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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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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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Growth in the nanofiber market expected to continue to grow throughout 2019 and in 2020

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The field is now seeing phenomenal growth and investment as newer, slicker and cheaper technologies, such as electrospinning, are allowing for more and more applications, particularly in the field of drug delivery. 

Use of nanofiber is no new technology, in fact microfibers have been in use – particularly in the textile industry for many years. Even in the global filtration and separation technology market current forecasts for the coming year is that there will be growth of around 6% in demand, and that is before you factor in the explosion in alternative global drug delivery methods due to the increase in chronic diseases, new pharmaceutical products and technological advances. Major manufacturers are exploring the potential of the production of nanomaterials by electrospinning as the next big step forward for their business. 

What is electrospinning and how does it work? 

Put quite simply, electrospinning is the method by which nanomaterials are made. It is incredibly versatile, and the range of raw materials that can be used is very wide ranging, and can allow for different properties of the finished product. 

Starting with a polymer melt, using materials such as collagen, cellulose, silk fibroin, keratin, gelatin, or polysaccharides for example, chain entanglement takes place in the solution. An electrical force is then applied to pull threads of electrically charged materials into a jet that can be whipped or spun into fibers as the solvents in the solution are evaporated.

Finally the dry fiber is formed into a membrane or material, depending on the intended use. The material will have some great functional properties, such as a large surface area-to-volume ratio, high porosity and strength. 

Nanomaterials are revolutionising the advancement of new materials, and for companies looking to be the leaders in new developments and pushing industry forward with new technologies this is an area that will help them stay at the top of their game.  

Why is it worth the research and development?

With virtually limitless applications, electrospinning can be used in any industry. Not just in the production of textiles, where breathable, lightweight or protective clothing might be required, but also in the creation of filtration systems, and in medicinal and pharmaceutical products. 

It even has use in the packaging of food and other consumables, and there is some research being put into the creation of food. There are already companies who have managed to scale their electrospinning processes. 

The versatility of the process and the potential for creating groundbreaking new products is only part of the story. One of the other reasons this is a good direction to take your research and development team is because it is relatively quick and easy to set up with the help of a good electrospinning equipment company. There is a range of machinery available, from small worktop ‘proof of concept’ electrospinning machines for small laboratories, to large pre-production scale machines. It means that start up and installation costs are far lower in comparison to many other production processes. 

The user interface of this machinery has also advanced with the times, making it far simpler to operate and carry out the processes with a passing knowledge of polymers and electrostatics. Training up the workforce takes no time at all. The world is already seeing the benefits of this technology, particularly in the field of health and medicine. For example wound patches or organ membranes are artificially made and used during surgical procedures. Due to the molecular structure of the material it can graft with biological living tissue. And of course in the use of pharmaceutical implants and patches for the slow release of medicine. This is a field that will continue to grow as new discoveries are made.

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9 disruptive technologies that will bloom before 2019 ends

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Technology-in-2019

Since the beginning of time, each new technological invention has meant a change of paradigm for the way people work. However, in recent years the frequency of changes has accelerated to such an extent that companies have to renew themselves and their daily procedures almost every season. Usually they are small changes or mere adaptations, but sometimes an innovation appears that makes the previous mechanisms obsolete. This is what is known as disruptive technology.

2019 is a disruptive year as far as technology is concerned: the trend of innovation continues at an accelerated pace, deepening the technological revolution. Innovative industries keep evolving and they are overcoming barriers only imaginable in Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi novels or in TV series and films such as Black Mirror or Gattaca. Check the technological trends that are making a disruptive change in the digital transformation.

1. 5G mobile networks

Some companies have started to launch pilot experiments of this kind of technology. 5G prepares the ground for navigating at speeds of up to 10 gigabytes per second from mobile devices.

2. Artificial intelligence (AI)

This will be the year of its definitive take-off. Included in the political agendas, the European Commission has made it one of the mandates for member states to develop a strategy on this matter by the middle of the year.

3. Autonomous devices

Robots, drones and autonomous mobility systems are some of the innovations related to AI. They all aim to automate functions that were previously performed by people. This trend goes beyond mere automation through rigid programming models, as it explores AI to develop advanced behaviors that interact more naturally with the environment and users.

4. ‘Blockchain’.

Finally, this technology it is no longer associated only to the crypto coins world, and experts are starting to notice its likely application in other fields. In congresses such as the annual IoT World Congress by Digitalizing Industries, -coming in october 2019-, we will witness the actual implementation of many projects based on ‘blockchain’, which will try to solve the challenges still faced by technology in different fields such as banking and insurance. It will also be a decisive year for the deployment of ‘decentralised organisations’ operating around smart contracts.

5. Advanced analytics

‘Big data’, is taking a step further with this trend, which combines this technology with artificial intelligence. Automatic learning techniques will transform the way data analysis is developed, shared and consumed. It is estimated that the capabilities of advances analytics will soon be widely adopted not only to work with information, but also to implement them in business applications of the departments of Human Resources, Finance, Sales, Marketing or Customer Service, in order to optimize decisions through a deep analysis of data.

6. Digital twins

Digital Twins are one of the disruptive technologies that will have more impact on the simulation and analysis of industrial processes. A digital twin is the virtual representation of a real-world entity or system capable to maximize the benefits of the digital transformation of companies. Many companies and organizations are already implementing these representations and will develop them over time, improving their ability to collect and visualize the right data, apply improvements to it, and respond effectively to business objectives.

7. Enhanced Edge Computing

Edge computing is a trend mostly applied to the Internet of Things. It consists of the location of intermediate points between connected objects in order to process information and perform other tasks in places closer to the reception of content by the user, in order to reduce traffic and latency in responses. This is a way to keep processing near the endpoint rather than on a centralized cloud server. However, instead of creating a new architecture, cloud computing and perimeter computing will evolve as models complementary to cloud services, managed as a centralized service that runs not only on centralized servers, but on local distributed servers and on the perimeter devices themselves.

8. Immersive experiences in intelligent spaces

Chatbots integrated into different conversation platforms and voice assistants are transforming the way people interact with the digital world, as are virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). The combination of these technologies will lead to a profound change in the perception of everything that surrounds us through the creation of intelligent spaces where more immersive, interactive and automated experiences can be lived for a specific group of people or for specific scenarios in an industry.

9. Digital ethics and privacy

Digital ethics and privacy are issues of increasing interest to individuals, organizations and governments. It is no coincidence that people are increasingly concerned about how their personal information is being used by public and private sector entities, so in the coming months companies will be proactively addressing these concerns and to gain the trust of users.


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