11 July 2021

The PLA’s Developing Cyber Warfare Capabilities and India's Options

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made it clear that his objective for China is to emerge as a ‘cyber superpower’. China wants to be the world’s largest nation in cyberspace and also one of the most powerful. The information technology revolution has produced both momentous opportunities and likely vulnerabilities for china. China is home of largest number of ‘netizens’ in the world. It also hosts some of the world’s most vibrant and successful technology companies. It also remains a major victim of cyber crime. 

Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) believes that with the rise of the Information Age future wars will be contests in the ability to exploit information. Wars will be decided by the side who is more capable to generate, gather, transmit, analyse and exploit information.

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.

Modi Needs to Personally Push Through Theater Command Reforms in the Indian Military

Manoj Rawat

In the past week, an unseemly controversy has broken out in the Indian defense establishment over the unified theater commands. The chief of defense staff, General Bipin Rawat, while overruling the Indian Air Force (IAF)’s objection regarding theater commands, called the IAF a “support arm” akin to the artillery or engineers in the army. This predictably drew a sharp response from Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria, who asserted the IAF‘s primacy in shaping the battlefield. This debate has once again brought into sharp focus the challenges being faced by the Defense Ministry in the bringing the three services under unified theater commands.

On August 15, 2019, speaking from the ramparts of Red Fort on Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement to establish the post of chief of defense staff (CDS) to increase coordination between the three services and provide a single point of military advice to the government. One of the first orders of business for the new CDS was to follow up on the government direction for the establishment of unified theater commands, as is the norm in the most modern militaries. A lot of studies and background discussions have gone into the establishment of these commands since 2019, but as the recent controversy suggests the plan is experiencing significant headwinds – especially from the Indian Air Force.

‘It Will Not Be Just a Civil War’

Lynne O’Donnell

KABUL—In recent weeks, the Taliban’s rapid advance has spread fear among Afghan people that their government could collapse, allowing the insurgents to reestablish their emirate built on Islamist extremism.

U.S. President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that the military withdrawal from Afghanistan would be complete by Aug. 31, ending a 20-year presence that followed the 9/11 attacks. Afghan forces have been fighting largely on their own since the international combat mission ended in December 2014. But there are doubts they can prevail against the fierce Taliban offensive.

The government of President Ashraf Ghani has been largely silent, failing to reassure the people that U.S. support will continue—something Biden reiterated in remarks Thursday—that it will not fall, and that hard-won rights and freedoms are not threatened.

Foreign Policy spoke with Mohammad Haneef Atmar, Afghanistan’s foreign minister, about the deteriorating security situation, the failure of the Taliban to honor commitments made in the February 2020 deal with the Trump administration, and what a political settlement with the insurgents might look like. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Afghanistan On The Brink – OpEd

Najibullah Azad*

Rare is the country that has upheld as various blows, and such troublesome blows, as has Afghanistan since its modern foundation as a distinct political unit in 1747. Ye the country has managed to survive and to hold the sovereignty and territorial integrity, despite numbers of wars and invasions and swings between radical ideological miens, amplifying from tribalist regard system to communism and Islamic medievalism. It is the only country in the world that has experienced military occupation or intervention by Great Britain (twice), and Soviet Union in 1980s and the United States of America and its allies (since 2001). It is the only country that has been experiencing a continuous proxy wars of big powers of the world for five decades, a country that has never experienced a frequent stable ideological and political structure and insight for a single term of a ruler in the last century, yet it survived.

The horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, masterminded in Afghanistan made the world to bring Afghanistan on the front page of the world politics. United States government took its allies in confidence to demolish the perpetrators of those attacks. The ideologically and traditionally divided Afghans found themselves under new challenges for development as a result of-course with the commitments of the international community this time. But unfortunately, a modern way of colonization under the guise of cooperation has made 34 governments called PRTs, which awakened the central government in a result. The three very important institutions for any government namely the Army, Police and Judiciary were taken on training board by different countries with different scope in particular the U.S.A, Germany and Italy.

Afghan War Moves North

Catherine Putz

For much of the last 20 years of war in Afghanistan, it was the country’s south that drew attention. Kandahar, the country’s second-largest city and capital of a vast southern province of the same name, was the last Taliban-held major city to fall in 2001. Afghanistan’s south and east, along the Pakistan border, have over the years been consistently described as Taliban strongholds. The north, meanwhile, had since the onset of civil war in the early 1990s been a bastion of resistance to the Taliban.

