20 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 

India in Space Domain - Pathbreaking Developments

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


India is now a major spacefaring nation. Initially, the Indian space programme was focused primarily on societal and developmental utilities. Today, like many other countries, India is compelled to use space for several military requirements like intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Hence, India is looking to space to gain operational and informational advantages.

India has had its fair share of achievements in the space domain. It includes the launch of the country’s heaviest satellite, the GSAT-11 which will boost India’s broadband services by enabling 16 Gbps data links across the country, GSAT-7A, the military communication satellite and the launch of the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV Mk III-D2, the GSAT 29. The Anti-Satellite (ASAT) test is an intrinsic part of today’s geopolitics and the national security context.

Counterterrorism Needs a Course Correction in 2022

Colin P. Clarke

As the coronavirus pandemic continued into its second year, its impact on terrorist attacks worldwide was palpable—and positive. In a report on terrorism from July, the United Nations stated that “in non-conflict zones … the threat remains suppressed by limitations on the ability of operatives to travel, meet, fundraise and identify viable targets.”

Nevertheless, though terrorism, like almost every other human activity, has been constrained by the pandemic, it hasn’t stopped evolving in the past year, shaped by several key developments. As more widespread distribution of vaccines allows parts of the world to begin opening up, there is growing concern that counterterrorism practitioners and security services are unprepared to deal with what could be a major spike in terrorist plots and attacks in the coming year.

Taking stock of how, where and why terrorism has changed in the past year is a necessary first step to countering it should it return with a vengeance when post-pandemic life returns to normal.

In Absence Of Soft Warfare, National Security Policy Will Continue To Fail Against Global Threats – Analysis

Joel Zamel

As talk – and animosity – swirls over the recently announced AUSUK alliance and the associated nuclear submarine deal and force projection in the Pacific, one can fairly ask major Western leaders whether they might not be missing the woods for the trees. True, said deal may well redefine military partnerships for the next half century. Yet, as important as such developments are in reshaping the global security environment, it is past time that leaders of the so-called ‘great powers’ pay greater attention to less abstract – and, frankly, less likely – threats, and instead begin to address those that pose a more immediate threat to national security through other means.

In terms of the age-old measurement of bang for one’s buck, allied nations would be better advised to focus on what one might term ‘soft warfare’ – a far cheaper, and certainly more effective, form of combat against the powers and groups that seek to do us harm. Soft power capabilities – the grey zone between diplomacy and kinetic force – offer a realm of solutions that are grossly under-appreciated – and under-deployed – by governments. The toolkit of influence campaigns, civil resistance and non-violent conflict methods, digital governance, and even private military corporations offer the full range of solutions to the most dangerous national security threats of today: tyrannical regimes from Pyongyang to Tehran; disinformation campaigns against democracies by rogue states; and failed states from Lebanon to Afghanistan.

The Great Rivalry: China vs. the U.S. in the 21st Century

Graham Allison

In the past two decades, China has risen further and faster on more dimensions than any nation in history. As it has done so, it has become a serious rival of what had been the world’s sole superpower. To paraphrase former Czech president Vaclav Havel, all this has happened so quickly that we have not yet had time to be astonished.

To document what has actually happened in the competition between China and the U.S. in the past twenty years, Professor Graham Allison has directed a major study titled “The Great Rivalry: China vs. the U.S. in the 21st Century.” Originally prepared as part of a package of transition memos for the new administration after the November 2020 election, these reports were provided to those leading the Biden and Trump administrations’ strategic reviews. They are now being published as public Belfer Center Discussion Papers. The major finding will not surprise those who have been following this issue: namely, a nation that in most races the U.S. had difficulty finding in our rearview mirror 20 years ago is now on our tail, or to our side, or in some cases a bit ahead of us. The big takeaway for the policy community is that the time has come for us to retire the concept of China as a “near peer competitor” as the Director of National Intelligence’s March 2021 Global Threat Assessment still insists on calling it. We must recognize that China is now a “full-spectrum peer competitor.” Indeed, it is the most formidable rising rival a ruling power has ever confronted.

