USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, September 20 - 26, 2012

Table of Contents

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Kenya to Switch Off 'Fake' Mobile Phones
Kenya has confirmed that a switch-off of counterfeit mobile phones will take place at the end of the month. In addition, networks will be forbidden from activating new "fake" devices bought after 1 October. Government officials said the move was designed to protect consumers from hazardous materials and to safeguard mobile payment systems. They added it should also help them track users and limit violence ahead of March's general election.
See the full article (BBC, 9/26/12)
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Syrian Tanks Pummel Rebel City as Satellites Watch
Three successive overhead snapshots by orbiting civilian satellites provide the best, unclassified, big-picture view to date of the more than two-month-old battle for one of Syria's key cities. These details and more are visible in commercial satellite images dated Aug. 9 and 23. Researchers compared the August snapshots to each other and to an October 2011 Google Earth image in order to understand the scale and evolution of the fighting.
See the full article (Wired, David Axe, 9/25/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Groundtruth: New Media, Technology and the Syria Crisis" on October 2 at 8:45 am.
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Drones in Pakistan Traumatise Civilians, US Report Says
Civilians are being "terrorised" 24 hours a day by CIA drone attacks that target mainly low-level militants in north-west Pakistan, a US report says. Rescuers treating the casualties are also being killed and wounded by follow-up strikes, says the report by Stanford and New York Universities. Drone attacks are thought to have killed hundreds of militants in Yemen and Afghanistan as well as Pakistan.
See the full article (BBC, 9/25/12)
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Keeping Nukes Safe from Cyber Attack
In the wake of a 2010 incident in which the Air Force lost contact with 50 intercontinental ballistic missiles, the service is figuring out how to protect its command-and-control systems from a cyber attack -- a nonexistent threat when the missiles were designed decades ago. Both the missile silos' radio receivers, which are designed to launch the missiles in the event that land-based command centers have been destroyed, and the HICS cables are vulnerable.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, John Reed, 9/25/12)
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Iran Drone Technology and Anti-ship Missiles Unveiled by Military
Iranian military leaders gave details of a new long-range drone and test fired four anti-ship missiles Tuesday in a prelude to upcoming naval war games planned in an apparent response to U.S.-led warship drills in the Persian Gulf. The show of Iranian military readiness and its latest tool - a domestically made drone capable of reaching Israel and most of the Middle East - also came as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepared to address the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.
See the full article (AP, Ali Akbar Dareini and Nasser Karimi, 9/25/12)
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How Video Game Statistics Could Transform War
Much of the U.S. military's younger generation has grown up playing video games that constantly tell players how well they're doing on the virtual battlefield - whether it's the screen turning red to warn of low health or displays showing the world's top-scoring players based on reviving fallen friends and killing enemies with certain weapons. A U.S. Army weapons engineer thinks that, with the right technologies, such gaming-world awareness could become real for tomorrow's soldiers.
See the full article (TechNews Daily, Jeremy Hsu, 9/24/12)
Click to read "Providing Space for Positive Youth Engagement," a USIP Peace Brief by Tim Luccaro.
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Cyberwar on Iran More Widespread than First Thought, Say Researchers
The covert cyberwar being waged in the Middle East and north Africa - particularly against Iranian and its allies - is even more sophisticated and widespread than had previously been understood, according to new research. Two leading computer security laboratories - Kaspersky Lab and Symantec - have been studying a series of powerful cyberweapons used against targets including the Iranian nuclear programme and Lebanese banks accused of laundering money for Iran and its ally Hezbollah.
See the full article (Guardian, Peter Beaumont, 9/21/12)
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Iran Blamed for Cyberattacks on U.S. Banks and Companies
Iran recently has mounted a series of disruptive computer attacks against major U.S. banks and other companies in apparent retaliation for Western economic sanctions aimed at halting its nuclear program, according to U.S. intelligence and other officials. In particular, assaults this week on the Web sites of JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America probably were carried out by Iran, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman said Friday.
See the full article (Washington Post, 9/21/12)
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Air Force Video Compares Facebook, iPhone to Atom Bombs
As it passes over the space race, the technology becomes more complex. Stealth planes fly in, cyber conflict takes its place, bio-warfare too, the curve is reaching its apex and becoming vertical. Technology is now advancing as fast as possible, the tension is palpable, what human-life-destroying technology is next on the curve? Facebook. Next on the curve we have Chinese computer hackers. Then comes Twitter and YouTube, the iPhone and iPad.
See the full article (Wired, Benjamin Plackett, 9/21/12)
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