22 May 2021

China’s Cyber-Influence Operations

  Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd) 

The digital era has transformed the way we communicate. Using social media like Facebook and Instagram, and social applications such as WhatsApp and Telegram, one can be in contact with friends and family, share pictures, videos, messages, posts and share our experiences. Social media has become an effective way of influencing human society and behavior, and shaping public opinion. By sharing a post, tweeting an idea, contributing a discussion in a forum and sharing a sentimental picture, we can influence others and sometimes convince into with our opinion.

Use of cyber tools and methods to manipulate public opinion is called ‘Cyber Influence Operation’. In the present day, many countries use cyberspace, especially the social media, to accomplish Cyber Influence Operations as a part of Information Warfare. Most of these operations are done covertly. It is difficult to differentiate between legitimate or malicious influence operations. Continue Reading..... 

China’s Nuclear and Missile Capabilities: An Overview

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Since China first conducted a nuclear weapon test in 1964, its nuclear doctrine has remained unchanged and is underpinned by two principles: a minimum deterrent doctrine and a No First Use (NFU) policy. China’s 2019 defence white paper states, “China is always committed to a nuclear policy of NFU of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones unconditionally.”

However, a recent U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) report claims that the scope of China’s nuclear modernisation and its lack of transparency “raise concern that China is not only shifting its requirements for what constitutes a minimal deterrence but that it could shift away from its longstanding minimalist force posture.” The data available show that China is modernising and expanding virtually every element of its nuclear forces, including each aspect of its nuclear weapons and missile, sea, and air delivery systems. What is not clear are China’s current and planned holdings of nuclear weapons, China’s future plans for deploying additional delivery systems, its commitment to some form of NFU, first preemption, or launch on warning, and the extent to which it will accept what might be called a form of ‘minimum assured destruction.



The still-unresolved Ladakh crisis has created a new strategic reality for India, marked by renewed political hostility with China, and an increased militarisation of the Line of Actual Control.

This new strategic reality imposes unequal costs on India and China. India is likely to defer much-needed military modernisation and maritime expansion into the Indian Ocean — which would impair its ability to compete strategically with China.
In contrast, China incurred only marginal material costs; it was probably more concerned with the prospect of continued deterioration in its relationship with India. Even that cost was more threatened rather than realised, and largely reduced when the disengagement plan was agreed.

In May 2020, China launched several near-simultaneous incursions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, into territory hitherto controlled by India. Both sides reinforced their positions with tens of thousands of troops, engaged in a deadly skirmish, and reportedly came close to war. An agreement to disengage troops was announced in February 2021, but implementation has been halting. Regardless of how disengagement progresses, the crisis poses significant challenges for India’s long-term strategic competition with China.

As a result of the Ladakh crisis, India faces a new strategic reality in which China is a clear and abiding adversary. For India, the political relationship is now defined by hostility and distrust, and the LAC will remain more heavily militarised and violence-prone. Given this new reality, India is likely to further defer military modernisation and maritime expansion into the Indian Ocean. In the face of unremitting Chinese naval expansion, India risks losing significant political and military leverage in the Indian Ocean. At the same time, China appears to have escaped significant harm. Its better-resourced military could better absorb the material costs of the mobilisation. It may have been more concerned by the prospect of an increasingly hostile India, but the disengagement agreement has limited even those modest political costs.

Forget Herd Immunity! Winter COVID Surges Will Bring Lockdowns, Travel Bans, Crammed ICUs


As India descended into a COVID-19 tragedy that dwarfed anything the country had experienced in the pandemic so far, with hospitals inundated, oxygen supplies short and vaccines reportedly being stolen from warehouses, American politicians thousands of miles away were clamoring to end pandemic restrictions.

Representative Jim Jordan railed at Dr. Anthony Fauci in the House chambers, "You don't think Americans' liberties have been threatened in the last year, Dr. Fauci? They've been assaulted!" Alabama Governor Kay Ivey told Fox News, "We have been at this for more than a year now, and we have simply got to move forward. Endless government mandates are not the answer."

