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A new cyber arms race

Alexandra Goman

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Not long time ago cyber threats were not even on agenda in security, let along national security landscape. Now, the situation is different. Now, everyone recognizes the risks of hyper-connected world: from an individual in front of the computer to a high-level officer, operating a nuclear facility. As new tools are being developed, cyber-security occupies an important niche in decision-making and planning.   As more and more people are securing their laptops, tablets, phones; the military started doing that too.

Just six years ago the US Defence Secretary warned[1] about a possible Cyber Pearl Harbour. Cyber Pearl Harbour is a strategic surprise attack which could potentially incapacitate computational and communication capabilities, leading to a devastating impact on the country (Goldman and Arquilla, 2014, p. 13). This notion is usually fuelled by ongoing media reports that countries are in active pursuit of offensive cyber capabilities which could jeopardize any sector, penetrate any system and cause major disruptions. Regardless of the accuracy of these reports, every country understands that these cyber insecurities can be and, probably, will be exploited by an enemy. That is why many states are now allocating enormous amount of resources to develop defensive cyber means along with the offensive capabilities.

The number of cyberattacks is increasing. One can argue about its future potential targets, but it is clear that we should assume that cyberattacks will become only more sophisticated and, possibly, more deadly in the future. That is why vulnerabilities should be addressed, and the nations should be prepared to the cyber challenge.

Along the most well-known cyberattacks happened in Estonia (2007), Syria (impacted air defence systems 2007), Georgia (2008), Iran (Stuxnet 2009-10), The Saudi Arabia (Aramco 2012), Ukraine (2014), U.S. (electoral campaign 2016). Additionally, the world was quite agitated about WannaCry and Petya attacks in 2017. All in all, most of the recent attacks targeted commercial sectors, showing that there might be a constraining norm in regards to military sector and critical infrastructures.

 This consequently might indicate that states might be pursuing more sophisticated technologies in order to target more sophisticated systems. It might as well suggest a possibility of on-going cyber arms races between the countries. However, there are clear limitations of cyber warfare, as no physical damage occurred and no people were killed. Even the damage inflicted on critical infrastructures was limited and failed to cause major consequences. However, financial losses as a result of cyberattacks can be rather substantial and might have a great impact on economically weaker states.

Based on the scale of current attacks, we can only assume that the technology will spread and get more sophisticated with the time. As Mazanec has outlined, cyber warfare capabilities will play a role in future military conflicts, as they are being integrated into military and state doctrines (2015, pp. 80-83). However, despite cyber challenges to national security, it does not necessarily reflect that deterrence methods and tactics will be applicable to cyberspace.

This technology is quite cheap, requires less resources and personnel, and therefore allows less economically advanced countries developing cyber. As a result, there is a clear asymmetry with weaker states competing with the world powers. Consequently, the threat is multiplied internationally.   So the states are now in an unprecedented situation, because of the high level of uncertainty that cyberspace poses. This compels the states to adapt to the fast changing environment in international relations.

According to the report of McAfee[2], a global security technology company, 57% believe that cyber arms race is taking place now. The top officials in the West are convinced too.  For example, NATO secretary general Stoltenberg said[3] that cyber would become integral to any military conflict. Following this, NATO Defence Ministers have agreed[4] that cyber will be a part of military planning and operations. It is clear that the West is fully aware of cyber developments and eager to use it in its actions.

Similarly, the Chinese Military Strategy of 2015 has also admitted that cyberspace will take a place in strategic competition among all parties. The Indian Army is also not falling behind and strengthening its cyber arsenal. General Rawat has recently said[5] that India is now more concerned about developing these cyber capabilities than fighting on the border.  The chain-reaction follows as in the case of the Cold War in pursuing the technologies and keeping up-to-date with the others states.

In this situation a leader faces similar challenges as in proliferation of any other military technology. There are four possible scenarios that make it difficult to calculate probabilities (According to Goldman and Arquilla, 2014):

1)    We develop a cyber capability[6] – They develop a cyber capability;

This is a frequent scenario and occurs when both countries have technological capability to develop cyber means.

2)    We develop a cyber capability – They don’t develop a cyber capability;

There are certain problems in verifying if a country really lacks a capability to pursue cyber weapons. However, this case gives obvious advantage and leverage to a state that develops cyber capability.

3)    We don’t develop a cyber capability – They develop a cyber capability;

From a political and strategic point of view, it puts a state into a disadvantageous position, therefore, making it undesired.

