The development of warfare cyberspace in the United States, part 2 – Modern Diplomacy


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Cybersecurity defence is the foundation of cyberspace combat capability and an important guarantee for military operations. Guided by the idea of military and industry-led collaboration, the United States of America and the United Kingdom make full use of industry technologies and capabilities to strengthen research and development of cybersecurity technologies and equipment, as well as improve performance in its defence capabilities.
In August 2021 the US Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) awarded to the cybersecurity firm Forescout-Active Defense for the Enterprise of Things a 115 million US dollar contract to promote a zero-trust security model. Also known as zero-trust architecture (ZTA), zero-trust network architecture (ZTNA) or perimeter-less security, it describes an approach to designing and deploying IT systems. The main concept behind the zero-trust security model is “never trust, always verify,” which means that devices should not be trusted by default, even if they are connected to an authorized network such as a corporate LAN and even if they were checked and verified before.
DISA selected the Forescout platform as part of the Compliant Connectivity (C2C) project. The Department of Defense expects C2C to provide a suite of computing and IT capabilities to manage all resources in the Department’s network. One of the C2C-enabled capabilities of the Forescout platform is end-to-end visibility into the Department’s connected networks and will also enable DISA to upgrade security processes, including the automation of essential security functions and improved information sharing.
DISA also plans to develop a prototype of the Thunderdome zero-trust architecture, the production of which will begin in early 2023. The new architecture promises to improve security, reduce complexity and save costs, while replacing current defence-in-depth approaches to cybersecurity.
At the same time, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) developed a new drone cybersecurity software, namely the High Assurance Cyber Military System (HACMS), and invited hackers to attend the DEFense readiness CONdition (DEFCON) cybersecurity Conference in the United States of America in August. The results show that even professionals are not able to crack such software – although I believe that those who could do it would stay hidden, preferring to declare themselves “beaten” rather than exposing themselves in the open.
HACMS uses “formal method” techniques to mathematically ensure that there are no software flaws that would allow hackers to enter and take a computer system over. The software architecture strictly separates the various functions of the task-specific control system, and even if hackers were able to break into the drone’s camera software, they would not be able to hijack its command and control system. Furthermore, in September DARPA launched the Hardening Development Toolchain Defense Against Burst Execution Engine (HARDEN) project, which aims to help developers understand contingency and emergency behaviour in computers to prevent cyber attackers from using the built-in capabilities of critical systems to generate malicious and accidental computations.
In January 2022 the Defense Innovation Agency (DIU) announced it had awarded to the cybersecurity firm CounterCraft an additional settlement agreement for new technology to capture and block insider threats on compromised networks. The technique, known as a “cyber deception platform,” creates a trap for adversaries to leave behind the techniques, tools and command architecture they use after compromising a network. CounterCraft says the technology is essentially “honeypots” and “honeynets”, i.e. cybersecurity techniques that create tempting traps (honeypots) and link these traps together (honeynets). The attackers’ behaviour in a honeypot environment can be classified, thus enabling institutions to visualize their vulnerabilities in infiltration chains.
DIU addressed the industry in July 2021 for advanced endpoint detection and response capabilities (a communication endpoint is a type of node in the communication network; it is an interface that consists of a communicating part or communication channel).  
DIU has stated that the US Cyber Command and the service’s various cyber components want to be ever more the “crown jewel” on the defensive network and defensive weapon system to oppose malicious cyber activity around which DIU is deploying deceptive elements to essentially create pre-filtering sensors and capabilities, as well as pre-filtered data collection devices. This is essentially a method for deploying fake artifacts, decoys, erroneous algorithms and honeypots, and deploying highly customized and targeted recalls and endpoints in very specific traffic data and pre-filtering indicators in an environment that enables us to understand the details of threats by visualizing interactions with fake artifacts. If the methods and techniques described above are proven over time, these tools will change the rules of the game as to how the Department of Defense, and any Agency, protect their networks and data.
This means that cyberspace defenders can develop tailored protection plans and responses that are more specific to any part of the Department of Defense or any other Ministry, rather than trying to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to cyber protection.
The US Army is leveraging new technologies to advance the development and deployment of cyber weapons, incorporating enhancements into existing systems to ensure the continued effectiveness of cyber defenses. Among them, the Network Analysis and Detection (CAD) project is based on the Army’s Big Data Platform – called Gabriel Nimbus – which can run on various classified networks, thus increasing storage space; adding new data sources; and integrating special applications and tools..
