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.
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.
Concerns and Limitation of Cyber Warfare
The discovery of Stuxnet, a malware that targeted a nuclear facility, was somewhat revolutionary and groundbreaking. It targeted ICS which monitor and run industrial facilities. Before that, most of malicious programs were developed to steal information or break-in into financial sector to extort money. Stuxnet went beyond went and targeted high-level facilities. It is not hard to imagine what damage it could have inflicted if the worm were not detected. What is more worrisome, the technology is out. It might not be perfect, but it is definitely a start. Regardless of the intentions behind Stuxnet, a cyber bomb has exploded and everyone knows that cyber capabilities indeed can be developed and mastered.
Therefore, if they can be developed, they will probably be. The final goal of Stuxnet was to affect the physical equipment which was run by specific ICS. It was done in order to manipulate computer programs and make it act as an attacker intended it to act. Such a cyberattack had a particular motivation; sabotage of industrial equipment and destruction could have been one of the goals. So, if they were indeed the goals, it might have been an offensive act, conducted by an interested party, presumably, a state for its political objective. Yet, there are certain limitations when it comes to so-called “cyber weapons” (malware that might be employed for military use or intelligence gathering).
One of the main concerns of cyber offence is that code may spread uncontrollably to other systems. In terms of another physical weapon, it is like a ballistic missile that anytime can go off-course and inflict damage on unintended targets and/or kill civilians. Cyber offensive technology lacks precision, which is so valued in military. For example, in ICS and SCADA systems one may never know what can backfire because of the complexity of the system. The lack of precision consequently affects military decisions. When launching a weapon, officers should know its precise capabilities; otherwise, it is too risky and is not worth it.
In case of Stuxnet, the program started replicating itself and infected computers of many countries. For this moment we do not know if it were planned in that way. However, provided that that target was Natanz facility, it is unlikely. Symantec Corporation started analyzing the case only with external help; it did not come from Natanz. This exacerbates the case if a country decides to launch an offensive cyberattack.
If the military planning cannot prevent cyber technology to go awry or to go out in the public, it brings more disadvantages than advantages. Moreover, given a possibility of the code being discovered and broke down to pieces to understand what it does, it may potentially benefit an opposing party (and any other interested party along the way). This is unacceptable in military affairs.
Similarly, when the code is launched and it reaches the target, it can be discovered by an opponent. In comparison to nuclear, when a bomb explodes, it brings damage and destruction, but its technology remains in secret. In case of cyber, it may not be the case, as when a malware/virus is discovered, it can be reverse engineered to patch vulnerability. By studying the code, an enemy would find out the technology/tactics used that could be unfavourable in the long-run for the attacker.
Additionally, it should be said that not every malware is meant to spread by itself. In order to control the spread, vulnerability can be patched, meaning updating the software which had that vulnerability. An anti-malware can also be introduced; this will make the computer system immune to that particular vulnerability. Nonetheless, if the malware spreads uncontrollably, there is nothing much that an attacker can do. It is not possible to seize the attack. In this scenario, an attack may only release information about this certain vulnerability so that someone else can fix it. However, a state is highly unlikely to do so, especially if the damage is extensive. It would not only cost the state diplomatic consequences, but also it might severely impact its reputation.
An AI-enabled cyberattack could perhaps fulfill its potential. That means involvement of artificial intelligence. AI systems could make digital programs more precise, controlling the spread. In contrast, it could also lead to a greater collateral damage, if a system decides to target other facilities that may result in human death. Similar concerns are raised in the area of autonomous weapon systems in regard to the need of leaving decision-making to humans and not to technology. AI technology has a potential to make existing cyberattacks more effective and more efficient (Schaerf, 2018).
Aforementioned concern leads to another and affects the end result. When a certain weapon is employed, it is believed to achieve a certain goal, e.g. to destroy a building. With cyber capabilities, there is no such certainty. In the
Alternatively, the true costs of cyberattacks may be uncertain and hard to calculate. If that is so, an attacker faces high level of uncertainty, which may also prevent them from a malicious act (particularly, if nation states are involved). However, the costs and the benefits may always be miscalculated, and an attacker hoping for a better gain may lose much more in the end (e.g. consider Pearl Harbour).
