3 April 2023

Report: Chinese State-sponsored Hacking Group Highly Active

David Rising

A Chinese hacking group that is likely state-sponsored and has been linked previously to attacks on U.S. state government computers is still “highly active” and is focusing on a broad range of targets that may be of strategic interest to China’s government and security services, a private American cybersecurity firm said in a new report Thursday.

The hacking group, which the report calls RedGolf, shares such close overlap with groups tracked by other security companies under the names APT41 and BARIUM that it is thought they are either the same or very closely affiliated, said Jon Condra, director of strategic and persistent threats for Insikt Group, the threat research division of Massachusetts-based cybersecurity company Recorded Future.

Following up on previous reports of APT41 and BARIUM activities and monitoring the targets that were attacked, Insikt Group said it had identified a cluster of domains and infrastructure “highly likely used across multiple campaigns by RedGolf” over the past two years.

“We believe this activity is likely being conducted for intelligence purposes rather than financial gain due to the overlaps with previously reported cyberespionage campaigns,” Condra said in an emailed response to questions from The Associated Press.

‘Dare to fight’: Xi Jinping unveils China’s new world order

Joe Leahy, Kathrin Hille, Andy Lin

With China’s political class arrayed before him this month, Xi Jinping summed up his robust foreign policy to delegates with one vivid refrain: “dare to fight”.

The declaration at the National People’s Congress captured a new ethos for Beijing, spurred by the Chinese leader’s conclusion that the US-led world order is now in decline and ready to be replaced with a system that better suits China’s interests.

A flurry of diplomacy has already begun. Emerging from the self-isolation of China’s zero-Covid policy, the president conducted a state visit to Russia this month, published a paper on peace in Ukraine and prepared to receive visits from European leaders eager for his help to end the war. Also this month China convinced Iran and Saudi Arabia to resume diplomatic relations, its first such success as a mediator in the Middle East.

More subtly, China has put flesh on the bones of a series of foreign policy “initiatives” to create alternative structures for international co-operation, particularly with the developing world.

“China is now ready to gradually erode American leadership and promote Chinese governance,” said Zhao Tong, a senior fellow at the Carnegie think-tank and a visiting scholar at Princeton University.

For China, the diplomatic push is a natural extension of its growing economic power, and one that aims to restore its historic role at the centre of global politics. It also plans to counter Washington’s bid to “contain” China’s rise by curbing its technological and military prowess.

How China’s Spies Fooled an America That Wanted to be Fooled

Julian Ku

A review of Alex Joske, “Spies and Lies: How China’s Greatest Covert Operations Fooled the World” (Hardie Grant, 2022).

In American popular culture, foreign spying remains deeply associated with the Cold War and America’s principal antagonist, the Soviet Union. Countless novels, television shows, and films cast Russian spies as dangerous (yet often romantic) threats to America. But as the U.S. and China edge closer to a new Cold War, it seems clear that China has replaced the Soviet Union (and its successor, Russia) as America’s primary intelligence threat, even if one is hard-pressed to identify even one decent novel involving Chinese spies. While reports of Chinese spy-related arrests in the U.S. have grown dramatically during the past decade, the academic and policy literature lack a serious book-length study of China’s intelligence operations in the United States.

Alex Joske’s “Spies and Lies: How China’s Greatest Covert Operations Fooled the World” promises to fill this gap. Indeed, Joske’s work offers a rare, nonacademic study of China’s little-known intelligence agency, the Ministry for State Security (MSS). But while Joske does report on China’s spies, his thesis is quite different than one might expect. Rather than untangle the ways in which the MSS seeks to gather U.S. government or corporate secrets, Joske argues that the MSS’s greatest intelligence strength is its massively successful influence operation against U.S. political and business elites. In Joske’s telling, any U.S. military secrets gleaned by the MSS in recent decades pale in comparison to its amazingly successful efforts to deceive the highest levels of the U.S. policymaking world about China’s foreign policy goals and priorities. These deceptions, in Joske’s telling, kept the U.S. government from responding earlier to China’s threat to U.S. interests.

China Wants to Be at Center of New World Order, Top EU Official Says

Laurence Norman
BRUSSELS—China is seeking a new international order with Beijing as the dominant player, and the European Union must be more assertive in defending its security and economic interests, including possible EU-wide controls on outbound investment, the bloc’s top official said Thursday.

In a speech Thursday ahead of her trip to China alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, set to take place next week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU must continue engaging with Beijing but needs a strategy for “de-risking” its relationship and dependencies on China.

She also tied the future of Europe’s links with China to Beijing’s actions over the war in Ukraine and effectively called a halt to remaining hopes of enacting a 2020 EU-China investment agreement.

