USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, September 13 - 19, 2012

Table of Contents

Iraq's First Hackerspace Will Run on 'Irrational Optimism'
After decades of tyranny, sanctions and war, Iraq has a better reputation for destroying things than building them. That's why an Iraqi-American who's trying to create the country's first hackerspace believes it'll take "irrational optimism" for Iraqis to remember they were among the planet's first maker cultures. It starts next month in Baghdad with a two-day pop-up hacker space, where entrepreneurs, builders and nerds can fabricate everything from a heart-rate monitor to a sense of national unity.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 9/18/12)
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U.S. Official Says Cyberattacks Can Trigger Self-defense Rule
Cyberattacks can amount to armed attacks triggering the right of self-defense and are subject to international laws of war, the State Department's top lawyer said Tuesday. Spelling out the U.S. government's position on the rules governing cyberwarfare, Harold Koh, the department's legal adviser, said a cyber-operation that results in death, injury or significant destruction would probably be seen as a use of force in violation of international law.
See the full article (Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, 9/18/12)
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Symantec, Kaspersky: U.S. May Have Developed 3 Computer Viruses In Addition To Stuxnet
Researchers have found evidence suggesting that the United States may have developed three previously unknown computer viruses for use in espionage operations or cyber warfare. The findings are likely to bolster a growing view that the U.S. government is using cyber technology more widely than previously believed to further its interests in the Middle East.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Jim Finkle, 9/17/12)
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Cybersecurity Should be More Active, Official Says
The federal government has taken a "failed approach" to cybersecurity, with efforts that focus on reducing vulnerabilities rather than actively deterring attackers, according to one of the FBI's top former cyber officials. Steven Chabinsky, a 17-year bureau veteran who stepped down this month as the FBI's top cyber lawyer, argued that the movement to set security standards for companies is useful only "in the margins."
See the full article (Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, 9/16/12)
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Dempsey, Zuckerburg and Cyber Security
Guess who's been busy visiting Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley luminaries recently? Gen. Martin Dempsey, that's who. Along with a handful of other Defense Department officials, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were in Silicon Valley in August picking the brains of leaders throughout the valley and discussing the need to quickly share information on cyber threats.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, John Reed, 9/14/12)
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U.S. Did Tech Deals With Egypt and Libya While Embassies Burned
American foreign policy in the Middle East may have been hijacked by demonstrations and violent attacks that have besieged diplomatic outposts in the region. But judging from government contracts and solicitations issued while embassies were overrun and consulates smoldered, the business of the United States in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen remains business. In Egypt and Libya, where this week's regional conflagration started, Washington is looking to get new technology projects underway.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 9/14/12)
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Searching for a Cure to Violence
While US investigators try to pinpoint exactly what happened at the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a small group of researchers will be watching closely. They are part of a growing scientific discipline that is trying to identify the neurological and biological mechanisms that lead people to commit such acts with the ultimate goal of finding ways to stop them happening at all.
See the full article (BBC, Sharon Weinberger, 9/13/12)
Click to read "Providing Space for Positive Youth Engagement," a USIP Peace Brief by Tim Luccaro.
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The Cyber Threats Keeping DoD Officials Awake Right Now
While state-sponsored attacks remain a big threat to large corporations and the U.S. government, the cyber tools available to average hackers are increasing in potency at an alarming rate. The proliferation of tools allowing anyone to easily detect where a device connects to the Internet, combined with growing ability of private hackers to discover previously unknown vulnerabilities inherent in computer systems, now poses a large threat.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, John Reed, 9/13/12)
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