The Middle Kingdom Meets Higher Education

Craig Singleton
Source Link


Confucius Institutes (CIs) are Chinese government-sponsored organizations offering Chinese-language, cultural, and historical programming at the primary, secondary, and university levels worldwide. CIs are also a key element in China’s “united front,” a network of groups and key individuals that seek to co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the policies and legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).1 CIs further serve as platforms that advance facets of China’s military-civil fusion (MCF), a national strategy aimed at acquiring the world’s cutting-edge technologies — including through theft — to achieve Chinese military dominance.2 China’s CI-enabled initiatives include the establishment of academic and research partnerships between top-tier American institutions and Chinese universities supporting Beijing’s military-industrial complex.

Between 2018 and 2021, the number of CIs operating in the United States fell from 113 to 34. Only four of these 79 closures were attributed to national security concerns, despite ample evidence that China leverages relationships with U.S. universities to acquire the technology and talent Beijing needs to win its strategic competition with the United States.3 CI closures began in earnest only after Congress passed legislation that bars universities hosting CIs from receiving certain types of funding from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The universities that have resisted shuttering their CIs are ones that do not receive federal funding jeopardized by this new legislation.

Analysis: Xi plays with dynamite reviving Bo Xilai's housing policy


Affordable housing comes before commercial housing.

That was the surprising message to come out of a key Chinese Communist Party meeting on the economy last week.

The policy will affect the fate of big property developers across the country, including the embattled China Evergrande Group, which has recently defaulted on part of its debt.

"President Xi Jinping has made clear that houses are for living in, not speculation," one Chinese economic source said.

"Affordable rental housing for low- and middle-income households was put ahead of the development of commercial housing by private companies," in the announcement after the Central Economic Work Conference, the source added. "This speaks volumes."

The annual gathering to discuss how to manage the world's second-largest economy was held for three days until Dec. 10 in Beijing.

The Threat of a China-Centric New World Order To understand what’s at stake, let’s talk geopolitics.


Since the end of the 19th century, the world has been what the great British geopolitical thinker Sir Halford Mackinder called a “closed political system.” The end of the age of discovery ushered in a post-Columbian world where, in Mackinder’s words, “Every explosion of social forces, instead of being dissipated in a surrounding circuit of unknown space and barbaric chaos, will be sharply re-echoed from the far side of the globe, and weak elements in the political and economic organism of the world will be shattered in consequence.” The events of the 20th century confirmed Mackinder’s observation — through two world wars and one cold war, the center of the world’s geopolitical landscape shifted away from Europe to North America and Asia. At the end of this “long war,” which lasted from 1914 to 1989, the formerly Euro-centric international system was at first temporarily replaced by America’s “unipolar moment,” which gradually receded with the emergence of today’s bipolar geopolitical contest between the United States and China.

The Asia-Pacific can serve as the base — the geopolitical heartland — from which China can make a bid for global dominance.

Economy notes in her article that the Sino-U.S. competition involves two very different visions of the global order. The U.S. vision, she explains, includes the rule of law, free markets, and a limited state role in people’s lives. “Xi,” she writes, “seeks to flip a switch and replace those values with the primacy of the state.” The CCP’s vision is of “a world in which the state controls the flow of information and capital both within its own borders and across international boundaries, and there is no independent check on its power.”

Do We Already Know How China Will Fight Future Wars?

James Holmes

Here’s What You Need to Remember: If indeed PLA strategists and their political overseers are serious about implementing the concept—and there’s little reason to doubt them—then their writings open a window into their thinking that could help China’s foes derive methods and hardware for hardening their own systems-of-systems while assailing PLA metasystems. Revisiting Western engineers’ musings about complex systems could bestow strategic advantage on allied forces in future contingencies—repaying the effort.

