Global Cyber Arms Race Heating Up?

The United States has launched successful cyber attacks against Iran and North Korea in recent years, according to multiple credible reports. These cyber attacks have caused physical destruction of thousands of Iranian nuclear centrifuges and disrupted North Korean missiles on launchpads or shortly after takeoff. Some of the code and developer tools used in the attacks have leaked out. These leaks are enabling other nations to learn and develop their own offensive cyber weapons. The United States and the United Kingdom have accused Russia of using social media apps like Facebook and Twitter to exploit and deepen divisions during the US presidential elections and the UK's Brexit referendum in 2016. Similar warfare techniques, described by the US RAND Corporation as New Generation or Hybrid Warfare, are probably being deployed by other nations as well. It refers to the use of a broad range of subversive instruments, many of which are nonmilitary, to further a country's national interests. It wouldn't be far-fetched to think that India and Pakistan are learning from New Generation Warfare techniques developed and deployed by technologically advanced nations.

US-Israel Joint Stuxnet Against Iran:

A large number of  Iranian centrifuges suddenly started to blow up around 2008-9 soon after President Barack Obama's inauguration. The mystery was finally resolved in the summer of 2010  when a computer worm later named Stuxnet escaped Iran’s Natanz plant and spread around the world on the Internet.

New York Times' David Sanger reported that the United States and Israel developed Stuxnet and then tested it by building replicas of the Iranian Natanz plant equipped with Pakistani P-1 centrifuge designed in 1980s. Americans obtained P-1 centrifuges from Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi and dismantled them to learn how it worked. P-1 uses a Siemens controller S7-417. Stuxnet inserted malware in the Siemens controller to suddenly change the centrifuge speed which caused its destruction.  It was designed to attack computers with specific configuration of Siemens S7-417 controller. Here's how New York Times' David Sanger described the test results:

"After several false starts, it worked. One day, toward the end of Mr. Bush’s term, the rubble of a centrifuge was spread out on the conference table in the Situation Room, proof of the potential power of a cyberweapon. The worm was declared ready to test against the real target: Iran’s underground enrichment plant."

US Left-of-Launch Attack Against North Korea:

A very high percentage of North Korean missile launches failed in the period from 2015 to 2017. The missiles either blew up on the launchpads or failed soon after launch. These failures are widely attributed to American cyber attacks.

American strategists see Left-of-Launch cyber weapons as a low-cost extension of their missile defense strategy. Gen. James Dickinson, the chief of Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Army Forces Strategic Command, explains it as follows:

“You’ve probably heard the conversation about how we’re on the wrong side of the cost curve for missile defense many times. We’re utilizing multi-million-dollar interceptors against very inexpensive missiles and those types of threats, So it’s a balance. It has to be a balance between the end game, if you will, where we’re relying on an interceptor to defeat the threat and other approaches."

Russia's Information Warfare in US, UK:

The United States and the United Kingdom have accused Russia of using social media apps like Facebook and Twitter to exploit and deepen divisions during the US presidential elections and the UK's Brexit referendum in 2016.

American and British intelligence officials believe Russia used all major social media platform to spread words, images and videos tailored to voters’ interests to help elect President Trump. Similar allegations have been made by the British government about Russian interference to influence the outcome of the Brexit vote in the U.K.

Facebook, Google and Twitter acknowledged in 2017 that they had identified Russian interference on their sites. The companies have responded to the threat — Facebook, in particular, created a “war room” in 2018 to fight interference around elections — but none has revealed interference around US midterm elections in 2017 on the same scale as in 2016.

Cyber Weapons Code and Tools Leaks:

Stuxnet worm and recently leaked NSA's hacking tools by Shadow Brokers have revealed the extent of US intelligence agencies' cyber spying and hacking operations. Symantec's Liam O'Murchu who was among the first to unravel Stuxnet says it is "by far the most complex piece of code that we've looked at — in a completely different league from anything we’d ever seen before." It is almost certain that the code is being reverse-engineered and repurposed as their weapon by cyber warriors in many countries around the world.

In 2013, a group known as "Shadow Brokers" leaked NSA's sophisticated cyberweapons that have exposed major vulnerabilities in Cisco routers, Microsoft Windows, and Linux mail servers.  Soona after the Shadow Brokers leak, North Korea is believed to have developed and used WannaCry ransomware. It encrypts files on the target PC's hard drive, making them inaccessible, then demands a ransom payment in bitcoin to decrypt them.

