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Why Cyber War?

The Necessity of Cyber War as a better alternative to traditional warfare

 

By the time our generation is done with this living on this planet, we should have found a way to flip warfare into just another computer game.

 

  1. Cyber War does not kill people but does diminish both production as well offensive capabilities of enemy.
  2. It destroys lesser resources of the enemy irreversibly, thus leading to increased capacity to claim damages or taxes from the loser of the conflict
  3. It does not motivate general population for war hysteria thus minimizing inflationary pressures
  4. Cyber War does not divert too many goods and services (like commodities, metals, fuels) from your economy unlike traditional warfare
  5. Capacity to wage cyber war needs human resources  and can reduce asymmetry between nations in terms of resources available naturally or historically (like money , access to fuel and logistics, geography , educated population,colonial history  )
  6. It is more effective in both offensive and defensive capabilities and at a much much cheaper cost to defense budgets
  7. Most developed countries have already invested heavily in it, and it can render traditional weaponry ineffective and expensive. If you ignore investing in cyber war capabilities your defense forces would be compromised and national infrastructure can be held to ransom

 

Self-defence….is the only honourable course where there is unreadiness for self-immolation.- Gandhi.

Why the West needs China to start moving towards cyber conflict

Hypothesis-

Western countries are running out of people to fight their wars. This is even more acute given the traditional and current demographic trends in both armed forces and general populations.

A shift to cyber conflict can help the West maintain parity over Eastern methods of assymetrical warfare (by human attrition /cyber conflict).

Declining resources will lead to converging conflicts of interest and dynamics in balance of power in the 21 st century.

Assumed Facts-

The launch of Sputnik by USSR led to the moon shot rush by the US.1960s

The proposed announcement of StarWars by USA led to unsustainable defence expenditure by USSR.1980s

The threat of cyber conflict and espionage by China (and Russian cyber actions in war with Georgia) has led to increasing budgets for cyber conflict research and defense in USA. -2010s

Assumptions-

If we do not learn from history, we are condemned to repeat it.

Declining Populations in the West and Rising Populations in the East in the 21 st century. The difference in military age personnel would be even more severe, due to more rapid aging in the west.

Economic output will be proportional to number of people employed as economies reach similar stages of maturity (Factor-Manufacturing-Services-Innovation)

Data-

http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/unpp/panel_population.htm

http://www.census.gov/population/international/

GDP projections to 2050 graphicView larger picture

GDP projections to 2050:
Summary-
Western defence forces would not be able to afford a human attrition intensive war by 2030 given current demographic trends  (both growth and aging). Existing balance of power could be maintained if resources are either shared or warfare is moved to cyber space. Technological advances can help augment resources reducing case for conflict scenarios.
Will the Internet be used by US against China in the 21 st century as Opium was used by GB in the 19th? Time will tell :)

Understanding Indian Govt attitude to Iran and Iraq wars

This is a collection of links for a geo-strategic analysis, and the economics of wars and allies. The author neither condones nor condemns current global dynamics in the balance of power.

nations don’t have friends or enemies…nations only have interests

In 2003

The war in Iraq had a unique Indian angle right at the beginning. Some members of the US administration felt they needed more troops in Iraq, and they started negotiating with India. Those negotiations broke down because the Indians wanted to fight under the UN flag and on MONEY!!

India wanted-

  • More money per soldier deployed,
  • more share in post War Oil Contracts,
  • better diplomatic subtlety
Govt changed in India due to elections in2003 (Muslim voters are critical in any govt forming majority party), and the Iraq war ran its tragic course without any Indian explicit support.
In 26 Nov 2008, Islamic Terrorists killed US, Indian and Israeli citizens in terror strikes in Mumbai Sieze- thus proving that appeasing terrorist nations is just riding a tiger.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2003-06-13/india/27203305_1_stabilisation-force-indian-troops-pentagon-delegation

NEW DELHI: There will be a lot a Iraq on the menu over the weekend before the Pentagon team arrives here on Monday to talk India into sending troops to the war-torn nation.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2003-07-28/india/27176989_1_troops-issue-stabilisation-force-defence-policy-group

Jul 28, 2003, 01.28pm IST

NEW DELHI: Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Richard B Myers, who is arriving here on Monday evening on a two-day visit, will request India to reconsider its decision on sending troops to Iraq.

and

Jul 29, 2003, 07.00pm IST

NEW DELHI: Though Gen Myers flatly denied his visit had anything to do with persuading India to send troops to Iraq, it is evident that the US desperately wants Delhi to contribute a division-level force of over 15,000 combat soldiers.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2003-09-10/india/27176101_1_stabilisation-force-force-under-american-control-regional-dialogue

Sep 10, 2003, 05.34pm IST

NEW DELHI: Even as the US-drafted resolution on Iraq is being heatedly debated in many countries, American Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Christina Rocca held a series of meetings with External Affairs Ministry officials on Wednesday.

