19 December 2021


Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Microsoft released its second annual Digital Defense Report, covering July 2020 to June 2021. This year s 134 pages report is quite detailed, with sections on cybercrime, nationstate threats, supply-chain attacks and Internet of Things attacks. The report includes security suggestions for organizations with remote workforces. It has a section describing the use of social media to spread disinformation. The report is a compilation of integrated data and actionable insights from across 

Cyber Weapons – A Weapon of War?

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


The character of warfare has changed fundamentally over the last decade. In the past, it was essential for an adversary nation or insurgent to physically bring weapons to bear during combat. That requirement is no longer a necessity. In cyber operations, the only weapons that need to be used are bits and bytes. In this new era of warfare, logistics issues that often restrict and limit conventional warfare and weaponry are not impediments. This new weaponry moves at the speed of light, is available to every human on the planet and can be as surgical as a scalpel or as devastating as a nuclear bomb.

Cyber attacks in various forms have become a global problem. Cyber weapons are low-cost, low-risk, highly effective and easily deployable globally. This new class of weapons is within reach of many countries, extremist or terrorist groups, non-state actors, and even individuals. Cyber crime organisations are developing cyber weapons effectively. The use of offensive Cyber operations by nation-states directly against another or by co-opting cyber criminals has blurred the line between spies and non-state malicious hackers. New entrants, both nation-states and non-state actors have unmatched espionage and surveillance capabilities with significant capabilities. They are often the forerunners for criminal financial gain, destruction and disruption operations. Progressively, we see non-state actors including commercial entities, developing capabilities that were solely held by a handful of state actors.

Sanctioning India for Russian Arms Deal Would Be Counterproductive

Jeff M. Smith

On Dec. 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin, joined by his foreign and defense ministers, arrived in India for a summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India and Russia have a defense relationship stretching back to the Cold War, and leader-level summits are a common affair. Yet, the timing of the meeting was unfortunate, coming just as the U.S. and several European capitals are sounding the alarm bell over Russian preparation for what could be a major military offensive into Ukraine.

Further, Modi’s meeting with Russia’s autocratic leader came just days before the Indian prime minister represented the world’s largest democracy at U.S. President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy. Finally, the India-Russia summit landed at a sensitive time in the burgeoning India-U.S. strategic partnership. The Biden administration may soon have to decide whether to impose sanctions on India for its purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system.

The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, was passed by Congress in the wake of complaints about Russia interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Act requires the U.S. president to impose sanctions on foreign entities engaged in significant transactions with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors. Although the India-Russia S-400 agreement predates the passage of CAATSA, India still risks sanctions.

Examining the Taliban’s Words, Thoughts and Deeds, Part II: Hostage Diplomacy

Mohammad Bashir Mobasher and Mohammad Qadam Shah

In pursuit of obtaining recognition, Afghanistan’s seat in the U.N., and access to Afghanistan’s frozen funds, the Taliban have been taking a hostage diplomacy approach vis-à-vis the international community in addition to projecting their Taliban 2.0 version. Hostage diplomacy conventionally involves a situation in which a bad actor takes individuals or properties as hostages and uses them as a leverage against a state to gain some concessions.

Since their first takeover of Afghanistan, the Taliban have used hostage diplomacy to gain credit in the form of money, the release of their elite commanders, and recently in hopes of getting international recognition. While the Taliban have shown a track record of success and achievement in hostage negotiations and diplomacy, the pressure is on the international community to turn the tables. As such, the best approach would be insisting on the very basic elements of good governance, such as inclusion, participation, and accountability. Otherwise, the result would be the same as the last 20 years.

Is This the Future of Taliban Rule? Government workers are unpaid and the future of girls’ education is uncertain, but life goes on in the Afghan city of Herat

Andrew North

The dress is red and revealing. On show in the window of a wedding gown rental emporium here in Herat, it appears to challenge the conventional wisdom that women are being airbrushed from public venues with the Taliban’s return to power.

