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Battle Space is Cyber

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Writer: Dr Rupali Jeswal and Damien Martin
The Internet abridges natural gaps, bringing intelligence, information and reasoning and this ability is what permits humans to process information and formulate explanations and further assists us to ascribe meanings to observed phenomena. But what happens when the phenomenon being observed has been manipulated, indoctrinated and is of an insidious nature? Internet World Statistics show as of June 30th 2012 that India has 137,000,000 Internet users, an 11.4 per cent penetration per IAMIA (Internet and Mobile Association of India) and 62,713,680 Facebook subscribers as of December 31st 2012, a 5.2 per cent penetration rate. The pipe bombs allegedly thrown from a car by Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev resembled the design described in “How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom,” an article in the first issue of the AQAP English-language magazine, Inspire.


The Internet turned 20 this year, this technology has reshaped and reorganised the way humans think, connect and communicate. It manipulates the environment to meet human needs. The rapid evolution of the Internet has made it an indispensible tool nestling itself deep, in the core of our daily lives. It has made societies solvent and given communication a permeable path. With increased communication comes the exchange of ideas, acculturation, advancement and development be it towards a positive or negative direction. It is a place to congregate without borders!

The landscape of modern combat is also being reshaped by Cyberspace. Destruction now can bypass the military force and attack via “cyber-brute-force” suppressing a country’s military control systems, navigation, communication system, shutting down or paralysing critical infrastructure and affecting the country’s economy, cyber-weapons linking nuclear weapons

Internet World Statistics show as of June 30th 2012 that India has 137,000,000 Internet users, an 11.4 per cent penetration per IAMIA (Internet and Mobile Association of Indian), and 62,713,680 Facebook subscribers as of December 31st 2012, a 5.2 per cent penetration rate(http://www.internetworldstats.com/top20.htm)

In the list of online infection risk India ranks 9th and in personal computer across the globe, India ranks 7th (https://www.securelist.com/en/analysis/204792255/Kaspersky_Security_Bulletin_2012_The_overall_statistics_for_2012#8)

The web can promote and support acts of terrorism by means of propaganda, promotion, instructional dissemination and execution, financing, training, recruiting and can also facilitate specific attacks. The Internet can be a dangerous and diverse tool at the hands of madmen. Combating the dark forces of Terrorism is a complex obstacle that brings a
deluge of challenges.

CERN, The European Organisation for Nuclear Research published a statement in April 1993 that made the World Wide Web technology available on a royalty-free basis. (cds.cern.ch/record/1164399)

“There is no sector of society that has not been transformed by the invention, in a physics laboratory, of the Web,” Rolf Heuer, CERN director-general, said in a statement. “From research to business and education, the Web has been reshaping the way we communicate, work, innovate and live. The Web is a powerful example of the way that basic research benefits humankind.” (http://news.msn.com/science-technology/cern-to-recreate-world’s-first-web-page-as-web-turns-20-years-old)

Cyber espionage is a preferred weapon of foreign entities bent on disruption and outright theft.

A recent survey by McAfee named India next to Brazil, Romania and Mexico the least able to defend against cyber attacks.
In a July 2012 article for DSA titled “Insurgency and collective consciousness “ I wrote on “on ground coherence and collective consciousness” where I state – “… a disturbance in the human behaviour is seen, when this behaviour receives collective affective resonance, a collective consciousness is formed and the motivation to take action develops. Increasing evolution brings increasing complexities in human mechanism, which is correlated with increasing interior consciousness and gross external factors.

Affective resonance is considered to be the original basis for all human communication. This resonance forms collective consciousness which signifies “Joint or mutual knowledge,” “Internal knowledge or conviction. Thus an autonomous individual comes to identify with a larger group / structure and as such, patterns of commonality amongst individuals bring legible unity to those structures. In simple terms when a common theme binds a group, collective consciousness is experienced and this can be seen in any groups of like-minded people.

The four dimensions of cohesion

 

  • Commitment
  • Communication
  • Cooperation
  • Command

(Homeland security / HOLISTIC ANALYSIS Insurgencies and Collective Consciousness).

The Internet creates an arena of virtual marketplace and this poses an international threat, e-jihadist supply and meets the demands with a focus on violent Jihad. The experienced meet the sympathisers, the aspirants and the wannabes. Ideologist, explosive experts, handlers and actioners – all have the space and speed to connect, communicate and disseminate

Now the same can be applied for cyberspace, a theatre for “online collectivism” aptly termed by computer scientist and digital visionary Jaron Lanier in his essay “Digital Maoism”. A philosophy of collective consciousness fuelled by this massive amount of information is reshaping the future of humanism.

A recent survey by McAfee named India next to Brazil, Romania and Mexico the least able to defend against cyber attacks

We will see the growth of cyber espionage and targets are not limited to infrastructure systems within a country but may be any or all organisations, large or small, that hold data which is potentially valuable to cybercriminals and can be used as
stepping-stones to reach other companies.