Many Americans are eager to invite friends for a barbeque, belly up to a crowded bar, attend concerts and eat dinner in popular restaurants. Texas and Florida opened beaches and bars in early May. The mayor of New York City, a year after its catastrophic outbreak, announced a lifting of restrictions on businesses would begin on July 1, only to be one-upped by the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, who moved the date up to May 19. As vaccinations reduce the virus' ability to spread, new cases are now expected to begin dropping exponentially. The summer of love is at hand.

But the pandemic is not over. In the U.S., the nation is still divided in its willingness to accept vaccines or heed precautions against infection. Vaccination rates have peaked and herd immunity now seems unlikely before next winter, almost guaranteeing that pockets of people will remain vulnerable to the coronavirus in the fall, as the cold weather closes in. So will millions of people around the world, who are still vulnerable to infection and have little prospect of getting shots anytime soon.

Geostrategic Storm in the Indian Ocean

China, the US, and India are competing for political, economic, and military influence in the Indian Ocean. In the future, the strategic order in this institutionally underdeveloped region will become more multipolar and unstable, argues Boas Lieberherr in this CSS Analysis. Maritime security is at risk, with possible repercussions for security of supply in Europe.

A storm seems to be brewing in the Indian Ocean. This maritime space, which stretches from the east coast of Africa to the west coast of Australia, is at the center of strategic rivalry between China, the US, and India. This is becoming apparent in many ways – the competition for infrastructure projects, the stronger interference in national affairs of the littoral countries, and the increasing militarization of the region. The economic and technology sector is likely to take center stage in this strategic rivalry. While China is increasing its influence in this area, the foreign policies of India and the US are more focused on security. No tectonic shifts are predicted for the foreseeable future in the military sphere. India’s stance is likely to play a decisive role in the future balance of power in the region.


Christian Tripodi 

In their recent introduction to the Irregular Warfare Initiative, Jacob Shapiro and Patrick Howell propose that a combination of Russian revanchism and China’s increasingly muscular global ambitions provides ample opportunity for friction to occur in a range of contested spaces, and thus for the re-emergence of irregular warfare (IW) as a persistent operational requirement for Western forces. The authors warn pointedly against mimicking the post-Vietnam era, when IW was abandoned by the US Army in favor of a renewed focus on major combat operations against peer and near-peer enemies. Responsibility for this lesser form of war—counterinsurgency in particular—was devolved to special operations forces (SOF) alone. This institutional and intellectual apartheid, the authors argue, was instrumental in dictating that the bulk of US conventional forces would be largely unprepared when eventually required to engage again, at scale, with the demands of IW in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is interesting from a British perspective to ponder these warnings. On the first point, and at face value at least, the British government’s recent flagship integrated review of security, defense, development, and foreign policy displays a willing appetite to recognize irregular warfare as a core mission for UK forces. Talk of persistent engagement in hostile environments populated by a range of violet nonstate actors and the likelihood of state-on-state competition in the so-called gray zone has resulted in the formation of a new special operations Ranger Regiment. The regiment is designed to function specifically in such environments and to operate alongside local allies and proxies. The UK’s 6th Division and its component 77th Brigade promise to deliver information operations and unconventional capabilities for operations conducted below the threshold of war while the Royal Marines have given notice of their intent to recast themselves (in part) as gray zone operators. But these are all specialist formations—a combination of tier-2 SOF and other niche units. The broader British Army remains untouched by such innovations or taskings.

Afghanistan’s Importance to the Future of U.S. National Security

By David S. Clukey


September 11, 2021 will mark 20 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011 (911) and United States (U.S.) President Joe Biden recently called for the complete withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from Afghanistan on this date. U.S. forces have been on the ground in Afghanistan since October 7, 2001. In this time, the U.S. invested over 240,000 in human capital and over $2 trillion U.S.D. From 2001 – 2010, after the immediate route of the Taliban, the U.S. orchestrated a series of disjointed campaigns and priorities shifted almost as frequently as commanders. This misalignment with a concurrent refocus of U.S. resources to Iraq in 2003, realized a deteriorated situation in Afghanistan. Conditions improved in 2009 under a series of pragmatic U.S. Army Generals who commonly advocated Special Operations Forces driven Village Stability Operations (VSO).[1] VSO (2010 – 2014) achieved quantifiable improvements through a nested application of U.S. joint capabilities. Unfortunately, VSO’s potential was not realized due to U.S. President Barrack Obama’s decision to drawdown of U.S. forces in 2014.

