11 August 2022

USD (Policy) Dr. Kahl Press Conference

Dr. Colin Kah

STAFF: All right, good afternoon, everyone.

Joining us today is Dr. Colin Kahl, the under secretary of defense for policy. Dr. Kahl will open with a statement which highlights the next round of security assistance for Ukraine under the presidential drawdown authority. We'll then open up to the room and to the phones for Q&A. We have around a 30-minute hard stop today, so we'll do our best to get around as best we can.

And with that, Dr. Kahl, over to you, sir.

UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE (POLICY) COLIN KAHL: Great. It's good to see all of you. Good afternoon. It's been a while. It's good to see all of you again. I -- I last saw you, I think, on June 1st for the announcement of the 11th presidential drawdown package. We are now on PDA package 18. As we have made clear at every level of this administration, we're committed to continued security assistance for Ukraine as they stand up to Russia's unprovoked and unjustified invasion.

The SciOps Conundrum: A Case Study on Applied Analytics

Maj. Gen. Patrick B. Roberson, Maj. Stuart Gallagher

The year is 2030. The troops stand in precise rank and file, ready for inspection. Their pristine metallic forms reflect the bright lights of the staging hangar where they await orders for their next mission. After days of patient waiting, the elite T-1000s receive their much anticipated download. Green light: Return to 1995 – engage and eliminate John Connor.

Hollywood loves its military use of artificial intelligence (AI),[1] but reality may comfort movie buffs and doomsday seers alike: AI and other advanced analytics have far more mundane uses in routine military processes. From managing and shaping human talent to predictive maintenance of vehicles and equipment,[2] data and analytics remain pragmatic and practical. That pragmatism is due in part to what is realistically possible from the scientific perspective, and in part to what is actually useful from the operational perspective. Fully autonomous hunter-killer robots are scientifically possible, but raise a tremendous host of ethical, moral, and operational issues that make them highly controversial and operationally useless in modern warfare. Meanwhile, time travel might be operationally valuable, but is not scientifically possible...yet. For those concerned about Mr. Connor, take heart: neither are likely to change in the near future.

Silent Partner: Did Pakistan Help America Assassinate Zawahiri?

Rupert Stone

Lacking boots on the ground in Afghanistan, Washington’s reliance on Islamabad may now be greater than ever before.

When announcing the U.S. airstrike that killed Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul, President Joe Biden paid tribute to America’s “allies and partners.” He didn’t provide any names, but it is safe to assume that one of them was Pakistan, a troublesome but long-standing counterterrorism partner for the United States in Afghanistan.

Islamabad has denied playing any sort of role in the operation, but it has usually denied involvement in CIA drone strikes in the past, even when the evidence clearly showed some form of secret approval and collaboration. There are a number of reasons why Pakistan almost certainly helped in this case, too.

India Can’t Dethrone China as the World’s Manufacturing Power

Ruodan Xu , Danny Xu

Ever since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, many in the West have discussed the need for supply-chain diversification to decrease their dependence on China for manufactured goods. Recently, these conversations reemerged as China faced new lockdowns that paused economic activities. Due to its large and young population, lower wages, and relatively diverse industries, India has been a popular candidate for replacing China as a manufacturing powerhouse in the global supply chain. As an English-speaking liberal democracy as well as a member of the Quad and the newly introduced Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), India also enjoys close relations with Western countries, many of whose business leaders happen to be ethnic Indians. Additionally, last month, the United Nations predicted that India’s population would surpass China’s in 2023.

With everything seemingly going right for India, can it really replace China on the global supply chain? Unfortunately for India, due to its insufficient labor quality and infrastructure investment, fractured society, market restrictions, and trade protectionism, the South Asian nation is unlikely to replace China in the global manufacturing supply chain anytime soon.

We’re not going to take the bait:’ DoD downplays China escalation around Taiwan


WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s top policy official refuted reports claiming that US officials now believe China could invade Taiwan by 2024, but stated that China’s recent military activities around Taiwan are an attempt to create instability in the region.