Though it was officially called “a regional dialogue”, the US request to contribute a division-level force of over 15,000 combat soldiers to the “stabilisation force” in Iraq is learnt to have figured in the discussions.

The penny wise -pound foolish attitude of then Def Secretary Rumsfield led to break down in negotiations.

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Sir Winston Churchill

In 2012

Indian govt again faces elections and we have 150 million Muslim voters just like other countries have influential lobbies.

and while Israelis are being targeted again in attacks in India-

India is still seeking money-

India has struck a defiant tone over new financial sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union to punish Iran for its nuclear programme, coming up with elaborate trade and barter arrangements to pay for oil supplies.

However, the president of the All India Rice Exporters’ Association, said Monday’s attack on the wife of an Israeli diplomat in the Indian capital will damage trade with Iran and may complicate efforts to resolve an impasse over Iranian defaults on payments for rice imports worth around $150 million.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Unfazed-by-US-sanctions-India-to-step-up-ties-with-Iran/articleshow/11887691.cms

India buys $ 5  billion worth of oil from Iran. Annually. Clearly it is a critical financial trading partner to Iran.

It has now gotten extra sops from Iran to continue trading-and is now waiting for a sweeter monetary offer from US and/or Israel to even consider thinking about going through the pain of unchanging the inertia of ties with Iran.

There are some aspects of political corruption as well, as Indian political establishment  is notoriously prone to corruption by lobbyists (apparently there   is a global war on lobbyists that needs to happen)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Unfazed-by-US-sanctions-India-to-step-up-ties-with-Iran/articleshow/11887691.cms

 Feb 14, 2012, 05.54PM ISTUnfazed by US sanctions, India to step up ties with Iran
India is set to ramp up its energy and business ties with Iran. (AFP Photo)
NEW DELHI: Unfazed by US sanctions and Israel linking Tehran to the attack on an Israeli embassy car here, India is set to ramp up its energy and business ties with Iran, with a commerce ministry team heading to Tehran to explore fresh business opportunities. 

The team is expected to go to Tehran later this month to discuss steps to expand India’s trade with Iran, part of a larger strategy to pay for Iranian oil, said highly-placed sources. 

Despite the US and European Union sanctions on Iran, India recently sealed a payment mechanism under which Indian companies will pay for 45 percent of their crude oil imports from Iran in rupees. 

So diplomats with argue over money in Israel, Indian and US while terrorists will kill.

Against Stupidity- The Gods Themselves -Contend in Vain

Analytics for Cyber Conflict

 

The emerging use of Analytics and Knowledge Discovery in Databases for Cyber Conflict and Trade Negotiations

 

The blog post is the first in series or articles on cyber conflict and the use of analytics for targeting in both offense and defense in conflict situations.

 

It covers knowledge discovery in four kinds of databases (so chosen because of perceived importance , sensitivity, criticality and functioning of the geopolitical economic system)-

  1. Databases on Unique Identity Identifiers- including next generation biometric databases connected to Government Initiatives and Banking, and current generation databases of identifiers like government issued documents made online
  2. Databases on financial details -This includes not only traditional financial service providers but also online databases with payment details collected by retail product selling corporates like Sony’s Playstation Network, Microsoft ‘s XBox and
  3. Databases on contact details – including those by offline businesses collecting marketing databases and contact details
  4. Databases on social behavior- primarily collected by online businesses like Facebook , and other social media platforms.

It examines the role of

  1. voluntary privacy safeguards and government regulations ,

  2. weak cryptographic security of databases,

  3. weakness in balancing marketing ( maximized data ) with privacy (minimized data)

  4. and lastly the role of ownership patterns in database owning corporates

A small distinction between cyber crime and cyber conflict is that while cyber crime focusses on stealing data, intellectual property and information  to primarily maximize economic gains

cyber conflict focuses on stealing information and also disrupt effective working of database backed systems in order to gain notional competitive advantages in economics as well as geo-politics. Cyber terrorism is basically cyber conflict by non-state agents or by designated terrorist states as defined by the regulations of the “target” entity. A cyber attack is an offensive action related to cyber-infrastructure (like the Stuxnet worm that disabled uranium enrichment centrifuges of Iran). Cyber attacks and cyber terrorism are out of scope of this paper, we will concentrate on cyber conflicts involving databases.

Some examples are given here-

Types of Knowledge Discovery in -

1) Databases on Unique Identifiers- including biometric databases.

Unique Identifiers or primary keys for identifying people are critical for any intensive knowledge discovery program. The unique identifier generated must be extremely secure , and not liable to reverse engineering of the cryptographic hash function.

