15 April 2017

*** The Primer On Russia’s “Active Measures,” Its Information Warfare Strategy

By Paul Ratner, 

As questions swirl about Russia’s role in the 2016 Presidential elections, the old KGB strategy of “active measures” is getting a closer look. “Active measures” were subversive techniques and policies aimed at influencing people and events in foreign countries to suit Russia’s objectives. Claims of internet-driven hacking and misinformation campaigns by Russia against the U.S. fit well within this Cold War approach.

As described by retired KGB General Oleg Kalugin in 1987, the purpose of “active measures” was “to drive wedges in the Western community alliances of all sorts, particularly NATO, to sow discord among allies, to weaken the United States in the eyes of the people in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and thus to prepare ground in case the war really occurs. To make America more vulnerable to the anger and distrust of other peoples.”

According to former NSA analyst and security expert John Schindler, these measures are still in use today by Russia, a country led by the former KGB officer Vladimir Putin.

*** The New Cold War Politics in Afghanistan

Source Link
By Daud Khattak

As Cold War politics come full circle, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the wider region are bracing for a new era of conflict in the making. Switching sides and changing goalposts, the key players are flexing their muscles for a new Cold War on Afghan turf.

Let’s review the new alliances and various actors that will make or break Afghanistan’s future.

Russia-Pakistan Warming up

The recent visit of a Russian military delegation, headed by Chief of General Staff Colonel General Israkov Sergi Yuryevich, to Pakistan’s North Waziristan was the latest sign of Russia and Pakistan’s warming relations.

Retired Brigadier General Saad Muhammad Khan, Pakistan’s former military attaché to Afghanistan, in a TV talk show, called the Russian delegation’s visit to Waziristan “interesting and unusual.” But that was not the first step in the blossoming relationship.

In September 2016, around 200 Pakistani and Russian military personnel conducted joint exercises codenamed Druzhbha-2016, which means friendship. Earlier, in 2014 and 2015, naval forces from the two countries conducted joint drills named Arabian Moonsoon.

*** Putin and Erdogan: Addicted to Power

By Reva Goujon

Absolute power is both reviled and revered. Most in the West will look aghast at blatant power grabs, smirk at narcissistic acts of self-promotion and regularly admonish leaders engaging in tyrannical behavior. But many others will just as easily look in awe at a leader who embodies sheer power. When a country's politics have been more volatile than just, people will more naturally crave a leader who oozes confidence and manifests strength. 

They will more willfully submit to propaganda, wanting to neither see nor hear stories of evil that can tarnish the image they hold of their protector.

This dichotomy defines two highly consequential leaders of our time: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, two men who not only have pasts and motivations with a great deal in common, but whose geopolitical destinies are also deeply intertwined.

Born With a Vengeance

"Men ought either to be indulged or utterly destroyed, for if you merely offend them they take vengeance, but if you injure them greatly they are unable to retaliate, so that the injury done to a man ought to be such that vengeance cannot be feared."

— Niccolo Machiavelli

Putin and Erdogan were born — and rule — with a vengeance rooted in their personal and national upbringings.

** A Disruptive Nuclear China and India’s Imperatives

By Bharat Karnad

Published as “In a Nuclear Imbroglio, a Disruptive China and India’s Imperatives are Stark Realities” in Global Dialogue Review , Volume 5, Number 1, January/February/March 2017

The United States policies and nuclear security literature have been the model and set the precedent for other countries to follow in the nuclear realm. Washington has striven to delegitimize the possession of nuclear weapons by less developed countries, to sustain a global nuclear order based on the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and to control nuclear developments especially in the subcontinent. By using different metrics of security the concerns and motivations of the five NPT-recognized nuclear weapon states (NWS) – US, Russia, United Kingdom, France, and China, the so-called P-5, have been de-linked from those of the non-NWS and the NPT non-signatories, such as India and Pakistan. This unhelpful tendency is beginning to be mended. A recent ‘Threat Assessment Brief’ by the influential Arms Control Association in Washington, DC, the leading non-proliferation lobby, for the first time expressly concedes the connection between what the US does as the leading nuclear weapons power, and how – by way of response calculi — it shapes the thinking of the Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani governments and determines the quality, quantity, posture, deployment patterns, and growth of their nuclear assets.[1]

This admission of the action-reaction effects of US nuclear policies on other nuclear weapon states is a good start. But there’s another, more important, reality that remains in the shadows — the collusive arrangements among the P-5 to not just overlook but actually condone each other’s past and continuing policies of deliberate nuclear proliferation. It served their respective national interests while imperilling the disarmament goal the P-5 publicly swear by.