The reality of life in Afghanistan almost four months since the movement’s fighters took control is more complex than many reports suggest, especially those on polarized social media platforms. A mood of anxiety and uncertainty prevails, amid a humanitarian crisis exacerbated by a U.S.-led embargo that could leave millions starving this winter.

While many working women were sent home, many remain in their jobs — including in some government offices in Herat. Most girls of high school age are not going to class, but the situation is ambiguous, with no blanket ban. Teenage girls have been readmitted in the northern province of Balkh, and even in the traditional Taliban stronghold of Zabul, in the south. So the group once dubbed “Islamic Maoists” has not been quite as ruthless as many feared — so far.

Supporting the Afghan Resistance Is an American Interest

Michael Rubin

By all accounts, Afghanistan is quiet. For the first time in more than forty years, a single entity asserts its authority over the entirety of the country. Certainly, the Taliban death squads continue their reprisal killings against those the Biden administration left behind but, for many in Washington, it is out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

Despite the orgy of violence surrounding the U.S. withdrawal, President Joe Biden believes his decision to end the “forever war” was correct. He and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan may also believe the false choice they voiced between ending the war and escalating it, no matter that a minimal U.S. presence had been enough to keep the Taliban out of every provincial capital and Kabul.

Many in Washington—especially those with little or no experience on the ground in Afghanistan—argue that the United States should lick its wounds and leave Afghans to their fate. “Don’t Arm the Afghan Resistance,” opined Middle East Institute fellow Bilal Saab, an Arab world specialist. Kai Thaler, a Latin America expert at the University of California, Santa Barbara, agreed, “Afghan insurgents are a dead end,” he wrote. Both, however, fundamentally misunderstand Afghanistan and the dynamics now at play.

Pakistan skipped the US Summit for Democracy. Why?

Madiha Afzal

In a surprise move, Pakistan, one of the 110 countries invited to U.S. President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy, skipped the event. Its Ministry of Foreign Affairs offered an oblique statement, thanking the administration for the invitation, and saying that it looked forward to engaging with the U.S. on democracy “at an opportune time in the future.”


Pakistan is the fifth largest country in the world — and has a functioning, albeit flawed democracy. The shortcomings primarily stem from the dominance of its military, which exercises influence over key elements of the country’s security and foreign policy. But in a break from periods of military rule in the past, since its 2008 election Pakistan has had successful transitions of power from one civilian government to another via elections. It also has a robust political opposition.

To be sure, Pakistan has a troubled human rights record, including suppression of dissidents from its Baluch and Pashtun ethnic minorities, and cases of mob vigilante violence against those accused of blasphemy, including the horrific killing of a Sri Lankan factory manager on December 3. Given these failings, some considered Pakistan’s invitation contentious, and argued it was inconsistent given the other countries in the region that were left out, such as Bangladesh (albeit itself a flawed democracy). But the invitations went out to a range of countries with questionable records on human rights. More importantly, for America — which has all too often bolstered Pakistan’s military at the expense of its civilian leaders, especially in dealings involving Afghanistan for the last four decades — the invitation was an important signal of support for Pakistan’s democracy. It also balanced India’s invitation with one to a regional rival. It is an invitation Pakistan should have accepted.

China’s Long-Term Economic Direction

Sara Hsu

As geopolitical conflict between the United States and China continues to grow, some China watchers have called into question the country’s economic direction. It could be said that China’s economic trajectory is the least clear it has been in decades, as China moves from a period of rapid growth and reform to what it deems “high-quality” growth and development. Due to the strong guidance of Xi Jinping, the best way to understand China’s long-term economic direction is through the words of its president.