As the war jolts into its next phase, with the United States’ withdrawal nearly complete, conflict has intensified in the country’s north.

Writing for the Afghanistan Analysts Network recently, Kate Clark and Obaid Ali characterize the surge in attacks in Afghanistan’s north as looking “like an attempt to prevent a ‘second resistance’ from being established.”

Hot And Cold: The Philippines’ Relations With China (And The US) – Analysis

Felix K. Chang*

(FPRI) — In spring 2021, hundreds of Chinese fishing boats gathered at several South China Sea islets, most notably at Whitsun Reef, within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. Worried that China might use the boats, which were suspected of being part of its maritime militia, to permanently occupy the reef, the Philippines dispatched navy and coast guard ships to the area. When Beijing called on Manila to withdraw its ships, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte demurred, somewhat clumsily explaining: “I do not want a quarrel. I do not want trouble. I respect your position, and you respect mine… I will not withdraw. Even if you kill me. Our friendship will end here.” His secretary of foreign affairs, Teodoro Locsin, more clearly (and colorfully) responded to China on Twitter: “China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O… GET THE F*** OUT.” For a moment, it seemed as if the Philippines was about to change its half-decade-long accommodative policy toward Beijing.

Soon after, Duterte reverted to form. He barred Philippine government officials from publicly commenting on the South China Sea dispute, and Locsin obsequiously retreated from his remarks. Nevertheless, the episode put a spotlight on the frustration among even the most China-friendly Philippine leaders. Since taking office in 2016, Duterte has done all that he could to cozy up to China (even declaring himself its ally). He hoped that Beijing would reciprocate by shelving its maritime differences with Manila and helping to finance economic development in the Philippines. Unfortunately for Duterte, China has been not only more aggressive towards Philippine claims in the South China Sea, but also slow to invest in new industrial and infrastructure projects.

The Unlikely, Indispensable U.S.-Vietnam Partnership

Gregory B. Poling

The U.S.-Vietnam relationship has been on an upward trajectory defined by common interests since diplomatic relations between the two countries normalized a quarter-century ago. Vietnam was one of two Southeast Asian countries specifically referenced in the Biden administration’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, demonstrating the extent to which it has become an increasingly critical part of U.S. defense planning for the region. Bilateral trade has grown over 200-fold since normalization. People-to-people ties have also grown as Vietnam’s tourism industry has developed. Since normalization, Vietnam has welcomed U.S. tourists, former Vietnam War veterans, and even former refugees and their families. U.S. schools and companies in turn have attracted Vietnamese students and recent graduates, who are among the best educated in the world despite the country’s lower level of economic development.

Recent points of friction carried over from the Trump administration regarding the bilateral trade deficit and allegations of currency manipulation are on the mend, and Vietnam has so far managed the Covid-19 pandemic well. As a result, it has emerged in an even stronger economic position compared to many of its neighbors. But challenges remain. The Vietnamese government’s desire to tightly control the country’s digital ecosystem remains a drag on investment. The Biden administration, for its part, is hesitant to engage in regional free trade negotiations, including entering the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The U.S. government has also continued a Trump-era policy of deporting Vietnamese refugees convicted of crimes, many of whom have lived in the United States for decades and arrived as children. However, the overall economic relationship appears to be moving in the same direction as the strategic relationship: upward.

Can Taiwan Provide the Alternative to Digital Authoritarianism?

Melissa Newcomb

When the Chinese Communist Party marked its centennial anniversary on July 1, China analysts were closely watching for any clues as to what Chairman Xi Jinping will do next. Taiwan, on the other hand, is moving forward with an Open Parliament plan introduced in June 2020 and a policy of radical transparency. China and Taiwan are becoming digital states in parallel — China as a digital authoritarian regime, and Taiwan as a digital democracy. Of the two, digital authoritarianism is easier to implement and there is much scholarship focused on defining and understanding it. There is no clear model of what a digital democracy is yet, but Taiwan is in the process of creating one.

