USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, March 22 - 28, 2012

Table of Contents

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Cyberattacks Should Require Presidential Authorization, Official Says
Cyberattacks on enemy computer systems should require presidential authority - and not be launched at the discretion of individual military commanders - the nation's top cyberwarrior told Congress on Tuesday. The comment by Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of U.S. Cyber Command, offered a rare glimpse into a largely classified debate over standing rules of engagement for the military in cyberspace. Those rules govern what commanders can and cannot do on their own authority outside war zones.
See the full article (Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, 3/27/12)
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How the Developing World is Using Cellphone Technology to Change Lives
In Nigeria, a young girl can ask questions about sex discretely through SMS and get accurate information. After the earthquake in Haiti, survivors in remote towns could receive money for food straight to their cellphone. In Senegal, election monitors sent updates on polling stations through their mobile phones, revising an online map in real time. Projects like Learning about Living in Nigeria, MercyCorps in Haiti and Senevote2012 in Senegal are just a few examples of how the rapid spread of mobile technology has changed life in the global south.
See the full article (Toronto Star, Tim Alamenciak, 3/24/12)
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US Intel: Water a Cause for War in Coming Decades
Drought, floods and a lack of fresh water may cause significant global instability and conflict in the coming decades, as developing countries scramble to meet demand from exploding populations while dealing with the effects of climate change, U.S. intelligence agencies said in a report Thursday. [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton, who unveiled a new U.S. Water Partnership that aims to share American water management expertise with the rest of the world, called the findings "sobering."
See the full article (CBS, Edith M. Lederer, 3/23/12)
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Reworked Version of Stuxnet Relative Duqu Worm Found in Iran
A new variant of the mysterious Duqu worm has been spotted in Iran by researchers from the security firm Symantec, marking the re-emergence of the close cousin of the Stuxnet cyberweapon after five months of dormancy. The finding indicates that the unknown creators of Stuxnet - suspected by many to be the intelligence services of the U.S., of Israel or of both - are still at work.
See the full article (MSNBC, Matt Liebowitz, 3/22/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "The Afghanistan Security Transition: the Role and Importance of Afghanistan's Neighbors" on April 6 at 10:00am.
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Cyber and Drone Attacks May Change Warfare More Than the Machine Gun
We're used to thinking of war as a physical phenomenon, as an outbreak of destructive violence that takes place in the physical world. Bullets fly, bombs explode, tanks roll, people collapse. Despite the tremendous changes in the technology of warfare, it remained a contest of human bodies. But as the drone wars have shown, that's no longer true, at least for one side of the battle.
See the full article (Atlantic, Ross Andersen, 3/22/12)
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Activists 'Commit More Data Breaches than Cybercriminals'
Activists such as "Anonymous" who hack into government and corporate computer networks and then release files to embarrass those organisations were responsible for more than half of all known data thefts last year. That's a big change from recent years when the motivation behind most cyberattacks has been to make money. Anonymous claimed responsibility for a string of incidents last year, beginning with attacks on the websites of the governments of Tunisia, Algeria and Zimbabwe.
See the full article (Guardian, Charles Arthur, 3/22/12)
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