7 January 2017

*** Secure cyberspace for Digital India


The question is: how well prepared is India for cyber attacks on the note ban process?

“Rome was not built in a day. Otherwise we would have hired the contractor”
— The Chicago City Council, facing
questions on its road repair programme

India had a brief taste of some of the possible fallout during the recent rollout of “Arthakranti”, the multi-pronged strategy to unclog India’s economic arteries through a radical shock therapy of selective demonetisation of currency.

On December 31, 2016, Arthakranti completed its schedule of 50 days which the Prime Minister asked to implement in his dramatic appeal to the nation on November 8, 2016.

The gunsmoke is still drifting over the battlefield, and the jury on its final verdict is still out, but there seems to be a cautious current of tentative overall approval for the strategy, propounded by “Arthakranti”, a Pune-based think tank, and pushed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself almost as a personal “dharma yudh”.

*** Evolution Of Pakistan’s Nuclear Doctrine – Analysis


Largely spurred by the loss of East Pakistan1, and a perception of a hostile, bigger and better-armed India, Pakistan had achieved a capability “to rapidly assemble a nuclear device if necessary” around the late-1980s2. During this period, the Cold War was at its peak and Pakistan imbibed an important lesson: that from 1945 onwards, the two nuclear-weapons armed adversaries, USSR/Warsaw Pact and NATO, have confronted each other through proxies in distant parts of the world – but never fought each other directly.

Simultaneously, Pakistan experienced first-hand the methods used by the US-Saudi combine (i.e. the use of mujahideen) to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan and concluded that such irregular forces served two vital purposes; one – they provided a low-cost, asymmetric and disruptive option against superior conventional forces of the USSR; and two – they made the Soviet Union spend disproportionate amounts of resources on countering the asymmetric threat with little or no damage to the sponsoring states3.

*** Is it a risk for America that China holds over $1 trillion in U.S. debt?

Many worry that China’s ownership of American debt affords the Chinese economic leverage over the United States. This apprehension, however, stems from a misunderstanding of sovereign debt and of how states derive power from their economic relations. The purchasing of sovereign debt by foreign countries is a normal transaction that helps maintain openness in the global economy. As of December 2016, Japan holds more U.S. debt than any other foreign entity, including China. Consequently, China’s stake in America’s debt has more of a binding than dividing effect on bilateral relations between the two countries.

Even if China wished to “call in” its loans, the use of credit as a coercive measure is complicated and often heavily constrained. A creditor can only dictate terms for the debtor country if that debtor has no other options. In the case of the United States, American debt is a widely held and an extremely desirable asset in the global economy. Whatever debt China does sell is simply purchased by other countries. For instance, in August 2015 China reduced its holdings of U.S. Treasuries by approximately $180 billion. Despite the scale, this selloff did not significantly affect the U.S. economy, thereby limiting the impact that such an action may have on U.S. decision making.

Historical figures calculated from long-term treasury holdings from June of each year. Current year figures are estimates from most recent monthly figures and are regularly updated.



Former CIA acting director Michael Morell defined the Russian hacking attack of the Democratic National Committee as “the political equivalent of 9/11.” The event constitutes a classic example of a warning failure. Such failures, as attested to by the rich literature on Pearl Harbor, Barbarossa, the Korean War, the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, are not the product of insufficient information about the looming threat. Rather, they are the result of mistaken interpretation of available information. The New York Times investigation of the Russian intervention concluded that the American response to the attack was shaped by “a series of missed signals, slow responses and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of the cyberattack.” This conclusion fits very well with the classic causes of major warning failures of the past. While the means of surprise attacks has shifted from airplanes and tanks to email accounts and computer networks, the dynamics between the initiator of the attack and its victim have remained very much the same.

Can India Go Cashless?

By Mohamed Zeeshan
Source Link

In an unprecedented experiment launched late last year, India struck off nearly 80 percent of the currency notes circulating in its economy, in a bid to counter widespread graft and tax evasion. The bizarre policy move aimed, among other things, at moving India’s largely cash-based economy towards greater digitization and electronic transactions.

Modi’s attempt to digitize the Indian economy has long been coming. Early in his term, Modi announced a much-needed drive to increase financial inclusion across the country and launched attractive financial schemes to bring India’s poor into the fold of the country’s banking system, from debit cards to pension plans. He launched the MUDRA scheme, which aimed to provide credit to small and medium enterprises, many of which currently form India’s large informal economy.