“Clearly, the PRC is trying to coerce Taiwan. Clearly, they’re trying to coerce the international community. And all I’ll say is, we’re not going to take the bait and it’s not going to work,” Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, told reporters today.

“It’s a manufactured crisis, but that doesn’t mean we have to play into that. I think it would only play to Beijing’s advantage. What we’ll do instead, is to continue to fly, to sail and to operate wherever international law allows us to do so and that includes in the Taiwan Strait, and we will continue to stand by our allies and partners in the region.”

Kahl’s comments come just days after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which inflamed Beijing and prompted a series of Chinese military exercises. In the wake of the visit, which spanned from Aug. 2 to Aug. 3, numerous media outlets such as Fox News have reported that China could seek to mount an invasion of Taiwan as early as 2024 — when both Taiwan and the United States are set to hold presidential elections — citing statements from current and former US officials.

But when asked whether the United States had a new assessment that China could attempt to take over Taiwan in two years, Kahl replied, “No.”

Still, Kahl said the Pentagon was watching closely military demonstrations China held last week, where it simulated a blockade around Taiwan using ships and aircraft that crossed over the median line between China and Taiwan.

“Clearly what they’re trying to do is salami slice their way into a new status quo,” he said. While China’s activities don’t seem to have had a major impact on the global economy, “obviously there could be a point at which the PRC could engage in activities that would have economic consequences” due to Taiwan’s status as the world’s largest producer of advanced semiconductors, Kahl said.

During those demonstrations, China shot about a dozen missiles that landed in the waters north and east of Taiwan, along with five missiles that landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Kahl said. However, he did not go so far as to say that China had flown missiles over Taiwan.

“We know a number of missiles blew into an area where it would look like the track might be passing over Taiwan, but the reason I’m a little cautious here is because… a lot of it depends also on the loft and trajectory and what you consider to be ‘over,’” he said. “I don’t have the physics in front of me.”

Rationing and blackouts are a possibility this winter

James Forsyth

The debate about energy in the UK has largely concentrated on just how high prices will go. This is understandable given how seismic the October and January increases in the energy price cap are likely to be. But today’s announcement from Norway that it will prioritise refilling domestic reservoirs over exporting hydropower to countries like the UK is a reminder that supply may soon become an issue too.

In a crisis, borders reassert themselves as Covid showed. What happened with PPE and medical supplies during the pandemic may well happen with energy this winter. This is a concern for the UK given that it imports large quantities of energy during the winter.

If there are circumstances in which Norway, France, Holland or Belgium limit exports because of the need to maintain domestic supply that will cause problems for the UK. The National Grid currently says that the UK will avoid blackouts this winter, but there is little room for unpleasant surprises in their calculations.

Al Qaeda’s Zawahiri Would Have Made a Great American Pundit

Jon Schwarz

ACCORDING TO THE Biden administration, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Al Qaeda, died in a U.S. drone strike on Sunday. Zawahiri had inherited his position from Osama bin Laden after bin Laden was killed in 2011, and he was always one of Al Qaeda’s most ardent propagandists, forever issuing edicts and manifestos. They were meandering and verbose, but if you hack your way through his verbiage, you find that Zawahiri’s rhetorical tricks were — to an incredible degree — exactly the same as those used by American pundits.

One of Zawahiri’s screeds tells you everything you need to know.

In 2007, an Egyptian Islamist named Sayid Imam Sharif wrote a harsh critique of Al Qaeda’s violence. This rocked the jihadist world, since Sharif had been, as described by Lawrence Wright, “one of the first members of Al Qaeda’s top council.”

Climate Change and National Security with Erin Sikorsky

David Priess

Climate change and its effects are increasingly recognized as important subjects of national security research and analysis. Few issues of international political economy or international security avoid some intersection with warming global temperatures, evolving environments for human habitation, and/or changing geography.

