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Cyber impact on global security landscape

Alexandra Goman

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Computer and information development has brought us a new brand virtual world. Social networks where people share their personal details; online banking where they manage their financial activities, and many other things. Everything from personal identity and wealth, intellectual property to national security secrets have been placed in virtual domain. Many things already reside in and/or depend upon cyberspace; many more will soon join the virtual space. So it is not surprising that the information age is transforming global security landscape.

According to Kaspersky Lab, a multinational cyber security and anti-virus provider, these are boom times for cyber threats, cyberattacks and cybercrime (2015). Another leading cyber security company Symantec says that recent years have revealed unprecedented levels of ambitions among cyber perpetrators. 2016 alone has been marked by extraordinary multi-million dollar virtual heists, cyber attempts to affect the US electoral process, and some of the biggest distributed denial of service attacks (Symantec, 2017). While the disruptions caused by such cyber activities are enormous, attackers use rather simple tools and tactics, giving an asymmetric advantage to weaker actors.

At the same time digital technologies are now being incorporated into military planning and operations. Modern nuclear and conventional weapons systems are more complex than they are used to be. They rely and depend on digital technologies and information systems for launching, targeting, command and control, including technologies that govern safety and security. It is clear that future military conflicts will all include a digital aspect and cyber technologies.

Moreover, a malware Stuxnet, which affected an Iranian nuclear facility and was discovered in 2010, crossed the line between cyber and physical domain, showing that it was possible to use a code to damage a critical infrastructure.  Before it, a general debate on how a critical infrastructure can be targeted and damaged through the information system has only been theoretical.  After Stuxnet it was evident that cyberspace could be exploited and used to launch cyberattacks in order to cause physical damage.

The highly sophisticated piece of technology is one of the first uses of cyber offensive technology (or a cyber weapon) in history. Believed to be sponsored by a state, the malware introduced a new page in international security and showed that these capabilities can be developed and used against an opponent. It did not cause disruption (as any other cyberattack before it), it caused actual physical damage. Nonetheless, it is still unattributed and believed to be a part of highly-covert operation which has not been officially confirmed. There is no verified information available, everything is classified and the most of the sources are newspapers, claiming that the operation targeted Iran’s nuclear facilities and it was meant to slow down the Iran’s nuclear program.

Stuxnet resembles a similar dramatic change in warfare and reflects similar impact on international affairs after 1945 (the introduction of nuclear weapons, its first use in Hiroshima and the consequences in politics). Similarly to nuclear era, we are now in a new age, which is bound to be transformed. In order to be prepared for this change, these issues are to be addressed.

As General Michael V. Hayden, former Director of the NSA and of the CIA, highlighted, “Rarely has something been so important and so talked about with less clarity and less apparent understanding than this phenomenon” (2011, p. 3).

The first exploration into cyber warfare started in the 90s with the writings of Arquilla and Ronfeldt. In the beginning they were rather hypothetical assumptions, only discussed within a limited group of experts. 9/11 changed this perception, introducing a new view on the very definition of threat. After 2001 it became clear that cyber threats are to be addressed and taken into account seriously. The discovery of Stuxnet in 2010 only proved that point.

Generally, information about cyber technology is classified and that is why limits the research. Even though everyone knows that there is an arms race in acquiring and developing cyber technology, no one really knows anything for sure. Only the Western writings shed some light on what is going on in the field. Most of current writings in this field are done and elaborated by the Western researchers and military. Due to the transparency requirements, there are many NATO and national documents (redacted and/or edited for public use) that address these issues and communicate the main strategies in cyberspace.  However, there is much less academic research on it. Some countries, like Russia, stay completely secretive about the issue with absolutely no information online, neither state nor public.

Considering that cyber technology has low entry costs and high chances for success, it is a powerful tool for states and non-state actors to prove their capabilities and show their authority. The development and pursuit of cyber capabilities, therefore, pose new risks for escalation; invite new threats and tensions that may cause new conflicts. These conflicts could destabilize international stability and jeopardize nuclear deterrence. Moreover, constant cyber threats in military installations, particularly those associated with nuclear, undermine constitutional confidence, generate new risks, and pose new challenges for deterrence theory.

Naturally, cyber issues have now become a main agenda for politicians and policy-makers. Building resilience, strengthening cyber defense and deterring such attacks occupy all minds in international relations. Yet, due to the high secrecy around cyber issues and general media hype over them, there are still many misconceptions and misunderstanding about cyberspace and cyber capabilities, especially when it comes military setting.

References

Kaspersky Lab. (2015). Top Cyber Security Threats to Watch Out For. [online] Available at: https://www.kaspersky.com/resource-center/threats/top-7-cyberthreats [Accessed on 22.02.2018].

Symantec. (2017). Internet Security Threat Report. [online] Available at: https://www.symantec.com/content/dam/symantec/docs/reports/istr-22-2017-en.pdf [Accessed on 22.02.2018].