So, what can we say about Xi? Xi Jinping is heavily guided by Marxist theory, particularly as viewed through a Chinese lens. While Marx called for capitalism to be entirely overturned, the first leader of economic reform in China, Deng Xiaoping, stated, “Both planning and the market are economic means. The essence of socialism is to liberate the productive forces, develop them, and eliminate them. Eliminate exploitation, polarization, and ultimately achieve common prosperity.” This diverged from the Marxist view that a market-based economy, viewed as unique to capitalism, was to be rejected. Deng believed that socialism would eventually lead to communism after economic development has been completed: “Socialism itself is the primary stage of communism, and China is in the primary stage of socialism, the stage of underdevelopment.”

The power of Weibo

Cindy Yu

When the tennis star Peng Shuai had a row with her former lover, the retired Party cadre Zhang Gaoli, she took to Weibo, the Chinese social media platform, where she had half a million followers. It was in that statement that she accused Zhang of starting their affair with sexual assault.

The statement was taken down within minutes, demonstrating the power, speed – and, arguably, the manual nature – of China’s online censors. On this podcast, we’ve previously talked about the nature of journalism in China – but what about social media, that inherently decentralised medium? What role does the digital space play in Chinese lives, how reliable is it as a source of Chinese public opinion, and how do people feel about being monitored and, potentially, censored?

On the podcast, I speak to Manya Koetse, the founder of whatsonweibo.com, which collates and translates the latest trends and topics from the platform into English; as well as Shen Lu, a reporter for Protocol who covers China and tech.

With Manya, we muse about what censorship does to a nation's online discussion: the focus turns to policy issues like health and safety standards, or more superficial discussions like pets and travel. Yet during the early days of the pandemic last year, we both witnessed an incredible night where, on Weibo, WeChat, and other platforms, Dr Li Wenliang's death prompted a universal outpouring of grief. Manya tells me that: ‘Dr Li was a story that was too big to censor... censoring all of those discussions would have actually caused more unrest’.

Since the pandemic, the digital sphere has also become more nationalistic:

“'The Hong Kong protests definitely was the moment when I saw this new wave of nationalism online, which you’ve always had, but especially the last two years it’s been so clear. Covid-19 has only strengthened the wave that started back then’

I also speak to Shen Lu, who tells me about her experience being censored on Weibo when reporting on China's MeToo movement. Censorship has only become worse in recent years – she tells me: 'I can no longer tell which friend is which, because we started to self-censor'. More optimistically though, Lu tells me that all the same political conversations among liberal minded young Chinese are still happening – simply offline, these days.

China’s Fake Twitter Accounts Are Tweeting Into the Void

Josh A. Goldstein and Renée DiResta

On Dec. 2, Twitter announced the removal of two Chinese state-linked influence operations: 2,048 accounts that boosted Chinese Communist Party (CCP) narratives about the Xinjiang region and Uyghur population there, and 112 accounts attributed to Changyu Culture, a private company acting on behalf of the Xinjiang regional government.

Our team at the Stanford Internet Observatory analyzed these two networks. We found that both networks amplified pro-CCP narratives about the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, often posting content from Chinese state media or sharing first-person Uyghur testimonial videos about how great their life is in the province.

As with past Twitter takedowns of pro-CCP networks, accounts in the first network were thinly veiled: Rather than presenting the account holders as plausible real people, they often featured default or stock profile images, only occasionally contained a bio, and showed little history of posting content that predated the topic of the operation.

Pentagon Worries About Chinese Buildup Near India China’s new airports and highways near the border have put officials on edge.

Jack Detsch

The U.S. Defense Department is newly concerned about China’s further military buildup near the demarcation line across its Himalayan border with India, a senior defense official told Foreign Policy, after Beijing deployed long-range strategic bombers to the area last month in another apparent warning to New Delhi.

The senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive policy deliberations, said that the buildup fits the pattern of Chinese regional aggression seen elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific region, such as in the Philippines, where Chinese coast guard vessels moved to block Philippine supply boats in November. But there’s optimism among experts and officials that India will be able to stand its ground against the People’s Liberation Army. New Delhi has put up more diplomatic and military resistance than China’s antagonists in other territorial incursions, such as in the South China Sea, experts said.