“Premeditated minds like parachutes, work best when open.”

The Internet abridges natural gaps, bringing intelligence, information and reasoning and this ability is what permits humans to process information and formulate explanations and further assists us to ascribe meanings to observed phenomena. But what happens when the phenomenon being observed has been manipulated, indoctrinated and is of an insidious nature?

Onwards with cyber espionage, hackers and crackers, intruders, e-Jihad, cybercrime, economic warfare, with development of telecommunications, electronics and computer software’s managing infrastructure and social systems – evolution of society to being in jeopardy by potential malicious software. The world is running on microchips, where a surge of an EMP can disrupt and shut down a country, collapsing all systems ripping the workings of modern society.

The Internet creates an arena of virtual marketplace and this poses an international threat, e-jihadist supply and meets the demands with a focus on violent Jihad. The experienced meet the sympathisers, the aspirants and the wannabes. Ideologist, explosive experts, handlers and actioners – all have the space and speed to connect, communicate and disseminate. As global counterterrorism efforts have led to greater cyber security awareness it has also led to the jihadist’s efforts in promoting safe online behaviour and increased use of ciphertext guarding the content of their communication in cyberspace.

The major concern when dealing with Cyber threats is ubiquity and anonymity. What other international medium is highly accessible, far-reaching, ridiculously inexpensive, whereby information is transferred at the speed of light, the attacker invisible and untraceable? Unlike a missile trajectory, IP (Internet Protocol) pathways can be masked and the locations appear opaque. Implicating a source and assigning blame to the attack progenitor is extremely difficult

The case of the Boston bombing: The unclassified report from the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center found that the pipe bombs allegedly thrown from a car by Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev resembled the design described in “How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom,” an article in the first issue of the AQAP English-language magazine, Inspire. At least one of the Watertown bombs used an elbow pipe wrapped in black tape, as discussed in Inspire.

http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/26/17932143-exclusive-government-doc-shows-how-closely-boston-marathon-bombers-followed-Al-Qaeda-plans?
http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/04/26/Report-Suspected-Bombers-Followed-Al-Qaeda-Bomb-Designs
http://photoblog.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/17/17793425-anatomy-of-a-bombing-photos-show-battery-wires-used-in-device?lite

Details have emerged that the surviving Boston bomber told investigators he and his brother learned how to build explosives by reading the online publication.

In the Lone Mujahid Pocketbook there are clear instructions on pressure cooker bombs and use of spherical bb shrapnels. Internet’s capabilities dictate the rules of engagement in cyberspace to initiate on-ground battles and at the same time create a fertile ground for new, aspiring jihadist.

The landscape of modern combat is also being reshaped by Cyberspace. Destruction now can bypass the military force and attack via “cyber-brute-force” suppressing a country’s military control systems, navigation, communication system, shutting down or paralysing critical infrastructure and affecting the country’s economy, cyber-weapons linking nuclear weapons.

“The cyber domain in some ways is like the air domain, in being a realm that had no relevance for military planning until all of a sudden a new technology offered access to it.” (Statement of General Keith B Alexander, Commander, United States  Cyber Command, House of Committee on armed services, 23rd September 2010).

To understand the hostile capabilities of cyber-initiated wars is like reading a paper before a lamp.With all cyber attacks it is necessary we understand the ingredients needed, they are; Actors, Instruments and Victims. This recipe for electronic disaster impacts all nations alike. The major concern when dealing with Cyber threats is ubiquity and anonymity. What other international medium is highly accessible, far-reaching, ridiculously inexpensive, whereby information is transferred at the speed of light, the attacker invisible and untraceable? Unlike a missile trajectory, IP (Internet Protocol) pathways can be masked and the locations appear opaque. Implicating a source and assigning blame to the attack progenitor is extremely difficult. Conversely, fundamental design flaws in web infrastructure allow a far-reaching cumulative effect created from basic tasks and instigated by hackers. Cyber threats give the sweet taste of freedom and information availability an acerbic coating.

The web can promote and support acts of terrorism by means of propaganda, promotion, instructional dissemination and execution, financing, training, recruiting and can also facilitate specific attacks. The Internet can be a dangerous and diverse tool at the hands of madmen. Combating the dark forces of Terrorism is a complex obstacle that brings a deluge of challenges.

Defining how we deal with Cyber threats and attacks internationally is crucial to peace and security. If Cyber weapons are treated with indifference in comparison to other weapons then it can open the doors to multifaceted retaliation if a nation is provoked. If China initiates an offensive cyber attack on the US would a missile strike in defence be in the scope of theatre? Is there a playbook that specifies a coaction?

