23 April 2021

Limited War and Nuclear Deterrence- Part I and II

Major General PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

On 15 June 2020, in a brutal, savage skirmish, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) used fists, rocks, rods, baton, spikes, knuckle-dusters, nail-studded clubs and wooden clubs wrapped in barbed wire at a post at Galwan on the Indian side of Line of Actual Control(LAC) in Ladakh sector at an altitude of 4,250 meters. India lost a Commanding Officer of an infantry battalion and 19 other ranks. China did not divulge its casualty figures. There is a famous saying that no two nuclear-powered states have ever fought a war. William S. Lind, who developed Manoeuvre Warfare and Fourth Generation Warfare theories, is sceptical about two nuclear weapon capable countries ever to fight a conventional war. Continue Reading.....

Unreliable Ally: Should US Withdrawal From Afghanistan Be A ‘Wake-Up Call’ For All Major Non- NATO Allies (MNNA)?

By Prakash Nanda

US President Joe Biden’s announcement that all American troops will withdraw from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, thus ending what is arguably America’s longest war, may have great political significance in his country.

But his bold decision, after fluctuating deadlines set by his two predecessors – Donald Trump and Barack Obama – seems to have reignited the geopolitical debate over the dependability of Washington as a reliable ally in the world.

At the moment, there are about 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan, although the number fluctuates. Additionally, there are 7,000 foreign forces in the US-led coalition there, the majority of them belonging to NATO allies.

Those questioning the decision are not impressed by the standard argument that Afghanistan will prove to be another Vietnam for America unless Washington opts for a quick exit from a country, which otherwise has great strategic significance as an economic corridor connecting South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle-East.
American Wars — Vietnam vs Afghanistan

It is said that the war in Afghanistan is strikingly different from it was in Vietnam. At the peak of the Vietnam War, there were more than half a million (500,000) American soldiers fighting in that country’s civil war. And that saw the deaths of more than 58,000 American soldiers.

In contrast, the largest number of US troops in Afghanistan was 10,000 (one-fifth of the number in Vietnam) between 2010 and 2011. And since 2001, a total of only 2312 US military personnel have died there (as per the latest estimate).

America's Longest Foreign Wars

by Niall McCarthy

President Biden has announced that 2,500 U.S. troops and another 7,000 from NATO will start returning home from Afghanistan in May, with the full withdrawal set to be completed in time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11. In a White House speech, he said
"I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth."

Over the course of nearly two decades, America's longest war has consumed $2 trillion dollars, cost 110,000 Afghan lives and also resulted in the deaths of 3,500 coalition service members including around 2,400 Americans.

Biden's announcement will prove pivotal for Afghanistan and it could accelerate the drive towards peace or plunge the country into further uncertainty and violence. When asked by a reporter about whether the decision was a difficult one, the president said it was not and that "to me, it was absolutely clear". He continued by stating that we went for two reasons: to get rid of bin Laden and to end the safe haven. I never thought we were there to somehow unify Afghanistan. It’s never been done."

‘Bring the Troops Home’ Is a Dream, Not a Strategy


U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw the United States’ remaining military forces from Afghanistan rests far more on domestic politics than on national security strategy. In 2020, he campaigned on the issue. He said last week, “It’s time to end the forever war.” We should “be focused on the reason we went in the first place: to ensure Afghanistan would not be used as a base from which to attack our homeland again. We did that. We accomplished that objective.”

Biden sounds like his predecessor, Donald Trump, whom I served as national security advisor. That’s no surprise, as Biden is carrying out Trump’s policy with only slight modifications. Media coverage of Biden’s April 14 announcement has noted widespread public support for bringing the troops home. The American people are tired of foreign military engagements, or so the pundits tell us; they’re tired of Afghanistan, tired of Iraq, tired of Syria, tired of terrorism, tired of the Middle East—just plain tired. The chattering classes agree, academics agree, Democrats almost unanimously agree, and even some Republicans agree.

They are all wrong.