“It’s just clear that [China has] become more assertive all across their territorial fault lines,” said Jeff Smith, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. “Arguably India is the one where they’ve met the most resistance. The Indians will not be cowed, coerced, or intimidated.”

World Powers need to see Iran as more than a nuclear file - opinion

The nuclear negotiations with Iran continue in Vienna. Regardless of the outcome, world powers need to view the Iranian challenge as not just a nuclear file.

In the October statement from the E3 (France, Germany and the United Kingdom) and the United States, they pledged their “shared determination to address broader security concerns raised by Iran’s actions in the region.”

But the European Union still maintains a fictional distinction between the political and military wings of Iran’s proxy Hezbollah. The two units are two sides of the same terrorist coin, and the international community needs to treat them as such if it hopes to sustain deals with the Islamic Republic.

All of Hezbollah’s organs answer to the same leadership – meaning Hassan Nasrallah and the Shura Council, Hezbollah’s highest decision-making body. Accordingly, there are five subcommittees within the Shura Council – which include the executive, parliamentary, political, jihad, and judicial councils. The Jihad Council of Hezbollah provides oversight over military operations.

Macron’s Middle East Ambitions Increasingly Pass Through the UAE

Julien Barnes-Dacey 

While U.S. President Joe Biden seems determined to reduce the U.S. footprint in the Middle East, finally embracing Washington’s long-discussed pivot to Asia, French President Emmanuel Macron is headed in the opposite direction. In recent years, Macron has made repeated trips to Lebanon, Iraq and the Gulf states, and launched a series of diplomatic initiatives in a bid to address regional crises. It is hard to think of any Western leader who has been even half as engaged as Macron across the range of high-priority issues confronting the Middle East.

Macron’s recent visit to the Gulf, during which he concluded France’s largest-ever arms deal with the United Arab Emirates and also met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a figure still shunned by most Western leaders, reflects the French president’s ambition to be a central player in the regional mix. For Macron, the wider Middle East is a critical theater for French interests, but it also appears to represent a venue to assertively project France’s global standing. For both goals, the pathway is often seen as lying through partnership with crucial Gulf actors, particularly the UAE, which is now France’s key “strategic” regional ally.

The New Era Of Great Power Competition And The Biden Administration: Emerging Patterns And Principles – Analysis

Thomas F. Lynch

The administration of President Joseph Biden began in early 2021 amid daunting domestic challenges and an evolving era of Great Power competition (GPC). This era—emerging since 2008, evident since 2014, and on full display since 2017—features a three-state GPC where the United States, China, and Russia joust for international status and power, and where the trajectory of relative power from a long-dominant America to either rival remains incomplete and far from certain.1 Russia and China now compete openly with the United States and often one another. In the case of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, its contemporary power capabilities are mainly reimagined, repurposed military and reenabled propaganda implements from the days of the Soviet Union rather than anything new.2 In the case of China, truly historic economic growth is catalyzing new wealth and imagination, generating an array of power capabilities that enable broad competition with the United States and growing influence with other states.3

Several recent articles in Joint Force Quarterly have explored the war planning, operational, and tactical implications of GPC for elements of the U.S. military.4 Moreover, a Secretary of Defense National Security Essay award winner published in JFQ 99 (4th Quarter 2020) sketches four strategic objectives for the budding competition with China.5 These articles took the fact of GPC as a jumping-off point for analysis—a worthy approach. An alternative starting point considers the critical dynamics of contemporary Great Power competition framed against historical GPC patterns, principles, and implications.

Spectre of three wars poses danger to America’s dominance


For decades, American military planning was based on the idea that the US should be able to fight two wars, in different parts of the world, simultaneously. But even the gloomiest strategists did not plan for three wars at the same time. 