Another concern refers to the code becoming available to the public. If it happens, it can be copied, re-used and/or improved. Similar concerns in regards to proliferation and further collateral damage emerged when Stuxnet code became available online. An attacker may launch a cyberattack, and if it is discovered, another hacker can reverse engineer the code and use it against another object. Moreover, the code can be copied, improved and specialized to meet the needs of another party. Technology is becoming more complex, and by discovering a malware developed by others, it also takes less time to produce a similar program and/or develop something stronger. (For instance, after Stuxnet, more advanced malwares were discovered – Duqu and Flame).
Furthermore, there are other difficulties with the employment of cyber offensive technology. In order to maximize its result, it should be supported by intelligence. In case of Stuxnet, an offender needed to pinpoint the location of the facility and the potential equipment involved. It has to find zero-days vulnerabilities that are extremely rare and hard to find. Cyber vulnerability is all about data integrity. It should be reliable and accurate. Its security is essential in order to run an industrial infrastructure.
After pinpointing vulnerability, security specialists need to write a specific code, which is capable of bridging through an air-gapped system. In case of Stuxnet, all of abovementioned operations required a certain level of intelligence support and financial capability. These complex tasks involved into development were exactly the reason why Stuxnet was thought to be sponsored and/or initiated by a nation state. If intelligence is lacking, it may not bring a desirable effect. Moreover, if cyber offense is thought to be used in retaliation, malicious programs should be ready to use (as on “high-alert”) in the event of necessity.
Regardless of some
advantages of cyber offence (like low costs, anonymity etc), this technology
appears to be unlikely for a separate use by military. There is a high level of
uncertainty and this stops the army of using technology in offence. Truth is
when you have other highly precise weapons, it does not make sense to settle
for some unreliable technology that may or may not bring you a wanted result.
Yet, other types of
cyberattacks like DDoS attacks can give some clear advantages during military
operations and give an attacker some good cards in case of a conflict. When
such attacks used together with military ground operations, they are much more
likely to bring a desired result.
 For better understanding, out of twelve million pieces of malware that computer security companies find each year, less than a dozen uses a zero-day exploit.
Be carefull! It is possible to read someone else’s WhatsApp conversations without getting caught
Social media came into our lives a few years ago and they are here to stay: Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp are essential applications for many of us nowadays, and we don’t imagine our smartphones lacking any of them. They are useful to communicate in our daily life with our family or coworkers, and they help us to easily catch up on what is happening in our long-distance friends’ lives by simply scrolling down their timelines. And while it is true that social media can be very useful in many cases, it is also true that there are situations where we’d like we could go a little further and use them to investigate. Let’s be honest: at some point, we all have wished we could spy whatsapp to find out what a certain person does –in order to corroborate if what they are telling us is real, or to know what they say about us when they talk to their friends.
Since everyone uses Whatsapp, Instagram or Facebook to have private conversations, it is easy to imagine the different reasons that could lead a person to want to read someone else’s private conversations. In the case of couples, if you think that your partner may be cheating on you, it is probably not enough for you to ask them questions to find out what you want to know, which will make very important for you to figure out what they might be hiding in their phone. Another frequent case are parents who fear for the safety of their adolescent children and want to know who they relate to through social media and what type of content they send and receive to make sure they stay safe from drugs, sexual predators, or bullies .
But the recurring question asked by most of the crowd who are trying to spy on someone else’s social media is: Is it actually possible to hack an smartphone to be able to read their conversations and see their pictures without getting caught? Fortunately for the “spys” –and unfortunately for their target’s privacy, there’s no system that can not be hacked by an experienced hacker. And even if you are not one, hacking WhatsApp without getting caught is now easier than ever with this guide on how to spy on WhatsApp Android.
There some free ways that you can use to spy on someone else’s WhatsApp: from the oldest software capable of intercepting conversations through WiFi, to more rudimentary methods such as scanning the WhatsApp’s QR code from the person whom you want to spy on and opening their session on another device. But the problem with all these methods is that you run the chance of being caught because they always leave a trail. Therefore, it is more advisable to use untraceable methods such as SpySocial, which is 100% undetectable.
The success of their system is based on a lot of hard work, and a very simple concept: you can’t get caught if you are not directly connected to the target’s phone. The “spionage” is done through their servers, so you don’t even need to be close to the phone you want to spy on. Thus, as the entire system works through third-parties, you can spy on their online activities without there ever being a link between you and their phone. Plus, the company doesn’t keep any access logs at all, so they can’t know who you are – meaning the person you are spying on can’t figure it out either. The only thing you need to know and provide is the target’s phone number. With just this, you’ll have access to their WhatsApp chat messages and images, and you’ll also be able to see their location and cameras in real time, and also have their future WhatsApp calls recorded for you.