Citing China’s backing for Russia in the Ukraine war, its Belt and Road global infrastructure initiative and its assertiveness in multilateral bodies, Ms. von der Leyen said the Chinese Communist Party’s “clear goal is a systemic change of the international order with China at its center.”

“One, where individual rights are subordinated to national sovereignty. Where security and economy take prominence over political and civil rights,” she said in a speech hosted by two European think tanks, one of which, the Mercator Institute for China Studies, has been sanctioned by Beijing.
Josh Chin

Days before being named president for an unprecedented third term, Chinese leader Xi Jinping let loose with an unusually blunt attack on what he said was a U.S.-led effort to contain China. At the top of Mr. Xi’s list of concerns is Washington’s relationship with Taiwan.

Taiwan is a self-ruled island of 24 million people that China claims as its own. Separated from China’s southeastern coast by 100 treacherous miles of sea, it is a vibrant democracy that produces the vast majority of the world’s advanced computer chips. It is also a critical piece of Mr. Xi’s goal of restoring China’s standing as a great power. The Chinese leader has said taking control of the island is a task that “should not be passed down from generation to generation.”

Taiwan’s predicament is similar in many ways to Ukraine’s, though a conflict over Taiwan is more likely to include direct U.S. involvement. There is no indication war over Taiwan is imminent, but if one broke out, it could pit the world’s two largest militaries against each other, with the world’s two largest economies hanging in the balance.

Here’s a look at the past and present of tensions between China and the U.S. over Taiwan, and what it could mean for the future of the balance of power, in Asia and beyond.

The Latest: War in UkraineBiden Calls on Russia to Free Detained American Reporter

The United States and international press freedom organizations issued emphatic calls on Friday for Russia to release Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal detained on espionage charges that the newspaper has strongly rejected.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House as he departed for Mississippi to see recent storm damage, President Biden’s message to Moscow was blunt: “Let him go.”

Mr. Biden’s comments came a day after Mr. Gershkovich’s arrest, which markedly escalated tensions between Russia and the United States. The Kremlin’s spokesman has suggested the move was personally approved by President Vladimir V. Putin.

Expelling Russian diplomats or journalists in reprisal was “not the plan right now,” Mr. Biden said. The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said on Thursday that the State Department was in touch with the Russian government about Mr. Gershkovich’s arrest and was working to secure consular access to him.

Vice President Kamala Harris echoed the White House’s comments from Zambia, where she was on a diplomatic visit. “We are deeply concerned,” Ms. Harris said at a joint news conference with President Hakainde Hichilema, adding, “I will state in unequivocal terms that we will not tolerate — and condemn, in fact — repression of journalists.”

America’s Looming Munitions Crisis

Seth G. Jones

Leaders from both political parties in the United States agree that the country is locked in a strategic competition with China. The Biden administration’s National Defense Strategy, released in 2022, bluntly stated that China represents “the most comprehensive and serious challenge to U.S. national security.” Not to be outdone, Wisconsin Representative Mike Gallagher, the Republican chair of the House Select Committee on China, a special panel established in January, described U.S.-Chinese competition as “an existential struggle over what life will look like in the twenty-first century.” Now more than ever, it is easy to imagine today’s competition with China turning into a protracted regional conflict, such as a war in the Taiwan Strait.

War is always scary, but it is even scarier when your side is not sufficiently prepared. And indeed, the U.S. defense industrial base is inadequate if the United States and China were to go to war. In 2022, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where I serve as senior vice president, conducted a war game involving a Chinese amphibious invasion of Taiwan in 2026. The exercises revealed how quickly the United States would run through its current supply of weapons in the first few weeks of a major war. Certain critical munitions—such as long-range, precision-guided munitions—would likely run out in less than one week. To avoid these shortfalls, the United States would need to scale up its production of weapons, but doing so quickly would be extremely difficult.

Equally concerning, these gaps undermine deterrence—the linchpin of the United States’ defense strategy—because they reveal to all that the United States cannot endure a lengthy war. China has not made the same mistake. Beijing is acquiring high-end weapons systems and equipment five to six times as fast as the United States, according to some U.S. government estimates. Additionally, China would fight a war in the Taiwan Strait in its backyard, with easy access to its own industrial base. The United States would have to fight 7,000 miles from the shores of California.

Why Russia Fears HIMARS, Ukraine’s Greatest Weapon


Afew days after Thanksgiving 2022, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense tweeted a head-on photograph of an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launcher, its headlights illuminating a rainy night. Painted wide across the front of the truck and its open doors was a menacing, reptilian smile. With its pair of squat windshield portholes standing in for eyes, the weapon looked distinctly like a creature from Tim Burton’s classic film The Nightmare Before Christmas.

“In anticipation of Christmas, a smiling Himars [sic] collects occupiers under Christmas trees,” the caption read.