What exactly is the Open Parliament plan? Introduced by Legislator Freddy Lim last year, it was partly inspired by Taiwan’s Open Government National Action Plan. The Open Parliament plan lays out five major objectives for Taiwan’s parliament, knowns as the Legislative Yuan (LY): transparency, openness, participation, digitization, and literacy. In an interview, Lim said he has long been interested in tech and politics, adding: “The reason to pursue this initiative was for a new vision of what the future of government and parliament should be like.”

Didi's failure to listen forces rewrite of Chinese tech listing rules

Angela Huyue Zhang

When Jean Liu, the president of Didi Chuxing, was asked during an interview with Bloomberg Television why she had given up the Goldman Sachs managing director's role to join the ride-hailing giant, her reply was that she saw Didi's potential to make a "huge impact."

She was right, of course, with Didi rising up to become one of the most highly valued tech companies in China. But there is another side to the story behind Didi's rise -- the huge impact Didi has had on the Chinese society also comes with huge regulatory risk.

Data security has been a flashpoint recently. Didi, a company that has a near-monopoly in Chinese ride-hailing, has amassed troves of detailed personal data.

In 2015, Didi's researchers even used its data to analyze the ride-hailing patterns from China's larger central ministries to try to figure out which ministry worked the hardest. What Didi's data scientists may have overlooked at that time was that while big data is a much-prized commercial asset, it can also turn into a liability, especially amid Beijing's campaign against its own Big Tech sector and rising U.S. antagonism toward China.

Expanding China sanctions only undermines US hegemony

Owais Zaheer

A preoccupation with forced labor tainting U.S. supply chains is just one of the many quarrels that now bedevil China-U.S. ties these days.

Last month, the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China issued a media release urging Apple CEO Tim Cook to transparently engage with U.S. Customs to ensure that his company's supply chains "are free of forced labor and to divest from Chinese suppliers who take part in the Chinese government's 'labor transfer' programs."

While the Trump administration inaugurated the original pushback against China by imposing sanctions, some speculated that the new Biden administration would moderate or even disavow Trump-era policy. Not only has this not occurred, but President Joe Biden has largely retained Donald Trump's tough approach toward Beijing, with U.S. sanctions against China continuing to balloon in both scope and complexity.

The Man Behind China’s Aggressive New Voice

On the morning of Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison was working from his official residence when an aide alerted him to a tweet by a Chinese foreign-ministry spokesman. Morrison was about to finish a two-week quarantine after returning from a brief diplomatic visit to Japan, and he had spent most of the morning on the phone with Australian wine exporters, discussing Chinese tariffs that had just taken effect — some as high as 212 percent — the latest in an escalating string of punitive economic measures imposed on Australia by Beijing.

But the tweet, posted by a diplomat named Zhao Lijian, represented a different kind of aggression. “Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers,” he wrote. “We strongly condemn such acts, & call for holding them accountable.” Attached was a digital illustration of an Australian soldier restraining an Afghan child with a large Australian flag while preparing to slit the boy’s throat. “Don’t be afraid,” the caption read, “we are coming to bring you peace!” When the tweet appeared online that morning, there were audible gasps in Australia’s Parliament House.

Regime Change Is Not an Option in China

Evan S. Medeiros and Ashley J. Tellis

The relationship between China and the United States is the central drama of global politics today. It captures and defines the current era: great-power rivalry, ideological competition, the diffusion of advanced technology, and the weakening of U.S. hegemony. Dealing with China is shaping up to be a far more significant challenge for U.S. policymakers than competing with the Soviet Union ever was. Not only is Beijing more capable than Moscow was during the height of the Cold War, but China’s sprawling economic footprint makes it a far more difficult rival. A sharply segregated global economy allowed the United States to contain the Soviet Union, but China today is the top trading partner of over 100 countries, including many with close links to the United States.

This perplexing combination of intensifying competition and growing interdependence has sparked a searching conversation in the United States about how to approach China. The debate has taken a dangerous turn in recent years. Beginning in 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Deputy National Security Adviser Matt Pottinger, among others, started speaking about putting pressure on the Chinese Communist Party in ways that many interpreted as calls for regime change. Pompeo, slamming Beijing’s “new tyranny,” memorably declared: “If the free world doesn’t change, communist China will surely change us.” Distinguishing between the Chinese people and their regime, Pottinger urged the former “to achieve citizen-centric government in China” as an antidote to the CCP.

