve a variety of roles on college campuses, and in primary and secondary education.

A new book by Jennifer Hubbert, China in the World: An Anthropology of Confucius Institutes, Soft Power, and Globalization, examines that role that Confucius Institutes play in the manifestation of Chinese power abroad (Derek Sheridan’s fine review of the book appears here). Sheridan points out that Confucius Institutes have inspired a rare degree of bipartisan ire, evoking hostility both from left-leaning academic communities and from right-leaning state legislatures. On the one hand, this suggest that CIs may pose a real problem; on the other, such herding inevitably evokes concerns about politicized over-reaction.

Why America Is Still Great

by Amitai Etzioni
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On Thanksgiving, America offers much to be grateful for: There are no Yellow Vests in America like those that block traffic and burn tires in France. There are no blood riots like the kind that roil Spain, Chile, Bolivia, Pakistan, Iraq, and South Africa.

One good reason to celebrate is that, unlike many other nations, quite a few democracies included, in which political differences have spilled into the streets, and there turned violent—ours have been almost completely peaceful. (Charlottesville is a very troubling but rare exception). Democracies are designed so that they absorb conflicts that are engendered by ideological, social, and economic differences into institutionalized channels and negotiate them in these institutions. So far, despite the startling rise in divisiveness, even our most diehard politicians have taken to the ballot box. The Tea Party made its first gains in primaries, then in general elections, and then in caucuses in Congress. Bernie Sanders calls for a “political revolution,” but he urges his millions of followers to vote and bring others to vote, not to mount the barricades. We have no Yellow Vests like those that block traffic and burn tires in France, no blood riots of the kinds that roil Spain, Chile, Bolivia, Pakistan, Iraq, and South Africa. Hong Kong may not qualify as a full-fledged democracy, but it too lost its capacity to resolve conflicts relying on due process, while we maintained it. True, we did have to contend with a rising number of hate crimes, but even these are higher in other countries.

What Should Economists Be Doing?

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ITHACA – The unexpected financial crash of 2008, the persistence of the slowdown that occurred in its wake, the failure of conventional monetary and fiscal policies to revive economies, and the cracks in global trade that we are witnessing now have all given rise to a widespread disquiet about conventional economics. As David Graeber wrote in a recent review of Robert Skidelsky’s new book Money and Government: The Past and Future of Economics, “There is a growing feeling … that the discipline of economics is no longer fit for purpose.”

Rather than offering a specific critique or solution, I want to draw attention to some foundational issues concerning the evaluation of economics. What makes assessing the discipline so challenging is the very nature of the subject, which is a strange mixture of science and commonsense. This is the reason for many policy mistakes by politicians – they take it to be all commonsense.

Another challenge arises from the fact that, unlike for most natural sciences, what economists say can affect what they study. Consider the frequent complaint that no economist has been able to predict, say, stock market crashes or exchange-rate fluctuations. Now, assume such an economist exists. If she predicts a stock market crash next month, the crash will happen immediately, not next month, because people will sell their stocks right away. Moreover, the sole reason for the immediate crash may well be that the economist predicted it. An economist who is known to be able to forecast crashes with a lead time, and can demonstrate this ability, is a logical impossibility.

Fighting but Not Winning

An Asian foreign minister recently observed privately that the United States has been fighting but not winning in the Middle East for 20 years, while China has been winning but not fighting for 20 years. That captures much of the last two decades in a nutshell. It can’t go on. It’s worth thinking about how we got here and where we need to go.

Almost 20 years on, the U.S. approach to the Middle East remains rooted in the response to the 9/11 attacks. The war in Afghanistan started soon after and still rages. The U.S. military presence in Iraq started as a response to 9/11 and turned into an occupation with an accompanying counterinsurgency. That then morphed in a counter-terror operation, which led U.S. troops into a similar venture in Syria to fight the Islamic State group.

Fundamentally, though, counterterrorism rose to the top of U.S. priorities in the Middle East. In fact, counterterrorism rose to the top of U.S. security priorities worldwide, and it continues to be the one the U.S. public most widely supports.