For biometric databases, an interesting possibility could be determining the ethnic identity from biometric information, and also mapping relatives. Current biometric information that is collected is- fingerprint data, eyes iris data, facial data. A further feature could be adding in voice data as a part of biometric databases.

This is subject to obvious privacy safeguards.

For example, Google recently unveiled facial recognition to unlock Android 4.0 mobiles, only to find out that the security feature could easily be bypassed by using a photo of the owner.

 

 

Example of Biometric Databases

In Afghanistan more than 2 million Afghans have contributed iris, fingerprint, facial data to a biometric database. In India, 121 million people have already been enrolled in the largest biometric database in the world. More than half a million customers of the Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank are are already using biometric verification at ATMs.

Examples of Breached Online Databases

In 2011, Playstation Network by Sony (PSN) lost data of 77 million customers including personal information and credit card information. Additionally data of 24 million customers were lost by Sony’s Sony Online Entertainment. The websites of open source platforms like SourceForge, WineHQ and Kernel.org were also broken into 2011. Even retailers like McDonald and Walgreen reported database breaches.

 

The role of cyber conflict arises in the following cases-

  1. Databases are online for accessing and authentication by proper users. Databases can be breached remotely by non-owners ( or “perpetrators”) non with much lesser chance of intruder identification, detection and penalization by regulators, or law enforcers (or “protectors”) than offline modes of intellectual property theft.

  2. Databases are valuable to external agents (or “sponsors”) subsidizing ( with finance, technology, information, motivation) the perpetrators for intellectual property theft. Databases contain information that can be used to disrupt the functioning of a particular economy, corporation (or “ primary targets”) or for further chain or domino effects in accessing other data (or “secondary targets”)

  3. Loss of data is more expensive than enhanced cost of security to database owners

  4. Loss of data is more disruptive to people whose data is contained within the database (or “customers”)

So the role play for different people for these kind of databases consists of-

1) Customers- who are in the database

2) Owners -who own the database. They together form the primary and secondary targets.

3) Protectors- who help customers and owners secure the databases.

and

1) Sponsors- who benefit from the theft or disruption of the database

2) Perpetrators- who execute the actual theft and disruption in the database

The use of topic models and LDA is known for making data reduction on text, and the use of data visualization including tied to GPS based location data is well known for investigative purposes, but the increasing complexity of both data generation and the sophistication of machine learning driven data processing makes this an interesting area to watch.

 

 

The next article in this series will cover-

the kind of algorithms that are currently or being proposed for cyber conflict, the role of non state agents , and what precautions can knowledge discovery in databases practitioners employ to avoid breaches of security, ethics, and regulation.

Citations-

  1. Michael A. Vatis , CYBER ATTACKS DURING THE WAR ON TERRORISM: A PREDICTIVE ANALYSIS Dartmouth College (Institute for Security Technology Studies).
  2. From Data Mining to Knowledge Discovery in Databases Usama Fayyad, Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro, and Padhraic Smyt

Funny Economics

Some wry observations from me  on the world on economics-

1) 150 years after humiliating their country in the Opium Wars, Chinese mandarins have somehow convinced their leaders and military to park 2 trillion assets in Anglo Saxon debt. If Greece geting a 50% discount on its loan is the new precedent, when will the USA force its lendors to the negotiation table.

2) Income inequality and protests are something the Arabs and Israelis have in common. Besides being the sons of Abraham of course. Note the Persians are not considered the same as Arabs.

3) Advance knowledge of geo-political events can and ensures Western financial dealers have an edge on the sovereign funds in the other hemisphere.  What used to be the playgrounds of Eton has now shifted to the pubs of Boston and So Cal.

4) After spending 1 trillion USD on arms in the past one decade (funded by guys in item 1), the United States military forces is in a much better more advanced position to wage simultaneous war.

5) Can a war in Korean peninsula affect war in the Persian sphere of influence. Just follow the money , baby.

6) Saudi Wahabis continue to fund terror despite losing a lot of money in the economic meltdown in past few years. For every 1 $ increase in Saudi oil revenue, western oil companies ,traders, financiers make more, much more.

7) Demographics is an important key to economics. An aging Japan, and stagnant West is one cause to shift from manpower intensive warfare to cyber warfare. Plus Cyber warfare is good business . Underpopulated Russia and Arabs continue to lack true economic potential.

8) There are new economic incentives to develop tools to disseminate as well as distort information flow in real time in a hyper connected digital world.

 

Ah! The Internet.