Now, Modi believes that digitization is the logical next step, and will increase transparency within the Indian economy, while helping the government crack down on tax evasion and the country’s crippling corruption problem. In principle, the prime minister is right. India has an infamously large informal economy, which analysts say cost the government millions of dollars in tax money each year. Worse, the large amount of cash in circulation is sometimes used to pay off large bribes to corrupt government officials – the transaction often undetected by authorities. Greater formalization and digitization would help reduce both to a fair extent, even if it wouldn’t eliminate them completely. This was the basis on which the Modi government canceled out high denomination notes of 500 and 1000 rupees in November last year.

India: Seeking Its Place In The Sun – Analysis


India initiated an economic evolution in the 1990s, which gathered sufficient momentum to become a revolution that propelled India into the thick of international power play. The geo-politics and circumstances of international power balance are ever-changing and have their own ways of creating ups and downs that in turn revamp the equilibrium of global order. India’s move towards becoming an important entity on the world stage has been cynically defined by some analysts as having been achieved ‘despite’ the Government. However, in the past few years, the Indian government has also made efforts at being pro-active to the growing stature of the nation.

There is no doubt that India has grown in confidence when dealing with other nations, both within the region and in the international scene. This new-found confidence has resulted in the nation starting to search for its legitimate place, perceived to be somewhere near the head of the table, within the global community of nations. There is an inherent belief in the nation that the most populous democracy in the world should no longer be ignored or sidelined when matters of international importance are being discussed and decided. No doubt, there is merit in this implicit conviction that has led to a concerted push to be accorded regional power status and accepted as a global actor of significance. India considers these to be long overdue credits that the nation deserves.

Kabul: A City With 2 Faces

By Muhammad Idrees

Kabul, the ancient city and capital of Afghanistan, has witnessed many ups and downs. The center of power struggles throughout its history, Kabul was prized by conquerors or invaders due to its geostrategic importance. From Alexander the Great through Mughal King Babur, Kabul was ruled by many different dynasties.

The city’s golden age came from 1930-70, when Kabul became a hotspot for tourists. Its cinema halls were full, while parks, universities, and picnic places were always lively. Kabul at that time was among the most beautiful cities in the world, having clean air free from pollution. Its location — surrounded by beautiful mountains, which would give the city a whitish look, and with a river flowing in its center — further beautified the city. Kabul attracted tourists from different parts of the world, who would enjoy the unique Afghan culture, hospitality, and multi-ethnicity of the city. Kabulis were religiously, culturally, and socially tolerant enough for the city to host different ethnicities and religions; foreigners also felt very comfortable.

Legalizing Opium Won't Work for Afghanistan

By Adam Wunische

With a unique incoming U.S. administration, many are contemplating ongoing U.S. foreign policy issues with the hopes of shaping a policy platform that has yet to be clearly (or consistently) articulated. A prominent topic on this list is America’s longest war, Afghanistan, plagued by a lack of progress, an ongoing insurgency, and political dysfunction. With no indication that the situation will improve without drastic changes, many are contemplating what those changes should be.

In recent months, a debate has been raging over what to do about poppy cultivation in the country. Some are reviving old arguments in favor of legalization of the opium trade in Afghanistan, but these arguments suffer from a significant misunderstanding of the political realities on the ground (along with some logical errors and argumentative missteps).

The numbers, as they say, don’t lie: the illicit opium trade in Afghanistan is a problem. 90 percent of the global opium trade is supplied by poppies grown in Afghanistan, generating approximately $68 billion in annual revenue. 12 percent of the population is employed in some way by the opium trade. The Taliban is estimated to earn over $400 million each year from opium alone. The problem continues to worsen, with the UN reporting a 43 percent increase in opium production in 2016. The U.S. State Department has recognized that the cultivation of poppy is a fundamental concern for the statebuilding operation there, saying that “the drug trade has undermined virtually every aspect of the Government of Afghanistan.” In an effort to address this issue, the United States has made counternarcotics a major part of their statebuilding effort in Afghanistan.

Chinese Information Warfare: The Panda That Eats, Shoots, and Leaves

BY: Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz, senior editor of the Washington Free Beacon, describes the growing threat posed by information warfare in his new book, “iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age,” (Threshold Editions). The following is an excerpt from the book, out this week.