A Policy Roadmap for U.S.-UK Digital Trade

The United States and the United Kingdom are the world’s leading exporters of digitally-delivered services, and much of their trade is with each other. Both countries have increasingly been using foundational technologies, from blockchain to artificial intelligence, to perfect new applications and transform old processes. The potential for a vibrant and vast digital trade relationship is very exciting. What would a positive and far-reaching policy roadmap to facilitate and expand digital trade between the United States and the United Kingdom look like? This report offers a policy roadmap for a future digital trade agenda, tailored to two like-minded technology heavyweights who are massive users of e-commerce, data, and digital services. We conclude that the United States and the United Kingdom should be ambitious in furthering their bilateral digital trade agenda. To this end, they should use bilateral dialogues and any future free trade agreement to significantly expand digital trade volumes between the United States and the United Kingdom; establish new cooperation to accelerate the development of new technologies and the formation of new technology companies; and fuel the use of crucial technologies, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, which have the potential to transform countless industries.

This report is made possible by the generous support of Google’s London and Washington D.C. offices.

The Security Interviews: Do cyber weapons need a Geneva Convention?

By Alex Scroxton
On a cold afternoon in Finland, F-Secure’s Mikko Hypponen discusses cyber weapons and nation state threats, and explains why arms limitations treaties might one day expand to include malware and other threats

“There’s some work being done on attribution 80km away from here at the CDCCOE, which is the Nato Centre of Excellence for Cyber Warfare, in Tallinn. You should visit,” says F-Secure’s chief research officer, Mikko Hypponen, projecting an air of cool, studied neutrality, as he tips his head slightly in what I assume must be the general direction of Estonia.

Infographic: 5 ways to achieve a risk-based security strategy

Learn five steps for implementing a risk-based security strategy that naturally delivers compliance as a consequence of an improved security posture.

How Agencies Can Use Open Source Intelligence to Close Cybersecurity Loopholes

By John Breeden II
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Over the past few weeks, I have been experimenting with the latest form of spycraft, though it was hardly what I was expecting. Sometime around the 1980s, the military and intelligence organizations started to allocate at least some of their covert resources away from traditional spying activities like embedding agents and trying to hack into classified networks. Instead, some resources were devoted to scanning public sources of information like newspapers and official documents. This kind of spycraft was dubbed open source intelligence gathering, or OSINT for short.

OSINT efforts got a big boost with the rise of the internet and then another huge one when social media went mainstream. Skilled intelligence agents no longer have to always cultivate sources in rival governments or perform dangerous operations in unfriendly territory. Instead, they can sometimes get just as valuable information by connecting the dots and linking several publicly available information snippets into a much larger picture. It’s still a lot of work, but mostly conducted from the safety of a computer terminal sitting at their office.

To speed up the data collection process, OSINT automation tools were created. They could be directed to collect general information about a topic or even tasked with answering specific questions using publicly accessible information. People realized over time that they could turn those same tools inward, checking to see if friendly organizations were accidentally sharing sensitive or secret information themselves. CSO Magazine asked me to evaluate several of the top OSINT tools available today, and it was quite an interesting experience.

Global 5G Adoption To Take Off In 2021

by Felix Richter
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Mobile internet connections on 4G networks are quicker than the internet connections that many people have at home. What used to be unthinkable in the early days of the mobile internet is now reality. Streaming HD video or downloading music, apps and games on the go without a wi-fi connection is no problem on today's wireless networks.

According to Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report, the number of 4G (LTE) smartphone subscriptions worldwide will have risen to more than 4 billion by the end of this year. The next evolution of wireless connections is already on the horizon though: 5G.

While Samsung and several other smartphone makers have released their first 5G handsets this year, Apple has ignored the new standard for this year's iPhone 11 and 11 Pro, but is reportedly planning to bring 5G to its premium iPhones in 2020. According to latest estimates by Ericsson, however, 5G technology won’t really take off until 2021/2022 anyway, suggesting that Apple didn't risk too much by holding out on the new standard this year. Ericsson puts global 5G smartphone subscriptions at 12 million by the end of this year and at 84 million by the end of 2020. Two years later, however, the researchers are expecting the worldwide 5G population to have risen to 645 million.

Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer? Not In Cyberspace.

By Lieutenant Commander Raymond Dennis, U.S. Navy
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Sun Tzu is credited with the phrase “Keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer.” Online, while our friends remain close, our enemies continue to get closer. Connections on social media (including LinkedIn and Facebook) may not be who we think they are. The enemy wants to be your online friend and shipmate—and it is putting us all at risk.
If It Works, Stick With It.

For years, America’s adversaries have gone online, recognizing the level playing field offered in unclassified and open cyberspace. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps team enjoys a degree of unmatched kinetic strengths in traditional sea, air, and land spaces, but cyberspace is different. Conducting human intelligence (HumInt)-enabled cyberspace operations requires only a single, crafty cyber actor with an internet connection.

America’s adversaries know what works and they stick with it. They recognize opportunities to develop intelligence and counter our forces online through unclassified networks and social media. They continue to find success as we struggle with preventing misinformation and securing our cyberspace.

Pentagon Eyeing More Advanced Virtual, Augmented Reality Headwear

By Jon Harper
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Technology improvements driven by the commercial sector are expected to yield virtual and augmented reality goggles that solve many of the problems associated with the headsets being used by the U.S. military today, experts say.

Virtual reality, or VR, immerses users in a computer generated environment, such as video gaming. Augmented reality, or AR, transposes data or other digitally created images on top of a real-world field of view, such as the yellow first-down marker or the orange strike zone box that TV viewers see when watching football or baseball games.

VR and AR headgear can improve the way troops train for high-end fights against advanced adversaries by providing digitally created enemy forces or other environmental factors that they might encounter in a real battle, officials have noted.

Past Behavior and Future Judgements: Seizing and Freezing in Response to Cyber Operations

With the number of politically relevant cyber incidents continuously rising, the correct attribution of these incidents becomes crucial as wrongly attributed operations might further increase tensions between rivals. This article investigates how foreign policy elites evaluate cyber operations. It finds that attribution is often shaped by pre-​existing beliefs and perspectives. Due to such perspectives, elites are susceptible to false-​flag operations or refuse to adjust premature attributions in light of incoming information. Receiving more information about a cyber-​incident is thus in itself not enough to guarantee sound attribution. With regard to actual policy, the results reinforce the need to develop mechanisms that minimize the impact of biased judgements on state behavior. 

A new rule could allow one department secretary to ban certain tech buys

By: Andrew Eversden
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A proposed rule will allow a government department’s secretary to block the purchase of foreign technology that pose an “undue” risk to the U.S. information and communications infrastructure.

The rule, published by the Department of Commerce Nov. 26, establishes procedures for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to “identify, assess, and address” information and communication technology (ICT) transactions he deems risky to national security.

The proposed rule stems from an executive order President Donald Trump signed on May 15, which gave the secretary the authority to prohibit or mitigate transactions that involve ICT technology developed or supplied by entities located in adversarial nations.

Transactions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and the secretary will take a “fact-specific approach” to evaluation, according to the Commerce Department announcement.

Researchers have achieved a comms breakthrough

By: Mark Pomerleau   

Research funded by the Army has demonstrated powerful communications capabilities that could boost 5G technologies and improve sensing equipment.

A carbon nanotube technology — developed by Carbonics Inc. and the University of Southern California — achieved for the first time speeds over 100GHz in radio frequency applications, according to the Army Research Laboratory.

“This milestone shows that carbon nanotubes, long thought to be a promising communications chip technology, can deliver,” said Dr. Joe Qiu, program manager of solid state and electromagnetics at the Army Research Office, part of the Army Research Lab. “The next step is scaling this technology, proving that it can work in high-volume manufacturing. Ultimately, this technology could help the Army meet its needs in communications, radar, electronic warfare and other sensing applications.”