Monday, June 22, 2015

The Real Dawn of the Age of Cyber Warfare | Why the next World War will be a cyberwar first, and a shooting war second


Why the next World War will be a cyberwar first, and a shooting war second

The Real Dawn of the Age of Cyber Warfare

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World War IV, Cyber War, digital Pearl Harbor or cyber 9/11—people talk about catastrophic scenarios in cyberspace, whereas academics and other experts point out that there is a danger in the overuse of the cyberwar rhetoric. But is the overuse premise still valid? What if recent events in cyberspace make it no longer correct? Should states brace themselves for the age of cyber warfare?
Especially in the media, everything potentially related to cyberspace and state-actor violent behavior is being named cyber war. For example, we can find since the 90´s plenty of books on cyber warfare, cyber war, information war, etc., but no real act of cyber war to justify them. Not long ago, I would agree with the premise that this phenomenon is shifting the focus from real dangers like cybercrime, espionage or critical information infrastructure disruption. But for how long will cyber warfare will still stand for just a future concept of warfare? Bearing these questions in mind, I have identified some clues in the past few months, which can predict the change.
The first is the recent hack on Sony, perhaps the biggest known corporate cyber attack in history. The hack itself is not interesting, nor the fact that it appeared to be an operation possibly conducted by a state actor, North Korea. The most interesting fact represents what happened after—the U.S. publicly imposed sanctions on North Korea in revenge for the Sony hack. This public attribution of the attack to North Korea is a watershed moment for how states handle cyber attacks. And another breakthrough could represent events that followed—9.5 hours of internet outage in North Korea. Whether it was conducted by the U.S. or not, the U.S. officially called the hacking of Sony a "serious national security matter” and considered “proportional response” to North Korea. In these cases, the U.S. may legally step up its active cyber defense posture—to destroy, nullify, or reduce the effectiveness of cyber threats and its approach can be also supported by e.g. the new NATO cyber defense policy which clarifies that a major digital attack on a member state could be covered by Article 5, the collective defense clause. It means that nowadays there is a shift in perceiving the significance of cyber attacks even if the cyber attack did not produce physical harm. The hack on Sony appears to have violated U.S. sovereignty and it may have also violated the customary international norm in the eyes of U.S.
The second clue represents increased involvement of terrorists in cyberspace. Even if no devastating cyberterrorist attack has ever occurred it does not mean that cyberterrorism is not a significant threat. These days the jihadists and their supporters are investing a lot in development of encryption technologies—their own software to cover communication—and they have started experimenting with hacking (e.g. “Cyber Caliphate” and its cyber attack on TV5 Monde). It is a noteworthy change in the use of cyberspace by terrorists that shifts their limited activities from propaganda, communication and recruitment to more sophisticated usage of the cyberspace. Besides that, states have to be aware that the threat of a catastrophic cyber attack include emotional and psychological effects on populations. It is a matter of grave concern for states around the world because as we have already seen (e.g. Stuxnet or the case involving a German Steel Mill discovered in December 2014) cyber attacks could have a great material impact too.
The last clue symbolizes the change the way states conduct military operations these days and the fact that almost each state builds its own capacities to conduct cyber operations. Anyone could have noticed an elevated activity in the cyber domain following the events in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, where there were several cyber attacks carried out. This could be perceived as a warning that cyber attacks will be more and more frequent during any kind of conventional conflict. An increasing number of states have recently included cyber defense in their defense planning and budgets, containing the development of offensive cyber capabilities, but taken with defensive purposes in mind.
According to some states, we have already experienced the real acts of cyber warfare and it is very likely that more acts will follow. Now there is a change in how states perceive cyber attacks and how they handle cyber security and defense policy. In addition, states cannot underestimate the threat of cyberterrorism. While capabilities of terrorists to conduct cyber attacks are still in an early stage, they are evolving now more than ever. No country wants to be at a disadvantage, so more and more states are officially developing cyber defense capacities.
Roman Packa works as a Cyber security/Policy specialist at the National Cyber Security Centre, National Security Authority (Czech Republic). He is primarily responsible for updating national cyber security strategy and holds the positions of National Liaison Officer in ENISA and OSCE national point of contact on cyber security issues.
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Why the next World War will be a cyberwar first, and a shooting war second

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Everything we do revolves around the Internet. Older technologies are finding themselves eclipsed by their Internet-based substitute solutions.
Even technologies historically unrelated to networking (like medical instruments) are finding themselves part of the Internet, whether as a way to simply update firmware, or using the network to keep track of telemetry and develop advanced analytics.