The administration of Joe Biden, however, is currently facing militarised crises in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Collectively, they amount to the biggest challenge to America’s global power since the end of the cold war.

 American officials have briefed that Russia is planning an invasion of Ukraine “as soon as early 2022.” Meanwhile, Lloyd Austin, America’s defence secretary, has warned that China’s military manoeuvres near Taiwan look like rehearsals for a full-scale invasion. Iran may also be weeks away from creating enough fissile material to manufacture a nuclear weapon — an outcome the US has spent decades trying to stop. 

Some analysts worry America may now be facing a co-ordinated global assault by revisionist powers. Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden and international diplomat, warns that policymakers should contemplate the possibility of simultaneous invasions of Taiwan and Ukraine. “Taken together, these two acts of conquest would fundamentally shift the global balance of power”, he says, sounding the death knell for a world order that has “underpinned global peace for decades”.

If the United States pulls back, the world will become more dangerous

Eighty years ago Japan bombed Pearl Harbour. It was a grave error, bringing the world’s mightiest country into the war and dooming the Japanese empire to oblivion. A clear-sighted Japanese admiral supposedly lamented: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

Today Japan is peaceable, rich and innovative. It was the Japanese who rebuilt their country, but their task was made easier by the superpower that defeated them. Not only was America midwife to a liberal, capitalist democracy in Japan; it also created a world order in which Japan was free to trade and grow. This order was not perfect, and did not apply everywhere. But it was better than anything that had come before.

Unlike previous great powers, America did not use its military dominance to win commercial advantage at the expense of its smaller allies. On the contrary, it allowed itself to be bound, most of the time, by common rules. And that rules-based system allowed much of the world to avoid war and grow prosperous.

In the Next War, America’s Homeland Will Be a Target

Hal Brands

For Americans, war is typically something that happens “over there” — in foreign countries far from their shores. They ought to start thinking about it as something that may well be experienced “over here.”

In future conflicts, American territory will not be a sanctuary. The U.S. is entering an era of homeland vulnerability, one in which technological advances are making it possible for geopolitical adversaries — not just terrorist groups — to bring the war to America itself.

Yes, the U.S. has been attacked before. The British burned Washington during the War of 1812. The Japanese struck Hawaii, then a U.S. territory, in 1941. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks brought carnage to New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

But those episodes are so memorable because they are exceptions. For the most part, a combination of power and geography has given the U.S. greater homeland security than nearly any other major country. Since the Cold War, it has contended with terrorist attacks, but the states that it pummeled — notably Iraq and Serbia — lacked any ability to respond in kind.

The Inheritance America's Military After Two Decades of War

Mara E. Karlin

Since the September 11, 2001, attacks, the U.S. military has been fighting incessantly in conflicts around the globe, often with inconclusive results. The legacies of these conflicts have serious implications for how the United States will wage war in the future. Yet there is a stunning lack of introspection about these conflicts.

Never in modern U.S. history has the military been at war for so long. And never in U.S. history have such long wars demanded so much of so few. The legacy of wars without end include a military that feels the painful effects of war but often feels alone. The public is less connected to the military now than at any point in modern U.S. history. The national security apparatus seeks to pivot away from these engagements and to move on to the next threats—notably those emanating from China and Russia. Many young Americans question whether it even makes sense to invest in the military. At best, there are ad hoc, unstructured debates about Iraq or Afghanistan. Simply put, there has been no serious, organized stock-taking by the public, politicians, opinion leaders, or the military itself of this inheritance.

Despite being at war for the longest continuous period in its history, the military is woefully unprepared for future wars. But the United States cannot simply hit the reset button. This book explores this inheritance by examining how nearly two decades of war have influenced civil-military relations, how the military goes to war, how the military wages war, who leads the military and who serves in it, how the military thinks about war, and above all, the enduring impact of these wars on those who waged them. If the U.S. military seeks to win in the future, it must acknowledge and reconcile with the inheritance of its long and inconclusive wars. This book seeks to help them do so.