The basic national security goal that all U.S. leaders must pursue is to define their country’s strategic interests and how to protect them. Politicians must then justify how they propose to defend the country against external threats and to muster the necessary resources. When leaders do not explain hard realities, the public’s resolve flags, which politicians then use to justify their own hesitancy to make hard decisions. In effect, weak politicians switch cause for effect, levying responsibility on the people instead of themselves. Under Trump and former President Barack Obama, and now perhaps Biden, it wasn’t the public that was weak but its leaders, who were unwilling or unable to do their job.

Afghans Haven’t Forgotten Taliban Atrocities

QARABAGH, Afghanistan—The Taliban flooded into the Shomali Plain by the thousands, supported by tanks and air power. Reza Gul fled south toward Kabul barefoot amid the chaos, leaving behind her house, her belongings, and the bodies of her three teenage sons, slain by Taliban bullets.

Within days, the militants had deliberately killed countless people, scorched the rich farming land, destroyed tens of thousands of houses, and blown up irrigation systems. The Taliban’s 1999 invasion of the Shomali Plain, stretching north from Kabul toward Bagram, was one of their most brutal—and lingering. Today, the destruction is still visible. Behind the main highway, countless skeletons of old houses are testimony to the Taliban’s past atrocities; out of 70 villages in Gul’s district of Qarabagh, 99 percent of the houses were destroyed. Many of the ruins have never been rebuilt.

Gul, who is now 75, breaks into tears at the memory, which remains crystal clear, as deeply etched as the wrinkled crevasses in her face that she said show just how much she’s suffered.

“It haunts me,” she told Foreign Policy. “I am afraid the Taliban will come back.”

What’s Behind the Surge in Violent Islamism in Bangladesh?

By Sudha Ramachandran

Razia Rahman, wife of Faisal Arefin Deepan, breaks down after hearing the court verdict on the killing of her husband in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, February 10, 2021 . A special tribunal in Bangladesh’s capital on Wednesday sentenced to death eight Islamic militants tied to a banned group for the 2015 killing of Deepan, a publisher of books on secularism and atheism.

Bangladesh, which has witnessed a surge in Islamist activism over the past six months, was convulsed in violence recently. Activists of the hardline Islamist Hefazat-e-Islam went on a rampage targeting government buildings, trains, Hindu temples, and the media. Over a dozen people were killed and scores of others injured in the violence and in clashes with the police.

The immediate trigger for the violence was the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Dhaka; his government’s treatment of Muslims in India has angered many Bangladeshis. However, the roots of the violence lie in Bangladesh and go back several decades.

The country was born out of a tussle between secular and religious forces and while independence in 1971 marked the triumph of secular nationalism, religious forces were never defeated. Indeed, Bangladesh’s leading Islamist organization, the Jamaat-e-Islami — which was banned soon after independence for its collaboration with Pakistan and role in massacring thousands of secular Bangladeshis — was resurrected in late 1975.

In the decades since, Islamist forces gained strength, thanks to the patronage they received from civilian and military regimes.

China as a ‘cyber great power’: Beijing’s two voices in telecommunications

Rush Doshi, Emily de La Bruyère, Nathan Picarsic, and John Ferguson

External Chinese government and commercial messaging on information technology (IT) speaks in one voice. Domestically, one hears a different, second voice. The former stresses free markets, openness, collaboration, and interdependence, themes that suggest Huawei and other Chinese companies ought to be treated like other global private sector actors and welcomed into foreign networks. Meanwhile, domestic Chinese government, commercial, and academic discourse emphasizes the limits of free markets and the dangers of reliance on foreign technologies — and, accordingly, the need for industrial policy and government control to protect technologies, companies, and networks. Domestic Chinese discourse also indicates that commercial communication networks, including telecommunications systems, might be used to project power and influence offensively; that international technical standards offer a means with which to cement such power and influence; and — above all — that IT architectures are a domain of zero-sum competition.

