USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, October 11 - 17, 2012

Table of Contents

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which includes a special section on Internet and social media.**

US Group Says Video, Satellite Imagery Shows Sudan Forces Razing Village in Border Region
Sudanese security forces burned and looted a village in the remote Nuba Mountains in May before returning to shell the settlement two months later, a U.S. monitoring group said Tuesday as it released satellite imagery and video footage of the attacks. The Satellite Sentinel Project, backed by actor and Sudan activist George Clooney, said the campaign by the Sudanese police force, military, and allied militias on the village of Gardud al Badry "amounts to crimes against humanity."
See the full article (AP, 10/16/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Third Annual Conference: Preventing Violent Conflict" on October 31 at 9:00am.
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Technology Helps Track a Terrorist in 'The Finish'
Mark Bowden describes the scene in his new book, The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden - and he details everything that it took to get to that moment, from presidential briefings to the history of drones. Computers played an enormous role in "connecting the dots" in the hunt for terrorists, Bowden says, partly because they're great at picking patterns out of chaos.
See the full article (NPR, 10/16/12)
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Russian Anti-Virus Firm Plans Secure Operating System to Combat Stuxnet
Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab announced Tuesday that it plans to develop a secure operating system to protect critical infrastructure systems from online attacks. Kaspersky hopes to develop a pared-down operating system that would be less vulnerable to attack from malicious programs like Stuxnet - a cyberweapon discovered in 2010 that was designed to target industrial systems that control Iran's nuclear program.
See the full article (Wired, Kim Zetter, 10/16/12)
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New 'miniFlame' Virus in the Middle East: 'A Scalpel For a Focused Surgical Dissection'
The security company that has discovered some of the most sophisticated spying software unearthed to date says it found a related program, dubbed "miniFlame," which can carry out more precise attacks on targets in the Middle East. While the original Flame virus swept in data from perhaps 5,000 computers, largely in Iran and South Sudan, the new miniFlame struck only about 50 "high-value" machines.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Joseph Menn, 10/15/12)
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In the Heart of Afghanistan, Entrepreneurs Innovate for Peace
In 2010, Ahmad Reza Zahedi started a website design business called TechSharks. It would be nearly impossible for entrepreneurs in that richer, more peaceful Valley to imagine the minefield of challenges confronting Afghanistan's tech startups. There is, of course, the ongoing battle against the Taliban. Yet such stats don't dim the optimism of Zahedi or others in the small circle of entrepreneurs determined to use technology to change Afghanistan.
See the full article (Fast Company, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, 10/15/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Applying Peace Economics in Dangerous Places" on October 23 at 10:00am.
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U.S. Suspects Iran Was Behind a Wave of Cyberattacks
American intelligence officials are increasingly convinced that Iran was the origin of a serious wave of network attacks that crippled computers across the Saudi oil industry and breached financial institutions in the United States, episodes that contributed to a warning last week from Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta that the United States was at risk of a "cyber-Pearl Harbor."
See the full article (New York Times, Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger, 10/13/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Questions on Drones, Unanswered Still
Understanding American drone strikes is like a deadly version of the old telephone game: I whisper to you and you whisper to someone else, and eventually all meaning is lost. Accurate information is hard to come by. The Obama administration and the C.I.A. are secretive about the fast-growing drone program. The strikes in Pakistan are taking place in areas where reporters can't go, or would be in extreme danger if they did.
See the full article (New York Times, Margaret Sullivan, 10/13/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Ready Player One
It was bound to happen. The Department of Defense [has been] given a larger role in protecting cyberspace -- a responsibility that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta finally claimed in an important speech he delivered Oct. 11, "Defending the Nation from Cyber Attack." Panetta may have said that the Pentagon will only play a "supporting role," but make no mistake: When it comes to cybersecurity, the center of action just shifted.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, James Andrew Lewis, 10/12/12)
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