Opinion: To deter a Russian attack, Ukraine needs to prepare for guerrilla warfare

Max Boot

The West could target the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would carry Russian natural gas to Germany; go after the ill-gotten gains that Putin and his cronies have stashed in the West; and even kick Russia out of the SWIFT system of interbank transfers. But Putin has endured economic sanctions since his initial invasion of Ukraine in 2014, and he is still as menacing as ever.

Preventing Russia from attacking will require a more credible military deterrent. President Biden has ruled out unilaterally sending U.S. combat troops to Ukraine, which would be the strongest deterrent. But he can still do more to help the Ukrainians defend themselves.

The United States has already delivered more than $2.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since 2014, with $450 million of that coming this year. There are also roughly 150 U.S. troops in Ukraine training its armed forces.

China, Russia, Iran, North Korea? Just How Many Wars Can America Fight?

Doug Bandow

Washington and Seoul are making new war plans to address North Korean force improvements. However, the Pentagon is rather busy right now. Military analysts are talking about possible conflicts involving Russia, China, and Iran. Could Washington handle a fourth conflict, and all at the same time?

According to CNN: “The US and South Korea will develop a new operational war plan to address the threat from North Korea, senior defense officials said Tuesday, as the Pentagon shifts its focus to the Indo-Pacific region following its recently completed global force posture review.” Officials say that the effort does not respond to any one incident but rather to the fact that the current plan is about a decade old.

The review reflects a greater emphasis on the Indo-Pacific. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development Mara Karlin explained: “The Global Posture Review directs additional cooperation with allies and partners across the region to advance initiatives that contribute to regional stability and deter potential military aggression from China and threats from North Korea.” That is, the usual boilerplate.

Why the Stalemate in Eastern Ukraine Will Likely Hold

Katharine Quinn-Judge

In the days leading up to and following last week’s video summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, there has been intense speculation that Moscow is on the verge of a new military incursion into Ukraine. The United States has estimated that Russia has already deployed close to 70,000 soldiers—media reports have claimed significantly higher numbers—to several locations along Ukraine’s eastern border and in Crimea. Apparently, the Russian government is impatient with the unfinished business of the Donbas war in eastern Ukraine, which is now in its eighth year. And Putin seems to think he can prevent Ukraine’s entry into NATO by threatening a new war in the center of Europe.

Observers have been right to worry. According to The Washington Post, a U.S. intelligence report concluded that Russia may ultimately move as many as 175,000 troops to the border, forces that could be ready for a large-scale invasion as early as this winter. And as many analysts have pointed out, both countries’ armed forces are considerably stronger than they were in 2014–15, although Ukraine’s would still be thoroughly outgunned by the Russians. All this means that a new military escalation would likely be even more destructive than the last one.

Putin's Likely Course of Action in Ukraine

Fred Kagan 

Russian President Vladimir Putin is amassing a large force near the Ukrainian border and reportedly has a military plan to invade and conquer most of unoccupied Ukraine. Western leaders are rightly taking the threat of such an invasion very seriously, and we cannot dismiss the possibility that Putin will order his military to execute it. However, the close look at what such an invasion would entail presented in this report and the risks and costs Putin would have to accept in ordering it leads us to forecast that he is very unlikely to launch an invasion of unoccupied Ukraine this winter. Putin is much more likely to send Russian forces into Belarus and possibly overtly into Russian-occupied Donbas. He might launch a limited incursion into unoccupied southeastern Ukraine that falls short of a full-scale invasion.