So “systems of systems”—not individual warriors or ships, planes, or tanks—go to war? Good to know. That’s what China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) thinks, at any rate. China’s 2015 Military Strategy, for example, vows to employ “integrated combat forces” to “prevail in system-vs-system operations featuring information dominance, precision strikes and joint operations.” This is how China’s armed forces intend to put the Maoist “military strategic guideline of active defense”—the “essence” of Communist China’s way of warmaking—into practice. They will fabricate systems-of-systems for particular contingencies and send them off to battle. Once there they will strive to incapacitate or destroy enemy systems-of-systems. Firm up your own weak spots while assailing an opponent’s and you shall go far.

Could The US Military Suffer Another Battle Of The Bulge?

Michael Peck

Is America vulnerable to another Battle of the Bulge today?

It was 77 years ago when the U.S. nearly suffered its greatest military disaster. On December 16, 1944, a massive German surprise offensive slammed into weak American forces defending the Ardennes region of Belgium.

For a few terrifying days, it seemed as Hitler’s panzer divisions might achieve a breakthrough that might not have saved the Third Reich, but could have prolonged the war. That Operation Watch am Rhein (Watch on the Rhine) ultimately failed was due to myriad reasons: a flawed and overambitious German plan, rough terrain that favored the defender, the depleted state of the Nazi war machine in late 1944, and superior U.S. artillery, airpower and logistics. And most important of all, the bravery of American troops who – despite some early battlefield lapses – fought stubbornly to delay and ultimately repel the German offensive.

Could America face a battle like the Bulge again?

In the purely military sense, the answer is no. The Germans deployed 200,000 troops and 600 tanks for the offensive, and that was just a fraction of the German army, the bulk of which was desperately fighting on the Eastern Front to stave off the Red Army. They faced 84,000 U.S. troops, which grew to 700,000 American and British soldiers by the end of the battle in mid-January.

Electric vehicles for military just a ‘matter of timeline’: BAE Systems Inc CEO

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REAGAN NATIONAL DEFENSE FORUM: With the Biden administration’s focus on clean energy, the CEO of BAE Systems, Inc., told Breaking Defense recently he believes that the US military’s adoption of electronic vehicles for its vast fleet is inevitable.

“It’s a matter of timeline,” Tom Arseneault, CEO of BAE Systems, Inc., said in an interview at the Reagan National Defense Forum earlier this month.

Arseneault’s comments come amid a push by the Biden administration toward hybrid-electric vehicles to reduce the government’s carbon footprint and tackle climate change, including reducing emissions of the federal vehicle fleet and ending purchases of gas-powered cars by 2035.

The military trails behind the automotive industry in adopting electric or hybrid vehicles, but the Pentagon too is pushing for a net-zero emissions department by 2050. Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said in November that includes a zero-emission non-tactical vehicle fleet.

Arseneault said for the DoD, “One of their largest expense items is fuel and so they recognize the logistics associated with that.”

Drone shot down near US base in Syria


A drone was intercepted near a military base in southern Syria on Tuesday, U.S. Central Command said.

Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said in an emailed statement that two unmanned aerials systems (UAS) were tracked entering a deconfliction zone on Tuesday evening.

As one drone continued deeper into the deconfliction zone, it was “assessed as demonstrating hostile intent and was shot down,” he said.

“The second UAS was not engaged and likely left the area. At-Tanf Garrison reports no casualties and no damage to facilities,” Urban said.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby later told reporters that the United Kingdom shot down the drone.

The UK’s defense ministry said in a separate statement that a Royal Air Force typhoon shot down a drone over the base with an advanced sort range air-to-air missile.

It was unclear who was behind the incident. NBC News, which first reported the incident on Wednesday, reported that Iran or Iranian-backed militia groups were suspected to be behind it.

Opportunities to deepen NATO-EU cooperation

Giovanna De Maio


The twin shocks of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal — along with the heavy toll of President Donald Trump’s tenure — have triggered an ongoing discussion in U.S.-Europe security relations. In particular, given the United States’ increased focus on the Indo-Pacific region in tackling the China challenge, the European Union has been more concretely reflecting on how to increase its military capabilities in regions which are no longer security priorities for Washington. So far, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been the key military organization responsible for security in the trans-Atlantic space; therefore, an increased military role for the EU raises questions about how the two organizations would relate to each other.

