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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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3 2020 Developments That Could Make Your Life Easier

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There are many systems under development right now that could eventually make your life easier – but below, we’re going to look at 3 of them. We could be using these developments a lot sooner than you think! 

5G

Why do we need 5G when we have 4G – 4G is fast enough, right? People are worried about the health implications, but everybody seems willing to look past that to get more speed. More speed could really help businesses. Also, while 5G is generally operating from the same infrastructure as before, mass adoption will cause issues for data centers. This could make the situation both better and worse in some respects. 

Virtual Reality 

Virtual reality is already being used by many people, but it could actually be put to good use soon. When it comes to simple things like shopping, you could make your life so much easier and more enjoyable. Whether you’re shopping for furniture or clothes, virtual reality could mean checking out the fit easily. Try on clothes in the comfort of your home without even ordering them first. See what a sofa looks like before you buy. The options are endless! 

Artificial Intelligence 

We’re still going to need human intelligence, but AI can have a huge impact in our personal and working lives. In work alone it could mean enhanced automation with no need to do tedious tasks. Then, there’s next gen disaster response. It’s the technology of the future!

With these developments in mind, what are some of the most important developments in human history? Check out the infographic to find out!


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Technology Advances And How We Can Embrace Them

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Smart home

When it comes to the world as we know it, there is one denying that technology has advanced at an alarming rate. So much so, that we can find that more of us are starting to see these influences being incorporated into our lives. Whether you embrace it or not. Of course, there are technophobes out there, especially the older generation, who can find the latest technology a little harder to grasp. But these advances can really help us when it comes to living our lives. Here are some of the advances and how we can embrace them each day.

Wearable technology

The changes in what we wear have become more noticeable as more of us will be wearing some form of wearable technology. It could be in the form of a watch that tracks our heart rate or exercises. It might be that some people who are older will have wearable technology to remind them to take medication or to feel safe. Such as a button that can be pressed isn they feel unwell or need some form of assistance. 

Technology on our devices

The technology that we all use personally each day has changed dramatically, we only have to look at our smartphones or laptops to see that. They are more advanced than ever before, and with that some of them can become a little more like virtual assistants. Whether that be using Apple, Android or other devices. However, we can find that there may be situations where technology can let us down, such as mac os Catalina could not be verified or we find that certain models are not updated. Another issue we can have is older technology not keeping up with the latest downloads and software updates that are required. 

The smart home

Our homes are advancing more and more, and with that it means with things like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, we have more control over what we do through our voice and commands. Whether you want to control your heating, or even things like lights, these devices in your home are making it possible with simple demands. While it may seem lazy, these devices can help to transform your home. Even enabling you to switch the heating on or lights before you arrive home, for example. 

Lifestyle changes that technology can help us embrace

Finally, technology has changed so much that we can find ourselves in a position where we are able to embrace lifestyle changes that to different technology allowing business to track things. Smartphone apps can enable us to stay on track with our spending and budgets, even do our banking online. We can then perform lifestyle changes because of the wearable technology that we can use, such as tracking exercises, the amount of calories we burn and our heart rates. 

Let’s hope this has given you an indiviation of some of the more daily technology advances we are in contact with and how we can embrace them.

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For Enea Angelo Trevisan and Ealixir, better than solving the problem of cyberbullying is preventing it

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One of the most commentated news regarding Instagram for the past weeks was their investigation on whether to ban likes counter on the platform or not, but mostly from the perspective of marketing strategy. It turns out that the social media platform is actually considering this new feature as a means to avoid a much bigger problem: cyberbullying.

A recent studied carried by Pew Research Center showed that fifty-nine percent of teens reported to have experienced at least one of six types of abusive online behavior, cyberbullying included. Another concerning fact brought by the study shows that 16% of these teens were already subject of physical threat of some kind due to incidents in social media.

In addition to that, a report published by the Journal of Abnormal Psychology has highlighted the popularity of smartphones among teenagers – a statistic that only grew during the past seven years. “More U.S. adolescents and young adults in the late 2010s, versus the mid-2000s, experienced serious psychological distress, major depression or suicidal thoughts, and more attempted suicide,” stresses the study’s lead author, Jean Twenge, who also wrote the book iGen, in which he ponders about the influence of smartphones in teenage and child mental health.

Besides hiding how many likes a photo has received, Instagram is also considering another feature: a “nudge” alert that is activated while the user is still writing a comment that is flagged as potentially aggressive. According to the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, this could give an extra incentive for people to think twice before committing to an attack.

“Of all the obnoxious activities that can be carried out on the web, cyberbully is in my opinion the worst”, says Ealixir’s CEO and founder Enea Angelo Trevisan. “Cyberbullying targets those who cannot defend themselves: often minors or minorities. This is why one of our priorities as a company is to invest our technology in the fight against this plague.” In that sense, Ealixir gives support to individuals by making an early detection of offensive and troublesome contents, so they can be immediately erased and monitored to avoid further reloading. 

For Trevisan, the case for cyberbullying starts in schools, and this is the reason why Ealixir is also responsible for organizing sessions with children, so they can be warned about the dangers of the internet. “At this young age, kids think of internet as a huge playground. We teach them not to trust strangers and to think about the consequences of their virtual actions, exactly like in real life,” he explains.

Moreover, families also need to be aware of their children’s presence on the internet – they should not underestimate the possibilities and dangers of giving a smartphone to a child or a teen. “This is due to the fact that older generations were born and raised without the web, so they struggle to identify with their children. With Ealixir, we try and fill in this gap most of all through prevention, but also actively by deleting offensive contents and/or preventing harassment.

Besides monitoring and removing offensive contents published online, Ealixir also gives support to families and individuals who found themselves victims of cyberbullying by offering contact with specialized lawyers that can handle a case with expertise in the court. However, as much as in the case for health, prevention is the best scenario when coming to cyberbullying too, so internet literacy becomes an important competence to be learned by children for a healthier future of the web.

Sources: https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/how-instagram-plans-to-take-a-stand-against-cyberbullying

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