The Europe-India Balance Sheet: Trade, Like-Mindedness and Strategic Interests

Christophe Jaffrelot avec Jasmine Zérinini

An unfulfilled economic potential

In recent years, the EU has become India’s first or second trade partner. But the country represented less than 2.5% of EU trade in 2020 and ranked well behind China (16.1% of EU trade), the US (15.2%) and the UK (12.2%). Similarly, while European FDI in India more than doubled between 2011-2020, it remains much lower than in China.
Promoting trade and investment

At the EU-India leaders' meeting in May 2021, the EU and India decided to resume negotiations on a free trade agreement, after 8 years of suspended negotiations partly because of many bones of contention. Despite political will by European and Indian governments, complicated negotiations await, with probably even higher stakes for India given its withdrawal from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and its separate negotiations with the UK. Trade talks may now be more complicated due to India’s growing protectionism and uncertainties regarding the protection of personal data.

The attractiveness of the post-Covid Indian market for Europe

European companies are skeptical about the Indian market, not only because of access problems due to protectionist measures, but also due to bureaucracy, corruption, lack of infrastructure and weak consumption. It remains to be seen whether this last trend is only related to Covid-19, or whether it has acquired a more structural dimension. The Indian government should carefully consider this aspect when conducting trade and investment diplomacy with Europe and conducting outreach to European companies.

US concerns grow over potential Russian cyber targeting of Ukraine amid troop buildup


The increase in tensions between the United States and Russia due to Moscow amassing troops on the border with Ukraine is raising concerns Russia may not only put boots on the ground but also turn to hacking operations to put pressure on the U.S. and Ukraine.

Those concerns are underlined by massive hacking efforts by Russia against Ukraine over the past few years and the ransomware attacks linked to Russian hackers against critical U.S. organizations.

“This is a Russian calling card,” Mark Montgomery, senior director of the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Hill Wednesday. “I do worry that they will use their cyber and disinformation tools to try to undermine the stability of the Ukrainian economic security and national security.”

Ukraine is no stranger to Russian aggression in cyberspace and has often been viewed by experts as a testing ground for Russian cyber capabilities, with attacks ramping up after fighting broke out between the two nations in 2014.

Trollfare: How to Recognize and Fight Off Online Psyops


EU President Ursula von der Leyen and others have correctly diagnosed Belarus’ use of migrants as part of a “hybrid attack” against Europe’s democracies. But most have missed a key component of this and other such attacks: the psychological operations deployed online. The West must get better at detecting and countering them.

This starts by understanding common tactics, including the 5D toolkit: distort, distract, dismiss, deny, and dismay. We have seen these tactics at work during the post-Euromaidan conflict in Donbass, when Russia used fake-news sites to distort public knowledge, used stand-alone casualty figures to distract from events, dismissed concerns about its military presence in the region, and denied involvement in the MH17 Boeing crash.

We have also seen the 5D kit at work in the recent escalation on the EU-Belarusian border. The migrant flows are distracting the world from Russia’s growing military presence in Belarus and on the Ukrainian border. Putin denies helping to bring illegal immigrants to Belarus, lying in the faces of European journalists’ reportage. Russian media distorts the facts, claiming that it is the United States preparing to launch a campaign in Donbass. They even enlist Western media in creating dismay by saying that conflict in the region could escalate into nuclear war. (And these tactics are not just aimed at Western governments. The manufactured crisis has distracted ordinary Belarusians from COVID-19, Stalin-era repressions, and an upcoming constitutional referendum.) All this has escalated xenophobia in Belarus, fueled anti-Western sentiments in Russia, and exacerbated tensions between all countries in the region.

New Blueprint to protect UK from Cyber Threats

Today (Wednesday 15th December) the Government has published its new National Cyber Strategy which sets out how the UK will solidify its position as a global cyber power. This is the first major milestone following the publication of the Government’s Integrated Review earlier this year.

The strategy builds on the significant progress made on cyber over the last five years which has seen the UK cyber security sector grow rapidly, with over 1,400 businesses generating revenues of £8.9 billion last year, supporting 46,700 skilled jobs, and attracting significant overseas investment.