Erin Sikorsky has been studying these and related issues for decades, first within the U.S. Intelligence Community and now at the Center for Climate and Security. David Priess had a wide ranging conversation with Erin about her career in government and beyond, how intelligence officers look at climate, a method of categorizing climate risk, how NATO is tackling climate-related issues, the missed opportunity to emphasize renewables over fossil fuels after Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the Climate Security Advisory Group, increasingly bipartisan support for climate security action, the roles of the public and Hollywood in addressing climate change, how various movies and books have examined these issues, and more.

White House Sending Key Air Defense System Ammunition To Ukraine


The United States announced $1 billion in additional security aid for Ukraine on Monday that includes ammunition for much-anticipated air defense systems that Kyiv has said are critical to defending against long-range Russian missile attacks.

The package also includes thousands of rounds of ammunition for the ground artillery and rocket systems that are defining the current ground battle. The package includes another 75,000 rounds of 155 mm artillery, 1,000 Javelin anti-tank weapons, HIMARS ammunition, and, for the first time, medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM) for the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile defense capabilities Ukraine will get from Norway.

“Right now the priority is to make sure that the Ukrainians have the ammunition to keep them in the fight,” said Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy.

Loitering Munitions Proliferate as Tech Changes Battlefield

Stew Magnuson

PARIS — If there was ever one-stop shopping for anything an army would need as far as loitering munitions, it was all the way back in Hall 6, aisle F at the Eurosatory trade show in Paris in June.

There, attendees found the Uvision booth and its complete lineup of so-called “kamikaze drones,” ranging in six sizes along with all the accessories, including controllers and training systems.

A quadcopter drone also hung on display from the booth’s ceiling.

“Is that a loitering munition, too?” a reporter asked a company representative, having never seen a vertical takeoff and landing drone armed with a warhead.

“No, just for surveillance,” said the representative.

“But it could be armed. It is possible, right?”

Anti-Radiation Missiles Sent To Ukraine, U.S. Confirms


Colin Kahl, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, confirmed today that American authorities have transferred unspecified "anti-radiation missiles" to the Ukrainian armed forces that they can launch from at least some of their existing aircraft. Though Kahl did not say what type of missiles had been passed to the Ukrainians, his remarks follow the emergence of pictures on social media showing the apparent remains of an AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) said to have been fired at a Russian position. You can read more about what we know already about the potential use of AGM-88s in Ukraine in this recent War Zone report.

Anti-radiation missiles (ARMs) home in on enemy radio frequency emissions, primarily from radar arrays belonging to enemy air defense systems, and destroy or disable them.

Kahl made his comments at a press briefing today where he announced a new U.S. military aid package for the Ukrainian armed forces, which could ultimately have a value of up to $1 billion. This particular aid package includes additional Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) rockets for use in U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), unspecified munitions to go along with National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) American authorities are providing, additional Javelin anti-tank missiles, and more.

Looking beyond the Biden Visit to the Middle East and the “Fist Bump”

Anthony H. Cordesman

If one looks back on media coverage of Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia – and far too many of the analyses of the visit that have followed – it is amazing to see how much of that coverage focused on the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, the President’s “fist bump,” and on short term issues and trends.

The key strategic challenges the U.S. faces in the Middle East are longer term and they go far beyond most of the reporting and discussion of the Biden visit.

These strategic challenges involve:Dealing with the broader levels of instability and failure in the greater Middle East;

Failing to address the key security issues in the MENA Region, and rebuild relations with security partners;

U.S. relations with Israel and the Palestinians: The death of the two state solution and “facts on the ground;” and

Officials: Pakistani Militant Leader Killed in Afghanistan

Munir Ahmed

A late night roadside bombing in eastern Afghanistan struck a vehicle carrying members of the Pakistani Taliban group, killing a senior leader and three other militants, several Pakistani officials and militant figures said Monday.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the Sunday night killing of Abdul Wali, also widely known as Omar Khalid Khurasani, in Afghanistan’s Paktika province. His death is a heavy blow to the Pakistani Taliban, also known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan group or the TTP.