The barb, full of the insolent bravado that has made Ukraine’s social media accounts globally popular, played up the near-celebrity status that the HIMARS mobile rocket launcher has achieved among Ukraine’s supporters. Sweatshirts announcing “It’s HIMARS O’Clock” and stickers emblazoned with an image of the coffin-shaped launcher loaded and aimed skyward all offer a winking way to taunt Russian invaders. In October, the launcher was crowned “The Coolest Thing Made in Arkansas” by that state’s chamber of commerce, beating out Frito-Lay’s Cheetos, the iChill Mattress, and aviation fuel cells.

The Dollar Rules the Financial Universe. China Can’t Change That.

Marc Chandler

The financial shocks that keep hitting the dollar haven’t shaken its role in the world economy. The reasons matter. The dollar may not be eternal. But it won’t be China that knocks it down.

The confiscation of Russia’s central bank reserves and potential plans to use them to help Ukraine were thought to cut the dollar’s attractiveness. The U.S.’s increasing reliance on sanctions and weaponizing access to the dollar have escalated the talk of alternatives. The banking failures in the U.S. renewed questions about its susceptibility to destabilizing financial crises. Meanwhile, China’s ties with Saudi Arabia have led to speculation of a petro-yuan that displaces the petrodollar.

There are two ways the dollar could lose its place in the world economy: encroachment, in which another currency supplants the dollar, as the dollar replaced sterling a century ago, or abdication, where the U.S. pursues policies that shrink back from the global role it previously sought. Concerns about China fall into the encroachment camp, but little substance exists. The more significant threat is self-immolation. Those who see the dollar’s role as an exorbitant burden, not a privilege, want to abandon it. That would be a type of financial disarmament in the great game of international influence that extends beyond prices and quantities.

China may be Saudi Arabia’s biggest customer, but there’s no sign that Saudi Arabia will price oil in yuan. It makes no sense on several levels, including that the Saudi riyal is pegged to the dollar. When the Federal Reserve changes interest rates, the Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority and several other Middle Eastern countries typically quickly match the move.

Ukraine Victory Unlikely This Year, Milley Says


Ukraine is unlikely to expel all Russian forces from its territory this year, the top U.S. officer said Friday, giving a grim reality check to the expressed goal and hopeful ambitions of policymakers, diplomats, and defense leaders from Washington to Kyiv.

“I don't think it's likely to be done in the near term for this year,” Gen. Mark Milley said Friday in an interview with Defense One.

“Zelenskyy has publicly stated many times that the Ukrainian objective is to kick every Russian out of Russian occupied Ukraine. And that is a significant military task. Very, very difficult military task. You're looking at a couple hundred thousand Russians who are still in Russian-occupied Ukraine. I'm not saying it can't be done. I'm just saying it's a very difficult task,” the Joint Chiefs chairman said. “But that is their objective. They certainly have a right to that, that is their country. And they are on the moral high ground here.”

In November, Milley said in a press conference that the probability Ukraine was going to retake Crimea and expel all Russian forces “anytime soon is not high.” His comment stirred speculation that the United States was pressuring Zelenskyy toward negotiating territorial concessions with Russia.

On Friday, Milley said Russia “has failed” strategically, operationally, “and now they’re failing tactically, as well.” That followed his testimony to the House Armed Services Committee that Russian forces were “getting slaughtered” by Ukrainian troops, due in part to poor training and human-wave tactics.

Defeating Russia Is the Best Way for the West to Defend Taiwan

Hal Brands

Can the US help Ukraine while preparing to defend Taiwan? The answer, according to some likely Republican presidential aspirants, is no. If America fights an “endless proxy war in Ukraine,” says Senator Josh Hawley, it may fail “to deter China from invading Taiwan.” Giving Kyiv a “blank check,” argues Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, is no way to beat Beijing.

This argument sounds rigorously strategic, at first: Statecraft is about making hard choices. Yet statecraft also involves grasping complex truths. In this case, America is unlikely to succeed against China if it cuts Ukraine adrift — and supporting Kyiv in the current war may help the US get ready for the next one.

Begin with what should be obvious: Reducing support for Ukraine means increasing the odds of Russian victory. Ukraine can’t hold off Russian forces without arms and ammunition from the Western world; without the US, no combination of countries can provide the necessary support. That is indeed a sad commentary on the state of European defenses. It’s also a matter of realism.

If Russia imposes an unfavorable peace on Ukraine — one that leaves it controlling large chunks of Ukrainian territory — it will have the ability to renew aggression when it chooses. It will also create grave insecurity in Eastern Europe, which will, in turn, create more demands on US military power.