NATO and the EU do have a long track record of cooperation, from institutional cooperation to personnel exchange and joint exercises. Over the years the two organizations have also operated in tandem, with the EU’s Operation Althea taking over the capacity-building efforts of NATO’s Stabilization Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2004 and with both deploying simultaneous counterpiracy missions off the Somalia coast — Operation Ocean Shield (2009-2016) and Operation Atalanta (2008-2022). Moreover, NATO and the EU seem to also have converged in their respective strategic thinking along the lines of countering Russia and China’s aggressive behavior and malign economic influence, as well as threats coming from disruptive technologies and disinformation. Pressed by these challenges, NATO and the EU have progressively expanded their traditional range of military and civilian activities so much that their missions now partially overlap, with NATO embracing capacity-building and cyberoperations and the EU stepping up on crisis management.

Just Semantics: How Web 3.0 Can Make Digital Government a Reality

Yusuf Sohoye

Governments today are facing a number of wicked problems, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and regional inequality. It is important that they are equipped with the right tools to tackle these issues as best they can, and new technologies could provide part of the solution. Web 3.0, and the semantic web that makes up a large part of it, could have a place in the future toolbox to help tackle the mission of governments and serve the needs of their citizens.

Web 3.0 and the semantic web is an ambitious project, bringing together a number of positive principles, including interoperability and privacy. The realities of its implementation may be more unclear, resulting in uneven timelines for its adoption. But the pursuit of a digital government compatible with the semantic web is a worthy one, and has the potential to make governments more adaptable, inform evidence-based policymaking and provide better-quality services for its citizens.

The Future of NATO’s Strategic Concept

Antonia Colibasanu

2022 will bring two major diplomatic events for the trans-Atlantic community. First, in March, the European Union will adopt its Strategic Compass, a document meant to establish a common view on EU security and defense and thus to define, however vaguely, the notion of Europe’s “strategic autonomy.” Then at the Madrid Summit in June, NATO will adopt its new Strategic Concept, which lays out the strategy of the alliance, outlining its purpose and its fundamental security tasks and identifying challenges and opportunities it faces in the changing security environment. And as with all such documents, they serve a political purpose too in that they signal to the world how the EU and NATO see defense, security and trans-Atlantic ties.

But the debate leading up to the signing of the documents is more important than the final wording. The questions raised between now and then and the discussions over their answers paint a new European reality taking shape, one that could give way to increased bilateralism or close regional coordination within NATO and between specific member states on core strategic issues.

‘A Third World War': Russian official declares cyberwar already ‘in full swing’

Joel Gehrke

A global conflict between the great powers of the world is already "in full swing,” according to a senior Russian diplomat, and it's happening in cyberspace.

"The war [in cyberspace] is underway and unfolding very intensively,” the Russian Foreign Ministry’s international information security director, Alexander Krutskikh, told a political science conference on Thursday. “The media rightly says that this [is] a Third World War, and what matters now is to calculate the damage and determine who will lose it in the end and what shape the world will eventually acquire as a result of this war.”

Russian cyberattackers have enjoyed some high-profile successes against U.S. targets in recent years, according to U.S. intelligence officials, including the 2020 SolarWinds breach, which left thousands of entities vulnerable to Russian cyberspies for months. President Joe Biden threatened to retaliate against Russia’s energy sector if so-called ransomware attacks against American critical infrastructure continue, but Krutskikh’s comments foreground cyberconflict as a regular feature of geopolitical tensions.

France wants to transform its ‘beautiful’ army for high-intensity warfare


PARIS: Just as the US military has come to understand that the ‘’long wars’’ of Iraq and Afghanistan diverted forces from training for future full-spectrum peer-to-peer conflicts, the French military has been increasingly warning about the risks involved with two decades of heavy focus on overseas operations at the expense of incoming threats.

So it is no surprise that in his first national assembly testimony as Chief of staff of the French armed forces, Gen. Thierry Burkhard in October forcefully stressed the necessity for France to ‘’win the war before the war’’ and to be ready for high intensity warfare.