The TTP blamed Pakistani intelligence agents for the killing, without offering evidence or elaborating.

The three other slain militants included Khurasani’s driver and two of his close aides. No one else was in the car at the time of the attack, according to Pakistani officials and the TTP members who spoke to The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the attack has not yet been publicly announced.

India’s Latest Concerns With the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is back in the news again. At the third meeting of the CPEC Joint Working Group on International Cooperation and Coordination (JWG-ICC) held on July 21, China and Pakistan decided “to promote cooperation schemes involving third parties in line with existing consensus, including extending to Afghanistan.” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reportedly said that China “hopes to push the alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the development strategies of Afghanistan, support the extension of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan, and share China’s development opportunities.”

India has expressed its concerns about the new plans proposed by China and Pakistan. A Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson responded to a media query about the issue by stating that “such actions by any party directly infringe on India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” The spokesperson added that “India firmly and consistently opposes projects in the so-called CPEC, which are in Indian territory that has been illegally occupied by Pakistan.” India has called such activities “inherently illegal, illegitimate, and unacceptable.”

China-US Tensions a Moment of Reckoning for the Indo-Pacific Order

Monish Tourangbam and Radhey Tambi

The China-U.S. relationship is at a moment of reckoning and so are the geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific. While there is no doubt that a new great power competition has broken out between the U.S and China, uncertainties abound regarding its character.

Is it akin to the Cold War of the last century between the U.S. and the Soviet Union? Will any of the geopolitical flashpoints across the Indo-Pacific, including the Taiwan Strait, lead to a kinetic exchange of fire between the U.S. and China? Will the exchange of threats and allegations amidst strategic signaling through power projection, particularly in the maritime belly of the Indo-Pacific, continue while the political leadership on both sides explore ways of de-escalating any inadvertent crisis or avoidable accidents?

Close on the heels of a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping, U.S House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has, expectedly, triggered an avalanche of demarches from Beijing, and brought China-U.S. geopolitical tensions to a boil yet again.

The fallout from Europe's energy crisis


The European Union has called on members of the trading bloc to slash their use of natural gas as Russia cuts deliveries. European wholesale natural-gas prices jumped last week when Russia announced the reduction of flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which carries natural gas from Russia to Germany and is now down to 20 percent of normal capacity. Energy experts warn that a brutal heat wave, a hydropower shortage, and corrosion issues at French nuclear reactors are contributing to the continent's worsening energy crisis, according to The Wall Street Journal.

European leaders have accused the Kremlin of blackmailing them as punishment for supporting Ukraine's resistance to Russia's invasion. They are scrambling to find alternative fuel sources before winter and trying to reduce demand to help them stockpile fuel before cold weather hits. Spain, for example, published rules last week telling businesses not to cool indoor spaces below 81 degrees Fahrenheit, or heat them above 66 degrees. What does this energy crisis mean for Europe's future?

Putin and the failure of Western Intelligence

Jack Barsky, Alexis Papazoglou

The West has struggled to predict and later understand Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin is a big reason for that. His KGB past is still mythologised in the West, and he is often portrayed as either a ruthless strategist or a victim of his own paranoia. Jack Barsky, an ex-KGB agent during the Cold War, offers an insight into Putin’s past, his strategy in Ukraine, and highlights the mistakes of Western intelligence and foreign policy when it comes to understanding the war in Ukraine.

There is a mystery and intrigue surrounding Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin, that feels like a remnant of the Cold War. Putin in particular carries with him some of the darkness and mythology that accompanied the KGB, having served as an agent in the security agency in Dresden, Germany.

The Taliban Are Wrecking Ashura Too

Lynne O’Donnell

The most important commemoration of the Shiite religious calendar has been marked in Afghanistan with more than 100 deaths in targeted attacks on worshippers and the cancellation of the official public holiday of Ashura by the Taliban, who now control the country. Residents of Kabul report that the internet has been shut down in parts of the city, and flags, banners, and traditional activities—such as community tea stalls—have been destroyed in what many believe is part of concerted attempts to eradicate them altogether.

