USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, November 15 - 28, 2012

Please note: This Roundup contains two weeks' worth of highlights due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Table of Contents

**Click here to subscribe to USIP's Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding News Roundup,
which includes a special section on Internet and social media.**

U.S. Buys Yemen a Fleet of Spy Planes for Growing Shadow War
It's not enough for Yemen's skies to fill up with armed U.S. drones. Now the Pentagon wants to buy its Yemeni ally small, piloted spy planes. It's a sign that the U.S. is upgrading the hardware it gives the Yemeni military, and digging in for a long shadow war. After a brief pause prompted by Arab Spring instability, U.S. defense assistance returned to Yemen this summer in a major way. But while the U.S. has been generous, it's not bought Yemen many high-end systems.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 11/27/12)
[Return to top]

Bank Hackers Deny They're Agents of Iran
A slew of American officials have blamed Iran for attacks on the servers of Bank of America, Well Fargo, HSBC, and other western banks. But the hackers taking credit for the sophisticated distributed denial-of-service strikes say that's all wrong; they claim they hit the financial institutions because they were pissed off about "The Innocence of Muslims," the infamous viral video making fun of the Prophet Muhammad. Tehran didn't have a thing to do with it.
See the full article (Wired, Noah Shachtman, 11/27/12)
[Return to top]

CyberCity Allows Government Hackers to Train for Attacks
CyberCity has all the makings of a regular town. There's a bank, a hospital and a power plant. A train station operates near a water tower. The coffee shop offers free WiFi. But only certain people can get in: government hackers preparing for battles in cyberspace. Think of it as something like the mock desert towns that were constructed at military facilities to help American soldiers train for the war in Iraq.
See the full article (Washington Post, Robert O'Harrow Jr., 11/26/12)
[Return to top]

As Cyberwarfare Heats Up, Allies Turn to U.S. Companies for Expertise
In the spring of 2010, a sheik in the government of Qatar began talks with the U.S. consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton about developing a plan to build a cyber-operations center. He feared Iran's growing ability to attack its regional foes in cyberspace and wanted Qatar to have the means to respond. Several months later, officials from Booz Allen and partner firms met at the company's sprawling Tysons Corner campus to review the proposed plan.
See the full article (Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, 11/22/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "The Business Case for Sustained Peace" on December 7 at 10:00am.
[Return to top]

Cyber Attacks From Iran and Gaza on Israel More Threatening Than Anonymous's Efforts
In July, security researchers at Kaspersky Lab and Seculert, two computer security firms, discovered that a strain of malware had infected Israeli companies. Many of those companies handle critical infrastructure, like the country's energy and water supplies, computer and telecom networks. The malware, which the researchers named "Mahdi" after a command in its code, appears to have originated in Iran.
See the full article (New York Times, Nicole Perlroth, 11/20/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
[Return to top]

Cybersecurity Guru Calls for More Online Regulation
According to cybersecurity guru Eugene Kaspersky, the Internet needs more regulation. And it needs more and better regulation especially on the use of government-sponsored cyberweapons like Stuxnet and Flame. According to Kaspersky, governments have gotten better at understanding and fighting cybercrime, but cyberweapons are still something they don't get. And that's dangerous because, as he said, "we depend on IT systems."
See the full article (Mashable, Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, 11/20/12)
[Return to top]

Israel Wages Cyber War with Hamas as Civilians Take Up Computers
Knowledge of computer code is proving to be as important to Israel's conflict with Hamas as the Iron Dome system intercepting rockets from the Gaza Strip. In a government building in Jerusalem, technicians in civilian clothes sit in front of a bank of screens, trying to deflect millions of attempted attacks on Israel's government websites. A map on the wall shows sites where virtual attacks are being carried out around the world, updating every few seconds.
See the full article (Bloomberg, Gwen Ackerman and Saud Abu Ramadan, 11/19/12)
[Return to top]

Highest-Tech War
The U.S. Army is shipping some high-tech stuff off to Afghanistan, apparently for the war effort, even as troops have begun coming home. Battleland buddies say it has something to do with detective work - it's being delivered to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Lab. Battlefield forensics [is] a term that's increasingly common, and it refers to detective work used to try to trace explosives used in IEDs to their source - to "fingerprint" them, in other words.
See the full article (TIME, Mark Thompson, 11/19/12)
Click to read about Tech@State's upcoming workshop "Open Data for Afghan Elections" with USIP's Michael Dwyer on November 30 at 1:30pm.
[Return to top]

Anonymous Hackers Ramp Up Israeli Web Attacks and Data Breaches as Gaza Conflict Rages
It was a busy weekend for Palestinian Hamas militants, the Israeli Defense Forces, and the growing army of hackers who seem determined to answer every Israeli barrage of the Gaza strip with a digital broadside of their own. As the shelling of Gaza in exchange for rockets fired into Israel reached its sixth day Monday, hackers from the collective Anonymous released a new "Phase II" list of more than three hundred Israeli government websites they intended to knock offline.
See the full article (Forbes, Andy Greenberg, 11/19/12)
[Return to top]

Panetta's Wrong About a Cyber 'Pearl Harbor'
How are good cyber security legislation and regulations to be enacted and pursued in the absence of such galvanizing imagery? Clearly, the Obama administration thinks that trotting out the Pearl Harbor metaphor is essential, and so a range of officials, right up to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, have been using it recently. But there is a fundamental problem: There is no "Battleship Row" in cyberspace.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, John Arquilla, 11/19/12)
[Return to top]

Battle Ready?
With its deafening explosions, searing fires, dismembered corpses and stench of death, war pushes everyone it touches to the brink. Most recover naturally. Some, though, suffer psychological injuries that do not heal. With this in mind, a team of engineers, computer scientists and psychologists led by Skip Rizzo at the University of Southern California propose a form of psychological vaccination.
See the full article (Economist, 11/17/12)
[Return to top]

Predicting the Future Is Easier Than It Looks
Nate Silver was just the beginning. Some of the same statistical techniques used by America's forecaster-in-chief are about to revolutionize world politics. When it comes to the world, we have a lot of data on things that are important and usefully predictive, such as event data on conflicts and collaborations among different political groups within countries. Our point is that collecting data in new and exciting ways has changed the nature of political forecasting.
See the full article (Wired, Michael D. Ward, Nils Metternich, 11/16/12)
[Return to top]

Click here to subscribe to USIP's Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding News Roundup,
which includes a special section on Internet and social media.

Did we miss anything?



Share this: FacebookDeliciousDiggMySpaceStumbleUponGoogleMicrosoftYahoo! BookmarksLinkedIn| Forward this to a Friend