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The Edward Snowden revelations have rocked governments, global businesses, and the technology world. Here is our perspective on the still-unfolding implications along with IT security and risk management best practices that technology leaders can put to good use.
Whether we're talking about social networking, financial systems, communications systems, journalism, data storage, industrial control, or even government security -- it is all part of the Internet.
That makes the world a very, very dangerous place.
Historically, wars are fought over territory or ideology, treasure or tradition, access or anger. When a war begins, the initial aggressor wants something, whether to own a critical path to the sea or strategic oil fields, or "merely" to cause damage and build support among certain constituencies.
At first, the defender defends, protecting whatever has been attacked. Over time, however, the defender also seeks strategic benefit, to not only cause damage in return, but to gain footholds that will lead to an end to hostilities, a point of leverage for negotiation, or outright conquest.
Shooting wars are very expensive and very risky. Tremendous amounts of material must be produced and transported, soldiers and sailors must be put into harm's way, and incredible logistics and supply chain operations must be set up and managed on a nationwide (or multi-national level).
Cyberwar is cheap. The weapons are often co-opted computers run by the victims being targeted. Startup costs are minimal. Individual personnel risk is minimal. It's even possible to conduct a cyberwar without the victims knowing (or at least being able to prove) who their attackers are.
Cyberwar can be brutal, anonymous -- and profitable.
But the damage done by a cyberwar can be huge, especially economically. Let's follow that idea for a moment.
One of the big reasons the U.S. won the Cold War (and scored highly in many of its other conflicts) is because it had the economic power to produce goods for war, whether capital ships or food for troops. A economically strong nation can invest in weapons R&D, creating a technological generation gap in terms of leverage and per-capita effectiveness compared to weaker nations.
But cyberwar can lay economic waste to a nation. Worse, the more technologically powerful a nation is, the more technologically dependent that nation becomes. Cyberwar can level the playing field, forcing highly connected nations to thrash, to jump at every digital shadow while attackers can co-opt the very resources of the defending nation to force-multiply their attacks.
Sony is still cleaning up after the hack that exposed many confidential aspects of its relationship with stars and producers. Target and Home Depot lost millions of credit cards.
The Snowden theft, while not the result of an outside hack, shows the economic cost of a national security breach: nearly $47 billion. Cyberwar can also cause damage to physical systems, ranging from electric power stations to smart automobiles.
And when a breach can steal deeply confidential information of a government's most trusted employees, nothing remains safe or secret. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management was unwittingly funneling America's personnel data to its hackers for more than a year. Can you imagine?
We think China was responsible for the OPM hack. Despite the gargantuan nation's equally gargantuan investments in America (or, perhaps, because of them), China has been accused of many of the most effective and persistent penetrations perpetrated by any nation.
Providing additional reason to worry, Russia and China have recently inked an agreement where they agreed to not launch cyberattacks against each other. They have also agreed to share cyberwarfare and cyberdefense technology, creating an Asian axis of power that can split the world in half.
On the other side of the geopolitical spectrum are the American NSA and British GCHQ, two organizations who share signals intelligence and -- if the screaming is to be believed -- spy as much upon their own citizens as enemies of the state.
It is important to note that the destabilization of Allied intelligence can be traced to Edward Snowden, who ran to and is currently living in Russia after stealing a vast trove of American state secrets. Ask yourself who gained from the Snowden affair. Was it America? No. Was it Snowden? Not really. Was it Russia? You betcha.
China, of course, supplies us with most of our computer gear. Every iPhone and every Android phone, nearly all our servers, laptop computers, routers -- heck, the entire technological core of American communications -- has come from China. The same China that has been actively involved in breaching American interests at all levels.
Russia and China. Again and again and again.
In the center of all this is the main body of Europe, where the last two incendiary world wars were fostered and fought.
Nations fall when they are economically unstable. Greece is seeing the writing on the wall right now. It is but one of many weak European Union members. Other EU members are former Soviet states who look eastward towards Putin's Russia with a mixture of fear and inevitability.
This time, Germany isn't the instigator of unrest, but instead finds itself caught in the middle -- subject to spying by and active in spying on its allies -- the only nearly-super power of the EU.