Yes, Washington could respond by leaving Europe to the Europeans. But that would negate 80 years of American grand strategy. It would turn the US into a regional power amid intensifying global competition. It surely wouldn’t elicit much cooperation, whether military, diplomatic or economic, from the world’s largest bloc of liberal democracies — Europe — in confronting the threat from Beijing.

These Angry Dutch Farmers Really Hate Microsoft


AS SOON AS Lars Ruiter steps out of his car, he is confronted by a Microsoft security guard, who is already seething with anger. Ruiter, a local councillor, has parked in the rain outside a half-finished Microsoft data center that rises out of the flat North Holland farmland. He wants to see the construction site. The guard, who recognizes Ruiter from a previous visit when he brought a TV crew here, says that’s not allowed. Within minutes, the argument has escalated, and the guard has his hand around Ruiter’s throat.

The security guard lets go of Ruiter within a few seconds, and the councillor escapes with a red mark across his neck. Back in his car, Ruiter insists he’s fine. But his hands shake when he tries to change gears. He says the altercation—which he will later report to the police—shows the fog of secrecy that surrounds the Netherlands’ expanding data center business.

“We regret an interaction that took place outside our data center campus, apparently involving one of Microsoft’s subcontractors,” says Craig Cincotta, general manager at Microsoft, adding that the company would cooperate with the authorities.

The heated exchange between Ruiter and Microsoft’s security guard shows how contentious Big Tech’s data centers have become in rural parts of the Netherlands. As the Dutch government sets strict environmental targets to cut emissions, industries are being forced to compete for space on Dutch farmland—pitting big tech against the increasingly political population of Dutch farmers.

Why are countries moving towards de-Dollarization?

Faisal Khan

We are seeing a global shift, as countries look for alternatives to the Greenback as the sole reserve currency — for various reasons

Let’s look at the historical perspective first. The US dollar has been the dominant currency in global trade and finance for decades, and its status as the world’s reserve currency has given the United States significant economic and geopolitical power. The dollar’s dominance has been driven by a number of historical factors, including the US’s position as the world’s largest economy, the strength and stability of the US financial system, and the country’s political and military power.

The first signs of this dominance started to show post the First World War — when the dollar began to displace the Pound Sterling as the international reserve currency and the U.S. also became a significant recipient of wartime gold inflows. This position strengthened further after World War II. The Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944 established the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency, and other countries agreed to peg their currencies to the dollar. U.S. ceased the direct convertibility of U.S. dollars to gold in 1971. This ended both the gold standard and the limit on the amount of currency that could be printed.

U.S. financial system’s strength and stability have also contributed to Greeback’s dominance as the global reserve currency. The US has a large and sophisticated financial system, with deep and liquid markets for a wide range of financial instruments. The US Federal Reserve, the country’s central bank, plays a critical role in maintaining the stability of the financial system and ensuring that the dollar remains the world’s reserve currency.

The European Union’s Artificial Intelligence Act, explained

Spencer Feingold

The European Union is considering far-reaching legislation on artificial intelligence (AI).

The proposed Artificial Intelligence Act would classify AI systems by risk and mandate various development and use requirements.

European lawmakers are still debating the details, with many stressing the need to both foster AI innovation and protect the public.

The European Union (EU) is considering a new legal framework that aims to significantly bolster regulations on the development and use of artificial intelligence.

The proposed legislation, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act, focuses primarily on strengthening rules around data quality, transparency, human oversight and accountability. It also aims to address ethical questions and implementation challenges in various sectors ranging from healthcare and education to finance and energy.

“[AI] has been around for decades but has reached new capacities fueled by computing power,” Thierry Breton, the EU’s Commissioner for Internal Market, said in a statement. The Artificial Intelligence Act aims to “strengthen Europe's position as a global hub of excellence in AI from the lab to the market, ensure that AI in Europe respects our values and rules, and harness the potential of AI for industrial use.”

Secret trove offers rare look into Russian cyberwar ambitions

Craig TimbergEllen Nakashima, Hannes Munzinger and Hakan Tanriverdi

Russian intelligence agencies worked with a Moscow-based defense contractor to strengthen their ability to launch cyberattacks, sow disinformation and surveil sections of the internet, according to thousands of pages of confidential corporate documents.

The documents detail a suite of computer programs and databases that would allow Russia’s intelligence agencies and hacking groups to better find vulnerabilities, coordinate attacks and control online activity. The documents suggest the firm was supporting operations including both social media disinformation and training to remotely disrupt real-world targets, such as sea, air and rail control systems.

An anonymous person provided the documents from the contractor, NTC Vulkan, to a German reporter after expressing outrage about Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The leak, an unusual occurrence for Russia’s secretive military industrial complex, demonstrates another unintended consequence of President Vladimir Putin’s decision to take his country to war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

Officials from five Western intelligence agencies and several independent cybersecurity companies said they believe the documents are authentic, after reviewing excerpts at the request of The Washington Post and several partner news organizations.

