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.
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.
Cyberattack Momentarily Pauses Trading at Bitfinex Crypto Exchange
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.
Is there such thing as cyberwar?
Two decades have passed after Arquilla and Ronfeldt in 1993 warned the public about an upcoming. They were also the first to introduce a concept of cyberwar and give an elaborated opinion. They referred to a conduct and preparation of military operations using information-related principles and also invoked a link between intelligence (the collection of information for political or military purpose) and cyber operations. Now, the scale of intelligence has significantly expanded.
Interestingly, before cyber appeared, there was a radio which was used for intelligence purposes and was weaponized later in the World War II. From that time on, electronic warfare became standard characteristics of a modern conflict. Despite this, there is a key difference between electronic warfare and a cyber one. Traditional electronic warfare aimed to guide, target, or protect weapons systems (Ibid., p. 24). In contrast, cyber makes today’s weapons and military systems smarter but also more vulnerable for an attack.
At the moment everyone still wonders what the whole idea of cyberwar means. There is no accepted interpretation or definition. Furthermore, many experts even say that such war does not even exist (or cannot be referred to the notion of “war”). Perhaps, it is due to the fact that a war in cyberspace has not yet happened. To make it clear, cyber capability has not actually killed anyone and a code has not been used as the use of force.
Similarly, the dangers of a nuclear bomb were recognized only after its use, the same goes to the notion of “nuclear war”. Although there have been many cyberattacks, none of them have been raised to the level of war because none of them, in fact, caused the level of damage which could be adhered to the level of a large-scale conflict.
Cyber warfare has derived from different aspects of conventional warfare and traditional definitions of war. It usually involves organized units within nation-state in offensive or defensive operations which are part of a war or a conflict.
In general, since cyber study is relatively new, there are many competing terms and definitions to explain cyber phenomenon. The following concepts – the revolution in military affairs, electronic warfare, information warfare, and cyber war – have been all offered to describe the new emerging area of conflict. Experts do not agree on any particular term, more often using different notions when talking about cyber issues. Nonetheless, it is vital to understand the facts of the 21st century similarly to the need that rose along with the invention of atomic reaction. A major concern now is no longer weapons of mass destruction, but weapons of mass disruption. (2009, p. 47).
One of the central elements to define a cyberwar, is that it has to meet the same criteria, applied to any other type of war. Vandalism or spying is an act of crime, but they do not start wars. So, assumingly, there has to be physical destruction and casualties in order to declare a war.
Therefore, a cyberwar should have real world damage similar to a conventional war. For this matter, it should probably take place in a digital world. What is not clear, however, is whether it should be fought exclusively in cyberspace or it can accompany a conventional attack too. This aspect is quite interesting, because cyberattacks can easily be used in combination with a kinetic attack and can multiply the force and power of the attacker.
In this case, it does not make sense to create a new term “cyberwar” as it falls down under the same definition of war. It is the same example when aerial bombings supported the attacks on the ground during the World War I, but in the end we called it a war, not a particular type of war. Consequently, cyber introduction resembles more a revolution in military affairs, rather that a new emerging type of warfare.
What is clear, though, is that the difference in definitions complicates the matters of regulating cyberspace and prevents achieving a common ground on cyber issues and/or developing new treaties and agreements between the states. So far there is no international agreement on the cyber principles, despite some attempts of the states to engage into negotiations (Budapest Conference on Cyberspace, the World Conference on International Telecommunications). There is, however, the Convention on Cybercrime, the first international agreement that addresses compute crime, adopted by the Council of Europe. Interestingly enough, Russia (as a part of the Council) neither signed nor ratified the agreement, whereas US (not part of the Council) recognized it and ratified it.
Apart from these difficulties in defining cyberwar, there has been a hyperbolic use of the word itself, mostly by media and tabloids (e.g. The Washington Post, “We are at cyberwar and we are our own enemy”; The New York Times, “How to prevent Cyberwar”; Zdnet, “Cyberwar: a guide to the frightening future of online conflict”; Komsomolskaya Pravda, “Are we expecting the First World Cyberwar?” etc.). They do not usually give any concrete information but are eager to use this term and apply it randomly to different cases just because it sounds good. All in all, uninformed public use of the word has enormously contributed into the heat surrounding cyber implications.
Futher, cyberattacks are too often discussed equivalently, regardless of its impact. In this sense, minor cases like ransomware or phishing might be raised to the level of an armed attack (especially if they affect multiple computers worldwide). Yet, these cases are good examples of cybercrime, and crime is not a war. When individuals engage into this type of activity, they do not engage in a war. The same goes for espionage in cyberspace. Catching a spy on one’s territory will certainly put pressure on bilateral relations, but it would not start a war.