The tumultuous history of Afghanistan has reinforced threefold enduring dynamics: 1) never underestimate the resilience of Afghanistan’s people, 2) Afghanistan is the proverbial “graveyard of empires”, and 3) Afghanistan and Pakistan are inextricably linked. Understanding these dynamics without diving into the cultural nuances of the country, it is imperative the U.S. does not permit Afghanistan to deteriorate into the conditions that ultimately realized 911. The U.S. arguably did this once, and can trace pre-911 conditions in Afghanistan to the conclusion of Operation Cyclone (1979-1989)[2], when the U.S. supported Mujahadeen insurgency drove the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan. Once the Soviet’s departed, so did U.S. support. The Soviet backed Afghan-government crumbled soon after in 1992, and Afghanistan subsequently endured years of turmoil. First, civil war ensued as warlord factions vied for control, and ultimately the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) supported Taliban asserted its Islamic fundamentalist influence from its power base in Kandahar.

U.S. Foreign Policy, implications of the past shape the future

The 2020-21 Wilson China Fellowship: Essays on the Rise of China and Its Implications

In recent years, the rise of China has transformed the international system, and the downturn in U.S.-China relations increases tensions across a range of issues, from Taiwan to the South China Sea to human rights. Addressing these issues and crafting tailored policy responses will require nuanced and informed analysis of China from the U.S. academic community. With the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Wilson Center aims to bridge the gap between academia and policy by bringing together a cohort of rising scholars focused on China to undertake crucial, year-long research projects on China in our Wilson China Fellowship. The results of our first cohort's work are featured in this publication: The 2020-21 Wilson China Fellowship: Essays on the Rise of China and Its Implications.

From the South China Sea to the situation in Xinjiang, our 2020-21 Fellows explore a range of topics addressing the breadth and width of China policy. With accompanying essays by Stephen Del Rosso, Abraham M. Denmark, and Robert Daly, the Wilson China Fellowship essays and their policy recommendations come at a crucial time when the rise of China and its implications for the United States and globe increasingly dominates the foreign policy debate in Washington.

China’s Techno-Industrial Development: A Case Study of the Semiconductor Industry

Alex He

This paper reviews the strategies and plans, policy-making institutions, process and problems in China’s techno-industrial development. Although it has made noticeable progress in some areas in the past two decades, China still lags behind in most core technology and advanced manufacturing fields, such as high-end chips. There have been several real breakthroughs in the semiconductor sector by private companies such as HiSilicon and rapid advancement in frontier technologies — artificial intelligence, fifth-generation wireless communication network technology, big data, blockchain and the Internet of Things — by private companies such as Huawei, Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu; however, state-sponsored technological innovation and breakthroughs have been crippled by the existing problems in China’s science and technology research system and a campaign-style catch-up strategy that rewards bureaucrats on short-term goals, as well as by weak links between academic research and industry and a swing between the market-oriented approach for technology acquisitions and indigenous innovation for technology breakthroughs. A case study of China’s semiconductor industry demonstrates both the problems and progress in China’s techno-industrial development, as well as the implications for the country's prospects of evolving into a technological powerhouse.

Howling diplomats: Select examples of China’s “Wolf Warrior Diplomacy”

“Wolf Warrior Diplomacy” is a non-authoritative term used to describe the most aggressive form of highprofile diplomacy carried out by Chinese state actors (MoFA spokespersons and ambassadors) during the last 1-2 years. This form of diplomacy is held in a confrontational manner and does not avoid aggressive rhetoric and direct or indirect threats. As such, the Wolf Warrior Diplomacy is a specific case of coercive diplomacy employed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

This report summarizes the most common triggers of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy as well as forms of responses CCP diplomats use and recommends appropriate policy measures that should be implemented by democratic countries in order to neutralize the possible effects “Wolf Warrior“ Diplomacy or any other form of coercion could bring about.

