USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, November 1 - 7, 2012

Table of Contents

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Drones: Here to Stay
Drones not only allow for the swift incineration of terrorist operatives, but they also make it more difficult for terror groups to meet and plan attacks. The program may have its faults, but it has also kept Pakistan safer by neutralizing the groups that seek nothing more than to break the government in Islamabad and harm activists for speaking out for a woman's right to education. For better or for worse, blemishes and all, drones are here to stay.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Thomas E. Ricks, 11/7/12)
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"Cyberdraft" Would Press-Gang Geeks Into Government Service
Could your company's IT department or dev team soon be drafted as digital soldiers in an ongoing cyberwar? There is talk of establishing an American "cyberdraft" in which entire companies could be drafted to defend government and private computer networks in time of war. Talk is theoretical right now, but it could be inching closer to reality. Cyberdrafts of various sorts already operate in Estonia, China, Russia, Iran, Syria, Israel, and elsewhere.
See the full article (Fast Company, Neal Ungerleider, 11/7/12)
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After Stuxnet: The New Rules of Cyberwar
Critical infrastructure providers face off against a rising tide of increasingly sophisticated and potentially destructive attacks emanating from hacktivists, spies and militarized malware. The government not only needs to pass legislation that provides the incentives and protections that critical infrastructure businesses need to share information on cyberthreats, but it also needs to push the law enforcement, military and intelligence communities to open up.
See the full article (Computerworld, Robert L. Mitchell, 11/5/12)
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'Internet in a Suitcase' Ready for Field Testing
When will rebels, dissidents, and activists be able to safely voice dissent and coordinate their activities online in the face of a government equipped with Western technology designed to snoop on all types of electronic communications? Maybe in as little as a year, according to Sascha Meinrath of the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, the man leading the effort to field the so-called Internet in a Suitcase.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, John Reed, 11/5/12)
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Russian Underground Offers Cybercrime Services at Dirt-Cheap Prices
Wanna buy a botnet? It will cost you somewhere in the region of $700. If you just want to hire someone else's botnet for an hour, though, it can cost as little as $2. These are the going rates in Russia's underground cybercrime market - a vibrant community of ne'er-do-wells offering every conceivable service at dirt-cheap prices - as profiled in security firm Trend Micro's report, Russian Underground 101, which provides insight into the workings of the hidden economy.
See the full article (Wired, Ian Steadman, 11/5/12)
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Could New Technology Cut Risk of Giving Syrian Rebels Anti-Aircraft Missiles?
Could sophisticated weapons, such as anti-aircraft missile systems, be outfitted with mechanisms that would disable them if they fell into the wrong hands? Military analyst Anthony Cordesman says it should be possible for the United States to reduce the risk posed by any such weapons if they were obtained by people hostile to the U.S. and friends. Installing GPS-disabling devices so that Stinger missiles only worked in a designated geographic area is another control mechanism that should be developed.
See the full article (PBS, Daniel Sagalyn, 11/4/12)
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Mexican Cartels Enslave Engineers to Build Radio Network
At least 36 engineers and technicians have been kidnapped in the past four years. Worse, none of the engineers have been held for ransom - they've just disappeared. Among them include at least one IBM employee and several communications technicians from a firm owned by Mexico's largest construction company. For at least six years, Mexico's cartels have relied in part on a sophisticated radio network to handle their communications.
See the full article (Wired, Robert Beckhusen, 11/1/12)
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