Summary:

American agencies have launched successful cyber campaigns against adversaries like  Iran and North Korea in recent years, according to multiple credible reports. These cyber attacks have caused physical destruction of thousands of Iranian nuclear centrifuges and disrupted North Korean missiles on launchpads or shortly after takeoff. Some of the code and developer tools used in the attacks have leaked out. These leaks are enabling other nations to learn and develop their own offensive cyber weapons. The United States and the United Kingdom have accused Russia of using social media apps like Facebook and Twitter to cause and deepen divisions during the US presidential elections and the UK's Brexit referendum in 2016. Similar warfare techniques, described by the US RAND Corporation as New Generation or Hybrid Warfare, are probably being deployed by other nations as well. It refers to the use of a broad range of subversive instruments, many of which are nonmilitary, to further a country's national interests. It wouldn't be far-fetched to think that India and Pakistan are learning from New Generation Warfare techniques developed and deployed by technologically advanced nations.


Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Hybrid warfare
Munir Akram December 09, 2018 Facebook Count


https://www.dawn.com/news/1450346

THE 2018 IDEAS Expo in Karachi featured a high-level seminar on hybrid warfare. This was a timely recognition that threats to national security can and do assume complex forms.

For over 60 years, nuclear weapons have deterred a major conflict between nuclear-armed states, and, because of the global revulsion against the use of nuclear weapons, the nuclear powers have been also unable to realise offensive objectives through nuclear coercion, even against non-nuclear weapon states. Thus, most conflicts are in the form of conventional military interventions against smaller or weaker states, sub-conventional (guerrilla or irregular) conflicts or ‘hybrid warfare’.

Western analysts have termed the comprehensive approach employed by Russia in Ukraine (encompassing narrative control, cyberattacks, use of anonymous militias and irregular forces, clandestine supplies and diplomatic support) as “hybrid warfare”. The Russians refer to it as the ‘Gerasimov Doctrine’ (after the Russian military chief). This form of warfare is also called: asymmetrical, non-conventional, gray zone conflict, ‘new generation warfare’, ‘whole of government’ approach and so on. It is emerging as the preferred modality in today’s contests between the great powers.

Often, hybrid war may not be a war at all. The objective may not be to secure an adversary’s immediate defeat, but to erode its morale; isolate it; ‘soften’ it up before a conflict; deflect it from pursuing unacceptable military or political objectives; disrupt its communications, command and control and/or important infrastructure; impose economic pain to secure adherence to political demands; delegitimise an adversary’s government; compromise its leaders.


The objective may not be to secure an adversary’s immediate defeat, but to erode its morale.

The toolbox of instruments that can be used to wage such ‘hybrid’ warfare is rapidly expanding and becoming more sophisticated: eg autonomous weapons, advanced cyber programmes, social media, data mining, algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI), etc. By 2020, the ‘internet of things’ will reportedly connect 30 billion devices. Power will rest with the people who control these devices.

Technology is progressively blurring the distinction between hybrid and conventional warfare and increasing the incentives, opportunities and compulsions for the preemptive or ‘first-use’ of offensive action by adversaries eg to knock out an enemy’s command and control through a cyber strike. Given the complexities of defence and offence in such complex conflict, it will become increasingly difficult to prevent the escalation of hybrid wars to the conventional and even the nuclear level.

Pakistan was the target of hybrid or indirect ‘war’ in 1971. New Delhi’s hybrid strategy (promotion of Mujib’s six-point plan, the genocide and refugees narrative, training the Mukti Bahini, the Indo-Soviet ‘Friendship Treaty’) all laid the ground for the coup de grĂ¢ce of Indian military intervention in East Pakistan.

Since then, Pakistan has been the target of multiple ‘hybrid’ campaigns. Exaggerated proliferation concerns and coercive diplomacy were utilised to hold back Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programmes. The legitimacy of the Kashmiri freedom struggle was eroded by its projection as terrorism including through false-flag operations, infiltration of militant Kashmiri groups and concerted propaganda. The onus for America’s colossal military and political failure in Afghanistan was ascribed to alleged Afghan Taliban ‘safe havens’ in Pakistan. The Pakistan Army and the ISI remain a special focus of propaganda and fake news.

Today, the hybrid war against Pakistan is focused on Balochistan, the former Fata region, Gilgit-Baltistan and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Riaz Haq said…
Hybrid warfare
Munir Akram December 09, 2018 Facebook Count


https://www.dawn.com/news/1450346


Pakistan has developed credible capabilities to deter nuclear and conventional aggression. However, it remains very vulnerable to hybrid warfare. Pakistan’s adversaries enjoy considerable prowess in IT, cyber, media projection and narrative construction, including ‘fake news’, subversion and sabotage, and sponsorship of terrorism, including ‘false-flag’ operations.