This exaggeration of cyberattacks can be explained through securitization theory. The notion offered by the Copenhagen Security School describes how a certain concept can be politicized and securitized to the extent that it becomes a threat to national security (See Buzan, 2006).
To conclude, it should be mentioned that there is no guidance for the conduct of “cyberwar”. There are no internationally agreed definitions and, to that extent, the whole idea of cyberwar so far seems unrealistic. At this moment technology is not sophisticated enough to ensure a military conduct entirely in cyberspace. Besides, any cyberattack of such scale would presumably result in a physical destruction, which consequently might provoke a conventional retaliation attack. This, in result, would cause a war we know for years, so there is no need to introduce a particular type of war. On another note, using cyber operations to support a conventional war and/or conflict is the way to go, but in this case it is just a revolution and modernization in military affairs.
I would be interested to hear your opinion about that in the comments below.
For further information see:
1) A movie “War Games” (1983)
2) Arquilla, J. and Ronfeldt, D. (1993). The Cyberwar is Coming! RAND Corporation, [online] Available at: https://www.rand.org/pubs/reprints/RP223.html
3) Cetron, M. J. and Davies, O. (2009). Ten critical trends for cyber security. The Futurist, 43(5), pp. 40–49.
4) Stiennon, R. (2015). There Will Be Cyberwar: How The Move To Network-Centric War Fighting Has Set The Stage For Cyberwar. Michigan: IT-Harvest Press.
On the issue of cyber security of critical infrastructures
There is a lot of talk in regards to cyberattacks nowadays. A regular user worries about its data and tries to secure by all means necessary. Yet, no one really thinks whether the power plants or nuclear facilities are well secured. Everyone assumes that they should be secured.
The reality, however, differs. According to many reports of cyber security companies, there is an increased risk of cyberattacks, targeting SCADA and ICS. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) is used for the systems that control physical equipment – power plants, oil and gas pipelines, they can also control or monitor processes such as heating or energy consumption. Along with Industrial Control Systems (ICS) they control critical elements of industrial automation processes. Exploiting vulnerabilities of critical infrastructures can lead to the consequences of unimaginable scale. (These types of attacks are actually used in a cyberwar scenarios and hypothetical military settings).
There are many reasons why these systems are vulnerable for attacks. First of all, the main problem is that these systems have an old design; they were built before they were connected to any networks. They were later configured to connect via Ethernet, and that’s when they became a part of a larger infrastructure. The more advanced SCADA system is becoming, the more vulnerabilities are these to exploit. The updates should be regular and on time. Secondly, there is a lack of monitoring. New devices that are connected allow remote monitoring, but not all devices have the same reporting capabilities. There are also authentication issues (weak passwords, authentication process), however, this is supposed to restrict unauthorized access (See Common SCADA Threats and Vulnerabilities at Patriot Technologies, Inc. Online).
In these scenarios, there is no certainty to know what is going to backfire because of the complexity of communications and power networks. This is also called a cascading effect of attacks. Not knowing who is connected to who may cause major disruptions. The example of the US East Coast power blackout in 2003 proves this point (a failure in one element of the grid spreads across other electrical networks). However, given this, it is also complicated for an attacker to predict consequences, if an attack executed. This kind of attack can easily escalate into more serious conflict, so it might not be the best option for states to employ such methods.
Moreover, there is a risk to damage a critical infrastructure unintentionally. That is if a virus or worm did not intend to target SCADA but happen to spread there as well. The uncontrollability of the code may seriously impair the desire to use it, especially when it comes to nation-states. For instance, in 2003 a worm penetrated a private network of the US Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station and disabled a safety monitoring system for 5 hours. In 2009, French fighter jets could not take off because they were infected with a virus.
Indeed, a scenario where an attacker gains access to a SCADA system and manipulates with the system, causing disruptions on a large-scale, might be hypothetical but it does not make it less possible in the future. However, the only known case so far, which affected an industrial control centre, is Stuxnet. It did not result in many deaths, yet it drew attention of the experts on the plausibility of future more sophisticated attacks. These potential upcoming attacks might cause the level of destruction, comparable to that of a conventional attack, therefore resulting in war.
Bradbury, D. (2012). SCADA: a Critical Vulnerability. Computer Fraud & Security, 4, p. 11-14.
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