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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

What's going on in the World Today 180619



China hacked a Navy contractor and secured a trove of highly sensitive data on submarine warfare

Chinese government hackers have compromised the computers of a Navy contractor, stealing massive amounts of highly sensitive data related to undersea warfare — including secret plans to develop a supersonic anti-ship missile for use on U.S. submarines by 2020, according to American officials. The breaches occurred in January and February, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. The hackers targeted a contractor who works for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, a military organization headquartered in Newport, R.I., that conducts research and development for submarines and underwater weaponry. The officials did not identify the contractor. Taken were 614 gigabytes of material relating to a closely held project known as Sea Dragon, as well assignals and sensor data, submarine radio room information relating to cryptographic systems, and the Navy submarine development unit’s electronic warfare library. The Washington Post agreed to withhold certain details about the compromised missile project at the request of the Navy, which argued that their release could harm national security.

The data stolen was of a highly sensitive nature despite being housed on the contractor’s unclassified network. The officials said the material, when aggregated, would be considered classified, a fact that raises concerns about the Navy’s ability to oversee contractors tasked with developing cutting-edge weapons. The breach is part of China’s long-running effort to blunt the U.S. advantage in military technology and become the preeminent power in east Asia. The news comes as the Trump administration is seeking to secure Beijing’s support in persuading North Korea to give up nuclear weapons, even as tensions persist between the United States and China over trade and defense matters. The Navy is leading the investigation into the breach with the assistance of the FBI, officials said. Navy spokesman Cmdr. Bill Speaks said, “There are measures in place that require companies to notify the government when a ‘cyber incident’ has occurred that has actual or potential adverse effects on their networks that contain controlled unclassified information...”

China Grows Anxious About Taiwan Reunification

One of the biggest obstacles to China's campaign for "national rejuvenation," President Xi Jinping's plan to guide the country to world prominence, lies across 180 kilometers (112 miles) of water on the island of Taiwan. The mainland's drive to return China to a position of global strength — which it hopes to complete by 2049 — includes reunification with Taiwan. The remnants of the Nationalist Party that fled to the island during the civil war waged in China in the 1940s remain there, creating a situation that the conflict's Communist victors cannot accept. While successive governments in Beijing have tried without success to reclaim or to reintegrate the island, they did prevent it from pulling away. Their efforts to draw Taiwan closer have yielded mixed results, but over the past few decades, Taiwanese nationalism has continued to rise. Today, with the island's younger generations displaying an increasing desire for independence, the United States is showing signs of greater support for Taiwan. These factors have helped to push tensions across the Taiwan Strait to their highest point in a decade...

Pentagon Puts Cyberwarriors on the Offensive, Increasing the Risk of Conflict

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has quietly empowered the United States Cyber Command to take a far more aggressive approach to defending the nation against cyberattacks, a shift in strategy that could increase the risk of conflict with the foreign states that sponsor malicious hacking groups.

Until now, the Cyber Command has assumed a largely defensive posture, trying to counter attackers as they enter American networks. In the relatively few instances when it has gone on the offensive, particularly in trying to disrupt the online activities of the Islamic State and its recruiters in the past several years, the results have been mixed at best.

But in the spring, as the Pentagon elevated the command’s status, it opened the door to nearly daily raids on foreign networks, seeking to disable cyberweapons before they can be unleashed, according to strategy documents and military and intelligence officials...

...The new strategy envisions constant, disruptive “short of war” activities in foreign computer networks. It is born, officials said, of more than a decade of counterterrorism operations, where the United States learned that the best way to take on Al Qaeda or the Islamic State was by destroying the militants inside their bases or their living rooms.

The objective, according to the new “vision statement” quietly issued by the command, is to “contest dangerous adversary activity before it impairs our national power.”

Pushing American defenses “as close as possible to the origin of adversary activity extends our reach to expose adversaries’ weaknesses, learn their intentions and capabilities, and counter attacks close to their origins,” the document says. “Continuous engagement imposes tactical friction and strategic costs on our adversaries, compelling them to shift resources to defense and reduce attacks...”

...This article is adapted from “The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage and Fear in the Cyber Age,” to be published on Tuesday by Crown, an imprint of Penguin Random House.






On the water and in the air, French military pushes back against Beijing’s South China Sea claims

France has sent warships through contested waters and will hold air exercises in the area later this year

France is increasing its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region, sending warships through the South China Sea and planning air exercises to help counter China’s military build-up in disputed waters.

In late May, the French assault ship Dixmude and a frigate sailed through the disputed Spratly Islands and around a group of reefs that China has turned into islets, pushing back against Beijing’s claim to own most of the resource-rich South China Sea.

