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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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Quotes To Get Your Boss To Take Cyber Security Seriously

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cyber security

There is no denying that data security is something that all businesses need to take seriously today. Unfortunately, there are many companies out there who are failing to do so. This is because they have the “it won’t happen to me attitude.” However, many companies have closed after a data breach. Therefore, to save the future of your business and your job, try to convince your boss with these quotes…

We are going to start with a quote from the founder and CEO of Blue Lava, Inc, Demitrios ‘Laz’ Lazarikos, who talks about implementing a modern program on cyber risk. From privileged access management services to network segregation, we need to stay ahead of the times with our strategy.

“A modern cybersecurity program must have Board and Executive level visibility, funding, and support. The modern cybersecurity program also includes reporting on multiple topics: understanding how threats impact revenues and the company brand, sales enablement, brand protection, IP protection, and understanding cyber risk.”

If your boss thinks he or she is above the law, William Malik, VP and Research Area Director for Information Security at Gartner has a great quote on the matter…

“A business will have good security if its corporate culture is correct. That depends on one thing: tone at the top. There will be no grassroots effort to overwhelm corporate neglect.”

Chairman of the Ponemon Institute, Dr. Larry Ponemon, has spoken about insider attacks. Insider attacks – whether malicious or accidental – are the most common. However, they’re not being taken as seriously as they should…

“We discovered in our research that insider threats are not viewed as seriously as external threats, like a cyberattack. But when companies had an insider threat, in general, they were much more costly than external incidents. This was largely because the insider that is smart has the skills to hide the crime, for months, for years, sometimes forever.”

While some business owners do implement cyber security controls, there seems to be a lack of thought behind the strategy that is implemented, and this is what Dr. Chris Pierson, CEO at Binary Sun Cyber Risk Advisors has said on the matter…

“What we should actually be doing is thinking about what are our key controls that will mitigate the risks. How do we have those funneled and controlled through the team that we have, how do we work through that in a well-formatted, formulated process and pay attention to those controls we have chosen? Not a continual, add more, add more, add more.”

One of the biggest problems with data security is that a lot of business owners believe it is nothing more than an IT issue. Steven Chabinsky, Global Chair of Data, Privacy & Cybersecurity at White & Case LLP, has put this into perspective…

“Thinking of cybersecurity solely as an IT issue is like believing that a company’s entire workforce, from the CEO down, is just one big HR issue.”

So there you have it: some of the most compelling quotes out there regarding cyber security today. We hope these will help you to convince your boss that it’s critical!

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Get The Most Out Of Your Phone With These Tips

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mobile apps

Most of us live with a smartphone or other device attached to our arm. Technology is such a big part of our lives these days and smartphones in particular continue to thrive and grow in popularity as time goes by.

But are you truly making the most of your smartphone? Today we are going to take a look at smartphones and the tools you can use to truly get the most use out of it.

1. Documents in one place

One of the greatest things about having a mobile phone is that you always have it with you. If you work in an office environment and often need access to files and documents on the go, be sure to use Google Drive and OneDrive. These cloud based services allow you to create, edit, and share word documents and spreadsheets wherever you are. It will make your life so much easier and your working days much more productive.

2. Shazam

Not the popular superhero, but the app. If you want to really make the most of your phone, download this magical app. If you are ever listening to a song on the radio or on TV, you can turn the app on and it will tell you exactly what it is.

3. Stay safe

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you lost your phone? Well, if you did lose your phone you might not be able to get it back because the person who finds it won’t know who you are. But, what if there’s an easy way to remedy this? By putting your phone number on your lock screen, anyone who finds your phone will be able to contact you and get it back to you safely.

4. Use Accuweather

There is nothing worse than going outside without a coat on and suffering in the rain. As well as the small losses like this, you want to avoid going outside while storms such as Storm Dennis are around, and Accuweather will send you alerts meaning that you will always know what’s going on outside.

5. Get the best data deal

There’s no point having an amazing smartphone that can do countless things online if you don’t have a great data plan. Use a company like honest mobile to get yourself unlimited data and this will mean you never worry about losing data.

6. Stay in the loop

Although often the news is pretty boring, it is still important for you to know what’s going on in the world so you can make decisions. One of the best tips we have is getting a news app on your phone that will send out Breaking News alerts to you when they happen.