The year is 2028. It is August and the weather is hot. People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Col. Sun Kangzhou and three highly trained special operations commandos from the Chengdu military region in southern China are sitting in two vehicles outside a Wal-Mart Supercenter in rural Pennsylvania about 115 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Dressed in jeans, t-shirts, and work boots, the men appear to be just like any construction workers. In fact, Colonel Sun and his men are members of the elite Falcon special forces team. One of the vehicles is a heavy-duty pickup truck with a trailer carrying a large backhoe. The other is a nondescript blue sedan. The commandos’ target today is not a military base but something much more strategic.

China's Belt and Road Initiative: Should India be Concerned?

Anand Kumar

The Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project, launched by the Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 is one of the most ambitious projects of recent times. This project, which has both overland and maritime components, intends to link Asia with Europe and Africa. While China claims that this project will further its development goals, India believes that it has a strong political and strategic objective. 

In South Asia, the OBOR has two components. The first one is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through Pakistan, connecting Kashgar in western China with the Gwadar Port in the Balochistan province. China considers this section as the first chapter of the OBOR. Recently, this section has been made operational with the inauguration of Gwadar port. 

The second part of this initiative in South Asia is the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor that intends to connect Bangladesh and Myanmar with India. The BCIM also has a maritime component, which includes port infrastructure in Sri Lanka, among other places. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have extended their support to the Belt and Road Initiative. 

Baghdad Doesn’t Want You to Know How Many of Its Soldiers Are Dying

Sebastien A. Roblin

On Dec. 1, 2016, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq reported that 1,959 Iraqi Security Forces troops had died in combat during the month of November, including army, police on combat operations, Kurdish Peshmerga and other allied militias.

The casualty report came six weeks after Iraq launched an operation aimed at liberating Mosul from Islamic State.

On Dec. 2, the Iraqi Joints Operations Command angrily refuted the United Nations’ claim. “This figure is not accurate and much exaggerated,” the command stated. However, JOC refused to offer casualty figures of its own, claiming it wasn’t obligated to do so — and that such figures would only boost Islamic State’s morale.

By Dec. 3, 2016, UNAMI backtracked, sort of. Amid the bureaucratic squabbling, one thing is obvious. Baghdad doesn’t want anyone to know how many of its troops are dying in the war against ISIS.

“UNAMI acknowledges that the military figures were largely unverified,” the U.N. mission stated in response to Iraq’s protest. “Owing to the fact that places where conflict is taking place, and where military casualties are likely to arise, are inaccessible and there are few reliable, independent sources available by which statistics can be verified, UNAMI has been relying on a variety of sources, including open sources, to compile military casualty statistics.”

IPCS-Stimson Center Roundtable on South Asia

In the 9th interaction under its Twentieth Anniversary Plenum Series, IPCS, in collaboration with Stimson Center, organised a roundtable on South Asia on Thursday, 8 December 2016.

In Session I, Amb (Retd) Salman Haidar (Patron, IPCS, and former Foreign Secretary of India) delivered the introductory remarks, and Hannah Haegeland (Research Associate, South Asia Programme, Stimson Center) moderated the discussion. In Session II, Dr Sameer Lalwani(Deputy Director, South Asia Programme, Stimson Center) delivered the introductory remarks, and Travis Wheeler (Research Associate, South Asia Programme, Stimson Center), moderated the discussion.

The discussion in Session I of the round-table revolved around three broad issues: the nature of the security threat to India along the western front vis-à-vis the eastern front; the dynamics of China and Pakistan’s evolving bilateral relations; and the threat of Islamic State-motivated radicalism in the subcontinent. Additionally, the internal security threat from left wing extremism (LWE) was also discussed.

The West and the East: Two-Front Threat?

India and Pakistan share a tense relationship that translates into a sustained threat from across the former's volatile western front. Although de-escalating the situation would be in India’s long-term interest, the reality is far from being so at the moment. Given the high number of deaths along the Line of Control (LoC), India was left with no choice but to confront the aggression head on. In this context, the recent ‘surgical strike’ served to display New Delhi’s readiness at responding to Pakistani aggression. At the same time, the ‘surgical strike’, as an offensive option, is not new in the Indian military doctrine. What was new was the the government's decision to make it public.



On New Year’s Eve, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIL) struck in Turkey once again, killing almost 40 people and wounding many others celebrating in an upscale nightclub in Istanbul. Unfortunately, this attack was neither the first of its kind, nor will it be the last.