Ashura, which falls on Aug. 8 this year, culminates a month of mourning to commemorate the death of Imam Hussain ibn Ali, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad who was killed in the late 7th century in what is now Iraq. His death cemented the schism within Islam between followers of his father, Ali, known as Shiites, and Sunnis, who make up the vast majority of Muslims worldwide and generally regard Shiites as apostate. In Afghanistan, Shiites—who are also mostly of the Hazara ethnicity—are regularly attacked by the Taliban and other Sunni extremist groups.

Beijing’s Taiwan Aggression Has Backfired in Tokyo

William Sposato

TOKYO—China’s four days of military exercises encircling Taiwan in response to a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week has clear ramifications for Japan. The show of military muscle just 70 miles from Japanese territory and the firing of ballistic missiles into waters controlled by Japan were clearly meant as a warning that the country risks being dragged into any future conflict in the region.

While China’s motives in indirectly targeting Japan are not known, the results are pretty clear. The surprisingly extensive military action is bringing a new sense of urgency to heighten Japan’s defense capability, substantially raise the defense budget, and, potentially, institute new rules that would for the first time allow preemptive military steps if Japan is at risk. It’s hard to see how any of these meet Beijing’s policy goals.

The military exercises included the firing of five missiles that overflew Taiwan and landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the firings represented “serious threats to Japan’s national security and the safety of the Japanese people.” China’s foreign ministry brushed aside Japan’s protests. It said that there was no EEZ, because Japan had failed to negotiate with China over proper boundaries between Chinese territory and the string of islands that stretch from Japan’s Okinawa region, with the westernmost isle just 70 miles from Taiwan. Beijing, which claims 90 percent of the entire South China Sea as its own, is no stranger to sweeping maritime claims.

Russian Hacker Warns Cyberwarfare Will Turn Deadly


The founder and former leader of Russian-based hacking group Killnet has stated that cyberwarfare will result in casualties, just days after threats against a major American weapons manufacturer reportedly came to fruition.

On Sunday, that hacker, Killmilk, told the Russian news site Gazeta.Ru that he has helped galvanize countless other hackers who "for one reason or another, support Russia in the NWO [New World Order]," pledging to "be a pioneer" if pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian hackers confront one another to the point where deaths occur.

"In Russia, I will become a hero, and abroad, a criminal," said Killmilk, who launched Killnet on November 1, 2021. "Soon, I and Killnet will launch powerful attacks on European and American enterprises, which will indirectly lead to casualties. I will do my best to make these regions and countries answer for each of our soldiers," he said, according to an English translation.

The Fallout Over Taiwan

George Friedman

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan predictably sparked outrage in China, which responded by flexing its muscles through some not-at-all subtle military exercises. The two important questions here are why did Pelosi go to the island in the first place, and why does Beijing care enough to deploy its fleet?

The Pelosi aspect is far more interesting but much less important. We don’t know exactly why she visited Taiwan. Some claim she went because of her long-standing opposition to Chinese human rights violations, rooted in an increasingly Chinese electoral base in her district. Others claim that she felt there was nothing to lose if the Republicans take back the House in November. Some accounts say she went in defiance of the Biden administration, while others say she was an agent of the administration. One argument goes that the administration thought that a provocative visit by someone not technically in the administration, and therefore deniable, would move the Chinese in U.S.-Chinese negotiations, by showing that the U.S. was prepared to be assertive.

Is the Sri Lankan Debt Crisis a Harbinger?