Reliance Jio’s “Free” Offer Extension Shows Going Is Tough; Merger With RCom Seems Logical

R Jagannathan

As the telecom industry sees major consolidation, Jio’s ambition of having a 50 per cent revenue market share is only possible if it seeks a merger with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications.

Reliance Jio’s decision to extend its free offer to subscribers for an additional three months from 1 April (summer surprise) shows that acquiring free customers is one thing, retaining them for longer periods as paying customers is quite another.

Having registered more than 100 million free subscribers by February, Jio offered them a rate of Rs 303 per month for one GB a day – the so-called Jio Prime offer. The offer was to end on 31 March, but Jio has now extended it for a further 15 days even after acquiring 72 million Prime paying customers. Those committed to the Rs 303 plan (or higher plans) get three months more free.

It may or may not be a slippery slope, for weaning people away from freebies is tough. Those who logged in early will thus have got nine months of free Jio services. The sobering thought is that even after investing a massive Rs 1.7 lakh crore to create India’s largest mobile services network, there is no guarantee of easy success.

A Strategic Guide to Afghanistan Options

By Keith Nightingale

Afghanistan has become an intractable problem absent any clear acceptable strategic solutions. It is our national tar baby. Most simply, it is a mess. We are there. We would like to get out. What are our options? A small brief for our strategic planners.

First, visualize a large pond-sized blender. Insert six frogs. Hit pulse several times.

Desire the frogs to emerge and make the pond a better place.

Currently, our sticky strategic plan for Afghanistan is the pond, frog, and pulse arrangement. So what are our reasonable options for a resolution to the Afghanistan tar baby in a briar patch? Gen. H.R. McMaster has limited options and none result in sunlight and smiles. And in the reality of all crisis situations at the national level, no decision is, in fact, a decision. So what are our options?


Shiv Aroor

Livefist is privileged to announce that we start a special series today by COLONEL (RETD) VINAYAK BHAT (@RajFortySeven), a veteran military satellite imagery specialist. Each of Bhat’s columns, starting with today’s on Chinese activity in Maldives, will offer an insightful deep-dive on activity by India’s neighbours in the neighbourhood, providing a sharp, visual data-driven and incisive view of the region and how it’s changing.

Maldives is archipelago republic of 1190 islands’ chain approximately 130km South of Minicoy Islands of India in the IOR. The early settlers to these islands were Dravidians who were later joined by Sinhalese, Siddis and Austronesians. Dhivehi – the national language which sounds like a mix between Malayalam and Sinhalese.

Maldives came onto the radar of Indian foreign policy when Male was attacked by Sri Lankan Tamil militant group in November 1988. President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom requested India for help. Promptly, Indian troops were sent to the rescue of the Maldives government and the coup attempt was brought under control and peace restored. The Operation Cactus was a great success appreciated throughout the world. The action by India brought to fore the quick reaction capability by the Para Regiment and IAF who landed on a militant controlled airport in the thick of the night without proper maps or navigation. The relations with India gained strength and became strong.

The Country with the Most to Gain from Trump is not Russia; It’s China

China—not Russia—has the greatest potential to gain international influence over the long run. China’s goal to become the global superpower runs straight through its overseas development and climate change efforts; exactly where President Donald Trump’s budget blueprint will decrease U.S. influence the most.

Russia dominates our headlines in ways not seen since the Cold War. There are reported ties to the Trump campaign, Kremlin-sanctioned interference in the 2016 elections, silence over Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on anticorruption protesters, and regular trafficking in dangerous false equivalency “whataboutisms.” With all this focus, one could plausibly assume that Russia has the most to gain from the Trump presidency.

That would, however, be a mistake. China is both better positioned and has much more to gain.

U.S. withdrawal from its obligations to the liberal international order—which would be the effect of President Trump’s budget blueprint if passed by Congress—creates unprecedented space for Chinese opportunism. China is poised to replace the United States as global trade leader, and President Trump’s renunciation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has given it an opportunity to strengthen regional trade opportunities that were once available to the United States. It is no secret that China desires even more global influence, a pursuit that, to a certain extent, has been checked by U.S. global leadership. Until now.

