martes, 15 de noviembre de 2016

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Today's Insight

Insurgent Use of Unmanned Aerial Systems: A Cat-and-Mouse Game | Levi Maxey, The Cipher Brief
Last month, Kurdish forces in northern Iraq shot down an Islamic State drone booby-trapped with explosives that later killed two Peshmerga soldiers as they inspected it. The drone was not like the Reaper or Predator drones the U.S. uses to rain Hellfire missiles down in its global war on terror but was instead a small hobby drone, like the many available for purchase online.

Expert Commentary

UAVs As Mobile IEDs |
 Robert J. Bunker, Adjunct Research Professor, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College
The Islamic State (IS) and some of the other Jihadi groups provide great case studies of how insurgent groups has utilized UAS over the last few years. These systems were originally used in the May-August 2014 by IS for reconnaissance and mission planning as well as propaganda/information operations purposes with Jihadi video production.

Non-Kinetic Solutions to UAS | 
Michael Balazs and Jonathan Rotner, MITRE Corporation
"Each [counter-UAS technology] has its pros and cons. There is no one modality that is going to be able to stop all the different kinds of threats. Instead you have to start layering different defenses. There is also no environment that you are defending that is perfectly representational of all other environments."

Today's Column: Fine Print

The Test Facing Congress and the Incoming Trump Administration | Walter Pincus, The Cipher Brief
"When it comes to dealing with the Pentagon budget, the Iran nuclear deal, fighting Islamic terrorists, cyber warfare, China, NATO, and Russia, I’d put more faith in congressional leadership than the incoming President and those immediately around him."


The Cipher Brief Daily Podcast
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15 Minutes
15 Minutes is a weekly interview podcast with the biggest names in the global security space.

This week, The Cipher Brief’s CEO and Publisher Suzanne Kelly speaks to Dr. Jason Matheny, Director of IARPA -- the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity. Dr. Matheny discusses his agency's wide array of research to assist the intelligence community, including how to accurately forecast the future. Listen now

Don't Miss On The Cipher Brief

Israeli Optimism About a Trump Presidency |
Ambassador Michael Oren, Member, Israeli Knesset
"What has been indicated to us is that the Trump administration will have a different position both on the peace process and on the Iranian nuclear deal. This is something we’re going to have to explore with him. In theory, our position in the government is that we favor the two-state solution for the two peoples and believe the settlement issue will be resolved within direct talks."

Hacking the Vote: Lacking Attacks - Threats Remain |
Robert Katz, Founder and Executive Director, Innovation Intelligence Institute
While many citizens worried foreign interests were seeking to influence the election, the first cases of substantiated hacking attempts solely involved registration systems, which are separate from vote casting or counting. Those breaches posed no direct risk to election results.

Dead Drop: November 11 |
MEOW MIX: Apparently, when you have a book out, you must go to great lengths to promote it. Case in point: Douglas Laux, whose book “Left of Boom: How a Young CIA Case Officer Penetrated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda,” was published in April. Laux is featured in Catster magazine in an article called, “So You’re a Spy and You Have a Cat: How Does That Work?”

That, admittedly, is a question we have never pondered. We DID learn something from the article, however. Laux says he named his Russian Blue cat “Mr. Oleg Penkovsky” after the Soviet colonel who spied on behalf of the CIA in the 1960s. Being a good spy, the cat generally goes by a pseudonym, “Bubbins.” No doubt this helps preserve his cover.

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The Cipher Take

U.S. Temporarily Closes Embassy in Kabul
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul announced it would shut down "as a temporary precautionary measure" one day after a suicide bombing at Bagram Airfield, a key U.S. military base in Afghanistan.  The bombing killed four Americans, including two soldiers and two contractors, and left another 16 U.S. service members injured. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast, saying it was revenge for U.S. airstrikes in the region.

The Cipher Take:
The German Consulate in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif was targeted just days earlier, as insurgents killed six people and left more than 100 injured. The attack also comes little more than a week after a firefight between Afghan and Taliban forces in northern Kunduz province resulted in the deaths of two U.S. Special Forces troops and more than 30 Afghans, including three members of the Afghan Special Forces. Taliban orchestrated violence continues to plague Afghanistan and the deteriorating security situation is cause for grave concern for American policymakers.

Turkish-Backed Syrian Rebels Target City of al Bab
On Monday Turkish-backed Syrian rebels under the Euphrates Shield coalition announced that they were poised to take the city of al Bab from ISIS militants. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, residents report that Turkish and Free Syrian Army shelling has already begun in areas surrounding the city and, on Sunday, Turkish warplanes struck 15 targets in the area. The city of al Bab and its surroundings are strategically located between Aleppo to the south, the Kurdish region of Afrin to the west, Euphrates Shield-controlled territory to the north, the Kurdish region of Kobane to northeast, and ISIS-controlled Raqqa to the east.