The most common triggers are:
Challenging the One-China policy
Exclusion of Huawei from 5G networks
Support of the pro-democratic movement in Hong Kong
Criticism of human rights abuses in China
The role of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the COVID-19 pandemic
Protection against China’s influence in local markets; and counterintelligence findings and warnings on China.

China’s ‘Long-Term Time Bomb’: Falling Births Stunt Population Growth

By Sui-Lee Wee

China’s population is growing at its slowest pace in decades, with a plunge in births and a graying work force presenting the Communist Party with one of its gravest social and economic challenges.

Figures from a census released on Tuesday show that China faces a demographic crisis that could stunt growth in the country, the world’s second-largest economy. China has long relied on an expanding and ambitious work force to run its factories and achieve Beijing’s dreams of building a global superpower and industrial giant. An aging, slow-growing population — one that could even begin to shrink in the coming years — threatens that dynamic.

China’s aging-related challenges are similar to those of developed countries like the United States. But its households live on much lower incomes on average than in the United States and elsewhere.

In other words, China is growing old without first having grown rich.

“Aging has become a basic national condition of China for a period of time to come,” Ning Jizhe, the head of China’s National Bureau of Statistics, said at a news conference announcing the results of a once-a-decade census.

We Should Not Underestimate China’s Military Ambitions

Bradley Bowman 

Americans, according to recent polls and surveys, increasingly view China as a leading threat to the United States. This hardening of American public opinion regarding China has been matched by a growing bipartisan consensus in Washington that Beijing represents our most formidable international security challenge.

Waking up to the threat from China is a good thing. But Americans may still not fully appreciate how Beijing has used its growing economy to undertake the largest military modernization effort in the history of the People’s Republic of China. And as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has become more capable, Beijing has acted more aggressively against the United States and its allies and partners. This belligerent behavior has been manifest in the South China Sea, on the border with India, and in the seas and skies surrounding Taiwan and Japan’s Senkaku Islands.

But not so fast, say some American commentators. They argue such assessments regarding Chinese power are exaggerated, and instead assert that Beijing is actually a “paper dragon”—a threat hardly worth worrying about.

Taiwan at the Nexus of Technology and Geopolitics

By Ian Bremmer and Ali Wyne

The Economist raised eyebrows recently by characterizing Taiwan as “the most dangerous place on Earth.” President Tsai Ing-wen herself responded, noting that Taipei has “actively worked to strengthen our national defense, especially our asymmetric capabilities.” Many other recent assessments would suggest an armed confrontation over Taipei is approaching. “Beijing may be planning an invasion of democratic Taiwan in the next few years,” one warns. “China is readying itself for American and Japanese involvement in any Taiwan Strait conflict,” another advises.

While military frictions and technological competition between the United States and China will pose increasing strategic risks, the near-term chance of a fight over Taiwan remains low.

In the quarter century since the 1995-96 Taiwan Strait crisis, which ended in a humiliating retreat for China, the People’s Liberation Army has undergone a sweeping modernization – sufficiently impressive, in fact, that U.S. officials and analysts increasingly question whether Washington would prevail in a conflict with Beijing over Taipei. Taiwan reports that 25 Chinese military jets, including four nuclear-capable bombers, penetrated its air defense identification zone on April 12th – a single-day record – just one demonstration of China’s escalating campaign of air and naval pressure. While Taipei is investing more in “porcupine” defenses such as sea mines and anti-ship missiles that could forestall or at least slow down an incursion by Beijing, the military imbalance between them continues to grow in China’s favor. The United States and Taiwan signed a memorandum of understanding in March to establish a coast guard working group, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned Beijing that “it would be a serious mistake for anyone to try to change the existing status quo by force.”


Stavros Atlamazoglou 

The ongoing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas have brought to the fore the Iron Dome, a Star Wars-looking interceptor system that has been working overtime over the past few days.

The Iron Dome is an air-defense system designed to intercept rockets and artillery shells with ranges of up to 44 miles. Developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Elta Systems, the Iron Dome is comprised of a battery, radar, and a command and control system. Each battery has three launchers that carry 20 interceptor missiles each for a total of 60 missiles per battery.