China in Africa: What's the Real Story?

By Xie Tao

When traveling outside China, I rarely seek out Chinese restaurants. For one thing, my few experiences indicate that their taste is usually not the same “taste of motherland” that one gets back in China. For another, my philosophy is that when in Rome, eat as the Romans do. How can you fully appreciate a culture without exposing your palate to its cuisine, an integral part of any culture?

That’s why I was initially quite disappointed to find out that Tip Top, recommended by a street vendor in downtown Accra, Ghana, is a Chinese restaurant. It was March 31, the first day of my four-day visit to the western African country. I was wandering aimlessly with my family on Oxford Street when I came across the vendor. It was lunch time, so I asked him if there was any restaurant nearby. “Oh, yes, Tip Top, just over there, you see the sign?” After saying my thanks, we headed to the restaurant, assuming that Tip Top offers local African food. Not until I walked into the restaurant and noticed the pictures of dishes on the wall did I realize that it is a Chinese restaurant.

I hesitated for a moment, unsure whether we should stay or keep looking for a local establishment. Then my wife helped me make the decision. “It has air-conditioning, and the children are tired,” she said. So I ended up having the only Chinese meal during my two-month voyage. And I have to admit that the dishes were truly authentic (i.e., Northeast China cuisine), so authentic that we went back for dinner the day before we departed Tema.

UAE´s Increasing Role in China´s Security Calculus

By Christina Lin 

In this publication, Christina Lin argues that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is becoming increasingly prominent in China’s strategic calculus and it’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) strategy. Lin specifically highlights 1) the role Dubai now plays as an important financial and trading hub for Beijing; 2) Abu Dhabi's growing significance as an oil supplier for China; and 3) the mounting convergence of the UAE with Egypt and China on security matters, particularly against violent jihadism.

In recent years, there has been much focus on China’s budding ties with large Arab countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. However, among the Arab Gulf states, the smaller United Arab Emirates (UAE) is quietly gaining stature in Beijing’s strategic calculus and its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) strategy.



At the order of President Donald Trump, the U.S. military lobbed dozens of cruise missiles at a Syrian air base from which a chemical weapons attack was launched this week that killed Syrian civilians — to include children. Trump’s critics are already denouncing the strikes as a sign of his recklessness and America’s deepening and unwise involvement in the Syrian civil war. His supporters are celebrating the attack as a sign of the sort of American resolve that has been missing for the last eight years as well as a message to the world’s bad guys. So which is it? Should we condemn or praise Trump’s decision? The answer, of course, is not so easy. I offer my thoughts below. It is late, I am tired, and I have more questions than answers, but here it goes.

The Good

When the Obama administration was leaning towards a military response to the 2013 Syrian chemical attack to enforce its declared red line — even though I did not favor an attack without broad-based popular, Congressional, and allied support — I observed that anything less than a large attack on Assad’s ability to project airpower would not send a strong enough message. We all know what happened next, of course, and President Obama has been heavily criticized for not acting (but I am of the view that the bigger mistake was the red line, not the failure to enforce it). The fact that most of Assad’s chemical arsenal was subsequently destroyed per an agreement brokered by Russia provided a net gain for U.S. interests.

Syria and Chemical Weapons. What Now?