That external Chinese government and corporate messaging might be disingenuous is by no means a novel conclusion. However, the core differences between that messaging and Chinese internal discussion on IT remain largely undocumented — despite China’s increasing development of and influence over international IT infrastructures, technologies, and norms. This report seeks to fill that gap, documenting the tension between external and internal Chinese discussions on telecommunications, as well as IT more broadly. The report also parses internal discourse for insight into Beijing’s intent, ambitions, and strategy. This report should raise questions about China’s government and commercial messaging, as well as what that messaging may obscure.

Huawei meets history: Great powers and telecommunications risk, 1840-2021

Rush Doshi and Kevin McGuiness

In late 2018, amid American concerns about whether Canada would welcome Huawei into its telecommunications networks, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a series of statements that captured conventional wisdom across much of the world. “It shouldn’t be a political decision,” he declared at the time, and Canada would not “let politics slip into decisions” about Huawei’s role in its network.

The notion that power politics could be removed from questions over telecommunications was not only optimistic, it was also out of step with the history of telecommunications. This report explores that history, and it shows how power and telecommunications have almost always been closely linked. When states ignored those linkages and were cavalier with the security of their own networks, the results were disadvantageous and at times even disastrous.

This report examines several major cases of great power competition in telecommunications dating back to the earliest inception of electrical telecommunications in the 1840s. These cases demonstrate that many of the questions policymakers confront today have close analogues to the past. While the present debate over network security and 5G infrastructure may feel new, it in fact echoes forgotten disputes dating back to the dawn of electrical telecommunications some 150 years ago. Moreover, many of the familiar elements of telecommunications competition today — such as the use of standard-setting bodies, state subsidies, cable taps, information warfare, developing country markets, and encryption to gain advantage — were developed more than a century ago, with important lessons for present debates.

A list of these key lessons is provided below:

Should the West Fear China’s Increasing Role in Technical Standard Setting?

By Xirui Li and Dingding Chen

China’s increasing efforts in domestic standardization and active participation in international standard setting has been widely observed. Domestically, China amended its standardization law in 2017, the first amendment since the law was established in 1989. In fact, standardization reform has been rolled out since 2014.

Internationally, from 2011 to 2020, the number of China-occupied secretariats in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has increased by 73 percent and 67 percent, respectively. Besides, Chinese nationals have been elected as the leaders of the ISO, IEC, and International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which are the three largest and most well-established standard setting organizations in the world. Zhao Xiaogang served as the head of ISO from 2015 to 2017, Zhao Houlin has served as the ITU secretary-general since 2015, and Shu Yinbiao started his three-year term as IEC president in 2020.

China has also spared no efforts to internationalize its standards outside of these international organizations. For instance, as of September 2019, the country has signed standards cooperation agreements with 52 countries or regions through Belt and Road Initiative.

As a late comer in tech governance, China’s increasing activism has caused many worries in Western countries, the founders and dominant players in the existing system. Scholars and commentators have come to a consensus that China will shift the current order of global tech governance, but differ in their explanations of the coming change. Some opine that this is due to the new norms and philosophies that China brings to the table, in while others argue that China’s motivations and approaches used in standard setting are fundamentally different from the West’s.

China presses Hong Kongers to accept a Chinese vaccine

Since the middle of March all Hong Kong residents over the age of 30 have been entitled to book a vaccination. They even have the luxury of a choice: between the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine created in Germany or one produced by Sinovac, a Chinese firm. Yet despite plentiful supply only about 8% of the population have chosen to get a shot. One reason is rock-bottom trust in the government, the product of two years of political turmoil. It is only one way that the dismantling of Hong Kong’s freedoms has made controlling the virus more fraught.

The take-up of vaccinations in Hong Kong lags far behind that in comparable places such as Singapore, where about 20% of people have been vaccinated. A survey carried out in January, before the vaccination drive began, found that only 37% of Hong Kongers wanted a jab. Since then local media have kept count of people who die in the days and weeks after a vaccination, despite copious evidence that vaccination makes death less likely, not more so. Infection rates are fairly low, so people who worry about side effects feel they can afford to put off their shot. On April 15th the government said it was about to start allowing people aged 16-29 to get one.