Understanding Influence in the Strategic Competition with China

Michael J. Mazarr, Bryan Frederick, John J. Drennan, Emily Ellinger

Over the past two decades, China's role in the geopolitical landscape has grown, particularly as a result of the country's rising economic and military power. Thus, U.S. leaders now view China as a strategic competitor—one that seeks to upend the post–World War II liberal international order. One of China's strategies in that competition is to seek influence in countries around the world. In this report, the authors assess China's ability to use various mechanisms of influence to shape the policies and behavior of 20 countries, as well as the lessons that these examples offer for the United States' strategic competition with China. With this study, the authors aim to produce a transferable framework (comprising inputs, intervening factors, and outputs) and other tools of analysis that can provide reliable means of assessing bilateral influence relationships in other cases.

Among the study's chief findings is that China's burgeoning economic power, above and beyond any other considerations, is the foundation for its influence. Furthermore, Beijing's ability to manipulate local political, economic, and social events to its benefit is an important factor in its influence efforts. If China's mammoth economic magnet is the gravitational center of its influence, its ability to reach into other countries and effectively manipulate perceptions and events is the predominant tool. Nevertheless, success in the competition for influence is as much about how the United States responds to current challenges as it is about anything China does or does not do.

The Power and Limits of Threat: The Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act at One Year

Howard J. Shatz

A powerful new U.S. sanctions law on Syria came into effect one year ago, with great notice and speculation regarding its potential effects.

Now, one year later, it is apparent that the act's power lies not in who the United States has sanctioned but in who the United States could sanction. The law, which sunsets after five years, also shows the limits of sanctions to effect change, with the Syria conflict now continuing into its eleventh year.

With possibly up to 600,000 dead, more than half the country displaced, with many of them never to return home, a collapsed economy, and gross human rights violations, the war has been a disaster for the Syrian people and neighboring countries.

Called the Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act and named after an anonymous Syrian military police photographer who had defected with 53,000 pictures of victims of torture by the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, the sanctions law took effect June 17, 2020. One Syria specialist termed it "the most wide-ranging U.S. sanctions ever applied against Syria." It appealed both to Syria hawks by getting tough on Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad and to humanitarians by elevating the rights of the Syrian people. Indeed, it had numerous provisions to ensure that humanitarian aid could keep flowing smoothly.

New Book Hints at Biden’s Strategic Approach to China

Paul Heer

Normally an academic book focused on interpreting the speeches of Chinese Communist Party leaders (and other CCP documents) would only generate interest among a narrow American audience. But Rush Doshi’s The Long Game: China’s Grand Strategy to Displace American Order commands attention because Doshi—a Harvard Ph.D. and founding director of the Brookings Institution’s China Strategy Initiative—recently joined the Biden administration as a director for China on the National Security Council staff, where he works for Indo-Pacific policy coordinator Kurt Campbell (the mentor to whom Doshi’s book is partially dedicated). Although the book’s jacket states that it “does not necessarily reflect the views of the US Government or NSC,” it would be fair to assume that its contents will inform the Biden administration’s assessment of and response to the strategic challenge that China poses to the United States.

Doshi expertly characterizes the nature and scope of that challenge by tracing its evolution and expansion over the past thirty years. His central thesis is that Beijing has a “grand strategy” (refuting those who think it doesn’t) to “displace American order” both within East Asia and globally by weakening the support base of the U.S.-led international order and “strengthening those forms of control supporting a Chinese alternative.” This Chinese strategy has shifted over time, based on Beijing’s changing calculus of the balance of power between the United States and China.

What America Didn’t Understand About Its Longest War


As the United States leaves Afghanistan after 20 years of war, there can be little doubt that we lost the war — or to put it more gently, did not attain our objectives. In recent weeks, the Taliban have advanced across the north of the country. Bereft of U.S. support, the Afghan army and police have reportedly lost more than two dozen districts over the course of a month and are now fighting on the outskirts of key cities such as Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif. Senior U.S. officials have warned of a civil war, while intelligence reports are said to forecast the fall of the Afghan government — which the United States has worked to strengthen for two decades — within a year.