The main modality of this ‘indirect war’ against Pakistan is the media, including social media. Very few Indian media personalities enjoy the ‘freedom’ to be critical of their country or their current government. Meanwhile, Pakistan print and electronic media speaks with many voices. There is little space for pro-Pakistani narratives in the Western media. An army of Indian trolls has been recruited to malign Pakistan on the internet.

There are numerous other ‘agents of influence’ who are used to develop and project an anti-Pakistan narrative. Many foreign funded and directed non-governmental organisations have been ubiquitous in developing negative critiques about Pakistan within Pakistan. Some among our local elite are co-opted by these organisations through jobs, travel and other perks. No wonder there has been such a hue and cry about the long overdue diligence conducted recently by the government and the Foreign Office on these organisations.

The hybrid campaign incorporates some ethnic and religious groups. Foreign sponsorship of the Balochistan Liberation Army and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan is well established. Some others need to be subjected to close scrutiny.

Any foreign funding of any Pakistani organisation ought to be declared and officially approved. Receipt of undeclared foreign payments should be a crime. This is an international norm. (Surely, the Financial Action Task Force will approve.)

Pakistan’s agencies must be equipped with the most advanced surveillance and data collection techniques to detect future Jadhevs or Osamas and neutralise any ‘black ops’, ‘false-flag’ or infiltration operations planned by enemy agencies.

Pakistan must possess the cyber capability to defend its crucial command-and-control systems and its industrial and transport infrastructure against enemy attack. But to deter such attack, Pakistan must also have the capability for offensive cyber action.

The technologies for waging a “comprehensive” conflict and “new generation warfare” are being actively developed by every significant State. Pakistan cannot afford to be left behind. To acquire credible capacity to defend against and repel hybrid wars, Pakistan will need to make dedicated efforts, comparable to those deployed to develop its nuclear and missile programmes.

However, there are certain elements of such warfare (cyberattacks, autonomous weapons, false-flag operations) which pose the threat of systemic and global disruption, destabilisation and military escalation. Pakistan and other responsible nations should take an initiative in relevant international forums to secure a global ban or restrictions on such dangerous elements of hybrid warfare.
Riaz Haq said…
Understanding 5th generation warfare
By Cynthia D Ritchie

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1882213/6-understanding-5th-generation...

More ‘developed’ nations often claim they are more democratic than their developing counterparts and often employ talking heads to push this narrative. Over the years, and certainly more recently, these talking heads can be seen desperately trying to push one version of events while ganging up on others who have a difference of opinion — cyber bullying. Further, these talking troll heads try to muddy waters by falsely labeling people they don’t know and claiming Fifth Generation Warfare (5GW) is nothing more than a silly conspiracy to derail attempts at their free speech. And while many unfounded conspiracies abound, it behooves us to take a closer look at these individuals and their claims. For starters, let’s consider what 5GW is.

Turns out, 5GW is real. Only it doesn’t feature armies or clear ideas. In an article for Wired Magazine, written about 10 years ago, David Axe quoted the US Army Major Shannon Beebe, the top Intel officer for Africa at the time, as describing the “fifth-generation as a vortex of violence, a free-for-all of surprise destruction motivated more by frustration than by any coherent plans for the future.”
Axe writes further, “5GW is what happens when the world’s disaffected direct their desperation at the most obvious symbol of everything they lack.” He quotes Marine Lt Col Stanton Coerr, for Marine Corps Gazette: “5GW is… espoused by [the likes of] al Qaeda… with aspirations of setting up alternative political systems… they’re opportunists, intent only on destruction. But even pointless violence can have a perverse logic, for the sudden, irrational destruction undermines the idea that nations… are viable in the modern world.”


Interestingly, both military officers were quoted by Raashid Wali Janjua in one of his columns for a national daily: “Pakistan is already in the throes of this phenomenon, internally generated and externally abetted. Like the resource curse of countries like Angola and Congo, Pakistan’s geographical location is a curse. Instead of yielding economic dividends it has caused constant meddling by global powers in its internal affairs. Faced with such constant supply of war fuel, the soft state model of governance by an illiberal democracy is a sure recipe for chaos and disorder.” Clearly there are issues that need to be handled by the State.