In clinical and real world trials, China’s Sinovac underperforms

THE LATEST results for China’s CoronaVac vaccine, developed by Sinovac Biotech, a Beijing-based pharmaceutical company, were disappointing for the aspiring scientific and technological powerhouse. Phase-three trials, which were conducted on health-care workers in Brazil, yielded an efficacy rate of just 50.7% (with a 95% confidence interval of 35.7% to 62.2%), just barely above the 50% threshold set by the World Health Organisation for covid-19 vaccines (see chart). The results of a real-world trial released a week earlier were even worse: the vaccine was estimated to be just 49.6% effective (11.3% to 71.4%) against symptomatic covid-19 cases; when asymptomatic infections were included, this figure dropped to a dismal 35.1%.

The Chinese authorities’ reaction did little to boost confidence. After news broke of the discouraging results, Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, admitted at a conference on April 10th that current vaccines “don't have very high rates of protection”, and suggested that vaccines could be mixed to improve efficacy. Mr Gao later backtracked from the comments, claiming that it was “a complete misunderstanding”.

How Many Bridges Can Turkey’s Erdogan Burn?

Since his sweeping overhaul of Turkey’s political system in 2017, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cemented his near-total control over the country. Despite the worst electoral setback of Erdogan’s career in the Istanbul mayoral election in June 2019, as well as a tailspinning economy exacerbated by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, he continues to maintain his grip on power, even if he must destabilize Turkey’s democracy to do so.

At the same time, Erdogan has pursued an adventurous and bellicose foreign policy across the Mediterranean region, putting Ankara increasingly at odds with its NATO allies. After Turkey’s purchase of a Russian air-defense system in July 2019, Washington suspended Turkish involvement in the F-35 next-generation fighter plane program. In October 2019, the Turkish incursion into northeastern Syria targeting Syrian Kurdish militias highlighted the disconnect between the U.S. Congress—which fiercely defended the Syrian Kurds, America’s principal partner on the ground in the fight against the Islamic State—and former U.S. President Donald Trump, who seemed oblivious to their plight and subsequently received Erdogan at the White House. Turkey’s repeated incursions into waters in the Eastern Mediterranean claimed by Cyprus, as well as its standoffs with Greek and French naval vessels in the region, have further raised tensions and alarmed observers.

With U.S. President Joe Biden now promising to restore a more conventional approach to U.S. foreign policy and alliance management, Erdogan has more recently sought to smooth relations with Turkey’s allies and neighbors. But none of the underlying causes of tension have been resolved so far, meaning that a return to confrontation cannot be ruled out.

To Make Yemen’s Peace Process Sustainable, Include Women

Peter Salisbury 

It is easy to forget how quickly outsiders’ ideas about places like Yemen changed during the early days of the Arab Spring uprisings that began a decade ago—and how quickly those new impressions faded when the uprisings did not deliver rapid transformation.

Such short memories are proving costly for Yemeni women, who gained a place at the political table during and after the 2011 protest movement that ousted then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s autocratic regime, only to be shunted aside amid the violent conflict and international indifference that has plagued the country since. With a cease-fire deal reportedly in the offing in Yemen, international attention is currently focused on the men who have turned the country’s six-year civil war into the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Yet to create the best chance for real, sustainable peace in Yemen, negotiators must heed women’s calls to be brought back into the political process.

To Make Yemen’s Peace Process Sustainable, Include Women

Peter Salisbury 

It is easy to forget how quickly outsiders’ ideas about places like Yemen changed during the early days of the Arab Spring uprisings that began a decade ago—and how quickly those new impressions faded when the uprisings did not deliver rapid transformation.