7. Use Mail Drop

Our mobile phones are amazing little gadgets and they almost run like a mini computer, but there is one thing a mobile phone isn’t the best with: files. If you are looking to email a file to someone and it is too large, if you have an iPhone you can use a service called Mail Drop. This will essentially create an iCloud link to the file that is valid for 30 days so that the other party can access the file.

8. Control your PC from your phone

If you are ever out of the house and notice that you have left an important file on your computer that you need at work, don’t get in the car and go home. There is a handy tool you can use to control your computer from where you are and send yourself any files you need. TeamViewer is a remote computer control app that will allow you to use your computer from your phone.

9. Customise your keyboard

Have you ever noticed that the autocorrect function of your phone is a bit out there and funky? Instead of constantly ending up with random words in your sentences like flamingo or umbrella, you can customise your own keyboard and it will learn your patterns of speech. Download a third party keyboard and use this and it will make your life much easier.

10. Conserve your power

Due to the high processing power and heavy use of mobile phones it is no surprise that we often end up draining the battery before lunch time. But there is a simple function on your phone that can reduce this risk. In your settings, there should be a power option and a low battery mode. Turn this on and it will prevent any unnecessary background processes happening while your phone is idle or in use.

11. Make it charge faster

To follow on from the point above, what happens when you need to charge your phone in a short space of time? Turn on airplane mode and it will shut down background processes and allow the phone to charge much quicker.

12. Find your friends

If you have family members or friends that you need to track for meeting up or getting home for dinner, Find my Friends is the ideal app to use. It allows you to see where people are at all times so if your other half is stuck in traffic you can slow down dinner until they get home!

13. FLASH….AHHHH

If you have a habit of ignoring the notifications and alerts that pop up on your screen you might often find yourself forgetting about important appointments or reminders. To ensure that you always notice when an alert comes on the screen you can set your phone to flash. Never miss another important alert again!

14. Hard reboot

This tip is one that is known to most of us, but it is an important one to remember if you want to get the most out of your phone. If your mobile phone freezes or it seems to have a serious issue, make sure to reboot the system. We’ve all heard the old adage of turning it off and on again, and honestly, this is often the solution for you. If there is an issue, perform a hard reboot and your phone should be good as new.

15. Get rid of memory clog

As we use our mobile phones throughout our daily lives it is understandable that sometimes our memory gets clogged up with photos, videos, and music and apps. However after a while RAM will fill up so much that it will slow down the performance of the phone. Be sure that you can prevent this happening by getting rid of RAM. Clear out apps you don’t use and put your photos onto a computer or harddrive.

16. Enjoy a good workout

Did you know that there are many free apps out there that will show you workouts you can do at home? Why pay for an expensive gym membership when you can use a free app and workout in your living room instead? There are tonnes of great options such as yoga, pilates, HIIT and more. Take a look and see which ones suit you.

17. Learn to cook

If you are useless in the kitchen and you always feel as if you burn water, use your phone to help you learn. Stand your phone up and get some YouTube tutorials on the go to teach you simple skills in the kitchen. There are many helpful YouTube channels for cooking, including Binging With Babish and SortedFood.

18. Find your way home

If you have an android phone you are in look, and you’ll be able to find your home wherever you are. Head to Google Maps and create a shortcut that will take you home from wherever. It means you will not have to type in your address every time you want to head home from somewhere unfamiliar.

19. Fall asleep easy

If you are the kind of person who needs some background music when they are trying to fall asleep you are not alone. But instead of keeping a TV and then waking up in the middle of the night to switch it off, you can use your phone to lull you to sleep with your own music. The stopwatch app in iPhone allows you to set a ‘stop playing’ timer that will stop all music playing after a certain period.

20. Taking weird angle photos

We all know the real struggle of getting the perfect selfie, and this is made 10 times harder when you are trying to feel around for the little touchscreen button to snap your shot. If you are taking a photo at a weird angle and your finger can’t reach this button, did you know you can use the volume buttons instead? It’s much easier to do and you’ll likely get a less shaky photo as a result.

There are so many things that our phones can do and they truly do change the way we live our lives. Take these little tips and tricks away with you to make the most of your pocket computer this year and impress your friends.

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The Impact of Blockchain For Businesses

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Blockchain

Throughout the years, the concept of blockchain technology has gradually overtaken the business world. But no longer is it only being associated with cryptocurrency. Now it’s finding its way into other industries such as eCommerce and logistics management. 