How that actually happens, of course, is the bigger question.

The current 2019-2025 program law, meant to catch up with the renewal of French armed forces equipment across the board, has been considered by many to be a good start towards refocusing France’s military. In an Oct. 7 presentation of the Army new capabilities at Versailles-Satory (referred to as PCAT 2021 for Présentation des capacités de l’armée de Terre), the new Chief of the French Army, Gen. Pierre Schill, referred to the current process of transformation as the “most important modernization undergone since World War II.”

Why Is Russia Threatening to Invade Ukraine?

Joshua Yaffa

For the moment, a video call on December 7th between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin seems to have avoided, or at least delayed, war in Ukraine. In the weeks prior, Russia had amassed an alarming number of ground forces and support personnel at the border, raising concerns of a looming invasion. As was the case before the first in-person meeting of the two Presidents in Geneva, in June, a cycle of escalation has seemingly given way to an opportunity for dialogue. Putin called the latest talks “open, substantive, and constructive.” But rather urgent questions remain: Why was a new round of conflict a possibility in the first place, and has the danger really gone away?

For Putin, Ukraine seems to be key not because he dreams of resurrecting the Soviet Union or enlarging the territory of modern-day Russia by force; rather, Ukraine presents an opportunity for Russia, once and for all, to reassert its geopolitical relevance. As Putin sees it, only the threat of war can reopen a conversation that, to many in the West, has long felt like settled history: the expansion of nato eastward, the denial of a Russian veto on questions of regional security, and the underlying sense that Russia lost the Cold War. If Ukraine joins nato, or is drawn into a de-facto military alliance with it, then Putin’s project has failed; if Ukraine is kept from doing so, Putin has fulfilled his historical role.

America’s TV News ‘Desert’ Is a Problem With Global Implications

Howard W. French

In the United States, in the space of little more than one week, the long-time heads of three major television news programs all stepped down, two of them fully of their own accord, and the other because of a political and journalistic scandal involving him and his brother, the recent former governor of New York.

The ins and outs of television news programming in the U.S. might seem on the surface to be a strange topic for a column that focuses by design on international affairs. But the case will be made here that the ongoing and worsening crisis in American democracy is, to some serious extent, a crisis of its journalism, too, and none more than television news, which is where most of the country’s citizens get their information.

Deserts are nutrition-poor environments, where the variety of life forms is restricted by a harsh climate and lack of irrigation. American television news has long been a kind of desert in many regards, but it has grown steadily narrower in focus and more predictable in its shallow left-right argumentation. And at least in terms of one of the leading networks—Fox News—it has also become the willing and even eager purveyor of known and often toxic falsehoods aimed at stoking the Republican Party’s political constituency.

Move Over Climate Change, This Is The Greatest Threat To Humanity

 ANIRUDH on Unsplash

The bulk of today’s apocalyptic language is aimed at climate change. Politicians and activists alike have labeled climate change as an existential crisis, the greatest threat we face, and lament how humanity is out of time to fix the problem. That is all well and good but that is not the biggest threat humanity faces.

The biggest modern threat to humanity is seventy five years old and does not garner nearly as much attention it deserves.

That threat is nuclear annihilation.

Much was made about nuclear weapons and their destructive power during the Cold War but since the fall of the USSR, much of the talk surrounding nukes has dissipated. The problem is, the nuclear weapons are still there.

In fact, nuclear weapons are quietly being modernized, expanded, and redeployed.

I fear humanity will blow itself to pieces long before the climate changes enough to do us in. Nuclear weapons are still the #1 threat our species faces.
More modern, more deadly, less concern

The Coming Carbon Tsunami Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late

Kelly Sims Gallagher

In the struggle to combat climate change, the world is fighting the last war. Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, countries have released one and a half trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The largest cumulative emissions have come from the United States, European countries, China, and Russia, in that order. But these countries are now prosperous enough to pay for policies that can place them on the path to net-zero emissions by midcentury. The top emitting countries of the future could come largely from the developing world—countries such as Brazil, India, Indonesia, and South Africa, which face the herculean task of bringing millions out of poverty while simultaneously adapting to the harsh realities of climate change.