Shantayanan Devarajan and Homi Kharas

Sri Lanka is in the midst of the worst economic crisis in its 74-year history. An acute foreign exchange shortage has caused supplies of food, fuel, and other essential goods to dwindle. Almost 90 percent of Sri Lankans do not have enough to eat, according to the World Food Program. People stand in gasoline lines for days at a time, and schools have been closed for weeks. Power cuts of eight to ten hours a day are not uncommon. Patients die in hospitals for lack of medicine. For those goods that are available, prices are skyrocketing; overall annual inflation exceeds 50 percent, with the price of food rising by more than 80 percent. Since April, when the government announced that it would default on $51 billion in external debt, the Sri Lankan rupee has lost 75 percent of its value.

Popular outrage over the economic situation boiled over last month, igniting protests that eventually toppled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government. Hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans demonstrated outside the presidential palace, chanting “Go Home Gota” and waving signs decrying corruption and nepotism (three of Rajapaksa’s brothers served in his cabinet). On July 9, protesters stormed the president’s office and residence, forcing him to flee to Singapore.

With new contract, Army’s integrated EW and intel system for brigades reaches next phase


WASHINGTON: Lockheed Martin will start to deliver prototypes of a new brigade-level integrated electronic warfare and intelligence platform to the Army under a new $58.9 million contract award.

The July 13 award supports the manufacturing proof-of-concept phase for the Terrestrial Layer System-Brigade Combat Team (TLS-BCT), a suite of integrated sensors mounted onto a vehicle and designed to provide force protection and situational awareness tools, in addition to offensive EW and cyber capabilities to disrupt a targeted enemy’s systems.

According to an Army spokesperson, Lockheed Martin will build three TLS-BCT prototypes. The contract, awarded under an Other Transaction Agreement, runs through October 2023. TLS-BCT is managed by Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors.

Russian weapons in Ukraine powered by hundreds of Western parts, report says

Andrew Macaskill

LONDON, Aug 8 (Reuters) - More than 450 foreign-made components have been found in Russian weapons recovered in Ukraine, evidence that Moscow acquired critical technology from companies in the United States, Europe and Asia in the years before the invasion, according to a new report by Royal United Services Institute defence think tank.

Since the start of the war five months ago, the Ukrainian military has captured or recovered from the battlefield intact or partially damaged Russian weapons. When disassembled, 27 of these weapons and military systems, ranging from cruise missiles to air defence systems, were found to rely predominantly on Western components, according to the research shared with Reuters.

It is the most detailed published assessment to date of the part played by Western components in Russia's war against Ukraine.

Silicon Lifeline: Western Electronics at the Heart of Russia's War Machine

James Byrne, Gary Somerville, Joe Byrne

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 has not gone to plan. Launched in the expectation of a surgical occupation of Ukrainian cities, it has become a grinding attritional struggle that is rapidly degrading the Russian military. This report, which contains an examination of the components and functioning of 27 of Russia’s most modern military systems – including cruise missiles, communications systems and electronic warfare complexes – concludes that the degradation in Russian military capability could be made permanent if appropriate policies are implemented.

Cyberwarfare: Fortifying Your Defenses On The New Digital Battlefield

Sonali Shah

In 2012, the FBI noted that organized cybercrime would soon replace terrorism as the number one threat to America. Ten years later, cyberwarfare is a mainstay in the digital battlefield, and we see it unfolding in real time. As tensions between Ukraine and Russia came to a boiling point in early 2022, all eyes in the security community turned toward cyberattacks—with good reason.

In March 2022, a damaging and sophisticated cyberattack hit Ukraine's biggest fixed-line telecommunications company, Ukrtelecom, severely disrupting its connectivity on a national scale. At that time, research from Ukraine's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) revealed that there had been 60 coordinated cyberattacks, the majority of which have focused on information gathering and bringing down communication services. Cyber espionage is here to stay.

With geopolitical heat fueling the fire (you can't have cyberwar without politics, after all), governments and organizations alike need to step up their game and enter the digital war with the right army, modernized weapons and the best agile strategies for maintaining a secure software landscape.