Why did we lose? I’ve been trying to answer that question for 12 years, starting in 2009 when I was a civilian officer in the far-off district of Garmser in Helmand Province. I continued to ponder the question in 2013 and 2014, when I served as political adviser to Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and later as Dunford’s senior adviser when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As I traveled the country with senior U.S. military commanders, I saw that in battle after battle, numerically superior and better-supplied soldiers and police were being defeated by poorly resourced and unexceptionally led Taliban — a dynamic certain to eventually doom the Afghan government unless the United States were to stay indefinitely.

The Eastern Mediterranean Issue And Turkey’s Blue Homeland Doctrine – Analysis

Ece Uyguç*

Turkey is a country surrounded by three major seas: the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, and the Mediterranean. Last year, Turkey and Greece came face to face in the Eastern Mediterranean, in which Turkey has a 1,870 km coastline while Greece’s coast length is 167 km. The reason for the dispute was Turkey’s initiation of a seismic survey to find gas in the Eastern Mediterranean waters. The world is closely monitoring what steps Greece and Turkey will take in the days coming by.
The Importance of the Eastern Mediterranean

The Eastern Mediterranean is surrounded by the coastlines of Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia.

From a historical perspective, this region has been at the target of the first civilizations. Regional countries such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Anatolia possessed the most fertile soils in the world. Therefore, the region has been exposed to important wars in different stages of history to dominate these fertile soils and to take control of the world trade by land and sea. This ambition turned the region into the most important and most crowded centers of the world.¹

Personality in foreign policy


Readers with long memories might recall the fleeting controversy about the time that a then freshly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stopped, propped and saluted a deeply unpopular US President George W. Bush during a grand global summit.

It was a NATO meeting, April 2008, one of the early trips that earned Rudd the media moniker “Kevin 747” for his busy shuttle-style diplomacy. Bush, at the time, ranked as a factor causing 69 per cent of Australians “to have an unfavourable opinion of the United States”, according to the Lowy Institute Poll – a figure that even Donald Trump failed to top on becoming president in 2017.

The storm over the salute likely stemmed from a public expectation that the “deputy sheriff” days had passed with the Howard years. Rudd had promised to get Australian troops out of Iraq (the NATO meeting in Bucharest was to talk about Afghanistan) and the Australian public mood was decisively in favour of the statement, again asked in the Lowy Institute Poll, that “the US is playing the role of world policeman more than it should be”.

South Korea’s Intelligence Agency Confirms North Korean Cyberattacks

Mitch Shin

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) on Thursday told the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee that South Korean companies and public institutions had been damaged by cyberattacks from North Korea.

Ha Tae-kyung, a member of the Intelligence Committee and legislator for the main opposition party, said that the NIS has taken measures to control the damage among companies and public institutions. The North’s attempted cyberattacks on the public sector decreased by 4 percent while its cyberattacks on the private sector increased by 13 percent from last year’s figures, Ha said.

The major public institutions affected by North Korean hacking were related to national security. The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute was exposed to hacking attacks by North Korea for 12 days; the institute first reported the damage on June 1. According to Ha, the NIS said that the “most sensitive information” was not affected, but it did not give a definition of what constituted sensitive information to lawmakers.

Secret To Weathering Climate Change Lies At Our Feet

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst recently discovered that the ability of agricultural grasses to withstand drought is directly related to the health of the microbial community living on their stems, leaves and seeds.

“Microbes do an enormous amount for the grasses that drive the world’s agriculture,” says Emily Bechtold, a graduate student in UMass Amherst’s microbiology department and lead author of the paper recently published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology. “They protect from pathogens, provide the grass with nutrients such as nitrogen, supply hormones to bolster the plant’s health and growth, protect from UV radiation and help the grass manage drought.” Yet, the increased severity and longevity of climate-change-driven drought conditions across the world is sapping the ability of the microbiome to thrive.

Since 60% of all agriculture is grass-related – think of the cows, sheep and other grass-munching livestock that provide meat, milk, cheese, leather, wool and other staples – the bacteria living on grass touches every aspect of our lives, from what we eat for breakfast to food security, economics and international development.

Drones In Hands Of Insurgents: How Africa Can Prepare – Analysis

Karen Allen*

The proliferation of drone technology across Africa has significantly expanded humanitarian, development, business, and military operations. Drones, also known as unmanned aerial systems, have many positive uses. In the hands of non-state armed groups however, they pose a threat that governments must be prepared for.