The Syrian government is accused of using nerve gas in a recent attacks on a rebel village in Idlib province. This would be a clear violation of the 2013 Russian brokered deal where Syria surrendered all its chemical weapons in return for no foreign intervention (as the U.S. has promised) because chemical weapons were used. An August 21 2013 attack used nerve gas to kill over 1,400 people in a rebel controlled village outside Damascus. The evidence was overwhelming for the 2013 attack and this latest one in Idlib is equally incriminating. This time the United States quickly retaliated by launching sixty cruise missiles (from two warships in the Mediterranean) at the Syrian Shayrat air base in Homs province. Most of the Syrian air strikes in northern Syria are flown out of Shayat, which is now inoperable. Russia and Iran, the two major allies of the Assads, are under pressure to make a suitable response. Initially both nations simply condemned this violation of Syrian sovereignty and warned of serious consequences. This could be serious, or not. Iran has been calling for the destruction of the United States (and Israel) since the 1980s but so far, aside from a few terror attacks, it’s been mostly talk. Russia has become more hostile to the United States since a new government took power in 1999 and revived the old Cold War attitude that the Americans were out to destroy Russia in any number of devious ways and were responsible for most of the internal and external problems Russia faced. As with Iran, this attitude had more to do with local politics (keeping an unpopular ruler in power) than with reality. The “blame America” angle only works if you can convince your people that the U.S. will back off if confronted. That’s what happened when Iran (in 2012) and Russia (in 2016) openly intervened to support the Assads. The Russians were quite proud of themselves for how they get the Americans to back down in 2013 in the aftermath of the Assads using nerve gas. Neither Russia nor Iran want outright war with the United States, even though Russia has threatened to use nukes against the United States to discourage too much military support for Ukraine (which Russia is trying to annex parts of). Russia may be able to get some support (in forcing the Americans to back off) by appealing to the NATO countries that criticized the recent American cruise missile attack. In other words Russia and Iran don’t have any good options here.

Weapons of the Syrian War: Overview


From chlorine gas to Kalashnikovs, barrel bombs to cruise missiles, the Syrian conflict shows what 21st-century militaries and armed groups can bring to bear.

The Assad regime’s bloody reaction to the 2011 Arab Spring ignited one of the most lethal rebellions in modern history, placing it in the crosshairs of more than 1,000 armed groups: rebels, Kurds, defectors, extremists and countless others, including foreign military experts. Taken together, the opposition is better equipped than any the world has seen in generations, according to Charles Lister, Middle East analyst and resident fellow at the Middle East Institute.

“Syria represents the Afghanistan of the 21st century, but on steroids. The scale of jihadist militancy in Syria is one thing; the capability that they have acquired,” Lister said, “is at least in my opinion unprecedented in modern history.” 

Syria represents the Afghanistan of the 21st century, but on steroids.


The weapons on display in the Syrian war include some of the world’s most advanced and deadly, thanks to the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State and Russia’s own arrival in 2015.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died in the war; the UN stopped counting at 191,000 three years ago, but estimates range from a quarter million to at least 470,000. The conflict has uprooted half of Syria’s pre-war population, scattering five million people beyond its borders.

Start your tour of the myriad weapons of the Syria War with the timeline and video below. Then scroll down for links to the next pages.

The Best Defense Is No Offense: Why Cuts to UN Troops in Congo Could Be a Good Thing

By Adam Day

Following strong pressure by the Trump administration to downsize peacekeeping across the board, the Security Council cut by 3,600 the authorized troop levels for the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). This decision came only days after 40 Congolese police were beheaded and two UN-contracted experts and their interpreter were killed by militia members, and amidst warnings by many Western countries that now is a bad time to draw down the UN in the country. Earlier in March, UN Secretary-General António Guterres had in fact requested additional police units for MONUSCO to address the growing risks of violence (this was rejected by the Council). But there is a way to meet both the US demands for cuts and the UN's call for better resources to protect people under threat: MONUSCO should remove the troops it uses for offensive combat operations and instead beef up its ability to move forces quickly around the country to protect civilians. 

MONUSCO's "Force Intervention Brigade" (FIB) has been called the “first ever offensive combat force” in UN peacekeeping. With 3,000 troops, air reconnaissance, surveillance drones, attack helicopters and the most robust mandate in UN history, the FIB should have been an exciting new chapter for peacekeeping. But after four years on the ground, it has become clear that offensive combat operations are a poor use of UN resources for three reasons: (1) they don't really work; (2) they could well be harming civilians; and (3) they divert focus and resources away from more serious threats facing the Congolese people. Eliminating the very expensive FIB and using the savings to increase the UN’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to protect civilians would put resources where they are most needed, a good deal for Guterres and for Trump.