There are a number of ways in which cyberattacks are different from conventional warfare. Let's review why these attacks are so detrimental to national security and what steps you can take to mitigate them.

Cyberwar has completely changed the battlefield. It is cheaper to execute and harder to attribute than physical warfare. Cyberwar levels the playing field. It costs the same to attack your neighboring nation as it does an enemy across the globe—and even countries with relatively poor financial standing can participate.

Many attackers take a low-and-slow approach, requiring very little bandwidth and generating traffic that is hard to distinguish from normal traffic. Once in, attackers can penetrate connected networks and applications—where they can linger for months, disrupting communications systems and stealing sensitive information like satellite images of troops or weapon locations.

These activities can take a while to detect; Verizon estimates in its Cyber-Espionage Report that discovery time for cyber espionage-related breaches is months to years, while containment time spans hours to weeks.

Skilled attacks are hard to attribute, making it difficult to retaliate. Unlike conventional war, bad actors don't even need to be physically present if they want to do serious damage. Terrorist organizations may even take credit for a cyberattack they did not commit just for credibility.

The damage of conventional warfare is calculated based on lives lost and the effort to rebuild, both of which can be estimated with fairly accurate data. However, the impact of cyberwar can be significant. According to an IBM report, the global cost of a data breach in the public sector grew by nearly 79% between 2020 and 2021, and in 2021, the average price of a breach was the highest in the report's history at just over $4 million.

Additional research from Crowdstrike's 2022 Global Threat Report shows that adversaries are adapting quickly. Crowdstrike added 21 new adversaries to its list of more than 170 tracked actors in 2021, highlighting an 82% increase in data leaks related to ransomware. Crowdstrike also confirmed that preferred exploitation methods by actors from China are shifting to focus heavily on exploitable vulnerabilities in internet-facing services and devices. The global digital war rages on.

Keeping yourself (and your business) safe in the cyberwar of today.

Exploiting vulnerabilities is the tip of the iceberg; cyberwarfare can wipe out critical infrastructure that entire nations rely on, such as air traffic control systems, energy sources and voting systems. If attackers get in, they can potentially hack weapons systems and initiate physical attacks through software.

I think we can safely assume that cyberattacks for political purposes will grow in size and frequency with an increasingly difficult recovery. Take the 2020 hack involving SolarWinds, for example. According to a Reuters report, SolarWinds said it spent at least $18 million in the first three months of 2021 alone investigating and remediating the incident. The majority of cyber espionage campaigns are challenging to respond to quickly, as 30% of attackers can steal their target data in mere minutes, according to research from Verizon.

Attacks on web applications are involved in 43% of breaches. There's no shortage of risk when you're designing, building and deploying software. Fortunately, there are ways for businesses and government agencies to mitigate this risk.

• Reduce risk by knowing your attack surface. This includes the full list of your applications and APIs, technology stack, business partners and employees. It's vital to regularly discover changes to your attack surface; you can't secure what you don't know about.

• Change must begin with top-down directives from leadership to foster a security culture. Whether it is not sharing passwords, locking your laptop when leaving your desk or learning secure coding practices, security must be built into the everyday life of your employees. Securing your digital attack surface is no easy task, and change will not be sustainable if it isn't part of the corporate culture.

• For companies that produce their own software—which is nearly every company these days—proactively and continuously improve your security hygiene throughout the application development lifecycle. Look to adopt DevSecOps practices and automated tools so that security and development teams can keep pace with one another.

Mitigating risk to thwart digital criminals in this new normal.

The reach of cyberwarfare is far and wide. Unlike conventional warfare, there is no clear beginning or end. The bad guys, whether nation-states or terrorist organizations, are continuously attacking. While many attacks may be unsuccessful, it only takes one to cripple a nation.

Organizations—public and private—must be proactive in securing their number one attack vector: web applications and APIs. Reducing risk by understanding your attack surface and adopting a culture of security alongside rapid vulnerability remediation is the only intelligent strategy to safeguard your web applications. With those efforts in place, you should have the foundational fortitude to stay one step ahead of malicious actors who look to manipulate the software on the modern battlefield.