Besides WhatsApp, with this tool you can also easily spy on Instagram accounts, Facebook. You’ll have access immediately to their messages, pictures and private stories in Instagram, or to all the information that a Facebook profile can provide: personal information, photos and videos, status updates, Friends list and even watch them use Facebook in real-time. If you are not interested that much on the profile but you’d like to see who they speak to most regularly on Facebook Messenger, you will be able to do so, as well as downloading the photos and videos sent via Facebook Messenger and spying on their Facebook Messenger chats as they happen.
Sounds cool, right? The process is easy: you enter the target’s WhatsApp phone number, Instagram username or their Facebook URL, wait for the Spysocial servers to connect to their device, and then they create a connection package for you. After that, just enter your details, download the associated file install the connection tool… And let the spying begin.
Nanomaterials: the biotechnology of today and tomorrow
There is a huge amount of interest in the development and use of nanomaterials, across a wide range of sectors. The properties of the micro-sized particles are perfect for application in everything from medical and pharmaceutical to clothing creation and the manufacture of filters, produced using the method of electrospinning.
Electrospinning, sometimes known as EHDP is method for the production of nano and micro-structures, and has huge benefits in industry. It can also be used for a range of materials to suit the intended purpose.
What are the benefits of using nano materials?
There are many benefits to electrospinning processes to produce nanomaterials. For example the surface area to volume ratio of nanofiber, due to the nanodimension of the fibers, is very high. Different materials, such as polymers, metals and ceramics can be spun together to give excellent results.
There is also a huge cost saving benefit. Although at the forefront of modern technology, setting up a lab or a clean room to carry out electrospinning is very cheap when compared with the set up of other industrial processes. Several companies have even scaled up the production of the nanofibrous membrane, to enable mass production at low cost. And setting up an electrospinning company is surprisingly simple, as staff can be upskilled quickly and efficiently to manage the process. Especially as there are machines now with incredibly easy user controls.
How does it work in practice?
If those who are are unfamiliar with the method behind electrospinning of nanomaterials can understand the process relatively simply. It involves using an electrical force to pull charged threads of polymer melts or solutions.
The solution of polymers, solvents and the other components is prepared. At this stage molecular chair entanglement takes place. Next is the electrospinning itself. The solution is fed through the capillaries and a high voltage is applied which creates a jet. The jet is then whipped and stretched into fibers. It is at this point the solvent is evaporated.
Finally the dry fiber is formed into a membrane or material, depending on the intended use. This can be quite wide ranging, and so although the science behind it all remains exactly the same, the electrospinning machines must be correct for the type of usage as defined by the manufacturer.
What are nanomaterials actually used for?
The materials are huge versatile. The limit for future innovations is only as small as the next person’s imagination. It is currently used across medicine, for example growing artificial tissues that can mold with living tissue for example in place of a skin graft, or to create a barrier around an organ. It is also used in biomedical implants that sit under the skin and release a slow stream of drugs into the body.
They are of course also used in the production of fabric, particularly whether that fabric needs to be lightweight and breathable. In fact the initial development of electrospinning and micro or nano materials was initially developed by the textile industry. Especially where the wearer needs to be protected by toxic substances. It is the perfect way to make seamless non-woven garments.
It is also often used as coatings for other items, for example furniture, or pharmaceutical drugs. The process helps give products protection from the environment around it but also maintain the quality of the interior product within.
This is because of the properties of nanofiber. The previously mentioned high surface to volume ratio, and the fact that due to the electrospinning process at a molecular level the material is virtually defect free.
It is vital that, in order to achieve outstanding results, the chosen manufacturer of machinery is of the highest quality. It is very important. Particularly when trusting the machinery to produce highly technical fibers, with the right polymers, but the right equipment.
Nano materials bring to humanity technological advances that revolutionize industries, such as medicine, that greatly benefit the health of human beings. At the forefront of modern technology and its development and production, the potential for vastly improving human quality of life is huge. Even the current uses are just the tip of the iceberg as to what could be achieved in the future.
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