USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, September 27 - October 3, 2012

Table of Contents

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US: Immigrant Stole Military Technology for Russia
An American success story of an immigrant from Kazakhstan who made millions off his Texas export firm took a Cold War-era turn on Wednesday when U.S. authorities accused him of being a secret agent who's been stealing military technology for the Russian military. U.S. authorities say the microelectronics could have a wide range of military uses, including radar and surveillance systems, weapons guidance systems and detonation triggers.
See the full article (Business Week, Tom Hays, 10/3/12)
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Philippine Cybercrime Law Takes Effect Amid Protests
A controversial law targeting cybercrime in the Philippines has come into effect, fuelling protests by citizens and media groups fearing censorship. Under the new act, a person found guilty of libellous comments online could be fined or jailed. Government officials will also have new powers to search and seize data from people's online accounts. Anonymous activists have hacked into government websites, journalists have held rallies and many Facebook users have replaced their profile picture with a blank screen.
See the full article (BBC, 10/3/12)
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What If Space Was the Next Frontier for War?
We may not be about to see a real life Death Star hovering into view, but we will see earth wars elevated into space. It is almost inevitable that if a major conflict arises between developed powers, satellites will become targets. This was not the case ten years ago, but since then satellites have increasingly been integrated into a nation's ability to project power and pursue a war.
See the full article (TIME, 10/3/12)
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Cyber Attackers Disrupt Internet in Iran: Official
Cyber attackers have targeted Iranian infrastructure and communications companies, disrupting the Internet across the country, a state official was quoted as saying on Wednesday. Iran has tightened cyber security since its uranium enrichment centrifuges were hit in 2010 by the Stuxnet computer worm, which Tehran believes was planted by arch-adversaries Israel or the United States.
See the full article (Reuters, 10/3/12)
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Don't Close Foreign Embassies, Open Digital Ones
Virtual embassies could offer online training on Internet security so that democracy advocates can become more tech savvy. Such an embassy could provide links to the surveillance circumvention tools being built. It could host a two-way social media dialogue with non-combatant activists in Syria and Iran. Working digitally would not necessarily undermine the use of the other tools in the diplomatic toolkit.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Philip N. Howard, 10/2/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Bringing Peace Through Facilitated Dialogue: A Book Launch" on October 17 at 10:00am.
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Google Warns of New State-Sponsored Cyberattack Targets
In June, many Google users were surprised to see an unusual greeting at the top of their Gmail inbox, Google home page or Chrome browser. "Warning: We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer." Mike Wiacek, a manager on Google's information security team, noted that Google had seen an increase in state-sponsored activity coming from the Middle East.
See the full article (New York Times, Nicole Perlroth, 10/2/12)
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Forget Revolution
Government officials sometimes describe a kind of Hieronymus Bosch landscape when warning of the possibility of a cyber attack on the electric grid. Imagine, if you will, that the United States is blindsided by an epic hack that interrupts power for more than a week. Chaos reigns! Here's another nightmare scenario: An electric grid that serves two-thirds of a billion people suddenly fails in a developing, nuclear-armed country with a rich history of ethnic and religious conflict.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Douglas Birch, 10/1/12)
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The Human Cost of Drones
When the mainstream media decides to cover the Obama administration's drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas and surrounding Muslim countries, they tend to neglect the human cost of drones. The word "militant" is frequently sprinkled into headlines, but missing always, are the names of those killed. Many, including Pakistan's foreign minister, say drones are the main reason for a rise in anti-American sentiment across much of the Muslim world.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, 10/1/12)
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Ten Clean Energy Technologies the U.S. Military Needs to Win the Next Naval War
The future seems bleak for sea pirates, terrorists, tyrants and any other brigand or bully in the bad guy business. Courtesy of Uncle Sam's Canoe Club, the good guys are about to get faster, stronger and more agile. And yes, clean energy is the secret sauce. The U.S. Navy's focus on reducing dependency on fossil fuels is part of a broader plan for developing and deploying next-generation naval warfare capabilities that represent the dawn of a new era for naval engineering.
See the full article (Forbes, William Pentland, 9/30/12)
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U.S. and Russian Experts Turn Up Volume on Cybersecurity Alarms
Uncontrolled security threats on the Internet could return much of the planet to an era without electricity or automated transportation, top U.S. and Russian experts said on Thursday. The back-to-back presentations at a Washington conference painted the starkest picture to date about the severity of the cybersecurity problem. The past two years have seen an escalation of such warnings, especially about what U.S. officials have termed an unprecedented theft of trade secrets.
See the full article (Reuters, Joseph Menn, 9/27/12)
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