USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, August 23 - 29, 2012

Table of Contents

Wiper Malware That Hit Iran Left Possible Clues of Its Origins
How does a security company study a strain of malware that systematically wipes a hard drive clean, including any traces of its own code? And is there any evidence that Wiper, one particular flavor of malware that hit computers in Iran's oil industry in the spring, is connected to nation-state tools such as Stuxnet? In an attempt to answer these questions and others about several pieces of malware that have cropped up recently, Kaspersky Lab has released new details about its investigation of Wiper.
See the full article (Wired, Kim Zetter, 8/29/12)
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Hydropower Back in Fashion as Countries Gather for Water Week
In the postwar period, newly independent countries in Asia and Africa -- in many cases influenced by the Soviet model and with Soviet support -- were looking both to produce more energy for their nascent economies and to improve their self-esteem through grandiose engineering projects. Decades later, though, the tide turned. It became increasingly evident that dams and reservoirs were a source of environmental imbalances and international disputes.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Eugen Tomiuc, 8/28/12)
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In Georgia's Troubled Border Region, Text Messaging is Fostering Community Safety
On the troubled northern border of Georgia, next to the disputed territory of South Ossetia, where two wars have been fought in the last two decades, an NGO has been quietly pioneering a new kind of distributed reporting system, one that uses SMS text messaging and the web to combine the data-rich mapping of Ushahidi with the meticulous requirements of human-rights researchers.
See the full article (TechPresident, Micah L. Sifry, 8/28/12)
Click to read "Food Security and Data Workshop: Can Better Data-sharing Enhance Impact?," a USIP News Feature by Andrew Robertson.
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'Degrade, Disrupt, Deceive': U.S. Talks Openly About Hacking Foes
There was a time, not all that long ago, when the U.S. military wouldn't even whisper about its plans to hack into opponents' networks. Now America's armed forces can't stop talking about it. The latest example comes from the U.S. Air Force, which last week announced its interest in methods "to destroy, deny, degrade, disrupt, deceive, corrupt, or usurp the adversaries [sic] ability to use the cyberspace domain for his advantage."
See the full article (Wired, Noah Shachtman, 8/28/12)
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Mapping the Rise of Violence Against Journalists in Afghanistan
New reports gathered by Internews [are] now mapped on an interactive website. The site tracks all types of media violence [in Afghanistan] and maps where they occur in the country. The maps are all made with TileMill, the open-source map design studio, and the site itself is built largely on tools put out by MapBox. To enable faster turnaround of publishing new reports of violence, this update of the website pulls data directly from a Google Doc Spreadsheet.
See the full article (PBS, David Cole, 8/27/12)
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From Bug Drones to Disease Assassins, Super Weapons Rule U.S. War Game
A rogue state is on the verge of developing a deadly biological weapon against which the rest of the world has no defense. Through its connections to extremist groups and smugglers, the regime could be planning to launch bio attacks on U.S. allies and interests. The scenario - the rogue state with its bio-weapon - is fictional. But the meeting, which took place at the Army's historic Carlisle Barracks in southern Pennsylvania in mid-August, is real.
See the full article (Wired, David Axe, 8/24/12)
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Who is Behind Iran's 'Dangerous' Satellite Jamming?
While officials have acknowledged that signal jamming is taking place, and even warned of potentially negative consequences, no one in the government has stepped up to assume responsibility. The Iranian regime has long used signal jamming to disrupt the free flow of information. It routinely jams the signal of international broadcasters in an attempt to prevent media coverage critical of Tehran from reaching Iranians.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Golnaz Esfandiari, 8/23/12)
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