Such short memories are proving costly for Yemeni women, who gained a place at the political table during and after the 2011 protest movement that ousted then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s autocratic regime, only to be shunted aside amid the violent conflict and international indifference that has plagued the country since. With a cease-fire deal reportedly in the offing in Yemen, international attention is currently focused on the men who have turned the country’s six-year civil war into the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Yet to create the best chance for real, sustainable peace in Yemen, negotiators must heed women’s calls to be brought back into the political process.

Iran’s New Pivot to Central Asia

By: Omid Rahimi

High-ranking officials from Iran and Tajikistan made a total of three visits to Dushanbe and Tehran, respectively, in less than two months, a significant sign that after years of frosty relations, diplomatic ties are finally improving (Khovar, February 23, March 29, April 5). Even more such bilateral visits are rumored for the near future. At the same time, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif recently concluded a grand tour (April 5–8) of the remaining four Central Asian republics (Irna, April 5), while other foreign ministry officials were in Vienna negotiating with the P4+1 (United Kingdom, France, Russia and China plus Germany) for keeping alive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program (Irna, April 7). This renewed focus on Central Asia may be considered a new direction in Tehran’s foreign policy toward the region.

The “Look East” policy has become the core idea of Iran’s post-JCPOA approach to international relations. And Tehran considers Central Asia a “bridge region” between Iran and the East. During the previous seven years, Iran’s relations with Central Asia were largely stagnant, and in some cases even declined. Thus, it is noteworthy that, in the final months of President Hassan Rouhani’s administration (elections are scheduled for June 18, 2021), so much special attention is being devoted to Central Asia.

Russian Troops Amass Biggest Military Buildup Ever on Ukraine's Border


Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union, said that Russian troops have amassed their largest military buildup on Ukraine's border on Monday, according to the Associated Press.

Borrell said that the Russian troop buildup consists of around 150,000 soldiers, although he declined to comment on where he got the number from.

"It is the highest military deployment of the Russian army on the Ukrainian borders ever. It's clear that it's a matter of concern when you deploy a lot of troops," Borrell said. "Well, a spark can jump here or there."

The amassing of Russian forces includes the establishment of military field hospitals and "all kinds of warfare," Borrell said, according to AP.

Tensions between the two nations have been high since Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, resulting in fighting that has led to more than 14,000 deaths.

Borrell said that Ukraine's relations with Russia are not improving and has called on the country to withdraw their troops.

Why Experts Ignore Terrorism in Africa


In Western policy circles, Salafi-jihadi insurgencies in African countries get short shrift. A combination of political burnout, competing priorities, and policy hurdles is preventing policymakers from seeing the threat clearly or thinking cogently about what to do about it.

A case in point is last month’s grim news from Mozambique, where Islamic State attackers overran the town of Palma, killing dozens—including 12 possible foreigners who were found beheaded. The bloodshed was largely ignored in the United States and Europe, but it shouldn’t have been. It is the latest advance in a multicountry war that is destroying lives and livelihoods across the continent.

The foreign-policy community has spilled gallons of ink trying to convince itself and others that its concerns for Africa are real. The cause has even driven all-too-rare bipartisanship in the United States, with Republicans and Democrats coming together on a series of public health and economic development initiatives in recent years. So why is the response to the Mozambique crisis and other similar attacks so limited? Because all the major constituencies focused on the continent have a blind spot when it comes to the violent extremist insurgents who are preying on millions of Africans.

Don’t Kick Russia Out of the Chemical Weapons Convention Over Navalny


Ahead of this week’s
conference of all 193 state parties to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), pleas for tougher action against Moscow over the August 2020 poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny have grown louder. A
recent piece published by Foreign Policy calls for a 90-day ultimatum to Moscow to come clean over the Novichok poisoning or else face suspension from the OPCW—reminiscent of a similar deadline the organization set for Syria last summer. Others have echoed such sentiments, calling for inspections of Russian facilities suspected to be part of the country’s alleged chemical weapons program.