What makes Iron Dome so useful is its technical capability to track the trajectory of each incoming rocket or artillery shell and determine if it is heading towards an urban area. Only if the incoming munition is going to strike a city or village will the Iron Dome attempt to intercept it.

Space and Missile Wars: What Awaits

Sometimes, slow, steady changes produce revolutionary results. A case in point is missile and space technologies, which Space and Missile Wars: What Awaits will examine (for a free download click here). Long-range missiles, satellites, and space launch vehicles used to be high technology exclusive to the superpowers. Now, scores of states have both. As for ballistic missiles and drones, even non-state actors have them, and these systems are far more accurate than anything the superpowers had even at the height of the Cold War. Then, long-range missiles could only be certain of destroying their targets if they were nuclear-armed and wiped out areas as large as cities. Now, drones are so accurate they can pinpoint and kill single individuals.

As for space satellite launchers, they originally were derived from nuclear delivery missiles. None were privately owned. Similarly, almost all space satellites were government property and, until 1965, the owners were only American and Soviet. Now, the French, Chinese, Japanese, British, Indians, Israelis, Ukrainians, Iranians, and North Koreans have all launched satellites of their own. In addition, more than 60 nations own and operate their own satellites and increasingly, satellites are launched, owned, and operated entirely by private entities.

Military drones in Europe

The use of armed drones, particularly to conduct targeted killings outside formal war zones, is highly contentious. In the contemporary context, where conflict has moved beyond the theatres of traditional warfare to take place in undefined battle zones, and is chiefly characterized by counterterrorism and counter-insurgency operations, drone use has brought to the fore critical questions on civilian casualties, the rule of law, secrecy and lack of accountability, among others.

This paper has been developed as part of a project focusing on the policy implications for the UK and the EU of the use of armed drones. The analysis draws on discussions that took place at two research workshops and a simulation exercise held at Chatham House in 2019.

The authors argue that the troubling questions raised by armed drone use should not just be a concern for countries that may use them in permissive ways. The EU and the UK, with a shared interest in upholding democratic values, need to work together on developing guidance on best practice for improving transparency and accountability around the use of armed drones.

Russia and Turkey. Strategic Partners and Rivals

The extraordinarily troublesome year 2020 tested many international institutions and bilateral ties, but few experienced sharper challenges than the complex relations between Russia and Turkey, which have a strong impact on crisis developments in Europe’s immediate neighborhood.

Moscow can be content that Ankara is now perceived in Paris, Berlin and Washington DC as a major troublemaker, but it finds itself rather too often on the receiving end of Turkish attempts at projecting power. It was the unreserved and forceful support granted by Turkey to Azerbaijan in the war against Armenia in autumn 2020 that forced many Russian analysts to re-evaluate the status and prospects of relations with this important and difficult neighbor. There is a degree of compatibility between the autocratic political systems maturing in Russia and Turkey, but the latter state is a NATO member, while the former perceives the Atlantic Alliance as the inexorable adversary. Many drivers shaping Russian-Turkish relations, from deepening domestic discontent with corrupt authoritarian rule to the shifts in the European energy market, are outside the control of their ambitious autocrats.

This analysis will focus on the most recent and ongoing shifts in the character of this relationship. Evaluation of the key dimensions of bilateral interactions, from historical and economic to personal, is followed by an investigation of the dynamics of interplay in four key intersections: the Syrian warzone, the Black Sea area, the Libyan conflict, and the Caucasus, shaken by the new spasm of war around Nagorno Karabakh.