The Force Intervention Brigade Doesn't Work

Established in the wake of the rebel group M23’s takeover of Goma in 2012, the FIB was initially successful in helping to defeat M23. But this victory was as much the result of concerted international pressure on Rwanda to stop supporting the group and a sincere desire by Kinshasa to push the M23 out of the country. Since 2013, the FIB has had a dismal track record. It has failed to neutralize any of the other four armed groups it was tasked to fight: the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the Front for the Patriotic Resistance in Ituri (FRPI) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). According to the UN, these militias still retain the capacity to destabilize much of eastern DRC and continue to perpetrate attacks on local communities. In fact, the ADF carried out its most serious attacks in 2016 right under the nose of the FIB, during a period of sustained offensive operations against the ADF by MONUSCO and the Congolese army. In many areas, the local population deeply resents MONUSCO for raising expectations without delivering.

Leading, Not Sending

Keith Nightingale

The Normandy invasion was perhaps the riskiest and most important operation civilization has ever undertaken. The leaders knew it and their troop commanders were exquisitely sensitive to the point-they could not fail. They had to succeed. One of those leaders understood the core of commanding in combat.

The youngest brigadier general in the army, Jim Gavin, was the newly appointed assault force commander for the 82d Airborne Division-one of the key spearhead Airborne divisions to land in Normandy before the main force and to hold until relieved. Prior to this, he had joined the 505 PIR at Ft Benning as a Captain and followed it through to command the entire Regiment in Sicily and Salerno. He had a well-earned reputation as an effective combat commander. Most importantly, he had the deep love and respect of his soldiers. He truly was a leader worthy of the led.

On a cold, wet day in England, he demonstrated the essential necessary quality of any first tier combat commander. In so doing, he further cemented his soldiers and provided the undefinable will, purpose and resolve that would see each through the coming conflict in one of the most confused and risky battlefields in which they ever would fight.

The global forces inspiring a new narrative of progress

By Ezra Greenberg, Martin Hirt, and Sven Smit

Growth is shifting, disruption is accelerating, and societal tensions are rising. Confronting these dynamics will help you craft a better strategy, and forge a brighter future. 

“The trend is your friend.” It’s the oldest adage in investing, and it applies to corporate performance, too. We’ve found through our work on the empirics of strategy that capturing tailwinds created by industry and geographic trends is a pivotal contributor to business results: a company benefiting from such tailwinds is four to eight times more likely to rise to the top of the economic-profit performance charts than one that is facing headwinds. 

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It’s easy, however, to lose sight of long-term trends amid short-term gyrations, and there are moments when the nature and direction of those trends become less clear. Today, for example, technology is delivering astounding advances, and more people are healthy, reading, and entering the global middle class than at any period in human history. At the same time, the post–Cold War narrative of progress fueled by competitive markets, globalization, and innovation has 
Our work on the empirics of strategy shows why understanding trends is an important skill for corporate leaders. 

Those contradictions are showing up in politics, and the long-term trends underlying them are reshaping the business environment. Corporate leaders today need to rethink where and how they compete, and also must cooperate in the crafting of a new societal deal that helps individuals cope with disruptive technological change. 

That broad narrative of intensifying competition, as well as the growing need for cooperation, contains challenges, but also great opportunity. We hear about the challenges every day in our conversations with global business leaders: How long can their traditional sources of competitive advantage survive in the face of technological shifts? How will changing consumer and societal expectations affect their business models? What does it mean to be a global company when the benefits of international integration are under intense scrutiny? 

The US Air Force Is Reorganizing to Fight in Space


After a scathing report, service leaders are creating a three-star czar to oversee orbital warfare. 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The U.S. Air Force, under pressure from Congress to take more seriously a potential war in space, is creating a new job for a three-star general and making other organizational changes to meet what many see as a growing threat.

The move follows criticism by lawmakers that the Air Force is not properly prepared to fight in space, an area being increasingly militarized by the U.S., Russia, and China. Air Force leaders say the reorganization and new general billet will help space-related projects compete for budget dollars against earth-bound aircraft, drones, nuclear forces, and the rest.

The new general will “come to work every day focusing on this: making sure that we can organize, train, and equip our forces to meet the challenges in this domain,” Gen. Jay Raymond, head of Air Force Space Command, said Tuesday at the National Space Symposium, an annual gathering of military and civil space professionals.

The new general will serve as a space advisor on staff with the Air Force secretary and chief of staff. Three-star generals already advise Air Force leaders about personnel, intelligence, operations, plans, requirements, logistics, communications, studies, and nuclear weapons. Staff three-stars also represent the four-star generals who run major commands around the world, like a liaison. The Air Force last added a general to the Air Staff in 2008 to oversee nuclear weapons after a series of embarrassing incidents.