If industrialized countries do not shoulder the responsibility to help prevent this next wave of emissions, the global effort to avoid climate disruption will fail. Efforts to ensure that today’s largest polluters rapidly curb their emissions are vitally important, but this progress risks being erased if poorer countries find it impossible to pursue a low-carbon development strategy. In order to simultaneously preserve the environment and help lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, rich countries must provide financing and policy support at a scale that has so far been unavailable to poorer countries.

How Do Russians Feel About a War With Ukraine?

Andrei Kolesnikov

One of the most asked questions in recent weeks has been whether Russia will attack Ukraine, despite a slight lessening of tensions in the wake of last week’s video call between the Russian and U.S. presidents. But how would ordinary Russians respond to a war with neighboring Ukraine?

Our 2015 research—“Do Russians Want War?”—showed that there is little enthusiasm for a “real,” large-scale war among members of Russia’s modern, urban society (the country’s military operations in Syria and eastern Ukraine in recent years were not seen as real wars).

The military action in Donbas in 2014, which took place against the backdrop of the triumphal seizure of Crimea, was viewed very positively by the Russian public. As soon as it became clear that Donbas was a different form of operation to Crimea, however (far bloodier and more destructive), public opinion went on the defensive: “Russia has nothing to do with it, the United States and Ukraine are to blame for all the loss of life, and there’s no real war under way in any case.”

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.

Democratizing harm: Artificial intelligence in the hands of nonstate actors

Sarah Kreps


Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have lowered the barrier to entry for both its constructive and destructive uses. Just a few years ago, only highly resourced states and state-sponsored groups could develop and deploy AI-empowered drones, cyberattacks, or online information operations. Low-cost, commercial off-the-shelf AI means that a range of nonstate actors can increasingly adopt these technologies.

As the technology evolves and proliferates, democratic societies first need to understand the threat. Then they can formulate effective policy responses. This report helps them do both. It outlines the contours of AI advances by way of highlighting both the accessibility and appeal to nonstate actors such as terrorist, hacking, and drug trafficking groups. Based on the analysis, effective or feasible policy responses are unlikely to include outright bans on AI or autonomous vehicles that rely on AI because of questions about enforceability. AI is so diffuse that such bans are not practical and will not be effective. Instead, public-private partnerships will be key in incorporating software restrictions on commercial robotics, for example, which would address the potential consequences of nonstate actors using AI to program the flight and targeting of a drone.

2021 was the year cybersecurity became everyone's problem

Ina Fried

This year marked a turning point for malicious attacks on computer systems, fueled by a rise in nation-state attacks and ransomware.

Why it matters: Once a worry mostly for IT leaders, the risk of a cyber intrusion is now a top concern for CEOs and world leaders.

Driving the news:

May's Colonial Pipeline attack helped drive that message home, as did ransomware attacks on cities and hospitals — emphasizing the very real world impact that cyber attacks can have.
Meanwhile, the current Log4j flaw shows just how vulnerable our digital systems are. It's a single piece of open source code, but it is used so broadly and the flaw so fundamental that it potentially opens nearly every business and government to attack.

The big picture: Evidence that cybersecurity has become the big issue abounds. Foreign Affairs devotes the current issue to the topic, while J.P. Morgan International Council identified it as the most significant threat facing businesses and government in a report released Thursday.

Google Warns That NSO Hacking Is On Par With Elite Nation-State Spies

THE ISRAELI SPYWARE developer NSO Group has shocked the global security community for years with aggressive and effective hacking tools that can target both Android and iOS devices. The company's products have been so abused by its customers around the world that NSO Group now faces sanctions, high-profile lawsuits, and an uncertain future. But a new analysis of the spyware maker's ForcedEntry iOS exploit—deployed in a number of targeted attacks against activists, dissidents, and journalists this year—comes with an even more fundamental warning: Private businesses can produce hacking tools that have the technical ingenuity and sophistication of the most elite government-backed development groups.