Moreover, the User Activity Monitoring (UAM) program enables analysts to identify high-risk user activity in the Army’s networks in near real-time to address insider threats. This helps leverage all the tools, applications, as well as data streams and flows in the Gabriel Nimbus. Threat emulation is the project that enables users to simulate hostile capabilities on their networks with the aim of finding vulnerabilities before actual attacks. This is expected to be implemented in the coming months.
The Deployable Defensive Cyberspace Operations. Systems-Modular (DDS-M) projects are configurable with the hardware kit for use by Cyber Protection Teams (CPTs). The Garrison Defensive Cyberspace Operations Platform (GDP) project is a system capable of high-speed data capture and is moving to the cloud as a software-based military weapon.
Three GDP versions are being developed, with the fourth and fifth ones expected to be launched in 2022 and 2023.
The US Army Cyber Command issued an announcement last August asking for information about the Endpoint Security Solutions as a Service resources: a potential resource for the Army to find endpoint security solutions and hosting services, with the aim of improving overall security and reducing risk. Cyber Command seeks to increase visibility on endpoint security across all Army’s operational domains and track compliance metrics that provide robust protection of assets and systems to detect and respond to cyber threats appropriately in all locations and environments.
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Piracy is often thought to be a practice of the past, if not romanticized in fictional portrayals. But today’s pirates are eerily emblematic of 19th century pirates. While not as rampant, modern Pirates coupled with 21st-century challenges — narcotics, terrorism, and trafficking — pose serious problems.
In 2020, piracy increased by 20% worldwide. Through a more targeted lens, it nearly doubled in the Indo-Pacific region. These unprecedented spikes in piracy threaten regional stability and global peace, necessitating a pointed response. America has worked tirelessly to mitigate piracy’s prevalence. To maximize efficiency, American partnerships with global powers — namely, China, Japan, and India — are expediting efforts in the Indo-Pacific. Too often have international scholars ignored these critical collaborations.
Following the terrible tides of maritime conflict, Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) — an anti-piracy operation created in 2008— coordinated missions between Chinese, American, Japanese, and Indian Diplomats. This voluntary alliance revitalized damaged assets and fostered multinational piracy prevention. At the 42nd SHADE conference in 2022, US foreign representatives crafted tactical anti-piracy strategies known as Best Management Practices. China also reaffirmed its intent to remain a strong ally, thus cementing future partnerships. To date, such facilitated dialogues have continued annually.
In 2009, Somali pirates surged and devastated the nation’s economy. Luckily, in September of that year, the US diplomats and China formed bilateral solutions. The impact materialized for the Chinese Navy, with U.S. assistance, “rescued… 43 ships in 32 missions.” These naval exercises projected an image of joint leadership and helped clear the seas of violent conflict.
Had initiatives lacked this element of collaboration, their effect would be limited. No country can handle the vast ocean alone. As Daniel Garrun put it, “To catch a pirate, cooperation is key.”
Even today, the Gulf of Aden is still cascaded with crime. In response, Japan joined U.S. and UK naval vessels in 2021 anti-piracy drills, providing a solid front against pirates. More broadly, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, an alliance consisting of the US, Australia, India, and Japan, recently planned several joint defense operations for dismantling marine violations. Besides successfully putting the brakes on piracy, these set a precedent for future naval collaborations.
On September 24, 2021, high-level Australian, Indian, Japanese, and American diplomats assembled at the Quad Leader’s summit. In addition to discussing well-known issues, they tackled the Indo-Pacific, fraught piracy, and maritime compromises. This general discourse will only continue as Pentagon officials confirmed that Antony Blinken and the Indian External Affairs Minister convened in April 2022 and will plan future cooperation. Such India-US discussions will not only promote maritime relations but also draw the premise of future naval contracts.
In 2008, “Rep. Payne spoke passionately before Congress about…investing in the Somalian government.” Taking strides towards this approach, Congress is now eroding the root cause of piracy: poverty and hunger. Oftentimes, pirates begin inflicting terror and exploiting ships because of poverty and unemployment on land. To solve this, the US provided $253 million for financial development in Somalia. Near the Gulf of Guinea, America is improving Angola’s financial sector and medicine capabilities. Taken together, these efforts are bolstering weak states and reducing the incentive for piracy.
Diplomats also proposed and passed the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative to congress, which would gradually dispense $425 million towards maritime stability. The massive spending package guarantees assistance towards counter-piracy initiatives with US allies in the Indo-Pacific. Such funding strengthened partnerships with China and effectively launched a “war” on piracy.