The Cipher Take:
The move to al Bab is likely an effort to prevent Syrian Kurds from reuniting the regions of Kobane and Afrin. Ankara views the most powerful Syrian Kurdish group – the PYD – as a direct threat to Turkish stability due to its close relationship with the Turkey-based PKK.  By all accounts, Turkey’s intervention in Syria is largely an effort to curb the spread of this group, and to prevent it from establishing a presence along the Turkish border. As the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are primarily made up of PYD forces, prepare to liberate Raqqa from ISIS, any move by Turkey to take al Bab has the potential to distract from this operation, especially given Turkish pronouncements that they intend to take the Kurdish-controlled city of Manbij shortly after. At the same time, from the Syrian government perspective, al Bab is dangerously close to northern Aleppo, and government forces are unlikely to welcome the presence of Turkish-backed forces there.

EU Foreign Ministers Say Turkey Accession Talks Will Continue
At a meeting of 28 EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, representatives criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s policies but voted to continue accession talks with the country. Following an attempted military coup in July this year, the Turkish government has cracked down on over 110,000 supposed dissidents. Those detained and arrested have included teachers, lawyers, clerics, police officers, and members of the military. This crackdown, as well as a possible resumption of the death penalty in Turkey, had prompted some EU leaders to call for a suspension of the EU accession talks with Turkey.

The Cipher Take:
The European Union is in a tough spot when it comes to Turkey. In the aftermath of the attempted coup, the Turkish president has clearly become far less liberal. However, the migration deal reached between Turkey and the EU this year has successfully staunched the flow of refugees from Syria into Europe through Greece. Immigration has become one of the most important political issues in Europe, and Turkey’s role as the gatekeeper of Syrian refugees has given Ankara new leverage over the EU. The possibility of EU accession is also one of Europe’s few remaining points of leverage over Turkey, and any attempt to abandon it would likely drive the country out of the European orbit entirely.

President-elect Trump and Xi Hold First Phone Call
On Sunday evening, President-elect Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping held their first phone call in what both sides are calling a cordial and productive first conversation. Trump expressed that the Sino-U.S. relationship would be “one of the strongest” while Xi said that “facts have shown that cooperation is the only correct choice.” Additionally, the two leaders have agreed to meet at an early date.

The Cipher Take:
On the campaign trail, Trump had some rather harsh things to say about China. He dredged up the phrase currency manipulator (something most economists now agree no longer applies to Chinese monetary policy) and proclaimed that he would put a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports to America.  Trump has previously said that the Chinese invented climate change to hurt American businesses. So, it is certainly good news that Trump and Xi got off to a good start and intend to continue communication in the future. How the two nations decide to cooperate in the coming years will have important ramifications for the global economy and international security.

Militant Violence Escalates in Myanmar
Myanmar state media announced on Monday that the military had killed 30 fighters from a Rohingya militant group in what is being called the largest escalation in violence since hostilities broke out a month ago. The attack on the militants was launched after nine police officers were killed across three outposts in the restive Rakhine region. In addition to attacks by police, satellite images show that 430 Rohingya homes have been burned by state security forces, according to Human Rights Watch. The government maintains that the houses were set alight by militants.

The Cipher Take:
Approximately 1.1 million Rohingya live in Myanmar, though they are not recognized as citizens and are denied many basic rights. Violence between Rohingya militants and the government has been ongoing for decades, though this most recent outbreak has been the worst since 2012 when hundreds were killed in sectarian violence between the Muslim Rohingya and multiple Buddhist ethnic groups. As the violence continues, the possibility of a swift peaceful settlement grows more remote.

Nigerian Army Clashes with Militants
Clashes between Nigeria’s largest Shia group, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and police broke out during an annual religious procession just outside the city of Kano in northern Nigeria, leaving at least nine dead and many more injured. The outbreak was the latest in a series of incidents between the IMN and police in northern Nigeria.

The Cipher Take:
According to a judicial report released in August, 347 IMN members were killed and buried in mass graves after clashes with the Nigerian army in December 2015. Last month, two IMN members were killed during religious processions in northern Nigeria. Some analysts have drawn parallels between the IMN and the rise of Boko Haram, whose insurgency began in 2009 after security forces killed hundreds of its members.

Friend Finder Networks Breached, Again
Over 412 million accounts from adult services website Friend Finder Networks have been leaked online, exposing the email addresses, passwords, dates of last visits, browser information, IP addresses, and site membership statuses for all sites run by Friend Finder Networks. Among the leaked details were 78,301 U.S. military email addresses, 5,650 U.S. government email addresses, and 96 million Hotmail accounts. It appears that even though some of the passwords were cryptographically hashed using SHA-1, the protection was easily cracked.

The Cipher Take:
Only the Yahoo breach of 500 million accounts is larger than this hack. The breach is the network’s second; they were hacked in May 2015, leaking the personal details of almost four million users including their login credentials, emails, and even more personal information. Due to the nature of the services as well as the government accounts, those with leaked accounts could not only experience personal embarrassment, but they may also be prime targets for blackmail and phishing attacks in the future.

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