Here's how the coming world cyberwar will play out

An enemy (or even a supposed "friendly" nation) decides it needs the strategic upper hand. After years of breaches, it has deep access to nearly every powerful government and business figure in the United States. Blackmail provides access into command and control and financial systems.
Financial systems are hit and we suffer a recession worse than the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Our budget for just about everything (as well as our will) craters. Industrial systems (especially those that might post a physical or economic threat to our attacker) are hit next. They are shut down or damaged in the way Stuxnet took out centrifuges in Iran.
Every step America takes to respond is anticipated by the enemy -- because the enemy has a direct pipeline to every important piece of communication America produces, and that's because the enemy has stolen enough information to corrupt an army of Snowdens.
While this is all going on, the American public is blissfully in the dark. Citizens just get angrier and angrier at the leadership for allowing a recession to take hold, and for allowing more and more foreigners to take American jobs.
Europe, which has always relied on America to keep it propped-up in the worst of times, will be on its own. Russia will press in from the north east. ISIS will continue to explode in the Middle East. China will keep up its careful dance as it grows into the world's leading economic power.
India, second in size only to China and a technological hotbed itself, remains a wild card, physically surrounded by Europe, the Middle East, China, and Russia. India continues to live in conflict with Pakistan, and with Pakistan both unstable and nuclear-tipped, Indo-Pak, too, is on the precipice.
A world war is about huge nations spanning huge geographic territories fighting to rewrite the map of world power. Russia, China, ISIS (which calls itself the Islamic State), India, Pakistan, the US, the UK, and all of the strong and weak members of the EU: we certainly have the cast of characters for another global conflict.
I could keep going (and, heck, one day I might game the full scenario). But you can see how this works. If enemy nations can diminish our economic power, can spy on our strategic discussions, and can turn some of our key workers, they can take us out of the battle -- without firing a single shot.
We are heading down this path now. I worry that we do not have the national or political will to turn the tide back in our favor. This is what keeps me up at night.
By the way, I'm doing more updates on Twitter and Facebook than ever before. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz and on Facebook at
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Report: Iran Boosts Terror Activities Across Globe

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BY: Adam Kredo 
Iran has increased its efforts to finance and carry out terrorist activities across the world and remains a top nuclear proliferation threat, according to a new State Department assessment.
Iran is funding and arming leading terrorist groups in the Middle East and elsewhere, according to the State Department’s 2014 Country Reports on Terrorism, which thoroughly documents how Tehran continues to act as a leading sponsor terror groups that pose a direct threat to the United States.
The report comes as Western powers work to finalize a nuclear deal with Iran ahead of a self-imposed June 30 deadline, though it is unclear whether the new findings will come up in negotiations.
“In 2014, Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism worldwide remained undiminished through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), its Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and Tehran’s ally Hizballah, which remained a significant threat to the stability of Lebanon and the broader region,” the report states.
In addition to al Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL), Iran leads the list of dangerous state actors.
“ISIL and AQ were far from the only serious threat that confronted the United States and its allies,” according to the report. “Iran continued to sponsor terrorist groups around the world, principally through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF).”
Iran also is failing to comply with international restrictions on its contested nuclear program and has not lived up to obligations to come clean about past military work on nuclear weapons, according to the report.
“Iran remains a state of proliferation concern,” it states. “Despite multiple [United Nations Security Council resolutions] requiring Iran to suspend its sensitive nuclear proliferation activities, Iran continued to be in noncompliance with its international obligations regarding its nuclear program.”
The Islamic Republic’s support for terrorism spans across the Middle East and even into the Western hemisphere, which remains a particular concern to U.S. officials.
Iran’s terror affiliations include “Lebanese Hizballah, several Iraqi Shia militant groups, Hamas, and Palestine Islamic Jihad,” the report states. “Iran, Hizballah, and other Shia militia continued to provide support to the Assad regime [in Syria], dramatically bolstering its capabilities, prolonging the civil war in Syria, and worsening the human rights and refugee crisis there.”
Iran’s support for the embattled Syrian president includes sending arms shipments through Iraqi airspace, which violates U.N. Security Council resolutions barring such action.
This support is meant “to belittle coalition airstrikes and U.S. contributions to the Government of Iraq’s ongoing fight against ISIL,” according to the report.
However, the report also notes that Iran’s interference in Iraq has been positive in the fight against IS.
“Iraqi security forces, including the Kurdish Peshmerga, in conjunction with Iranian-backed Shia militias, demonstrated some ability to confront this challenge,” it states.
Iranian support for the terror group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, also increased in 2014.
In March, for instance, the Israeli government intercepted “a weapons shipment containing 40 M-302 rockets, 181 mortars, and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition from Iran believed to be destined for militants in Gaza,” according to the report.
On Israel’s northern border, Iran continues to arm Hezbollah with sophisticated weapons meant to be used in attacks on the Jewish state.
“Iran, primarily through the efforts of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), continued to transfer arms to Hizballah,” the State Department found.
“Israeli experts believe that Iran is trying to arm Hizballah with advanced weapons systems such as anti-air and anti-ship cruise missile systems, as well as continuing to transfer long-range rockets into Lebanon,” it states.
Additionally, “Iran has admitted publicly that it armed Hizballah (in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) 1701 and 1747) with advanced long-range Iranian manufactured ‘Fateh’ missiles.”
Outside of the Middle East, Iran continues to expand its influence in a bid to establish itself as a world power.
“Iran and its proxies also continued subtle efforts at growing influence elsewhere including in Africa, Asia, and, to a lesser extent, Latin America,” according to the report. “Iran used the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to implement foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and create instability in the Middle East. “
The United States has “remained vigilant in its efforts to monitor Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere,” the report claims.
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Documents Reveal Ecuadorian Government Organized Protests on U.S. Soil