Proposals for tightening the screws on Moscow come against the backdrop of serious friction between Russia and the West—fueled in part by Navalny’s poisoning. U.S. President Joe Biden recently agreed with characterizations of his Russian counterpart as a “killer,” leading Moscow to recall its ambassador in Washington. Over the weekend, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned the Russian government “there will be consequences” if Navalny—whose health is rapidly deteriorating—dies in prison. At the OPCW in The Hague, meanwhile, the Navalny case has compounded long-standing grievances against Russia, particularly over its support of the Syrian regime and the 2018 poisoning of former intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom.

Zoom Won’t Stop a Nuclear War


Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis. The failure of U.S. and Soviet leaders to communicate personally, unambiguously, and with certainty in real time contributed to the misinterpretations and miscalculations that drove the superpowers to the brink of nuclear war. It took up to half a day for messages to travel between respective embassies in the deeply distrustful capitals. The delays added to the mistrust, and the world came within a hair’s breadth of a devastating nuclear exchange. The thin silver lining of the crisis was an increased understanding for both superpowers, as well as the rest of the world, of the need for swift and trusted leadership-level communications.

The resulting Washington-Moscow hotline has served as a model for other bilateral communication links for more than half a century. Although the U.S.-Soviet hotline was popularly referred to as the “red telephone,” this is misleading. What started in 1963 as written messages bounced between Washington and Moscow on trans-Atlantic cables across various nodes in Europe was then upgraded from radio to satellite circuits in 1978, to a high-speed fax service in 1986, and then to fiber-optic-based communications in 2008. Over the last 50 years, other bilateral hotlines have been put in place around the world, all varying in form, function, and level of seniority. However, even if bilateral hotlines existed for all nuclear-armed states, they would no longer meet the needs of a multipolar nuclear world.

The Incredible Rise of North Korea’s Hacking Army

By Ed Caesar

North Korea, whose government is the only one on earth known to conduct nakedly criminal hacking for monetary gain, has run schemes in some hundred and fifty nations.Illustration by Anuj Shrestha

Shimomura was a member of the Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest yakuza crime family in Japan. When one of his superiors asked him if he wanted to make a pile of fast money, he naturally said yes. It was May 14, 2016, and Shimomura was living in the city of Nagoya. Thirty-two years old and skinny, with expressive eyes, he took pride in his appearance, often wearing a suit and mirror-shined loafers. But he was a minor figure in the organization: a collector of debts, a performer of odd jobs.

The superior assured him that the scheme was low risk, and instructed him to attend a meeting that evening at a bar in Nagoya. (Shimomura, who has since left the Yamaguchi-gumi, asked to be referred to only by his surname.) When Shimomura showed up, he found three other gangsters, none of whom he knew. Like many yakuza, he is of Korean descent, and two of the others were also Korean-Japanese; for a while, they spoke in Korean. The superior finally arrived, and the five men moved into a private room. Each volunteer was given a plain white credit card. There was no chip on the card, no numbers, no name—just a magnetic strip.

‘It’s a roller-coaster ride’: Global chip shortage is making industries sweat

Dan Rozycki, president of a small engineering firm, worries about what a global semiconductor shortage could mean for curing concrete.

Rozycki’s company, Transtec Group in Austin, Texas, sells small sensors that are placed where concrete is poured at building, highway and bridge construction sites. The gadgets take temperature readings and wirelessly send data so workers with computers can ensure the material is hardening properly.

Like many other things in the modern world, from computers and cars to cash registers and kitchen appliances, the sensors require a couple of common, inexpensive semiconductors that have suddenly become a very scarce commodity.

“Every month, our product is getting more popular,” Rozycki said. “But we may not be able to make it in several months.”

Shortages of semiconductors, fueled by pandemic interruptions and production issues at multibillion-dollar chip factories, have sent shock waves through the economy. Questions about chips are reverberating among both businesses and policymakers trying to navigate the world’s dependence on the small components.

The Metaverse Is Coming. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang on the Fusion of Virtual and Physical Worlds


(Miss this week’s Leadership Brief? This interview below was delivered to the inbox of Leadership Brief subscribers on Sunday morning, April 18, to receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here.)