The global commercial drone market is forecast to reach US$43 billion by 2024, with Rwanda, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya expected to be Africa’s biggest users. Commentary typically focuses on military drones and implications for international humanitarian law, or the use of drones for business and humanitarian purposes. The impact of other entities using drones – be they companies, hobbyists or insurgents – has attracted little attention.

In exploiting the benefits of transformative technology, African states should be aware of the potential risks and develop strategies to track and trace drone proliferation.

Remembering the Geography in Geopolitics and Indo-Pacific Discourse

Benjamin Mainardi

As the United States has come to recognize the twenty-first century as a period of renewed great power competition, geopolitics and geostrategy have seen a major revival in American foreign policy debates as dominant concepts in the discourse. However, the renewed usage of these terms is notable for the absence of any consensus as to what the geo- refers to. All too often, national security policy professionals presume modern technology has obviated the importance of geographic location and physical features. Yet physical geography remains central to national security realities that will only become more severe as competition between great powers of relative parity intensifies. The capability of states positioned within certain geographic regions to rapidly deploy and sustain significant forces within those regions is intrinsically greater than that of a more technologically advanced power projecting itself across a continent or ocean. While a global superpower like the United States is capable of rapidly deploying small forces abroad, the logistical demands of sustaining such a force incurs greater costs and requires greater international acquiescence than that of a state within the same region. Thus, it remains an imperative that the United States cultivate and support regional allies as meaningful security partners, a fact made even more crucial as it enters a new era of great power rivalry.

Understanding Russia’s Cyber Strategy

Josephine Wolff

The Russian Federation’s willingness to engage in offensive cyber operations has caused enormous harm, including massive financial losses, interruptions to the operation of critical infrastructure, and disruptions of crucial software supply chains. The variety and frequency of these operations, as well as the resulting attribution efforts, have offered an unusually vivid picture of Russia’s cyber capabilities and tactics. While many other countries have relied heavily on vague strategies and threats to signal their emerging cyber powers, Russia has exercised its technical capabilities with relative impunity for more than a decade. This makes it possible to chart Moscow’s increasingly bold forays into the cyber domain alongside the increasingly technically sophisticated specific vulnerabilities, techniques, and tactics that Russia has leveraged. This timeline reveals a shift towards more covert, targeted cyber capabilities in recent years, as well as an evolution away from phishing-based compromises to supply chain and service provider intrusions, in conjunction with a continued reliance on and reuse of the same infrastructure and malware across multiple operations.

Emphasis on Covert Capabilities

The 5G readiness guide: deployment strategies, opportunities and challenges across the globe

Over the past six months, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has collected data and information on the 5G environment in the top 60 telecoms markets worldwide, in order to score them on six key metrics: the business environment, spectrum availability, the current level of 5G deployment, 5G network speed, progress on industry trials of 5G and the robustness of 5G policy. Our latest report “The 5G Readiness Guide” contains a snapshot of our scores for each region, with the full 5G scoring table and analysis available as part of our EIU Viewpoint service.

Our assessment is intended to help companies planning to invest in the 5G ecosystem to understand where each country stands in the 5G race, as well as its future potential. It also allows policymakers to benchmark their 5G regulations and policies against those of other countries, and make improvements that could attract more investment into the sector.

Key findings include:

An early start in 5G preparation, along with better management of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in 2020, has helped many Asian countries to free up spectrum in the higher bands in order to forge ahead on 5G rollouts.

Attack The Root Cause Of Cyber Threats, One Employee At A Time

Stephen Baer

Forced to work from home without in-person access to information, minimal human interaction and limited IT support, “disrupted employees” have no choice but to utilize unprotected home networks and personal devices often shared by family members. Burdened by new layers of stress caused by the pandemic and greater pressure to get the job done, they are unaware of the cybersecurity risk of searching, downloading and sharing content including company intellectual property. The distractions that come from a work-from-home environment can also derail important habits critical to cybersecurity — using strong passwords, maintaining digital hygiene, patching computers and updating mobile software.