South Korea Grounds Its Position in the Central and East European Defense Market (Part Two)

Jakub Bornio
Source Link

The recently established military relationship between South Korea and Poland is a multidimensional phenomenon, reaching beyond security in its traditional meaning. In fact, large-scale arms contracts are almost always politicized and followed or accompanied by intensified economic ties. Certainly, in the current circumstances, this view is shared by Warsaw and Seoul (see Part One).

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and growing tensions between the United States and China, South Korean companies are following the global trend of shortening supply chains. In recent years, these entities accounted for the greatest foreign investment flows into the Polish market, ranked fourth in 2019 (Oecd-library.org, accessed on January 25) and rising to first in 2021 (The Korea Herald, May 17, 2022). From South Korea’s perspective, Poland is an attractive and sought-after partner because it grants access to the European market as well as a skilled and still relatively cheap labor force. Not to mention, Warsaw is well-situated within the European Union’s economic and defense architecture. Economically speaking, these factors partly apply to other Central and East European (CEE) markets as well. That is why Seoul is already widely present in countries such as the Czech Republic and Hungary to leverage opportunities for increased foreign direct investment (Stats.koreaexim.go.kr; Nationalatlas.ngii.go.kr, accessed January 25).

Newly Declassified Report Contradicts Officials, Suggests Havana Syndrome Might Be Caused by Directed Energy

Lucas Ropek

Several weeks after the intelligence community very publicly disavowed claims that “Havana Syndrome”—the bizarre rash of neurological disorders plaguing U.S. foreign service officials—was the result of a directed energy weapon, a newly declassified report alleges that may very well be what it is.

The group behind the report, the Intelligence Community Experts Panel on Anomalous Health Incidents (AHIs), was established by the government to figure out just what the heck had happened to the 1,000-ish American officials who claim to have suffered from “Havana”’s bizarre symptoms. Those symptoms, which first cropped up at a U.S. embassy in Cuba in 2016 and soon spread to other parts of the globe, include a rash of inexplicable ailments—things like hearing and memory loss, severe headaches, light sensitivity, nausea, and a host of other debilitating issues.

If you’re somehow just joining this story, you should know that one of the most prevalent and controversial theories about the syndrome’s origins is that it’s caused by a “sonic weapon”—some sort of spooky unknown mechanism that can fire electromagnetic energy at targets. Hypothetically, this energy is what’s causing the kinds of mental and physical anguish that “Havana” victims appear to suffer from. It’s a wild explanation (albeit one that scientists seem to agree is technically possible) and it’s also one of the most recurrent theories to be posited amidst a truck load of others (“Havana” has also been blamed on pesticides exposure, mass delusions, and crickets, among many other things).

Yes, TikTok is a threat to America. But so are U.S. social media companies.

Max Boot

To ban or not to ban? That is the difficult question confronting the U.S. government as it struggles to figure out how to handle TikTok, the wildly popular Chinese social media platform that has at least 150 million active users in the United States.

I’m sympathetic to the arguments for forcing TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, to sell the platform — and to ban it if ByteDance refuses. But I still found myself exasperated by the show trial staged on Thursday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The hearing, which featured the first congressional testimony from TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, revealed no semblance of debate or doubt or serious discussion. Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) kicked off the day by telling Chew, “Your platform should be banned. TikTok is a grave threat of foreign influence in American life.” Verdict first, trial later.

Many of the pieces of “evidence” that the committee members cited to indict TikTok were misleading or outright false. No, Liang Rubo, the chief executive of ByteDance, is not a member of the Chinese Communist Party. No, TikTok hasn’t removed all mentions of the Uyghur genocide or the Tiananmen Square massacre. No, TikTok doesn’t collect precise location data — unlike a lot of U.S. social media apps.

Review: We Put ChatGPT, Bing Chat, and Bard to the Test


IMAGINE TRYING TO review a machine that, every time you pressed a button or key or tapped its screen or tried to snap a photo with it, responded in a unique way—both predictive and unpredictable, influenced by the output of every other technological device that exists in the world. The product’s innards are partly secret. The manufacturer tells you it’s still an experiment, a work in progress; but you should use it anyway, and send in feedback. Maybe even pay to use it. Because, despite its general unreadiness, this thing is going to change the world, they say.

This is not a traditional WIRED product review. This is a comparative look at three new artificially intelligent software tools that are recasting the way we access information online: OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Bing Chat, and Google’s Bard.

For the past three decades, when we’ve browsed the web or used a search engine, we’ve typed in bits of data and received mostly static answers in response. It’s been a fairly reliable relationship of input-output, one that’s grown more complex as advanced artificial intelligence—and data monetization schemes—have entered the chat. Now, the next wave of generative AI is enabling a new paradigm: computer interactions that feel more like human chats.