{If // a cyber attack by Entity A to Entity B is received Then // Entity B will attack with cyber retaliation Else // Entity B will attack via ballistic means. }

Does a US power grid deleteriously taken offline, warrant a similar attack in response, or is it excessive to retaliate with ballistic force? The Tallinn manual answers these questions and is at the forefront of International Law in regards to
Cyber security.

We saw with the 9/11 attacks that the US military was not directly attacked nor were prefabricated explosive devices used. Instead public service vehicles (aircraft) were commissioned to ambush public service buildings like the New York World Trade Center Twin Towers. Planes carrying innocent passengers deliberately redirected off course to create one of the worst terrorist attacks in history. Although the Pentagon was targeted, it was only part of the overall scheme. Military installations were not part of that plan. This method of fear campaigning just like Cyber Terrorism changes the consciousness of war. It is almost like reverse-asymmetric warfare and utilises one of the Thirty-Six Stratagems from the Book of Qi – “Kill with a borrowed Knife”. Utilising the enemy`s equipment to attack the enemy on their territory. Minimum cost to implement, maximum psychological impact reinforcing that pernicious virus – Terrorism.

Is the Internet a “necessary evil”?

Furthermore the capillary action in this process is not unlike the demand for information that forges our lives. Just as plants regulate the rate of transpiration by the degree of stomatal openings, so must governments contemplate how best to regulate the flow of information for the safety of its citizens Understanding probability and possibility of a cyber onslaught is part of the risk assessment process. What is the likelihood and what are the consequences of a major city infrastructure cyber incursion? Calculating the possibilities and probabilities at any given moment can be time consuming and costly for both sides. Collating data on natural disasters could be one approach in ascertaining the fallout. That fallout would be the socio-economic impact of natural disasters and would lay the footings for an attack test bed. Observing the combined impact of the 2011 Japan disasters (Earthquake, North Eastern Tsunami and the Fukushima Nuclear Plant explosions) is one possible way to simulate the consequence of an attack. This information, OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) is easily obtainable online. The amount of public data available on Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima is more than sufficient for any malicious group to plan an operation.

If we use critical thinking to observe the possibilities and probabilities of how Maoists for example could jeopardise security via cyber initiatives, then an offensive strategy can be put in place proactively. Naxals as we have seen, are not just rural groups preying on villages. They are more than likely using the full extent of the Internet to harness the will of others, influencing, incorporating and building support.

The World Wide Web is reminiscent of a transpiration lecture in a biology class at school. The transpiration process is the transfer of water from plants, to the atmosphere. Transpiration is needed for a plant to survive but can also kill it and is commonly known as a “necessary evil”. Is the Internet a “necessary evil”?

Furthermore the capillary action in this process is not unlike the demand for information that forges our lives. Just as plants regulate the rate of transpiration by the degree of stomatal openings, so must governments contemplate how best to regulate the flow of information for the safety of its citizens. First and foremost terrorist concerns should be addressed before commercial and intellectual property rights. Every year in the United States several bills attempt to pass such as SOPA, PIPA, CISPA et al. Do any of these attempts of regulation address access to terrorist methodologies? How is it that content of a terrorist nature appears and is readily downloadable by any user? Current media web sharing propagates the advocacy of terrorism. The proliferation of young supporters to extremist views is increasing, influential minds absorbing via modern effective media streams.

Enforcing the right policies to amalgamate security of governments and law-abiding citizens is critical. The safety of individuals outweighs commercial piracy. Sophism and intellectual rhetoric redirects focus on eliminating irrefutable threats like violence and terrorism. Instead, diluted versions of policies are implemented and lives are put at risk.

What is the evidence to support concern? As of 2009 the US established Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM). USCYBERCOM centralisescommand of cyberspace operations, organises existing cyber resources and synchronises defence of US military networks. It incorporates approximately 40 teams (13 offensive and 27 training and surveillance).In April 2012 The National Police Agency of Japan (NPA) launched a cyber offense wing in response to continuous attacks originating locally and abroad. With more and more countries developing cyber commands the international scene is slowly picking up the slack and turning the defensive to the offensive. India, much like the rest of the world, lacks the technologically savvy legal professionals to implement cohesive policies. There is light at the end of the tunnel however with the introduction of the Tallinn Manual (released in March 2013). This manual provides a comprehensive start on International Law applicable to Cyber Warfare.

Upgrades – future of the Internet.

To date there has been more concern with securing data than securing the underlying infrastructure. Now that the Internet is no longer a teenager we should expect a more mature outlook overall. As the WWW continues to implement IPv6 and DNS encryption there still continues to be areas unchecked. These loopholes are vulnerabilities constantly exploited by terrorists. Although we can expect significant change to the way we use the Internet, that change may take some time to come into effect globally. Lets hope authorities can stay ahead of the cyber counterterrorist curve and protect the most important asset – The people.


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