Through the strategy, the Government is calling on all parts of society to play their part in reinforcing the UK’s economic and strategic strengths in cyberspace - this means more diversity in the workforce, levelling up the cyber sector across all UK regions, expanding our offensive and defensive cyber capabilities and prioritising cyber security in the workplace, boardrooms and digital supply chains.

Government Unveils National Cyber Strategy To Protect UK Plc

Tom Jowitt

The British government has today published its new National Cyber Strategy, to ensure the country has the necessary means to defend itself in cyberspace.

In essence, the new strategy aims to reinforce the UK’s economic and strategic strengths in cyberspace, including more diversity in the workforce.

It also seeks to level up the cyber sector across all UK regions, expand the UK’s offensive and defensive cyber capabilities, and prioritise cyber security in the workplace, boardrooms and digital supply chains.

The urgent need to stand up a cybersecurity review board

Adam Shostack, Tarah Wheeler, and Victoria Ontiveros

Just as Bill Murray wakes up each morning in Groundhog Day to the tune of Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe,” executives around the world today begin their days with a familiar piece of news: Their company has been breached. It takes Bill Murray’s weatherman character a few days to realize what’s happening to him and even longer to discover that he can change how he behaves. In cybersecurity that realization hasn’t happened, and, instead, we are living the same day over and over again, hoping that the same behavior will lead to a different tomorrow—one free of massive breaches.

Changing this cycle requires first understanding the problem of widespread cyber vulnerabilities, and the federal government is beginning to take steps to do so—but not fast enough. In May, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that tasked the secretary of homeland security to stand up a Cyber Safety Review Board that would investigate major incidents affecting government computing systems and to disseminate the lessons learned from such incidents. More than six months later, the board exists only on paper, and cyber Groundhog Day marches forward, doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. Amid widespread computer vulnerabilities, getting this board up and running should be a serious priority, one that has the potential to seriously improve the disastrous state of cybersecurity.

China Seeks Atlantic Ocean Military Base – Analysis

China is exploring the possibility of building its first military base on the Atlantic ocean, according to classified intelligence reports viewed by the Wall Street Journal.

The proposed host for the military base is Equatorial Guinea, a small central African country of approximately 1.4 million people. Politically, Equatorial Guinea is a one-party state ruled by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasongo for the past 42 years. The country consistently ranks among the worst in the world on human rights, with Freedom House assigning a zero score on political rights, lower than Eritrea, Iran, or Chad. Its economy is dominated by resource extraction, with crude petroleum exports accounting for 90 percent of government revenues. China is Equatorial Guinea’s largest trading partner.

The precise site is speculated to be the small deepwater port at Bata, the largest city in the country. The commercial port was overhauled and expanded from 2008-2014 with Chinese financing. Another infrastructure project expanded the highway network from Bata to Niefang in the east of the country. Taken together, the projects helped lay the groundwork for greater commercial penetration of central Africa, notably into Gabon and the Republic of Congo.

This New AI Tool Can Help Spot an Imminent Invasion


Just how many jets, cargo planes, and other military vehicles is Russia deploying to the border of Ukraine? Answering that sort of question is a labor-intensive project for analysts, requiring them to pore through satellite photos to find and classify specific objects. A new tool from data analysis firm Orbital Insight could change that.

The multi-class object detection algorithms can detect and classify a wide number of objects of relevance to the military, alerting analysts to events like buildups or unusual deployments anywhere that can be photographed by satellites. Orbital will announce the multi-class object detection algorithms today, part of the company’s GO platform.

Analysts “don't have enough time to look at all the targets. [They] focus on all the top-tier ones. But the idea [with the new tool] is to see what's also going on, in some of these second-tier and third-tier [ones] that may be really related,” Patrick Podejko, a geospatial analyst with Orbital Insight, said ahead of the public announcement. He estimated that the company tracks around 8,100 airfields worldwide, in addition to ports, testing facilities, and other locations.