‘Vulkan files’ leak reveals Putin’s global and domestic cyberwarfare tactics

Luke Harding

The inconspicuous office is in Moscow’s north-eastern suburbs. A sign reads: “Business centre”. Nearby are modern residential blocks and a rambling old cemetery, home to ivy-covered war memorials. The area is where Peter the Great once trained his mighty army.

Inside the six-storey building, a new generation is helping Russian military operations. Its weapons are more advanced than those of Peter the Great’s era: not pikes and halberds, but hacking and disinformation tools.

The software engineers behind these systems are employees of NTC Vulkan. On the surface, it looks like a run-of-the-mill cybersecurity consultancy. However, a leak of secret files from the company has exposed its work bolstering Vladimir Putin’s cyberwarfare capabilities.

Thousands of pages of secret documents reveal how Vulkan’s engineers have worked for Russian military and intelligence agencies to support hacking operations, train operatives before attacks on national infrastructure, spread disinformation and control sections of the internet.

The company’s work is linked to the federal security service or FSB, the domestic spy agency; the operational and intelligence divisions of the armed forces, known as the GOU and GRU; and the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence organisation.

How space exploration is fueling the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Landry Signé and Hanna Dooley

In 2022, the first images from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) James Webb Space Telescope were released, capturing the world’s attention with breathtaking vistas of thousands of stars, planets, and galaxies, including the most distant galaxies ever detected. These discoveries only scratch the surface of what will come from the telescope, thanks to decades of investment and partnership between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and continuous advancements in science, which are the backbone of this unprecedented discovery. Beyond the Webb Telescope, further discoveries in space are rapidly accelerating, creating an exciting new paradigm for space that includes new players, trends, opportunities, and challenges, all propped up by the convergence of advanced technologies that are a part of the ongoing, broader Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

The 4IR, characterized by the fusion of technologies that integrate the biological, physical, and technological spheres, is transforming economic, political, and social systems. Similar to previous industrial revolutions, the 4IR’s disruptive effects on these systems have the potential to improve the quality of life for populations across the globe, including fostering economic growth and structural transformation; fighting poverty and inequality; reinventing labor, skills, and production; increasing financial services and investment; modernizing agriculture and agro-industries; and improving health care and human capital. The paradigm shifts within the space industry specifically, because of the developments in 4IR technologies, have immense potential to further drive more inclusive global prosperity.

Pausing AI Developments Isn't Enough. We Need to Shut it All Down


Yudkowsky is a decision theorist from the U.S. and leads research at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. He's been working on aligning Artificial General Intelligence since 2001 and is widely regarded as a founder of the field.

An open letter published today calls for “all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4.”

This 6-month moratorium would be better than no moratorium. I have respect for everyone who stepped up and signed it. It’s an improvement on the margin.

I refrained from signing because I think the letter is understating the seriousness of the situation and asking for too little to solve it.

The key issue is not “human-competitive” intelligence (as the open letter puts it); it’s what happens after AI gets to smarter-than-human intelligence. Key thresholds there may not be obvious, we definitely can’t calculate in advance what happens when, and it currently seems imaginable that a research lab would cross critical lines without noticing.

Hackers probing contractors for path to Pentagon, DISA chief says

Colin Demarest

WASHINGTON — Foreign hackers are targeting contractors to the U.S. government not only for their intellectual property and non-public information, but also to find furtive avenues into Pentagon networks, according to the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner on March 29 told Congress that hackers backed by China, Russia and other adversaries are applying “very high” levels of effort to digitally infiltrate, surveil and make off with plans or intelligence closely held by suppliers to the Department of Defense.

Also on their radar are means of going “upstream,” he said at a Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing.

“Some of them see the defense industrial base as a soft underbelly,” said Skinner, who also serves as the commander of the Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network. “That’s why our work with [Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification] 2.0 and our work day-to-day with our defense industrial base partners is critical moving forward, because that’s where the adversary is really targeting.”

CMMC 2.0 is a framework launched in 2021 to protect the defense industrial base’s sensitive unclassified information from frequent and increasingly complex cyberattacks.

Rediscovering Geostrategy

Axel de Vernou

The United States has a geography problem. Fortunate enough to be “bordered to the north and south by weak neighbors, and to the east and west by fish,” as Otto Von Bismarck quipped, contemporary American leaders have forgotten the foundational emphasis on geography espoused by the founders and frontiersmen responsible for the nation’s success. This negligence has closed off a crucial branch of American statesmanship while Russian and Chinese intellectuals draw from Western geostrategic thought to justify the creation of a new world order. Without an attention to geography, the United States will be limited in its ability to develop a strategic response to military and energy-based threats.

