USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation for Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, February 10 - 16, 2011

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.**

Video Games Aren't a Waste of Time!
The U.S. Army's mental health assessment team looked at 1,000 veterans and found that one of the best coping mechanisms for battle stress was to play three or four hours of video games a night. A study by a researcher at Grant University in Canada showed that gamers had the fewest nightmares, leading McGonigal to say that games protect us from real harm.
See the full article (Venture Beat, Dean Takahashi, 2/16/11)
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Stuxnet Rattled Iran but Atom Work Goes On: Report
The Stuxnet computer worm caused relatively limited damage to Iran's nuclear program and failed to stop the Islamic republic stockpiling enriched uranium, a U.S.-based think-tank said in a report. Stuxnet is believed to have knocked out in late 2009 or early 2010 about 1,000 centrifuges -- machines used to refine uranium -- out of the 9,000 used at Iran's Natanz enrichment plant.
See the full article (Reuters, Fredrik Dahl, 2/16/11)
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Pentagon Deputy: What if al-Qaeda Got Stuxnet?
Points for imagination here: at the RSA information-security conference in San Francisco, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn worried aloud about a terrorist group getting a hold of a malware tool like Stuxnet. Sure, al-Qaeda hasn't launched any cyberattacks so far. "But it is possible for a terrorist group to develop cyberattack tools on their own or to buy them on the black market," Lynn, the Pentagon's point man on cybersecurity, warned.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 2/15/11)
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Egypt Leaders Found 'Off' Switch for Internet
Epitaphs for the Mubarak government all note that the mobilizing power of the Internet was one of the Egyptian opposition's most potent weapons. But quickly lost in the swirl of revolution was the government's ferocious counterattack, a dark achievement that many had thought impossible in the age of global connectedness.
See the full article (New York Times, James Glanz and John Markoff, 2/15/11) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article.
Click to read "Egypt's Protests Underscore Importance of Early Warning," by USIP's Lawrence Woocher.
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Too Much Hysteria over Cyber Attacks: US Experts
Overblown talk of full-on cyber war between nations fueled by recent attacks like the computer worm Stuxnet could hamper Internet security efforts, officials and experts warned Tuesday. Serious attention should be paid to threats of cyber attacks from hackers, spies and terrorist groups but not to the extent of mass hysteria, speakers at the premier RSA computer security conference in San Francisco said.
See the full article (AFP, Glenn Chapman, 2/15/11)
Click here to read more about USIP's Communication for Peacebuilding (CfP) priority grant program and to download the call for proposals.
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Stuxnet Struck Five Targets in Iran, Say Researchers
Researchers at Symantec today said that the notorious Stuxnet worm targeted five separate organizations, and that attacks against those objectives -- all with a presence in Iran -- started in June 2009, more than a year before independent experts raised the alarm.
See the full article (Computer World, 2/11/11)
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Researcher Makes Free Phone and Text Encryption Available to Egypt
Free phone and text-message encryption software that has until now been available mostly to U.S. users can now be used in Egypt, according to the security researcher who developed it. The researcher, who goes by the name Moxie Marlinspike, released the software last year for use in the United States through his company Whisper Systems, and has been working on making it available for international users.
See the full article (Wired, Kim Zetter, 2/10/11)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Blogs & Bullets: Social Media and the Struggle for Political Change."
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Pentagon: Drones Can Stop the Next Darfur
[A] new initiative aims to retask the military's massive fleet of overhead-surveillance gear - drones, blimps, spy planes, satellites - to place watchful eyes on the perpetrators of mass atrocities. And that's just the beginning. Jammers might stop the radio transmissions of aspiring genocidaires. Text and social media could alert the American forces about civilians at risk of being slaughtered.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 2/10/11)
How did Darfur happen in the first place? Click here to peruse the Darfur media collection on
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Click here to subscribe to USIP's Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding News Roundup,
which includes a special section on Internet and social media.

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