Turkey is a prime target for ISIL for two main reasons. The first has to do with logistics and geography. It is simply easier for ISIL to launch attacks in Turkey than in Europe or the United States. Turkey has a 500-mile border with Syria that was loosely controlled for years, and has already absorbed millions of refugees from the Syrian civil war. Indeed, ISIL controlled key border crossings with Turkey until just a few months ago. It would be safe to assume that ISIL has installed numerous sleeper agents and cells in Turkey, from where it has steadily attracted fighters, to include possibly thousands of Turkish citizens. Second, Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria in August and is now the only country besides Syria and Iraq fighting ISIL with regular troops on the ground.

So, what is the strategic logic behind attacks in Turkey? What was ISIL trying to accomplish by hitting a trendy nightclub on New Year’s Eve? ISIL has a strong understanding of Turkey’s political cleavages and is, as I wrote after the Istanbul airport attack last June, directly targeting Turkey’s critical vulnerabilities: the country’s deep political divisions. It aims to further turn different segments of the society against one another.

What Everyone Wants to Know About Russia’s New MiG-35 Fighter

Robert Beckhusen

A decade after the MiG-35’s first flight, the Kremlin’s new warplane will finally begin testing with the Russian air force in January 2017, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. The fighter should be fully operational in 2020.

It’s not every day the Russian air force starts flying a new-ish plane. New-ish because despite the name, it’s more of an improved and rebuilt MiG-29, a light and maneuverable fighter which has been a mainstay of the Russian air force since the 1980s.

Russia often gives upgraded fighters new names, unlike the United States which relies on “block” numbers to distinguish variants of a single aircraft model. The MiG-35 is for most practical purposes a souped-up MiG-29K, and its fundamental characteristics are similar.

It’s also not revolutionary or — given Russia’s limited production of 37 planned MiG-35s — much of a threat to Western air forces at large. By comparison, the U.S. Air Force alone plans to buy more than 1,700 stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in the coming years.

The Key to Putin’s Cyber Power


The Russian president has both the capability and the intent to cause harm, says a former U.S. ambassador to Russia. And the threat won’t vanish once Donald Trump takes office.

Michael McFaul, Barack Obama’s ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, has a blunt assessment of the actions that his former boss took against the Russian government this week. The sanctions on Russian intelligence officers and organizations, along with the expulsion of Russian intelligence officials and closing of Russian compounds in the United States, is “not going to change” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s behavior, he told me shortly after the measures were announced. Obama’s retaliation—at least the retaliation that the U.S. government has made public—isn’t sufficient to deter the Kremlin from interfering in future U.S. elections, he said.

But in naming and punishing specific Russian agencies and individuals over the hack and leaks of Democratic emails, the president has, McFaul hopes, put to rest the “debate about whether the Russians were interfering in our presidential election.” Which is why he’s so frustrated by Donald Trump’s continued insistence that the country “move on” from the Russian cyber campaign. That campaign represents a threat to the sovereignty President Trump will be sworn to protect, he said. One message of Obama’s actions, McFaul added, is that this threat didn’t disappear on Election Day, and it won’t disappear on Inauguration Day. The standard way to understand a threat is to evaluate intent and capability to cause harm. And in the cyber domain, McFaul explained, Russia has both in spades. What distinguishes Putin from other world leaders is that he’s “not afraid to use this stuff.”

Limits of Practising Nuclear Brinksmanship

Manpreet Sethi

Thomas Schelling, a noted nuclear strategist who passed away recently, explained brinkmanship as a strategy that “means manipulating the shared risk of war. It means exploiting the danger that somebody may inadvertently go over the brink, dragging the other with him” (Arms and Influence, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996, pp. 98-99). He graphically described this with the analogy of two cars heading towards an intersection from different directions. As one of the drivers accelerates his vehicle, he gives a signal to the other of his determination to cross first. By doing so, he has placed the onus of the decision on the other side to either slow down to let him pass, or to ignore his signal and carry on at the same speed even at the risk of a collision that would be equally harmful to both. If the second driver slows down, the first has successfully managed to use brinksmanship to deter the second driver by the threat of an accident.

It is easy to apply this example to the Pakistan-India equation in order to understand the strategy of nuclear brinksmanship as used by Pakistan to buttress its deterrence. Pakistan may be compared to the first driver who accelerates his speed (or indulges in provocative acts of terrorism) and then seeks to deter India from crossing the intersection (or launching a military response) by suggesting the possibility of collision (or the threat of an all-out nuclear war).