But when you have cyber bullies attempting to force others to share their narrative, the message gets lost and becomes almost disingenuous. What may be seen as important news by some appears almost as propaganda to others. But with so much propaganda these days, how can one differentiate between what’s authentic and what is completely contrived?

A Forbes article, by Travis Bradberry, who covers emotional intelligence and leadership performance, recently described the ‘12 habits Of Genuine People’. In summary, these individuals: don’t try to make people like them — they “aren’t desperate for attention”, and “speak in a friendly, confident, concise manner;” they don’t “pass judgment” — they are open-minded and approachable, and have the ability to “see the world through other people’s eyes;” they forge their own paths — “genuine people don’t derive their sense of pleasure and satisfaction” from other’s opinions, they have their own “internal compass” and are not swayed by the fact that somebody may not like it; they “treat everyone with respect;” they “aren’t motivated by material things;” they are “thick-skinned”; they “aren’t driven by ego;” they “aren’t hypocrites.”
Riaz Haq said…
Could Chinese Telecom Giant Huawei Put U.S. Cyber-Security At Risk?

Terry Gross of Fresh Air interviews David Sanger of New York Times.

https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=690291785

DAVID SANGER: Well, at its simplest, the 5G network is an increase in speed and range for what you see on your cell phone. So 5G means just fifth generation. But it's actually much more than that. The hope is that when you're using your phone or some other device over Wi-Fi, you'll get no lag time and that you'll get near instantaneous download of data, webpages and so forth. But as 5G was being rolled out, there was a recognition that the Internet had fundamentally changed, that this was a moment to roll out something that could accommodate a world in which the Internet of Things was connecting up to all of these other wireless devices. And so that's autonomous cars, which, of course, need to constantly get data back and forth from the cloud, constant connectivity so that they know where they are in addition to their sensors helping you drive. It's for every other Internet-connected device that you have.

If China is in command of the network itself and has sort of end end control from phones for which it makes its own chips to the software on the switch to all of the other tentacles of the central nervous system, that it, basically, can do whatever it wants. And the chances that you would see it are relatively diminished. Big network operators like AT&T and Verizon, if they bought Huawei equipment - and it's pretty clear the government is not going to allow them to do that - would have some visibility into the system.

But it's also possible that Huawei might be able to reach back from China directly into the equipment and software it's put in to go manipulate data. What could you do with that? Well, in the Worldwide Threat Assessment that came out earlier this week, the nation's intelligence chiefs mentioned, in particular, that China already has the capability to shut down, at least briefly, the natural gas network. They also said the Russians could do the same briefly with the electric grid.

If you had a country that was in full control of your networks, they could shut it down. They could siphon the traffic off to a place you didn't want it to go. They could siphon it back to China. And they would probably have a easier time intercepting it. Now, of course, a lot of that traffic is going to run encrypted. It's not as if the Chinese would be able to look at everything or would want to. But the more network equipment they put in, the more control they would have. And, of course, the Chinese government reserves the right to tell them what to go do with it.

---------------------

In "The Perfect Weapon," I describe a plan the United States had if we went to war with Iran, called Nitro Zeus, to basically unplug Iran's communications and electricity grids. Well, imagine that that's in the Chinese plans for the United States. If they're in control of the communications grid of the U.S. or its allies, you can imagine how much easier that is to do.

Now, there is a concern here that we could get into a world of Red Scare, and the president himself might be fueling that some. And I have concerns that we're blaming too much on the Chinese. But the fact of the matter is, these are all major, complex vulnerabilities that, as Henry Kissinger said to me as I was working on the book, are so much more complex than the issues that came up with China in the Cold War.
Riaz Haq said…
Why #5G, a battleground for US and China, is also a military conflict. Both #UnitedStates and #China suspect each other of installing and using #technology "backdoors" in their #telecom equipment for #espionage and #cyberattacks. https://sc.mp/0omex via @SCMPNews

Whereas existing networks connect people to people, the next generation will connect a vast network of sensors, robots and autonomous vehicles through sophisticated artificial intelligence.

The so-called internet of things will allow objects to “communicate” with each other by exchanging vast volumes of data in real time, and without human intervention.

5G explainer: how new network is different and how it will change the mobile web experience

Autonomous factories, long-distance surgery or robots preparing your breakfast – things that previously existed only in science fiction – will be made possible.

Meanwhile, though, it is being identified by many military experts as the cornerstone of future military technology.