It’s not altogether surprising that a company earning billions of dollars a year making the chips that power today’s hyperrealistic video games has a business plan inspired by a science-fiction novel. Jensen Huang, the CEO of Nvidia, the nation’s most valuable semiconductor company, with a stock price of $645 a share and a market cap of $400 billion, is out to create the metaverse, what Huang describes “a virtual world that is a digital twin of ours.” Huang credits author Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, filled with collectives of shared 3-D spaces and virtually enhanced physical spaces that are extensions of the Internet, for conjuring the metaverse. This is already playing out with the massively popular online games like Fortnite and Minecraft, where users create richly imagined virtual worlds. Now the concept is being put to work by Nvidia and others. Partnering with Nvidia, BMW is using a virtual digital twin of a factory in Regensburg, Germany, to virtually plan new workflows before deploying the changes in real time in their physical factory. The metaverse, says Huang, “is where we will create the future” and transform how the world’s biggest industries operate.

From their roots in the gaming industry, Nvidia chips are now an important component of many of the world’s most powerful computers, powering AI, drug discovery and the coming generation of autonomous vehicles.

Huang joined TIME for a video conversation this week to talk about the chip shortage, the future of the car industry and his belief in the goodness of human nature.

Nations Need Ambassadors to Big Tech

WE LIVE IN two worlds: We’re citizens of countries but also visitors of “ net states,” massive tech companies that wield global powers. Despite being both digital and physical creatures, we do a pretty good job sorting out how to navigate the two spaces. We follow laws according to where we park our physical selves, and we follow net state rules according to which sites and apps we log on to.

Zero trust, basic cyber hygiene best defence against third-party attacks

By Eileen Yu 

Adopting a zero trust security strategy can better safeguard organisations against third-party attacks, where suppliers should not simply be entrusted to do the right thing. In this second piece of a two-part feature, ZDNet looks at how businesses in Asia-Pacific can establish basic cyber hygiene as well as better data management to combat attacks from across their supply chain.

There had been a spate of third-party cybersecurity attacks since the start of the year, with several businesses in Singapore and across Asia impacted by the rippling effects of such breaches.

Just last month, personal details of 30,000 individuals in Singapore might have been illegally accessed following a breach that targeted a third-party vendor of job-matching organisation, Employment and Employability Institute (e2i). Earlier this year, personal data of 580,000 Singapore Airlines (SIA) frequent flyers as well as 129,000 Singtel customers also were compromised through third-party security breaches.

Trust plays an important role in consumers' willingness to share their personal data, but trust will erode if businesses continue to be given wider access to personal data and Singaporeans do not feel empowered to safeguard their own cyber hygiene.

The next SolarWinds crisis is closer than you think

Chris Jacquet

We all need to learn the hard way sometimes. Whether it’s forgetting to stretch after a workout, or creating the conditions that led to one of the largest and most sophisticated cyber security breaches ever seen, there’s always a valuable lesson to be learned. Having had some time to reflect on the particular set of conditions that led to the December 2020 SolarWinds cyber attack – which saw around 100 companies and 9 US federal agencies compromised – it’s clear that the hack isn’t one to be treated as an isolated incident, but rather a stark warning of what’s to come if decisive action isn’t taken.
How it happened

To recap, in December last year, investigators discovered an extensive supply chain cyber attack compromising US government agencies including the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State, as well as around 100 US companies.

Those behind the hack – who are believed to have been acting on behalf of Russia’s External Intelligence Service (SVR) – leveraged the element of surprise in their approach. First, they compromised the update mechanism for SolarWinds software, which is widely used for IT monitoring by a vast number of public and private organisations, including nearly all Fortune 500 companies. They then exploited that vulnerability to deliver a backdoor Trojan, gaining high-level access to their targeted client systems.

At this stage, it’s hard to determine the scale and complexity of the cyber attack, but it is widely thought to be global in scope, and one of the most sophisticated the world has ever seen.

What does this mean for business?