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The government of Ecuador organized protests that took place outside the building where a legal dispute between the South American nation and oil giant Chevron was being hashed out, documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon reveal.
A top official at the South American nation’s foreign ministry recruited expatriates in the United States to join an April rally outside of proceedings of the International Arbitration Tribunal, the documents show.
An after-action report filed by Davila Aveiga Grace Patricia, who is listed as the chief of staff of the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, shows that various Ecuadorian agencies were collaborating to put a public face on the protests.
Patricia flew from Guayaquil, Ecuador, to New York, where she met with Ecuadorian consul Jorge Lopez, the report says. They planned activities during the arbitration “with the participation of Consuls, expatriates, political leaders, Embassy and Foreign Ministry team.”
Patricia then few to Washington for the arbitration session, which took place under the auspices of the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between the United States and Ecuador.
Patricia devised a “strategy for action, dissemination, and denunciation that has a bearing on the meetings about Chevron.” She also worked to get “expatriates to join and resume [the] campaign against Chevron.”
Promotional materials criticizing Chevron and handed out during the arbitration proceedings feature the official seal of the foreign ministry.
The documents “confirm that ‘public protests’ in the Chevron case are merely political theater stage-managed by the Correa government,” said Jose Cárdenas, a former senior State Department and USAID official, referring to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa.
The BIT, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, is meant to facilitate investment between the two nations. It gives private companies in either nation an avenue for resolving disputes with the other country’s government.
The Ecuadorian government’s efforts to affect arbitration proceedings through public protests suggest a lack of respect for the treaty’s dispute resolution mechanisms, Cárdenas suggested.
“It is certainly grossly inappropriate for a government to be organizing protests before an international tribunal like this,” said Cárdenas, now an associate with the lobbying firm Visión Américas.
Neither Patricia nor the Ecuadorian embassy in Washington returned requests for comment.
Correa has been a long-time critic of Chevron, which has fought efforts to enforce a $9 billion environmental judgment against the company obtained in an Ecuadorian court in 2011. A U.S. federal judge ruled last year that the judgment was obtained through a criminal racketeering scheme.
Chevron brought charges against Ecuador before the International Arbitration Tribunal in an attempt to prevent the government from enforcing the judgment in other countries. It charged that Correa and other government officials had improperly influenced court proceedings in Ecuador.
Outside of the arbitration proceedings, the foreign ministry distributed leaflets accusing Chevron of conducting “a political smear campaign against the Ecuadorian government,” among other charges.
The Ecuadorian government has long denied that it was involved in obtaining the judgment against Chevron, insisting that the court’s proceedings were objective and apolitical.
However, these documents reveal a campaign by high-level government officials to pressure Chevron into complying with a legal process that the company has long maintained was tainted by bribery and extortion.
For Correa and his government, the legal niceties of the case are of less concern than the case’s potential for political agitation, Cárdenas said.
“Theater is more important in the mind-set of these leftist populist governments … than any impartial review of the facts,” he said. “In the populist world-view, any ‘rules’ are made to be broken because they were set-up by ‘imperialist’ powers to exploit the smaller and weaker states. … Facts don’t matter. It’s all political.”
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Department Of Homeland Security Still Controls What You Read


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