Imagine a group of skirmishers in a jungle. They are moving forward speedily with a distance from one another of a few hundred metres. Each of them wears a wristwatch that displays fellow members’ positions. This is not satellite positioning, because reception in the tropical forest is unstable; it’s machine-to-machine communication.

China could ‘weaponise cities’ if it controlled 5G networks, retired US general says

Suddenly one soldier, ambushed by an enemy combatant, is shot and loses consciousness. His smart wearable device detects his condition via sensors, immediately tightens a belt around his wounded thigh, injects an adrenaline shot and sends an emergency alert to the field hospital as well as the entire team.

Having received the signal on their wristwatches, the team switch to a coordinated combat formation and encircle the enemy. An ambulance helicopter arrives to evacuate the injured soldier while auto-driven armoured vehicles come to reinforce – guided by devices on each soldier and antenna arrays nearby.

Or, imagine a street battle with a group of terrorists in a city. There is a power blackout and terrorists hide in an empty office building. A counterterrorism technician hacks into the building’s audio control system and collects high-sensitivity soundwaves using the microphones on surveillance cameras – the system is still running thanks to the devices’ low power consumption and long endurance.

China says it will fast-track 5G commercial licences amid push back on Huawei’s overseas expansion

After the acoustic data is sent back, artificial intelligence (AI) analysis determines the locations of the terrorists. A drone is called from nearby, enters through a window and fires a mini-gun at them.

These are not movie plots, but technologies already or about to be developed, as the internet of things – built on 5G and AI technologies – reshapes warfare.

“The 5G network and the internet of things enlarge and deepen the cognition of situations in the battlefield by several orders of magnitude and produce gigantic amounts of data, requiring AI to analyse and even issue commands,” said Dr Clark Shu, an AI and telecommunication researcher at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China.

With the ability to carry much more data, much lower network latency (network response time) and energy consumption and much better stability than the previous generation of technologies, 5G is expected to transform digital communication.

Using 5G, data can be transmitted at up to 10 gigabytes per second, much faster than using a 4G network, and the latency is reduced to under a millisecond, or 1 per cent that of 4G.

Such features enhance connectivity in remote locations, connect sensors and robots, and will enable vehicles, traffic control, factories and construction to become more autonomous. In particular, 5G will enhance the connectivity of the internet of things (IoT).
Riaz Haq said…
Why #5G is a big deal for militaries around the world. It is a big part of #China's #global #BRI and #CPEC initiative in #Pakistan. Inclusion of #technology 5G and Chinese PNT (Positioning, Navigation, Timing) parallels a trend in US military practice. https://www.c4isrnet.com/opinion/2019/02/05/why-5g-is-a-big-deal-for-militaries-throughout-the-world/

The project has several components, one of which has become known as the “digital road.” It anticipates projecting the deployment of China’s 5G telecommunication infrastructure over the dozens of countries now affiliated with the initiative. The 5G telecommunications network would be integrated with another Chinese project, its Beidou (“Big Dipper”) precision navigation and timing system (now in the latter stage of fielding) to displace the U.S. Global Positioning System enabling China’s telecommunications and PNT system to dominate the future IoT and other in areas affected by China’s belt-and-road project.

5G as an instrument of China’s international security policy

China’s global security ambitions overlap its economic aspirations. The 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China, the belt-and-road initiative and its associated activities were incorporated in the Chinese Constitution at the 19th CPC. In that context belt and road is a project of the Party, and not the State which significantly elevates its security role and importance to its national leadership.

The BRI creates a global economic presence that has become a combination of commercial enablers for its “Maritime Silk Road” and forward air and naval installations for China’s armed forces. These include air and naval facilities in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, Jiwani, Pakistan (~80-km west of its large commercial port at Gwadar, and a naval base in Sri Lanka (Hambantota, which China acquired in a debt-for-sovereignty swap when Sri Lanka could not service its BRI debt to China). China’s switch from a regional to an aspiring global power reflect its aspirations that have shaped the CPC’s rule since Mao: the deconstruction the old-world order in favor of one which gives China its rightful place at the zenith of a new international order.


The incorporation of the technology 5G telecommunication and Chinese controlled PNT parallels a trend in US military practice. DoD military communications, like China’s is moving to a wireless, mobile, and cloud-based IT systems built around 5G technology. China’s convergence of its 5G, BRI presence (military and civil), PNT and dominant role in the BRI member states are aimed at becoming the world’s leading economic and military power by the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist State in 2049.

5G is both an enabler and product of China’s remarkable economic growth since 1979 and is likely to become a central element of China’s economic and military power for the 1st half of the 21st century.

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