Hayden, M. (2011). The Future of Things Cyber. Strategic Studies Quarterly, 5(1), pp. 3-7.

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Specialist in global security and nuclear disarmament. Excited about international relations, curious about cognitive, psycho- & neuro-linguistics. A complete traveller.

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IoT Solution World Congress

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From 16 to 18 October, the IoT Solutions World Congress (IoTSWC) will be held in Barcelona, this event organized by Fira de Barcelona on technology in the industrial internet will be attended by more than 250 world experts who will show us real applications of IoT that are changing the different industrial environments.

Iot is a unique event dedicated exclusively to bringing together IoT suppliers and industry in order to help them increase their company’s productivity through this technology. After three editions, the event has become a world reference for the industrial sector, the 2018 edition will continue to showcase the latest industrial innovations of IoT to provide visitors with the experience and strategies of the latest vanguard needed to capitalize on IoT. It will also have more than 300 exhibitors spread throughout the event.

For this year’s edition, IoT SWC has established new thematic axes on which more than 100 events planned at its Congress will revolve: These include energy and supplies; manufacturing of goods; health care; construction and infrastructures; open industrial transport; enabling technologies; blockchain and artificial intelligence. The main focus will be on transformation in the work environment thanks to IoT programmes, as well as the digital connection of the entire value chain of a product; the impact of industrial automation on employment; the safety of autonomous vehicles; intelligent infrastructures in cities…

Among the leading companies in this sector we can find: Huawei, Google Cloud, Intel, Microsoft, Telit, Vodafone, Kaspersky, Orange, Telefonica…. all of them explaining their experience on the Internet of things.

The main novelty of this year is the blockchain Solutions World. This theme will be based on cyber-currencies as bitcoin, as well as on the days focused on cryptoeconomy and investment opportunities in businesses that already use this mechanism. It offers the different sectors a platform to manage digital assets, such as property titles, health data, financial data, etc. The BlockChain will also have a practical focus and will include case studies and monographic lectures.

On the other hand, enabling IoT brings to the device network a connection that communicates seamlessly over the Internet, transforming the way we live and work. On farms, IoT’s wireless sensors can transmit soil moisture and nutrient information to agricultural experts across the country. IoT alarm systems, equipped with batteries that last for years, provide owners with long-term protection.

Finally, one of the most important topics will be IoT Healthcare , This advance will transform the care and treatment of patients, the maintenance of healthcare equipment and the way in which it manages a hospital with the safety and innovation of healthcare solutions. The use of the IoT mechanisms in health care provides industries, personal health care and healthcare payment applications with a broad increase in several specific user cases. At the same time, we will be able to see several cases of IoT use in health care, seeing how they are gaining speed and focusing on an exponential growth of the reality of connected health care.

As a complement, the Testbeds area will be opened again, where test benches will be exhibited to see the real operation of IoT applications. The shared events provide a commercial and knowledge platform for various industrial sectors and will take place from 16 to 18 October at Fira de Barcelona.

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Technology, The 21st Century’s Way To Enhance Your Home Decor

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Have you ever thought about using electronics to decorate your home? Technology is essential in many aspects of our daily lives nowadays. So, if we have incorporated it in our everyday routine – at work, at the gym, while we use public transportation… Why shouldn’t we integrate it into the decoration of our home too? Turning your house into a smart-home fully equipped with the latest devices doesn’t have to mean setting taste and aesthetics aside. You only need to know what to look for.

Technology has become a key element in every space, and it is a safe bet to create a comfortable, versatile and full-of-style ambiance. It doesn’t only make our lives easier and funnier with its innovation, but it also brings a sophisticated design and a high aesthetic value to the rooms. It must be treated as a decorative feature, making it part of the compositions. The use of materials such as aluminum and the various locations where you can place the televisions and audio systems –walls, floors, ceilings and tables, make the mimicry of technology easier in any style of decoration.

There are plenty of electronic devices that you can integrate into your home to make it modern, prettier and more comfortable, such as these three high-end suggested by Espacio Home Design Group.

Home automation system

Colours, textures and furniture are very important to make our homes comfortable, but they are not the only things to be taken into account: sound also plays an important role. Your sense of well-being is enhanced when all these factors are combined, improving your quality of life, and you can create the perfect ambience by combining the latest audio and video technologies available on the market.

The state-of-the-art device in the the field of smart homes technology is the home automation system. Automation is a system that allows you to setup a majority of actions to be performed in your home through technology. Its intelligent programming allows you to save energy while it lets you control all devices you have installed in your home via remote management.

Sound systems and speakers

Music is capable of filling spaces, changing them and turning them into something completely different. We all have a special song, or special songs, for every occasion; many of our memories are associated with a certain soundtrack. That’s why it becomes such a fundamental element when it comes to creating an ambience for your home. So dust off that music library, because now is the time to make the most of it by integrating it into your home decor.