How Trump Should Dismantle the Iran Nuclear Deal

Of the countless Obama-era foreign policy missteps and mistakes, Donald Trump has reserved his strongest criticism for the nuclear deal with Iran. And rightly so. The agreement allows Iran to continue its research into advanced nuclear technologies and sunsets most restrictions in ten to fifteen years. Supporters of the accord argue that Trump should not reverse the deal because this would permit Iran to lift all curbs on its nuclear work. But many opponents also maintain that ending the agreement is impractical now that the accord has been in place for eighteen months. Both are wrong. The Iran nuclear deal can and should be dismantled in a gradual manner that takes into account the interests of American allies around the world and relies on Iran’s almost inexorable determination to continue its march to nuclear weapons.

There are reasonable worries today that conditions have changed since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed in July 2015. The multilateral UN sanctions have been largely removed. Iran can more easily purchase arms on the international market like Russia’s sophisticated S-300 air defense system, which Moscow delivered to Tehran last year. The majority of American sanctions are being waived, including the highly effective foreign financial institution sanctions that had compelled foreign banks to elect between conducting business with the United States or sanctioned Iranian entities, including the Central Bank of Iran. At the height of the sanctions regime, Iranian oil exports plummeted to 900 thousand barrels per day (bpd) but have tripled since the nuclear deal came into force and the EU restarted its own oil purchases from Iran. Tehran has gained access to at least tens of billion of dollars as a direct result of the nuclear deal.



While the American ability to control the air is often taken for granted, the United States risks losing this advantage over the next decade and a half. Budget pressures have delayed key investments, while others continue to develop advanced technologies that will surpass U.S. capabilities if we fail to move forward. Sensing this challenge, from mid-2015 to mid-2016, the Air Force afforded me the privilege of leading a team of experts studying how the Air Force would provide air superiority for the U.S. military in 2030 and beyond. Air superiority, often thought of as a mission, is more correctly conceived of as a condition. At its most basic, that condition is achieved when a force possesses the degree of control of the air required for joint operations succeed. Air superiority not only allows the joint force to exploit the air domain, but also grants it freedom from attack on the surface. Without air superiority, results can be devastating — witness the rout of the Republican Guard as it tried to escape from Kuwait along the “Highway of Death,” or the devastating losses suffered by the Taliban in 2001 on the Shomali plain. With this in mind, the team I led — composed of air, space, cyber, logistics, and support experts— challenged every assumption and conducted an exhaustive review of options to gain and maintain continued control of the air.


Therese Heltberg

Just one final stronghold stands in the way of Roman victory and the promise of peace throughout the empire.

These words appear on-screen in the opening scene of the movie Gladiator. Soldiers are lining up for battle against the barbarian tribes in Germania. Russell Crowe’s character, Roman Gen. Maximus Decimus Meridius, walks along the ranks of the army. The soldiers rise as he approaches, looking at him with respect and admiration. Maximus seems calm and determined as he commands, “At my signal, unleash hell.”

At this critical moment, in this pivotal battle, Maximus moves on to lead the dangerous and decisive part of the tactical maneuver behind enemy lines. In the forest where the cavalry await him, he inspires courage in his men by validating the enduring legacy of their actions that day, linking past, present, and future. “Brothers, what we do in life echoes in eternity.”

Military Review

Military Review, January-February 2017, v. 97, no. 1 

o Against Bureaucracy

o Reducing the Size of Headquarters, Department of the Army: An After-Action Report

o Producing Strategic Value through Deliberate War Planning

o The Need for a Brigade Politics-and0Policy Staff Officer

o Expeditionary Land Power

o Cutting Our Feet to Fit the Shoes: An Analysis of Mission Command in the U.S. Army

o Complex Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield in Ukrainian Antiterrorism Operations

o Operational Surveillance and Reconnaissance Battalion

o From Riley to Baku: How an Opportunistic Unit Broke the Crucible

Global Conflicts to Watch in 2017


The greatest unknown for U.S. interests in the world might be the United States itself.

Over the last several years, concern about a particular threat to the United States has been steadily rising in a survey of American foreign-policy experts and government officials by the Council on Foreign Relations. On an annual basis, hundreds of respondents estimate the likelihood and impact on U.S. interests of 30 possible conflicts in the coming year. These conflicts are then divided into three tiers of risk to the United States or its closest allies. The poll is an attempt to help U.S. policymakers prioritize dangers in a dangerous world.