Handbook of Terrorism Prevention and Preparedness (latest additions)

Part IV: Prevention of, and Preparedness for, Terrorist Attacks

Chapter 26: The Terrorist Threat to Transportation Targets and Preventive Measures

Chapter 27: Layers of Preventive Measures for Soft Target Protection against Terrorist Attacks

Chapter 28: Prevention of Terrorist Attacks on Critical Infrastructure

Chapter 29: Cyber Attacks by Terrorists and Other Malevolent Actors: Prevention and Preparedness. With Three Case Studies on Estonia, Singapore and the United States

Is a New War in the Middle East About to Erupt?

by Mark Episkopos

Militants in Gaza fired rockets into Israel on Monday, prompting retaliatory strikes from the Israeli Defense Forces. Jerusalem announced earlier that it had killed three Islamic Jihad commanders and another commander from Hamas. “Those who were eliminated were responsible for rocket fire by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), including in the most recent round of escalation,” read a joint statement from the Israeli military and internal security service. The Israeli government added that it killed sixteen members of Hamas, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noting “This is just the beginning. We'll hit them like they've never dreamed possible.” Shortly following the announcement, Hamas launched a new rocket barrage at the Israeli city of Ashdod and is reportedly preparing to strike the Tel Aviv area.

Both sides have reported numerous civilian casualties, with at least sixty-five dead in Gaza as of the time of writing. Hundreds of rockets have been fired from the Gaza strip, in what is the heaviest fighting between Israel and Hamas since the 2014 Gaza War. The Hamas and PIJ arsenal includes hundreds of rockets with ranges of under 100 km and dozens of rockets in the 100-160 km range, the latter being able to cover swathes of Israel. The militants have reportedly fired 500 rockets alone at a chain of towns on Israel’s coast, killing several civilians; much of the population of Tel Aviv has been evacuated into shelters.

The EU Is Still Flying Blind


MADRID – The much-anticipated Conference on the Future of Europe has begun. Announced by the European Commission and the European Parliament at the end of 2019, the conference is billed as “a citizen-led series of debates and discussions that will enable people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape our common future.” It is unlikely to deliver.

The prevailing consensus among Israelis that Palestinian nationalism had been defeated – and thus that a political solution to the conflict was no longer necessary – lies in tatters. And even as the violence escalates, it has become clear to both sides that the era of glorious wars and victories is over.

I would like nothing more than for the conference to produce a shared vision of Europe’s future, strengthening the European Union’s foundations and dampening the siren song of populism. But consider this: the conference was nearly canceled before it began, owing to organizational challenges, many arising from institutional wrangling. How can the EU be expected to articulate a shared vision, shaped by the voices of its people, if it can barely even introduce a platform for discussion?

Ultimately, European institutions completed their negotiations – after sparring over everything from the conference president’s institutional affiliation to the entity that would channel the discussion into final proposals – and the event was salvaged. Yet, watching the proceedings so far, one would hardly know that its purpose is to restore the democratic bond between the EU and its citizens.

The Military Revolt Against Joe Biden

By Peter Feaver

The ouster of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney from the Republican leadership on Wednesday for the sin of telling the truth about former President Donald Trump may not be the most depressing example of partisan folly this week. No less sad, in my view, was an open letter signed by more than 100 retired U.S. general and flag officers that accused President Joe Biden of installing “a Marxist form of tyrannical government.”

This piece of appalling partisan invective was newsworthy mainly because it was signed by retired military officers who, in so doing, violated the norms of their profession and contributed to the erosion of healthy civil-military relations in the United States.

Perhaps we should not be shocked to discover that, at a time when American society is reeling from extreme partisan polarization—when significant numbers of prominent politicians are openly promoting falsehoods such as the bogus claim that Trump’s resounding defeat at the ballot box was due to electoral fraud—some fraction of the retired military community has fallen prey to the same myths. If a problem exists in civilian society, one can expect to see it in the military assigned to protect that society as well.

The letter’s content is not necessarily the issue. It is a dog’s breakfast of partisan hyperbole and misleading innuendo about the 2020 election of the kind that is ubiquitous in the darker corners of the internet and the worst fringes of the Republican Party.

US government has no answer for pipeline cyberattack


Tanker trucks in an adjacent lot next to the entrance of the Colonial Pipeline tank farm in Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 12, 2021. Fears the cyber-attack would cause a gasoline shortage led to some panic buying. Photo: AFP/Logan Cyrus

On May 7 the Colonial Pipeline, which stretches from Texas to New York and is the largest pipeline system for refined oil products in the United States, was hit by a ransomware attack that resulted in the shutdown of most of the 5,500-mile pipeline.