It is practically impossible to track how many pirates have been discouraged by US naval crackdown and diplomatic dialogue. What can be said for certain is that without cooperative efforts, pirates would parade the ocean. In the future, foreign service officers should expand current strategies — defense, discussion, money, and organizations — to ensure piracy doesn’t intensify again. When COVID-19 energized maritime shipping, that left more ships open to pirates. Even with the pandemic declining, sudden outbreaks and consequently more cargo ships could create a pirate’s paradise. America must be prepared.
American diplomats must put aside geopolitical differences, particularly with China, for the sake of safety. After all, ruined economies, potential drug bonanzas, kidnappings, and billions of dollars are at stake. Collaboration shouldn’t be forced, but capitalized.
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Volodymyr Zelensky appeared in a video during the third week of the Ukraine crisis earlier this year, wearing a dark green shirt and speaking slowly and deliberately while standing behind a white presidential podium bearing his country’s coat of arms. The Ukrainian president’s body barely moved as he spoke, with the exception of his head. As he appeared to exhort Ukrainians to surrender to Russia, his voice sounded warped and almost gravelly.
In the tape, which was instantly detected as a deep-fake, he appeared to say, in Ukrainian, “I ask you to lay down your weapons and go back to your families,” “This war is not worth dying for. I suggest you to keep on living, and I am going to do the same.” This is the acme of how deep-fakes can be used in such a distressed situation to alter the psychology of the survivors of any particular crisis.
Officials from U.S. intelligence agencies are monitoring various audio and video that have surfaced since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis for alteration that could lead to misinformation.
Before discussing and delving further, let us first understand what exactly is deep-fakes?
Deep-fakes – Deep-fakes are fake media in which a person’s likeness in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s. While the act of generating false information is not new, deepfakes use advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms to edit or generate visual and audio content that can fool more easily. Deep-fakes were, initially, developed for various ethical purposes like for marketing purposes. Marketers who use deep-fakes may save money on video advertising costs because they do not require an in-person performer. Rather than hiring actors in person, a marketer may obtain permission to utilise an actor’s character. You can then use previous digital recordings of the actor to create a new video by inserting pertinent phrases from the actor’s script.
However, a new use of deep-fakes has emerged in recent years, which is to affect the political dynamic of the country or, more recently, to mobilise the people for or against by fabricating and generating fake films of world leaders delivering false messages and speeches, the quintessential example of which would be the case we mentioned at the start of the paper. Surprisingly, this is not the first time that the threat of deep-fakes has been so serious; even during the 2020 US Presidential elections, FBI officials warned about the use of deep-fakes to influence election outcomes. But, thankfully, deep-fakes were not employed as extensively, either due to restricted technological development in this technology or perhaps due to the government’s vigorous attempts to combat this problem. But this time the stakes are way too high in the Ukraine crisis as the outcome of this particular crisis will decide the fate of global politics for many years to come. According to The Guardian, a Russian propaganda campaign named ‘Ukraine Today’ is promoting bogus news about the war by utilising fake profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And we are all aware of the lack of authentication that these social media sites have in place to authenticate the news and profiles of their users, i.e. it does not exist. Anyone can make an account on these sites and upload any sort of information on it without any proper verification. That is why the lack of potent authentication measures by these sites combined with this new technology of deep-fakes can be catastrophic to the stage of world politics.
Ukraine Crisis – Thousands of people were exposed to fake footage of unrelated explosions within hours of Russia’s intervention. Several people promptly published video of explosions in Tianjin, China, and Beirut, Lebanon, purporting to show Russian bombers bombing “Ukrainian HQ.” The videos were extensively shared on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and others, with the exceptional — but unrelated — footage attracting people’s attention. Simultaneously, other social media users began spreading fabricated folk tales about valiant Ukrainian deeds. The most well-known of these concerns is the “Ghost of Kyiv” fighter ace, who is said to have shot down six Russian planes within hours of the invasion’s start. An ancient video game or military practice tape was posted in response to the rumour, and it received millions of views. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko backed the idea until May, when the country’s military revealed that the “Ghost of Kyiv” was a “superhero mythology.” While inspiring stories of bravery may give residents hope during a battle, experts warn that obsessive disinformation can be detrimental and present an erroneous view of the conflict.