Helping to digitize businesses, it’s a popular technology due to its ability to solve challenges such as security breaches. But that’s not the only benefit that comes with investing in blockchain technology. If your business is interested in investing in enterprise software development and in blockchain in particular, then the following information can prove to be invaluable. 

What is it?

Before getting into the advantages, it’s important to first understand exactly what blockchain is. Arguably one of the most disruptive technologies, it’s something that should no longer be ignored. To put it simply, blockchain is a collection of digital technology information which is stored within a database.  This will typically include:

  • Information about certain customer transactions including key data such as the time, monetary amount, date and more. 
  • Information about exactly who is buying your products or services. Revealing shopping behaviors, it’s stored with a digital signature rather than a specific name. 
  • Unique blocks of information – which can easily be distinguished from one another. For example, if one customer buys one item and then in the future buys a different one, they will be in different blocks.

What Are The Benefits?

  1. An Increased Level of Efficiency

One of the most important benefits that come with implementing blockchain technology within your business is the elevated level of efficiency it can provide. Removing the need for a third-party due to its more decentralized design, it will make your operating processes far more streamlined. 

With blockchain technology, you can step away from the more traditional, time-consuming processes that were rife with human error and automate them. Ensuring that they are completed more quickly and accurately, you can spend the time that you saved on other areas of your business. 

As well as making the overall process more streamlined and convenient, it allows for everyone to access the same information at one time – making financial record-keeping more trustworthy in the long term. 

One industry that could particularly benefit from faster payments and transactions is the real estate market. With a simpler system of ownership records, it will make the process of selling properties far easier. It will also open up the possibility of automating agreements between tenants and landlords, which will similarly speed up the process. 

  1. Greater Transparency Overall

A notable characteristic that blockchain has is its ability to be transparent. As the technology is a type of a transaction or distributed ledger, it allows those within a network to share all of the same documentation instead of individual copies. 

By making this open to viewing, it directly adds a remarkable layer of accountability, giving each sector within the business the responsibility to act correctly towards the company’s growth and its customers. The fact that each document can only be updated through the agreement of all participants also ensures that no illegitimate changes can be made. More consistent, transparent and accurate, the staff will perform better together in the long run.

  1. An Increased Level of Security 

As aforementioned, an increased level of security is one of the key benefits that come with blockchain technology. Far more secure than the more traditional record-keeping systems, it will ensure that each transaction that’s made is heavily encrypted and linked to the last transaction. But how does it do this?

Without getting too technical, blockchain technology is created with several ‘blocks’ which are formed by a computer network. Once created, they are added to a ledger which fuses a chain of information. As it is such a complex technology that exists across several serves rather than one (as most traditional technologies are), it’s one of the most protected from breaches. 

This level of security is particularly important for businesses that store sensitive customer data such as – healthcare, within the government and in financial services. 

  1. Reduced Costs

For many businesses, it’s important to cut costs where you can. And with blockchain technology, you can do exactly that. Although the initial investment might seem expensive, the benefits that come with it make it more than worth it for many businesses. As mentioned above, it removes the need for third parties. And because of this, you can work directly with your clients and customers.

This will, in turn, help to reduce your overall costs. With this new automated technology, you also no longer have to review information separately. Helping to save time and therefore save money. You can then reinvest the money that you’ve saved by not having to deal with third parties in other aspects of your business – such as marketing or IT.

  1. Enhanced Traceability 

Traceability is key within many businesses – as without it, you can’t identify transactions. With blockchain technology, you can reap the benefits that come with an enhanced level of traceability. For example, every time that someone purchases a product from your business, it will create a digital audit trail which is recorded within the blockchain. Showcasing who and when they were bought, it can easily be traced if need be.

Helping to prevent fraud (if you have a business that’s involved in exchange), verify the authenticity and improve security, it’s an essential addition for many. In particular, this heightened level of traceability can be ideal if your business traditionally deals with products which are traded through a very complex supply chain – such as within medicine. Tracking exactly who manufactured and distributed each item, it will be easier to recall products if need be.

Final Thoughts

The impact that blockchain technology can have within a business is clear. A type of technology that is ever-developing and growing in popularity, it’s something that’s here to stay. Of course, before you invest in the technology, it’s vital that you thoroughly research the pros and cons and how it could directly affect your business’ operations.

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