Great-Power Rivalry May Turn Space War Real


A rising drumbeat of remarks from Pentagon officials suggest they’re worried about, and preparing for, warfare in orbit. 

This week, thousands of space industry types from around the world are gathered in a resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the the Space Symposium, a major annual conference. Attendees spend three days hearing from dozens of professionals in the commercial, civilian, and military space sectors, as well as leaders of space agencies from 15 countries. On Monday, some spent the day tweeting pictures of themselves grinning from inside a mockup of a Blue Origin crew capsule, which stood outside the hotel along with the company’s New Shepard rocket.

On Tuesday, another set of tweets revealed a more serious side of the Space Symposium. Major General David Thompson, the vice commander of the U.S. Air Force Space Command, addressed a group of participants in a small ballroom:

Ex CIA chief speaks out about Russia and why the next war will be 'sparked by cyber'

By Jason Murdock  

Pictured (R-L) Former CIA chief John Brennan, Russian president Vladimir Putin (Credit: Reuters)

A former director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the Obama administration has spoken out about Russia's alleged interference with the US presidential election, warning that future wars are likely to be sparked by nation-state activity in the cyber domain.

John Brennan, who helmed the CIA between 2013 and 2017, was speaking this week during the annual Richard Dimbleby Lecture. In his keynote, he covered a range of topics including end-to-end encryption, Moscow's ongoing cyber-espionage operations and WikiLeaks.

Read more on IBTimes UK Technology 

Spectrum Management for Economic Growth and National Security

Spectrum is an essential part of the technologies, applications, and services that make up the information age, and managing this resource is vital to continued economic growth and national defense missions. However, the current system for managing spectrum can be inflexible, often pitting the interests of the Department of Defense and federal users against commercial providers. This report addresses successful models for federal-commercial information sharing, cooperation, and collaboration on spectrum and offers recommendations for more sustainable and effective management of this resource

Russian Active Measures and Influence Campaigns


Chairman Burr, Vice Chairman Warner, distinguished members of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence,

It is a great honor to appear here today. The issue before this panel is Russian active measures and influence campaigns. It rose to the top of our national agenda in 2016, when we became aware of Russian interference in our presidential campaign. It remains one of the most contentious issues in our national conversation, for the very idea that another nation could put at risk the integrity of our country’s most essential institution—the process of electing our president—is hard for us to comprehend.

Director and Senior Fellow

Russia and Eurasia Program

More from this author... 

I would like to state at the outset that based on media reporting, on statements of senior U.S. and other countries’ law enforcement and intelligence officials, and my professional experience as a student of Russian foreign policy, I am convinced that Russian intelligence services, their proxies, and other related actors directly intervened in our election in 2016.

What is in the US report on Russian hacking? The top 5 things to know

By Jason Murdock 

On 6 January, the US government released a public version of its secretive joint Intelligence Community (IC) analysis into allegations of state-sponsored cyberattacks against the US political system in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

The 25-page declassified analysis showcased the findings of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Security Agency (NSA). It was one of three versions of the report ordered by President Obama last December.

Read more on IBTimes UK Technology 

The IC released no evidence of electronic election tampering by Russia and its authors said there was no assessment conducted on whether Russia's efforts directly impacted the election's outcome.

It has been largely criticised for failing to produce technical evidence to back up its core claims.

Nevertheless, it noted: "Russia's effort to influence the 2016 US presidential election represented in a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations aimed at US elections." IBTimes UKtakes a look at what else was inside.

Risk of cyberattack on US power grid ‘palpable,’ experts tell Congress Posted on April 5, 2017 by Mackenzie Wolf

By Mackenzie Wolf

A warning issued during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Tuesday said the potential for a major cyberattack against the nation’s power grid is “at an all time high,” reports FuelFix.

Gerry Cauley, president of the grid operators group North American Electric Reliability Corporation, testified during the hearing. Cauley noted that hackers had yet to shut down the U.S. power grid, but he referenced a 2015 attack that cut power to 225,000 customers in Ukraine.

“We will never be complacent. The risk is very real,” he said.

Tuesday’s hearing was part of a long-term effort to increase security for the nation’s power plants to prevent cyberattacks akin to the ones that have recently struck Europe. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), recently awarded BAE Systems a contract under the Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation and Characterization Systems (RADICS) program to develop technology that will enable power to be quickly restored following a cyberattack.