Google's Project Zero bug-hunting group analyzed ForcedEntry using a sample provided by researchers at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, which published extensively this year about targeted attacks utilizing the exploit. Researchers from Amnesty International also conducted important research about the hacking tool this year. The exploit mounts a zero-click, or interactionless, attack, meaning that victims don't need to click a link or grant a permission for the hack to move forward. Project Zero found that ForcedEntry used a series of shrewd tactics to target Apple's iMessage platform, bypass protections the company added in recent years to make such attacks more difficult, and adroitly take over devices to install NSO's flagship spyware implant Pegasus.

How Will SATCOM Evolve From GWOT To Great Power?


The Space Force’s Satellite Communications Enterprise Management and Control (SATCOM EMC) program is the Defense Department’s strategy for melding military, commercial, and coalition satellite communications capabilities found in orbit (LEO), medium-Earth-orbit (MEO), and geosynchronous orbit (GEO). It’s part of a strategic pivot away from the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) to the Great Power competition against China and Russia and all-domain operations.

In this Q&A with Mike Dean, chief of DoD SATCOM, we discuss the value of developing capabilities in low-Earth orbit, how payment models for SATCOM are changing, and a status report on SATCOM EMC.

Breaking Defense: How is the military using SATCOM today, compared to how it was used at the height of the GWOT?

Facebook whistleblower lands book deal


Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen is writing a book that will include “a critical examination of Facebook,” after revealing what critics say is damning information about the social media giant.

Little, Brown and Co, an imprint of the publishing house Hachette Book Group, announced on Thursday that it will be publishing Haugen’s book.

The title and release date for the book have not yet been determined, according to The Associated Press. The imprint did not reveal any financial terms of the deal.

“During my time at Facebook I realized a devastating truth: almost nobody outside of Facebook knows what happens inside of Facebook. They operate in the dark,” Haugen said in a statement, according to the AP.

“They win by keeping their systems closed without oversight or transparency, by shrouding their operations in secrecy and PR spin. I came forward because I believe that every human being deserves the dignity of the truth — and the truth is that Facebook buys its astronomical profits by sacrificing our safety. But it does not have to be this way — these problems are solvable. We can have social media we love that also brings out the best in humanity. My hope is that this book will show us the way,” she added.

Meta takes action against spyware companies targeting 50K individuals


Meta, the parent company of Facebook, on Thursday announced that it was taking action to crackdown on seven surveillance-for-hire companies that had attempted to target around 50,000 users.

The company detailed its concerns around the surveillance groups in a threat report released Thursday, noting that it had disabled accounts used by the groups, shared its findings with other platforms and security researchers, had issued cease and desist warnings to six of the groups, and was warning impacted individuals in over 100 countries.

Those targeted included journalists, human rights activists, government dissidents, families of opposition members, members of the clergy, and many others.

The companies Meta took action against, after a months-long investigation, were Israeli firm Cobwebs Technologies, whose spyware had been used to collect information on targets across a variety of social media platforms and the dark web. A second Israeli company, Cognyte, was also among those impacted by the actions announced Thursday, with 100 Facebook and Instagram accounts linked to Cognyte taken down.

The Speed of Warfare Is Getting Faster—Thanks to Artificial Intelligence

Kris Osborn

The tactical advantages of AI-enabled warfare and weaponry may seem far too numerous to cite, yet the majority of them pertain to one clear, simple concept—speed.

The speed of decision-making, when mere seconds can decide life or death in warfare, is being completely redefined through the advent of artificial intelligence (AI). AI-empowered computers can take pools of incoming data from otherwise disparate sensor streams of information, organize and perform analytics on the information, and use it to solve problems, make determinations and recommend courses of action.

“We're trying to reduce the decision time and we're trying to reduce the cognitive burden on the commander on the battlefield. If you look into the future, the battlefield will be more expansive. Decisions will be required more rapidly,” Maj. Gen. Ross Coffman, Director for Next-Generation Combat Vehicles Cross-Functional Team at the Army Futures Command, told the National Interest in an interview.