The Kremlin’s initial claim that the invasion of Ukraine is a “special military operation” to “denazify” and “demilitarise” a “Neo-Nazi state” has been echoed repeatedly by pro-Russian users. Many people have dismissed allegations of Russian war crimes, calling the conflict a “hoax.” A news reporter was seen in one widely circulated video standing in front of lines of corpse bags, one of which was moving. The film, however, does not depict fabricated Ukrainian battle fatalities, but rather a climate change protest in Vienna in February, three weeks before the invasion began. Other instances of Ukraine conflict deception have centred on “crisis actors,” or individuals allegedly hired to play terrified or dead combat victims. On March 9, a well-known beauty blogger “pretended” to be the pregnant victim of a horrific attack on a maternity hospital in Mariupol, according to one false report.
As the first missiles were launched against Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared on social media that he would not abandon the country. His presence in Ukraine’s capital, as well as his nightly video remarks, put an end to any speculation that he had fled. Some claimed that the Ukrainian president was in exile and appeared in Kyiv through a green screen or film studio. Many of the photographs showed Zelenskyy constructing holograms for various digital technology conferences across Europe, and as the war progressed, he became a more regular target for Russian propaganda.
Geo-Political Angle – False remarks regarding the Ukraine conflict have spread to neighbouring countries, as well as the NATO military alliance. As the fighting continued into May, social media users mistakenly stated that European Union member countries were preparing to join the fight. With a digitally generated BBC News logo, one video stated that Poland’s military commander had issued an order putting army troops on “maximum alert.” The BBC subsequently claimed that no such item existed and that their brand had been used to create a bogus film. Polish officials have also accused Moscow of carrying out cyber-attacks against the country. Another false film stated that Finland was ready to send hundreds of tanks to its eastern border with Russia, in order to increase tensions. A freight train was shown in the film hauling equipment to western Finland for annual military training. This shows how the effects of deep fakes can spill over to other countries as well.
Effects of Deep-fakes on Business – The effects of deep-fakes also includes the damages it can do on a business. Assume a video is published in which a CEO of a corporation expresses (allegedly) opposing views on crucial issues. This can quickly lead to a reduction in the value of a company’s stock. Even if your public relations department answers quickly and denies the veracity of the video, stakeholders are not required to believe it. By the time evidence of this is available, significant damage to your company’s reputation may have already occurred. After all, studies show that the majority of reputational damage occurs within the first 24 hours of an occurrence. Deepfakes pose a similar reputational risk to business fraud, but with far more ramifications. If a well-made fake spreads online, it is difficult to invalidate credibility and a reputation disaster.
In political context imagine if a deep-fake of POTUS got circulated in which the POTUS is supporting the Russia in this Ukraine crisis, the effects of this would change the whole dynamic of the world politics for a moment, at least till an official statement is released regarding the video being fake but till then a lot of damage would have happened. The Ukraine would lose every last bit of hope, the western countries would start questioning the credibility of the United States etc. Now we all know this example is far too extreme, but this was just to show how catastrophic this technology can be.
Conclusion – All of this clearly shows that deep-fake is a very poor step in technological growth. Its shortcomings vastly exceed its advantages. The latest example of its shortcomings is clearly visible in the Ukraine Crisis. The Ukraine crisis has fostered a plethora of kinds of deception, ranging from images taken out of context to digitally edited movies that use artificial technology to spread lies.
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Documents uncovered in the special military operation in Ukraine corroborate the evidence exposing the Kiev regime’s intentions to use biological weapons, Head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Research Center for Chemical and Biological Threats Dmitry Poklonsky said in the run-up to the Ninth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention. “In some cases, the study focused on infectious disease agents that had never been registered on Ukrainian soil,” he said – informs TASS.
“We have obtained reports of investigations into a collection of microorganisms that indicate the accumulation of pathogens in unsubstantiated amounts. There are documents confirming the intentions to acquire unmanned delivery vehicles that could be used for employing biological weapons. Considering the non-transparent nature of this work and the absence of any substantiated responses from the United States and Ukraine, we, of course, regard the documents obtained as proof that Article 1.4 of the Convention was violated,” the defense official said.
The documents obtained in the special military operation in Ukraine, including reports by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the US Department of Defense, corroborate that the nature of work carried out there frequently ran counter to pressing healthcare problems, he stressed.
“In some cases, the study focused on infectious disease agents that had never been registered on Ukrainian soil,” Poklonsky pointed out.
Neither Washington nor Kiev deny the fact of the existence of biological labs in Ukraine bankrolled by the Pentagon, he pointed out.
“It was confirmed by the 2005 agreement between the US Department of Defense and the Ukrainian Health Ministry. Far more questions arise from the nature of the studies being carried out in these biological laboratories and how this work complies with the Convention’s requirements,” the chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Chemical and Biological Threats said.
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