“Our patrol involved passing close to these islets to obtain intelligence with all the sensors it is possible to use in international waters,” the Dixmude’s commanding officer, Jean Porcher, said.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, a researcher from the Hudson Institute think tank who was on board, said “several Chinese frigates and corvettes” tailed the French vessels.

China puts missiles back on contested South China Sea island as United States pushes allies for bigger military presence in waters [1]

Porcher said the ship maintained “cordial” radio contact with Chinese military vessels, “which were present in the area until we left”.

So far the United States has taken the lead in confronting China over its territorial claims in the South China Sea, which are contested by several neighbours, particularly Vietnam...








Khamenei Fires Air Force Chief over Israeli F-35 Deep Penetration of Iran’s Sky

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei fired Iranian air force commander Brigadier General Farzad Ismaili, who had been in office since 2010, because the latter had hid from him the fact that Israeli F-35 planes had penetrated Iran’s sky, the Kuwaiti daily Al Jarida reported on Saturday.

The newspaper emphasized that it was the original media source that exposed the Israeli raids, which had taken place last March. Al Jarida cited senior Iranian military who said that only following its March report did the intelligence services of the Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian intelligence ministry begin to investigate the case, under direct orders from Khamenei.

According to the newspaper’s investigation, the IAF F-35 “Adir” planes penetrated Iran’s airspace, circled high above Tehran, Karajrak, Isfahan, Shiraz and Bandar Abbas – and photographed Iran’s air defense system.

One of the sources reported that Iran’s air defense system, including its Russian radar, did not detect the entry and exit of the fighter planes, and that Ismaili hid this information from the supreme leader to cover his corps’ failure. However, three weeks ago, Iranian intelligence discovered that the Israeli fighter jets had carried out this sortie as a test of the possibility of an undetected military attack on Iranian outposts and bases, during which they photographed those sensitive bases, evading the Russian S-300 missile system’s radar...

Bending the Internet: Iran Brings the National Information Network Online


- Wary of the internet's power as a tool for political dissent and even revolution, Iran's conservatives have pushed for more stringent oversight online.

- Part of the strategy involves banning foreign apps and services, such as Telegram, and offering users closely monitored domestic alternatives.

- Iran's intranet, the National Information Network, will help authorities in this endeavor by giving them greater control over internet users, internet service providers and online content.

For as long as Iran has had cyberspace, the Iranian government has been trying to control it. The spate of color revolutions in the 2000s, followed by the Green Movement in Iran in 2009, further illustrated the dangers of electronic communication, prompting the Islamic republic's hard-line factions to push for more stringent oversight online. And since the United States has begun backing a policy akin to regime change and supporting domestic opposition movements, the need to control the internet is greater now for Tehran than perhaps ever before...


I Fought Against Muqtada al-Sadr. Now He's Iraq's Best Hope.

Michael D. SullivanJune 18, 2018, 7:08 AM

The former militia leader who once terrorized U.S. forces has reinvented himself as an Iraqi nationalist and a pragmatist.

BAGHDAD — I’ve fought against Muqtada al-Sadr’s Shiite militias in Iraq. I’ve ducked from rockets from his Mahdi Army and lost friends to improvised explosive devices from his Promised Day Brigade. But the Muqtada al-Sadr of 2018, whose Sairun coalition won the most seats in this recent Iraq parliamentary election, is not the Muqtada al-Sadr of 2004. The man who once directed his Mahdi militias to fight U.S. forces in Najaf and Baghdad has changed for the better.

While Sadr may have acted counter to U.S. interests in the past, he is now more aligned with Western attempts to reign in Iranian influence and Sunni extremism. Sadr has, in his view, always been a pragmatist. But his pragmatic approach went from trying to change the situation in Iraq through physical violence (2003 to 2008) to understanding the power of politics and civic actions (2011 to 2018). Today, Sadr understands the need for coalition support to help bolster Iraq’s security forces, thereby preventing another collapse that allows an extremist group like the Islamic State to emerge.

I have read the doom and gloom articles. I have received panicked e-mails, Facebook messages, and WhatsApp texts from friends who have served in Iraq.I have read the doom and gloom articles. I have received panicked e-mails, Facebook messages, and WhatsApp texts from friends who have served in Iraq. They all ask the same question: “Sadr? Really? Didn’t we fight this guy for years? How can this happen?” They, too, lost loved ones fighting against Sadr’s militias in Najaf, Baghdad’s Dora neighborhood, and along the infamous from the Green Zone to the Baghdad airport...

...Michael D. Sullivan, a colonel in the U.S. Army, served five tours in Iraq between 2004 and 2018. He holds a doctorate in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and currently works at the U.S. Embassy Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq in Baghdad. His views are his own and do not represent the U.S. Department of Defense or any other government agency.




China: Beijing Welcomes the Trump-Kim Summit, Cautiously

Beijing will support warmer ties between the United States and North Korea, so long as their dialogue does not precipitate a complete collapse or, conversely, a rapid rapprochement in their relations.