While more than 70% of companies surveyed by Malwarebytes scored themselves high for their readiness to transition employees to work from home, nearly half admitted to not providing cybersecurity training about potential threats. And yet, study after study shows that the overwhelming majority of cyber breaches share one variable in common: human error. Whether failing to install software security updates, not knowing the risks of public Wi-Fi networks or giving up sensitive information to phishing emails, no amount of sophisticated anti-malware, spam filters or detection software can protect against human error.

Crypto Ransom Payments Skyrocketed In 2020

Felix Richter

Up to 1,500 businesses around the world have been affected by a large-scale ransomware attack targeting a popular IT management tool from U.S. software vendor Kaseya. The targeted software, a tool called VSA, is widely used by IT service providers to manage the IT infrastructure of smaller firms, making it harder to gauge the total impact of Friday's attack.

Kaseya wrote in a statement on Monday, advising customers to keep VSA Servers offline until further notice:

“To date, we are aware of fewer than 60 Kaseya customers, all of whom were using the VSA on-premises product, who were directly compromised by this attack. While many of these customers provide IT services to multiple other companies, we understand the total impact thus far has been to fewer than 1,500 downstream businesses."

The Convergence of Man and Machine, But Better


The Department of Defense is moving toward a future when many processes now done by hand will be done automatically by artificial intelligence and machine learning. The need is urgent and our money is limited, and so we need a better way to plan investments and prioritize changes as we move toward this Convergence, this new way of operating.

One approach starts by breaking Convergence into three parts. First, get our main warfighting systems to autonomously exchange information. Second, use AI/ML to change how operational commands execute four types of decision cycles. Third, refocus Army corps and service component commands to use commercial technologies being considered by the military services.

The term “Convergence” is used to mean slightly different things across the service branches; let us define it here as the shift away from systems that depend on manual inputs, human-to-human distribution, and analog written procedures that help determine “who else needs to know.” These systems will be replaced by automated ones that continuously manage the data inputs, distribution, and exchanges in all of DOD’s realms: sensors, shooters, maneuver, sustainment, protection and information. Note that we are not talking about removing humans from decision loops, just changing their roles from inputting key strokes and assessing data entries to making decisions.

Army Aviation – Key Questions Require Clear Answers

Kent Johnson

For most Americans, summer is the season of fun – but in Washington DC, summer is the silly season of building budgets – that long and complicated annual process that involves budget review and resolution, constant hearings, and appropriations. In this season, tough questions get asked, priorities are clarified, threats and requirements are detailed, and, when finished, a more concrete understanding of programs and challenges is attained.

Of course, the Dept. of Defense as a whole, and each service, supporting agencies and the bureaucracy at large – receives the lion’s share of attention, probing and inquiry from Congress. And rightfully so. DoD has requested $715 billion dollars for Fiscal Year 22,[i] and given the threat posed by hostile entities around the globe and the wide spectrum of serious issues facing several costly, though essential, programs across the DoD enterprise, robust debate is necessary. As Congress continues its work on both defense appropriations and authorization, one key area that needs to be addressed more thoroughly concerns the status of several Army aviation programs.

Current Army and Army National Guard (ARNG) squadrons are equipped with a wide variety of platforms, almost all of which are rotary-wing aircraft – and primarily consist of the AH-64E, UH-60M, UH-72, and the CH-47F. Army aviation, and by extension, Army National Guard aviation, is fundamental in so many ways to the modern U.S. Army – from supporting special operations and Airborne infantry to battlefield reconnaissance and combat rescue to ground attack and close air support.


LTC Claude A. Lambert, U.S. Army

Some terrorist groups overseas are using battlefield experiences to pursue new technologies and tactics, such as unmanned aerial systems and chemical agents that could be used outside the conflict zones.
-U.S. Department of Homeland Security1

In September 2013, at a political campaign rally in Dresden, Germany, a small unmanned aircraft system (UAS),2 or “drone,” flew within feet of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere, hovering briefly before crashing into the stage near Merkel’s feet.3 This harmless stunt by a political activist demonstrated that drones, especially those using autonomous navigation systems, could be stealthy, accurate and potentially deadly. Had this drone been armed with a chemical or biological warfare (CBW) agent, it may have incapacitated or killed this high-level delegation, garnering international attention and triggering profound concern regarding the government’s inability to secure and defend vulnerable populations from any UAS capable of delivering CBW agents.