When enjoying the ideal sound there are various elements to consider: the devices, the format of the original music and its compression. When enjoying the ideal sound there are various elements to consider: the devices, the format of the original music and its compression. You have different options to achieve the perfect sound quality: Speakers, amplifiers, players, multiroom systems… Nowadays all the best and most exclusive design brands can provide you with the most exclusive and elegant products especially designed to match your home decoration style –no matter what this is.

Multiroom

The best and latest sound system for smart-homes is the multiroom system. Multiroom -also known as multizone sound-, is a technology that makes it easy to play music from any kind of source in all the various spaces inside your home. The sound is managed through a connection between the different audio devices, interconnected through the wifi network. It’s so easy that you can even use your mobile to choose what music you want to listen to while you enjoy a relaxing bath – without having to leave the room.

Home cinema and video systems

There are two options to enjoy the “Seventh Art” at home: either you build your own small-scale movie theater, or you install a home cinema system in your living room along with a big Smart TV screen. At Espacio Home Design Group you can find highly exclusive brands such as Bang & Olufsen, Bowers & Wilkins, Architettura Sonora, Scena and Crestron, who are specialists in this kind of smart-home technology.

Depending on the available space, you will have to place various speakers throughout the living room to get the best possible experience. However, if your house allows it and you decide you want a full movie-theater room, you will have the chance to build a unique and intimate space to relax and enjoy.

The design of home cinema an dedicated cinema system is elegant and modern, but also versatile, so you can easily integrate it within the rest of the decoration of your home. The possibilities are endless, the result will be excellent, efficient and balanced. If you like movies and are passionate about the culture of the image, you need one of them at your place.

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Cyberattack Momentarily Pauses Trading at Bitfinex Crypto Exchange

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DDoS attacks have become common in recent days. There have been many digital currency exchanges that have been targeted by hackers over the years in these short attacks that make the networks unavailable momentarily. The latest victim of the attack has been Bitfinex, which is among the leading exchanges in the world.

The attack forced the exchange to be closed briefly on Tuesday during the morning hours. The attack was typical of previously recorded attacks in other exchanges and the objective was to disrupt the services. DDoS attacks are known to be quite potent and capable of shutting down even the strongest systems.

Bitfinex Confirmed the Veracity of the Attack

The communication team at Bitfinex came out to clarify the issue after users reported issues with the system. A message from the company’s website indicated that the attack was indeed carried out on one of the company’s service providers, which resulted in a service outage for a while. Several users had already noted the system was behaving in a slow and passive manner.

The statement from the company explained that the issues observed were as reported due to the overloading caused in the systems by the said attack. The attack had ramifications on the markets as the price of Bitcoin fell by 2%.

The financial markets like forex, stock, and even crypto rely a lot on the news coming out from the media. Media channels that carry crypto trading information can momentarily influence what is going on in the markets as the recent attack has shown.

Even though the recent attack has had an effect on the market, they will be reversed in due course especially since services at the exchange have gone back to normal. As of 11 a.m. ET, Bitfinex was said to have restored its normal operations. The company also assured users that they were doing everything to follow up on the situation. Earlier news from the company was however conflicting since the attack was not mentioned. The company had instead chosen to claim that a planned maintenance was ongoing.

Regarding the extent of the attack, only trading operations were affected the most. As Bitfinex has revealed, the user data for its clients was not compromised nor exposed to risk. There has not been any major attack that compromised clients’ funds in recent history.

Bitfinex has been on the market for over five years now. The company has had an interesting journey since it was established in Hong Kong. Over the years, the company has had a fair share of challenges and successes. In overall, its successes have been more profound as it occupies a formidable position in the market today.

When it was founded, its main goal was to act as a peer-to-peer exchange for bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency at the time. As time went by and the market diversified, the currency exchange platform also grew and accommodated other cryptocurrencies as well. The history of attacks on this exchange and others is quite familiar to crypto traders. Last year, another major attacked that targeted various exchanges also hit Bitfinex.

Attacks on Exchanges are Common

One of the few major attacks that resulted in the loss of bitcoin was the famous attack of August 2016 where over 100,000 bitcoin were lost.

Security is often a major challenge for all digital financial platforms. There have been many efforts done over the years to overcome security challenges and there has definitely been an improvement in this area. The attackers on the system are however always bolder as time passes. This year, attackers stole crypto units of a minor digital currency to the tune of nearly $500 million in value. This happened on a well-known Japanese exchange, Coincheck. Youbit, a South Korean exchange that has a substantial number of users also lost nearly 20% of its digital assets after a successful attack on the system was performed.

There are indeed many more cases recorded over the world as attacks on exchange platforms are rampant. One of the most famous attacks was in 2014 when Mt. Gox, the Tokyo-based exchange was successfully attacked with profound losses. Assets of over 700,000 users were lost in the process and the exchange came tumbling down. This attack was major because the exchange was at the top of the market at that time.

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