4)    We don’t develop a cyber capability – They don’t develop a cyber capability;

It is more desirable; however, no direct experience exists. Usually if there is a possibility that a technology can be developed, it will be developed at least by some state.

Interestingly enough, there is not much concrete information available in regards to these developments, whether it is amount of arsenal, types of cyber capability, or just simple information on the notions. Information which is accessible is usually written by the Western authors (it is particularly covered by US officials/military and academia) or can be found in government’s documents. NATO common strategy, perhaps, contributes towards it. On a broader scale, cyber is treated as a state secret and specific information is classified. There is much information which is not available (for example, development of cyber weapons, its employment, reasons for its employment, legality of the use of cyber weapons etc.). In some countries, there is nothing to find at all.

The good example is cyber capabilities of Russia. There is no available information: no official statements, no official policy, no academic articles published, it goes to the extent that even media is not engaged in these issues. Alexei Arbatov (2018), an internationally recognized scholar on global security, has recently confirmed that even academic debate in Russia does not officially exist, only at the university level or informal. Notwithstanding, the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation recognizes[7] the fact that military threats and dangers are now shifting towards cyberspace (“informatsionnoe prostranstvo”).

Similarly to Russia, China also maintains secrecy concerning its developments in the military. According to the report of the Institute for Security Technology Studies (2004), available sources insist that Beijing is pursuing cyber warfare programs, but classified nature of specifics aggravates assessments.

 This secrecy around cyber resembles the secrecy surrounding nuclear developments. All of this information was classified too, yet the principles of nuclear governance have managed to emerge even in the tight environment of the Cold War. Similar situation arose in regards to the use of drones. All the initial strikes of drones were classified, and only with time the debate started to evolve. At the moment it is quite vigorous.

As for cyber, it will certainly take time to talk freely about cyber capabilities and warfare. It will be different in different countries, but in the end the debate will open up as well as new technologies will come and cyber would have become a history.

References

Arbatov, A. (2018). Stability in a state of flux. Opinion presented at the 31st ISODARCO Winter Course – The Evolving Nuclear Order: New Technology and Nuclear Risk, 7-14 January 2018, Andalo.

Billo, Ch. and Chang, W. (2004). Cyber Warfare, an Analysis of the Means and Motivations of selected Nation States. Institute for Security Technology Studies, [online] Available at http://www.ists.dartmouth.edu/docs/cyberwarfare.pdf [Accessed on 27.12.2017].

Goldman, E. and Arquilla, J., ed. (2014). Cyber Analogies. Monterey: Progressive Management.

Mazanek, B. (2015). Why International Order is not Inevitable. Strategic Studies Quarterly, 9 (2), pp. 78-98. [online] Available at: http://www.airuniversity.af.mil/Portals/10/SSQ/documents/Volume-09_Issue-2/mazanec.pdf [Accessed on 28.01.2018].

[1] U.S. Department of Defense (2012). Remarks by Secretary Panetta on Cybersecurity to the Business Executives for National Security, New York City, [online] Available at: http://archive.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=5136 [Accessed on 22.01.2018].

[2] McAfee (2012). Cyber Defense Report. [online] Available at: https://www.mcafee.com/uk/about/news/2012/q1/20120130-02.aspx [Accessed on 22.01.2018].

[3] Hawser, A. (2017). NATO to Use Cyber Effects in Defensive Operations. Defense Procurement International, [online] Available at: https://www.defenceprocurementinternational.com/features/air/nato-and-cyber-weapons [Accessed on 22.01.2018].

[4] NATO (2017). NATO Defense Ministers agree to adopt command structure, boost Afghanistan troops levels. [online] Available at: https://www.nato.int/cps/ic/natohq/news_148722.htm?selectedLocale=en [Accessed on 22.01.2018].

[5] Gurung, Sh. (2018). Army stepping up cyber security. The Economic Times, [online] Available at: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/army-stepping-up-cyber-security/articleshow/62482582.cms [Accessed on 23.01.2018].

[6] Here it means both offensive and defensive capabilities (Author’s note).

[7] The Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation (edited in 2014). Moscow: p. 4. [online] Available at: http://www.mid.ru/documents/10180/822714/41d527556bec8deb3530.pdf/d899528d-4f07-4145-b565-1f9ac290906c [Accessed on 23.01.2018].

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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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