In the 2013 and 2014 surveys, respondents wrote in the potential for Russia to interfere in former Soviet states including the Baltic countries, which, like the United States, are members of NATO. In 2015, the scenario appeared for the first time among the survey’s 30 “contingencies,” with an “unintentional or deliberate military confrontation” between Russia and NATO member states regarded as a second-tier risk. This year it was considered a first-tier risk, according to the latest survey, released Monday. A conflict in 2017 between one of the world’s most powerful militaries and the world’s most powerful military alliance was judged moderately likely and high-impact.

2016 presidential election and a national cybersecurity investigation

By: Kevin Coleman

Many cybersecurity practitioners are sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the results of the investigation directed by the White House into the hacking events that surrounded the 2016 presidential election. They became even more anxious after recent publications, such as “ The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.” by The New York Times. Their level of anticipation was further increased when a bipartisan effort to investigation cyberattacks on our election process was publicly discussed.

A previous investigation found that the compromise of the democratic system was due to a phishing email after it was miscategorized as being legitimate! Phishing attacks are easy to conduct and focus on the weakest link — humans instead of vulnerabilities in computer hardware and software.

It should be noted that many cybersecurity professionals consider phishing emails as the No. 1 cyberthreat given their ease of construction and success rates. However, you must also consider that on average, a phishing website is online for less than 15 hours.

Although the White House request is the most recent call for an investigation, it is not the first. In mid-November, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., sent a letter to Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, requesting that Chaffetz launch an investigation of Russian intervention in the election.

Who's hacking your network?

By Steve Morgan
The cybercrime rate's going up, up, up, up, up. Cybercrime damages were predicted to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015, according to a recent CSO story.

So, who's committing the the hacks? 

Hackers have morphed from the lone wolf wearing a hoodie and sitting behind a computer — to a garden variety of cyber intruders and perpetrators wearing anything from T-shirts and flip-flops, to dark suits and wing-tips, to military garb, according to Cybersecurity Ventures' annual cybercrime report. (Disclaimer: Steve Morgan is CEO and founder of Cybersecurity Ventures.) A high-level breakdown of the various hacker types:

Hacktivists (Hacker-Activists) are motivated to deface and harm websites, blogs and other digital media — and launch DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks against organizations they are opposed to.

Cyber-Insiders are employees (or contractors, others with ‘inside’ access) who hack into internal systems and data belonging to their employers.

Cosmic Source Found For Mysterious ‘Fast Radio Burst’

Cornell University researchers and a global team of astronomers have uncovered the cosmological source of a sporadically repeating milliseconds-long “fast radio burst.”

Once thinking these bursts had emanated from within the Milky Way galaxy, or from cosmic neighbors, the astronomers now confirm that they are long-distance flashes from across the universe – more than 3 billion light-years away, according to a new report published Jan. 4 in the journal Nature.

“These radio flashes must have enormous amounts of energy to be visible from over 3 billion light-years away,” said lead author Shami Chatterjee, Cornell senior research associate in astronomy. Other Cornell researchers on this paper, “Direct Localization of a Fast Radio Burst and Its Enigmatic Counterpart,” include James Cordes, the George Feldstein Professor of Astronomy; and Robert Wharton, doctoral student in astronomy.

Astronomers appreciate this breakthrough news, Cordes said: “Now we can do real astrophysical analysis on the burst source and the galaxy that harbors it.”

McAfee Labs Top Cyber Threats To Look For In 2017

McAfee Labs has published its outlook and predictions regarding how it sees the cyber threat evolving in 2017 — the McAfee Labs report is attached/available at the link provided, Among the top cyber threats for 2017, McAfee predicts:

— Ransomware will peak in the middle of 2018; but, then will begin to recede in the latter half of 2018;

— Threat intelligence sharing will see major advancements in 2017;

— Physical and digital/network security industries will edge closer together in 2017;

— Hacktivists will increasingly target consumer privacy tools and techniques in 2017;

— There will be increased cooperation between cyber security vendors and law enforcement agencies to identify, thwart, and apprehend cyber criminals;

— Cyber vulnerabilities In several of the most popular apps will continue to drop in 2017;

— Fake product reviews, fake web pages, fake security warnings, and more — all designed to get you to click on a link that inserts malware into your hard drive — will continue to evolve, in clever and creative ways; Further eroding Trust in the Internet, and the Internet of Things (IoT);

— Machine learning will be used by cyber criminals, hackers, etc., to enhance and improve socially engineered traps, honey-pots, watering holes, etc.