Even before the Declaration of Independence was signed, colonists understood the importance of securing arable land before Spanish, British, and French settlers did. The founders remained deliberately vague about the nation's frontiers as they established institutions easily transferable to new states joining the union. Indeed, when Gouverneur Morris was asked in 1803 to “recollect with precision all that passed in the Convention” to confirm whether the Louisiana Purchase was constitutional, he wrote back that he had not inserted a territorial limitation clause because “all North America must at length be annexed to us.”

The source of America’s thalassocratic power was a desire to defend its ports, rivers and trading posts from outside powers. In Federalist 11, Alexander Hamilton skillfully articulated the necessity of an indivisible union for the creation of a navy. To resist Spain’s penetration into the Mississippi and France and Britain’s interest in American fisheries, Hamilton argued, state navies would be insufficient. Each geographic region of the United States is endowed with its own resources and population: “Some of the Southern and…the Middle States yield a greater plenty of iron, and of better quality. Seamen must chiefly be drawn from the Northern hive.” When fused together, Hamilton predicted, a “great American system” would be born.

‘Lower the Rhetoric’ on China, Says Milley

Everyone needs to calm down about war with China, Gen. Mark Milley said on Friday.

The Joint Chiefs chairman warned against the rise of “overheated” rhetoric of a looming U.S. war with China, and he said he doubts China’s chances of “conquering” Taiwan. But, he added, the United States should continue to quicken arms shipments to the self-governing nation and its own military capabilities, just in case.

Following this year’s Chinese balloon scare, the China heat is on. In the last two weeks, members of Congress in hearings aimed a list of concerns about China—everything from nuclear weapons to computer chips, invading Taiwan, and allying with Russia—at Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Milley has taken to telling lawmakers that war with China—and Russia—is “not imminent or inevitable.” It’s part of an effort to lower the heat, he said.

“I think there's a lot of rhetoric in China, and a lot of rhetoric elsewhere, to include the United States, that could create the perception that war is right around the corner or we’re on the brink of war with China,” Milley said in an interview with Defense One.

“And that could happen. I mean, it is possible that you could have an incident or some other trigger event that could lead to uncontrolled escalation. So, it's not impossible. But I don't think at this point I would put it in the likely category,” said Milley. “And I think that the rhetoric itself can overheat the environment.”

Surrogate warfare is the future of US operations in Ukraine and beyond


A debate is brewing that centers on the U.S. implementing irregular warfare programs in Ukraine. Broadly speaking, there is a historic arc of irregular warfare experiences from ancient times through the Cold War, to the post-9/11 era that employs proxies and surrogates in struggles between great powers.

If true, it makes sense that U.S. special operations are employing surrogates in Ukraine for non-kinetic operations, by executing reconnaissance missions and countering Russian disinformation, as has been reported by The Washington Post. Moreover, there is a strong case to be made that irregular warfare should be institutionalized and brought into the appropriate military education center for establishing professional irregular warfare education. As has been suggested by stakeholders, this formalization is necessary to succeed against Russia and may require that Congress oversee Pentagon policymakers and U.S. special operations command to ensure greater integration for irregular warfare education, which is necessary for winning in this competition.

Alongside these discussions, a quiet renaissance is ongoing — which proponents characterize figuratively as an “insurgency” — to intensify advocacy for irregular warfare as a winning strategy. These irregular warfare strategies are the right operational design in terms of addressing the twin challenges of providing additional operational capacity without U.S. “boots on the ground,” and “other war” irregular capabilities for the U.S. to indirectly contest Russia in Ukraine.

Increasingly, surrogates are globalized and privatized for great power competition, particularly between the West and Russia. Consider how the globalized and weaponized Russian surrogate Wagner group, for example, is reportedly conducting combat operations in Ukraine, while simultaneously filling power vacuums in swaths of Africa where the United States’ influence is waning. Think also about how deadly attacks between U.S. forces and suspected Iranian proxies in Syria have reignited frictions between Washington and Tehran. War by proxies makes good sense to Iran.

INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE: ‘Gray Zone’ Competition — The Race for Multi-Domain Capability

James Terry

Warfare is no longer focused solely on the destruction of enemy forces. With today’s rapid technological advancements, success is predicated on the ability to disrupt, degrade, deceive and destroy peer adversaries’ infrastructure.

This approach expands beyond military ways and means and includes political, economic, social and information operations that support a nation’s sphere of influence.

Commensurate with this new paradigm is a race to develop and deploy multi-domain technology that defines a new era in modern warfare, or multi-domain capabilities in gray zone competition.

The use of gray zone actions in the Indo-Pacific — China’s efforts to expand its sphere of influence — are challenging the United States and other countries’ efforts to maintain a free and open region. We expect China to escalate their activities until they are just shy of provoking a military response.