The company is operating some parts of the pipeline manually and has sought the help of private cyber investigators and the US government. Meanwhile, a huge segment of the US’ critical infrastructure is disabled and Washington does not seem to have any answers.

We do not know what the hackers demanded from Colonial Pipeline or even who the hackers are.

Ransomware in its most basic form attacks a cyber network by encrypting everything and demanding ransom before the encryption can be removed. In the case of the Colonial Pipeline, we know that along with encrypting all the computers in the Colonial Pipeline network, the perpetrators also stole a vast amount of company data.

What the thieves plan to do with the data is not known at this time. In prior ransomware cases involving information theft, those who don’t pay find that selective information is released to the public or handed over to competitors or to hostile governments.

Creating Restraint in Cyberspace: Forward Cyber Operations and Theories of Restraint

Sean Atkins

As offensive cyber activities continue to trend in a dangerous direction, some states are turning to defensive strategies that involve cyber operations beyond the boundaries of their own systems. A commonly cited aim of this approach is to induce restraint in adversaries, but how to accomplish this goal remains unclear. To better understand the utility and risks in applying forward cyber operations to generate restraint in competitors, this paper examines how they might be applied under foundational theories of restraint: deterrence by punishment and compellence; deterrence by denial; entanglement; normative constraints and tacit cooperation. A structured analysis reveals three key implications and suggests associated recommendations for future policy development:

Using forward cyber operations to induce restraint is not a straightforward matter of imposing costs. Instead, both costs and gains can be affected at multiple points of an adversary’s calculus. The utility, requirements, and risks involved in doing so vary significantly across different theoretical pathways to restraint. Current cyber strategy development should expand scope to consider multiple paths to restraint, accounting for their distinct utility and risks, to offer policymakers greater flexibility in addressing a broader range of cyber threats (above and below the threshold of armed conflict). In general, the utility–risk analysis here suggests that forward cyber operations should prioritise: intelligence collection for deterrence by denial and as an enabler of other restraint pathways; and targeting adversary cyber-operations infrastructure.

A People-Centric Approach to Securing Cyberspace

Candace Rondeaux 

The internet today is on the brink of reaching a state of entropy, as anyone who tried to fill up the gas tank of their car anywhere along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States this week knows. Nearly a week after a crafty network of cybercriminals penetrated the databases of the company that operates the massive Colonial fuel pipeline, which runs nearly the entire length of the East Coast, the United States is still reeling from the crippling cyberattack.

The ransomware attack forced the Colonial Pipeline company to close down a sizable portion of its 5,500-mile-long fuel conduit for days. Only quick action to isolate a server where the ransomware was lodged prevented an even worse catastrophe. Still, the impact was keenly felt and prompted the governors of Virginia, Georgia, Florida and North Carolina to declare a state of emergency over gas shortages after news of the hack drove up consumer anxieties. The online assault on the Colonial Pipeline not only triggered a rush of panic buying at the fuel pump, but also served as another reminder of the dismal state of U.S. cyber defenses—and the even sorrier state of global internet governance. ...

Space Is a Great Commons. It’s Time to Treat It as Such.


Traditionally, commons are areas beyond state dominion that host finite resources available to all (like the oceans) or that provide non-excludable global benefits (like the atmosphere). Outer space is no different, though some dispute this fact. Beyond micrometeoroids, the only natural resource in near-Earth space is the volume of Earth orbits themselves. Space is available for all to use, and states and commercial enterprises use satellites in Earth orbits to deliver agricultural, educational, financial, and security benefits to communities around the globe.

Yet not all leading space powers have endorsed the concept of outer space as a great commons. The United States has not consistently considered space to be a commons. Former president Donald Trump’s administration repeatedly rejected this position, explicitly stating that “the United States does not view [space] as a global commons,” a sentiment reiterated by Congress. This view was a departure from the position of former president Barack Obama’s administration, which reflected a commitment to “safeguarding the global commons . . . to optimize the use of shared sea, air, and space domains.” Meanwhile, other significant space-faring states and organizations recognize space as a commons, including China, which has used the phrase a “global public domain.”

Benjamin Silverstein is a research analyst for the Space Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.