Per Patricia Hoffman, acting assistant secretary at the Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the department is working on “an ecosystem of resilience.”

Senior cyber and energy strategist at Idaho National Laboratory, Andrew Bochman, testified that the presence of automated technology is enabling hackers to develop more paths on which to attack.

“Cyber risk futurists, myself included, are experiencing a palpable sense of foreboding,” Bochman said during his testimony.

McAfee Labs on malware: They can rebuild them — better, stronger, faster

By Tony Ware

McAfee Labs found 176 new cyber threats per minute in the fourth quarter of 2016, almost three per second, according to the security software company’s April 2017 threats report. 

The public sector experienced the greatest number of reported incidents, with the software development and banking sectors also seeing a jump.

As prolific as ransomware was in 2016, growing by 88 percent, mobile malware had it beat growing at 99 percent. Malware growth slowed by 17 percent in Q4, but reached 638 million samples in total over the year. 

While still a small sample compared to events recorded in the Windows ecosystem, new Mac OS malware grew 744 percent in 2016. More troubling was the proliferation of the Mirai botnet hijacking Internet of Things devices, five each minute, allowing for massive, complex denial-of-service attacks.

Attackers are becoming increasingly proficient at evading discrete defense systems and infiltrating siloed systems, so the report looks at ways capturing rich data, drawing relationships between structural elements of incidents and establishing near-real-time sharing of patterns and key data points can help cut through the signal-to-noise problem as defenders triage the barrage of attacks. 

One of the quarterly report’s key topics in light of these statistics is that threat intelligence sharing is invaluable to reducing attackers’ advantages and combating high-priority threats, but hurdles still exist. 

“The security industry faces critical challenges in our efforts to share threat intelligence between entities, among vendor solutions, and even within vendor portfolios,” said Vincent Weafer, vice president of McAfee Labs, in a news release. “Working together is power. Addressing these challenges will determine the effectiveness of cybersecurity teams to automate detection and orchestrate responses, and ultimately tip the cybersecurity balance in favor of defenders.”

In McAfee’s opinion, legal frameworks and data standards for interoperability need to be updated, sharing should become more automated and sharing organizations should be established to simplify event triage, the understanding of breach indicators and the establishment of an enhanced environment for security practitioners.

The entire report can be found on McAfee.com.

Beyond the Operational Environment: Reflections on Information Warfare

By Evan Salbego

We belong to the most over-consumptive generation in history, seldom drawing the line at commercial goods. Feelings, ideas, beliefs, and perceptions are all fair game in the Information Age and, although we tend to gloss over the potential costs of these invisible acquisitions, others do not.

Information Warfare aims to socially engineer an audience, rendering a group or community utterly incapable of recognizing the truth, even when it should be evident. The effects can cause the dissolution of social constructs such as law, order, leadership, and civility if intended. Due to the advent of the internet and its many permutations, our culture continually consumes so much information that it’s become deconditioned to the fidelity of the digested content, a symptom indicative of susceptibility to the full effects of Information Warfare.

As participants in a world that seldom unplugs from an otherwise overly saturated Information Environment, we must assume that our adversaries remain fully aware of the power of information, its ability to affect perception, change human behavior, and dissolve cultural identity over time. In short, information affects perception which affects behavior which affects culture, a downward spiral of synergetic effects perpetuated by virtue of repetitive information designed to manipulate its audience.

Pentagon tech advisers target how the military digests data

By: Aaron Mehta,

WASHINGTON – The Defense Innovation Board, a group put together by former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and headed by Google chairman Eric Schmidt, is weighing the possibility of creating a central repository for the massive amounts of data collected by the military.

Changing how the Pentagon collects, maintains and uses data is going to be vital for the U.S. to maintain its technological edge going forward, the board members concluded at an April 4 hearing at the Pentagon. At the same time, the advisers acknowledged that the project comes loaded with thorny security and cultural questions.

When the group held its first public meeting in October, it laid out a collection of suggestions, including the creation of a chief innovation officer, new software testing rules, and a focus on machine learning. But after six months of research and visits to military bases, the group has zeroed in on the issue of data management as one that impacts every other idea on innovation.