China will likely increase its economic influence over Pyongyang to ensure North Korea does not fall into the United States' orbit.

Chinese leaders will base their actions on the North Korean nuclear issue on the principle of maintaining the balance of power on the peninsula in regard to the United States...

The Trump-Kim Summit: What It Means and What Happens Next

Trump and Kim signed a declaration outlining the next steps of the relationship between their two countries, leaving the details for lower-level officials to pencil in later.

The most notable developments from the summit are that the United States plans to halt military exercises with South Korea and that Washington is prepared to accept a more phased approach to North Korean denuclearization.

With many thorny details to work out, there is still plenty of room for the U.S.-North Korea dialogue to break down. But the events of the summit make it hard for the United States to justify any future return to a strategy of applying maximum pressure...

Rebooting Inter-Korean Economic Relations: A Challenging Road Ahead

The dramatic shift in inter-Korean relations now underway provides a strategic opportunity to rethink future economic cooperation between the two Koreas. The nearly blank slate created by the May 24 measures in 2010 following the sinking of the ROK warship Cheonan and the closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex in 2016 offers a unique opportunity to set new objectives and priorities for both Koreas in shaping their economic future in ways that will serve their longer-term as well as immediate interests. Notably in the April summit, neither President Moon nor Chairman Kim included senior economic officials in their delegations, reflecting a wise understanding that appearing to jump the gun on the delicate questions of commitment to denuclearization and stage-setting for a summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim could undermine the potential for moving forward on the economic front.

Nevertheless, the April 2018 summit declaration included agreement “to actively implement the projects previously agreed in the 2007 October 4 Declaration in order to promote balanced growth and co-prosperity of the nation. As a first step, the two sides agreed to adopt practical steps towards the connection and modernization of railways and roads on the eastern transportation corridor as well as between Seoul and Sinuiju for their utilization.”[1] The 2007 Summit Declaration included an agreement to promote investments in natural resources and infrastructure and preferential conditions and benefits for inter-Korean projects. It highlighted the expansion of the Kaesong Industrial Complex; rail, road and cooperative shipbuilding projects; and projects in agriculture, health and medical services, and environmental protection.[2] Beyond these formal statements of intent, an informal private conversation about future inter-Korean economic relations did reportedly occur during the April Moon-Kim Summit, with President Moon conveying a USB stick to Chairman Kim with details of South Korean ideas...[3]

More on North Korea’s Missile Test Sites

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.

Following up on 38 North’s recent assessment concluding that there were no changes to the Sohae (Tongchang-ri) Satellite Launch Facility, further analysis shows that there have been no alterations or activity akin to dismantlement to any of the six known launch and engine test facilities and two ejection test stands, including:

Chamjin (Tae-sung) Machine Factory test stand[1]

Iha-ri Driver Training and Test Facility test stand

Magunpo Solid Rocket Motor Test Facility

Nampo Shipyard submersible test stand barge

Sinpo South Shipyard submersible test stand barge

Sinpo South Shipyard test stand

Sohae (Tongchang-ri) Satellite Launch Facility

Tonghae (Musudan-ri) Satellite Launch Facility

Of these facilities and test stands, it is likely that President Trump’s comment on June 12 regarding the destruction of a “…major missile engine testing site” was not referring to either the Iha-ri test stand—which was razed in May—or the Sinpo South Shipyard test stand that has not been used in approximately a year. And contrary to the president’s statement, both sites have been solely used for ejection tests, not engine tests or launches...


Terror, hooligan threats cast shadow over Russia's World Cup

Russia has deployed air defence systems and stringent fan background checks in a sweeping security operation to counter the twin threats of terror attacks and hooliganism at the World Cup.

The country was already intensely policed when it was controversially awarded the right to host the event in 2010 but the clampdown that followed saw hardened hooligans seek cover and business barons wind down the operations of factories that process hazardous materials for fear they might be attacked.

Fans travelling to Russia are required to register with the police on their arrival in one of the 12 host cities and even riverboat traffic is being curtailed to make it easier for the authorities to keep track of everything that moves.

At least 30,000 security personnel will fan out across Moscow by the time the hosts kick off against Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday.

Squadrons of fighter jets will be on standby near the capital and air defences will be on the alert for suspicious aircraft...




Aircraft Avionics Hacking: Is It Possible?

When two security researchers hacked into the wireless entertainment and navigation systems of a Jeep Cherokee in 2015 and managed to take control of the vehicle’s steering, braking, engine and other functions while the car was moving, it made headlines around the world.

The Jeep SUV reflected the technology implicit in today’s automobiles: drive-by-wire and digital engine control, where there is no mechanical connection between the steering wheel, brake and accelerator pedals, and the wheels, brakes, and injector system, and the engine is managed by an electronic control similar to an aero engine’s FADEC.