The visit of former U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to Taiwan last year provided a window of opportunity to observe China’s competitive gray zone responses. During the trip, China used a combination of multi-domain air, sea, land and cyber incursions surrounding Taiwan before, during and after the event. Depending on the results of an ongoing investigation, the recent surveillance balloon that flew over the United States could also be categorized as gray zone activity.

Can A US Air Force F-15 Destroy a More Modern Chinese J-10 Fighter?

Kris Osborn

US Air Force F-15 vs. Chinese J-10 Fighter

The aircraft, in existence since 2005, forms a key foundation for the People Liberation Army - Air Force, can also hit extensive ranges of 1,400 miles and take off with a full load of extra fuel tanks and 42,000 pounds or ordnance. The PLA Air Force operates more than 540 J-10s, according to a citation from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a number which presents a clear ability to “mass” in air formations against an adversary.

While a 4th-generation aircraft, the J-10 Chengdu was engineered with a series of modern technologies, perhaps with a mind to overmatch 1980s-era US Air Force F-15s and F-16s. Some of the systems built into the J-10 are listed in an interesting write up from SinoDefence in 2010. The essay describes the J-10 as operating a multi-mode fire control radar and a mechanically-scanned planar array antenna capable of tracking up to 10 targets. The essay says up to 2 targets can be engaged simultaneously with “semi-active radar homing” missiles or four can be engaged with “active radar homing” missiles.

While an ability to track multiple targets is indeed quite significant as it is something likely intended to match the AN/APG-63 V1 radar upgrade on the US Air Force F-15, according to an essay from Globalsecurity.org. As an upgrade to the APG-63, the “v1” version enables the radar to simultaneously attack 6 targets and track as many as 14. The AN/APG-63 (v1) radars armed many F-15s in the early 2000s, yet in 2000 Boeing and the US Air Force took a huge step in adding AESA radar to the F-15 with the AN/APG-62 (v2), perhaps in an effort to overmatch the at the time emerging J-10. An AESA radar, variants of which are not arming F-15EXs and even F-35s, massively increase precision to detect track and destroy multiple targets at once, with much greater effectiveness than traditional radar.

Is the US “Number 3” in the World Behind Russia and China in the Realm of Hypersonic Weapons?


(Washington D.C.) In recent years, Senior Pentagon weapons developers and leaders have publicly said the US was “number 3” in the world behind Russia and China in the realm of hypersonic weapons.

Hypersonic Weapons

Both Russia and China have made headlines with hypersonic weapons tests and various demonstrations, developments which certainly got noticed at the Pentagon. Much is known about highly-visible Russian and Chinese hypersonic weapons often highlighted in their respective state media outlets. However, Beneath the visibility and clamor of attention focused on Russian and Chinese hypersonic weapons, the US has quietly been making rapid progress of its own in the realm of hypersonics. The Air Force and Army, for instance, are already “firing” cutting edge hypersonic weapons and the Navy plans to arm its Zumwalt destroyers with hypersonics by 2025.

Last May, for instance, the Air Force successfully fired its AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) from a B-52.

“Following separation from the aircraft, the ARRW's booster ignited and burned for expected duration, achieving hypersonic speeds five times greater than the speed of sound,” an Air Force statement from last year stated.

Can Germany’s big cats resist South Korea’s Black Panther invasion?


NEW YORK — As Russia’s war in Ukraine enters its second year, a different, much more welcomed mechanized invasion is taking place next door, as the first of potentially 1,000 South Korean-designed main battle tanks pour into Poland. This is a result of a $14.5 billion arms deal by Warsaw, which if fully optioned, could see Poland eventually receive more tanks than are currently operational in the armies of the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and France — combined.

The first of 180 Hyundai K2 Black Panther tanks which began arriving in Poland in December 2022 are “gap-fillers” pulled from ROK Army units for rapid delivery. Poland then plans to domestically manufacture the remaining 820, starting in 2025/2026, as well as establish maintenance and spare parts depots.

Somehow, 1,000 tanks is just part of the major buy of South Korean gear that Poland has made in the last year. That series of packages includes 672 South Korean K9 self-propelled howitzers (two-thirds to be locally produced), 48 FA-50 light fighter jets, and 288 K239 Chunmoo multiple-rocket launchers custom-mounted on Polish 8×8 trucks. Warsaw is also considering purchasing Hanwha’s AS-21 Redback infantry fighting vehicles to replace its dated BWP-1s.

It hasn’t escaped observers that South Korea’s big splash into Poland could spill over into other European states. Many were frustrated by Berlin’s reluctance in 2022 to authorize transfers of Leopard 1 and 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine and the slow pace of deliveries of new ones.