On the Internet I am not brown or black or white. I am Anonymous and yet myself. I am free to choose  whatever identity I wish to choose, free to drink from whatever pools of knowledge my local government wishes to forbid. The Internet does not care about how rich or poor I may be. It has ways to track exactly where I am, but it has tools to disguise that as well. On the internet the strongest government, the richest corporation and the deepest pockets can tremble before the bits and bytes of a talented and motivated hacker working from his basement in his parents house.
There are no losers on the Internet: only winners. Except for those who seek to covet and control the uncontrollable- the human desire to seek knowledge beyond the confines of whatever cave they may find themselves borne in.
There are no countries to wage war on the Internet: there is nothing to kill and die for. The Internet allowed a million writers to write and publish without the interference of brokers and intermediaries. It allowed a billion people to download a trillion songs that were locked away in some rich man’s virtual vault. It allowed a dozen countries to overthrow their dictators without wasting a billion worth of goods and treasure.

On the Internet, everyone is equal, free and true to the own nature they choose, not the fate that is chosen by corporation, country or circumstance.
Ah! The Internet- it will set you free.

Credit Downgrade of USA and Triple A Whining

As a person trained , deployed and often asked to comment on macroeconomic shenanigans- I have the following observations to make on the downgrade of US Debt by S&P

1) Credit rating is both a mathematical exercise of debt versus net worth as well as intention to repay. Given the recent deadlock in United States legislature on debt ceiling, it is natural and correct to assume that holding US debt is slightly more risky in 2011 as compared to 2001. That means if the US debt was AAA in 2001 it sure is slightly more risky in 2011.

2) Politicians are criticized the world over in democracies including India, UK and US. This is natural , healthy and enforced by checks and balances by constitution of each country. At the time of writing this, there are protests in India on corruption, in UK on economic disparities, in US on debt vs tax vs spending, Israel on inflation. It is the maturity of the media as well as average educational level of citizenry that amplifies and inflames or dampens sentiment regarding policy and business.

3) Conspicuous consumption has failed both at an environmental and economic level. Cheap debt to buy things you do not need may have made good macro economic sense as long as the things were made by people locally but that is no longer the case. Outsourcing is not all evil, but it sure is not a perfect solution to economics and competitiveness. Outsourcing is good or outsourcing is bad- well it depends.

4) In 1944 , the US took debt to fight Nazism, build atomic power and generally wage a lot of war and lots of dual use inventions. In 2004-2010 the US took debt to fight wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and bail out banks and automobile companies. Some erosion in the values represented by a free democracy has taken place, much to the delight of authoritarian regimes (who have managed to survive Google and Facebook).

5) A Double A rating is still quite a good rating. Noone is moving out of the US Treasuries- I mean seriously what are your alternative financial resources to park your government or central bank assets, euro, gold, oil, rare earth futures, metals or yen??

6) Income disparity as a trigger for social unrest in UK, France and other parts is an ominous looming threat that may lead to more action than the poor maths of S &P. It has been some time since riots occured in the United States and I believe in time series and cycles especially given the rising Gini coefficients .

Gini indices for the United States at various times, according to the US Census Bureau:[8][9][10]

  • 1929: 45.0 (estimated)
  • 1947: 37.6 (estimated)
  • 1967: 39.7 (first year reported)
  • 1968: 38.6 (lowest index reported)
  • 1970: 39.4
  • 1980: 40.3
  • 1990: 42.8
    • (Recalculations made in 1992 added a significant upward shift for later values)
  • 2000: 46.2
  • 2005: 46.9
  • 2006: 47.0 (highest index reported)
  • 2007: 46.3
  • 2008: 46.69
  • 2009: 46.8

7) Again I am slightly suspicious of an American Corporation downgrading the American Governmental debt when it failed to reconcile numbers by 2 trillion and famously managed to avoid downgrading Lehman Brothers.  What are the political affiliations of the S &P board. What are their backgrounds. Check the facts, Watson.

The Chinese government should be concerned if it is holding >1000 tonnes of Gold and >1 trillion plus of US treasuries lest we have a third opium war (as either Gold or US Treasuries will burst)

. Opium in 1850 like the US Treasuries in 2010 have no inherent value except for those addicted to them.

8   ) Ron Paul and Paul Krugman are the two extremes of economic ideology in the US.

Reminds me of the old saying- Robbing Peter to pay Paul. Both the Pauls seem equally unhappy and biased.

I have to read both WSJ and NYT to make sense of what actually is happening in the US as opinionated journalism has managed to elbow out fact based journalism. Do we need analytics in journalism education/ reporting?

9) Panic buying and selling would lead to short term arbitrage positions. People like W Buffet made more money in the crash of 2008 than people did in the boom years of 2006-7

If stocks are cheap- buy. on the dips. Acquire companies before they go for IPOs. Go buy your own stock if you are sitting on  a pile of cash. Buy some technology patents in cloud , mobile, tablet and statistical computing if you have a lot of cash and need to buy some long term assets.

10) Follow all advice above at own risk and no liability to this author ;)

 

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