Other researchers at the Universities of Washington and California-San Diego had previously published papers elucidating vulnerabilities in contemporary automotive wireless technology that could be exploited by hackers, including key fobs that can be penetrated to unlock doors and start cars’ engines. According to writer Andy Greenberg, who was a willing victim of the Jeep Cherokee attack for his article, “Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway — With Me in It,” in the July 2015 issue of Wired magazine, all this was possible because car manufacturers were “doing [their] best to turn the modern automobile into a smartphone,” a move reminiscent of the unmanned aerial vehicles detailed in “Drone Revolution...”

Apple will throw forensics cops off the iPhone Lightning port every hour

Cops unlikely to be the only grumblers

Apple isn't backing down from a move to lock down the iPhone’s data port to increase security for users, even though it means thwarting some of the password-cracking tools used by forensics experts.

In the latest beta versions of iOS, Apple includes a feature called USB Restricted Mode, which disables the data connection of the iPhone’s Lightning port after a given time, while allowing it to continue to charge the device. Further data access would require the user's passcode.

Initially, Restricted Mode required a passcode after one week. But Apple confirmed yesterday that a plugged-in iPhone will require a passcode every hour for the data transfers to continue...

Support Grows For Unmanned Tanker, Transport Aircraft

From surviving in contested airspace to supplying remote areas, interest in unmanned transport and tanker aircraft is growing.

A U.S. Senate committee is proposing funding to “explore options for optionally manned and more survivable tankers,” while Russia’s Ilyushin is studying an unmanned cargo demonstrator based on the Il-112V light transport.

In its markup of the fiscal 2019 defense budget, the Senate Armed Services Committee says it is “concerned about the growing threat to large high-value aircraft” and recommends an increase of $10 million, for a total of $38.4 million, for prototyping a contested environment tanker.

Essential to the operational availability and range of U.S. combat and transport aircraft, the Air Force’s Boeing KC-135 and KC-46A aerial refueling tankers “are manned and increasingly difficult to protect,” the committee says.

“Given the increasingly challenging operating environments our potential adversaries are presenting, it is prudent to explore options for optionally unmanned and more survivable tankers that could operate autonomously as part of a large, dispersed logistics fleet that could sustain attrition in conflict,” it says.

An unmanned tanker prototype could draw on research underway at Boeing to increase the level of automation in its commercial aircraft and to address a looming pilot shortage by introducing supervised autonomy, as well as demonstrations of a robotic co-pilot by subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences under Darpa’s Alias program...

The Pentagon’s JEDI cloud will be designed to store the government’s most sensitive classified information, including nuclear secrets.

The Defense Department’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud will be designed to host the government’s most sensitive classified data, including critical nuclear weapon design information and other nuclear secrets.

The Pentagon is expected to bid out the controversial JEDI cloud contract this week, and new contracting documents indicate the winning company must be able to obtain the full range of top secret government security clearances, including Department of Energy “Q” and “L” clearances necessary to view restricted nuclear data.

In response to questions from Nextgov, Defense Department spokeswoman Heather Babb confirmed “JEDI cloud services will be offered at all classification levels.” Babb said military and defense customers “will determine which applications and data migrate to the cloud.”

Amazon Web Services, considered a front-runner to win the JEDI contract, is already able to host some Defense Department classified data in a $600 million cloud it developed several years ago for the CIA.

JEDI, however, represents a massive jump in size and scale. The contract could be worth as much as $10 billion over 10 years, with Defense officials describing it as a “global fabric” available to warfighters in almost any environment, from F-35s to war zones. Because government customers could use the cloud for almost anything, it must be built to host almost everything, Steven Aftergood, head of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy, told Nextgov...


How Do You Measure Success Against Jihadists?

By Scott Stewart

VP of Tactical Analysis, Stratfor


Measuring success against a militant organization requires understanding the group's objectives and how far it has progressed toward achieving them, as well as the types of warfare it is capable of waging.

Instead of gauging a group's strength through the number of terrorist attacks, it is necessary to examine the quality of the assaults and determine how they fit into the group's other operations.

Defeating a group requires more than victory on the physical battlefield; it also needs progress in the much more difficult ideological realm.

It was just last week that I was talking to a person who is working to help a country combat a significant jihadist threat. In the course of our chat, we started thinking, how do you actually measure success against jihadist groups? As operations the world over have shown, simply destroying a high number of Toyota Hiluxes driven by militants isn't necessarily the defining mark of success in the "war on terrorism," and a tally of terrorist attacks doesn't necessarily signal failure. I've written before on terrorism and insurgent theory and the trajectories of specific groups, but never on how to gauge militant groups. As it turns out, there's more to assessing a jihadist group's strength than straight numbers...



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