Crypto and the US Government Are Headed for a Decisive Showdown

IF YOU HAVE paid casual attention to crypto news over the past few years, you probably have a sense that the crypto market is unregulated—a tech-driven Wild West in which the rules of traditional finance do not apply.

If you were Ishan Wahi, however, you would probably not have that sense.

Wahi worked at Coinbase, a leading crypto exchange, where he had a view into which tokens the platform planned to list for trading—an event that causes those assets to spike in value. According to the US Department of Justice, Wahi used that knowledge to buy those assets before the listings, then sell them for big profits. In July, the DOJ announced that it had indicted Wahi, along with two associates, in what it billed as the “first ever cryptocurrency insider trading tipping scheme.” If convicted, the defendants could face decades in federal prison.

Meta Takes Action Against Cyber Espionage Operations Targeting Facebook in South Asia

Alessandro Mascellino Freelance Journalist

Meta said it took action against two cyber espionage operations in South Asia: Bitter APT and APT36, respectively.

The company made the announcement in its Quarterly Adversarial Threat Report, Second Quarter 2022, which it published last Thursday.

In the report, Ben Nimmo, global threat intelligence lead, and David Agranovich, director of threat disruption, provided insight into the risks Meta saw worldwide and across multiple policy violations, particularly those perpetrated by those two hacking groups.

"We took action against a group of hackers — known in the security industry as Bitter APT — that operated out of South Asia, and targeted people in New Zealand, India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom,” read the report.

As China, Taiwan Tensions Flare, US Faces Shrinking Window to Deter Conflict


Even as China’s recent exercises near Taiwan highlighted Beijing’s growing ability to invade the small island nation, legislation working its way through Congress could help the United States arm Taiwan against such an attack. But there is disagreement in Taipei and in Washington about how best to fortify the island—and how much time they have to do so.

Last year, then-Indo-PACOM commander Adm. Philip Davidson said China might invade within half a decade. More recently, a former senior defense official called Davidson’s forecast too optimistic. “I am very confident that there is no real analysis behind that,” the former official told Defense One, adding an invasion or other major action is likely in 2024, when both Taiwan and the United States will hold presidential elections. Still, the most recent edition of the Pentagon’s annual report on China’s military concluded that Beijing “appears willing to defer the use of military force as long as it considers that unification with Taiwan could be negotiated over the long-term and the costs of conflict outweigh the benefits.”

Implications for Taiwan of the divergence in narratives on China’s future

Ryan Hass

Astark contrast in narratives about China’s future is emerging inside and outside of China. This is partly a function of the dramatic constriction in the flow of people and ideas into and out of China, owing to China’s COVID-19 quarantine requirements. There also are fewer foreign journalists in China to help the outside world make sense of developments. Those foreign journalists and diplomats who are in China often are limited in where they can travel and who they can meet. There also is tighter technological control over information inside China than at any point since the dawn of the internet age.

The Chinese Communist Party Propaganda Department’s triumphal narrative of the country’s successes is finding few takers outside of China. That has not diminished its determination to curate a single narrative of the country’s national condition inside China, though. China’s leaders believe narrative control is power. Even though their triumphal narrative is not embraced by everyone inside China, it is the party line, and it has become dangerous for anyone inside China to challenge it.

Inside China, the story is one of a country overcoming American hostility to return to its rightful place at the center of the world stage. In this telling, the balance of global power is tilting toward China. China is quickly narrowing the gap in economic output with the United States and will soon emerge as the world’s largest economy. Beijing is rapidly advancing its military capabilities. Through its COVID diplomacy and economic largesse, China is solidifying its place as leader of the developing world. At home, China is eradicating poverty, improving air and water quality, and lifting quality of life for many of its people. Meanwhile, the United States and other Western democracies are unraveling from within, plagued by political dysfunction and domestic divisions.