February 15, 2019

Donate to Martyrs' families: Bharat Ke Veer



14th feb'19 was a very sad day in Indian history, when 44 soldiers were martyred in Kashmir ( a figure which might go up ), and many others wounded . They died fighting an enemy whom they did not know, had not seen. They died fighting for our country and us, so that we could live peacefully with our families and children, without giving a second thought as to what would happen to their families and children if they did not return.We are forever in their debt , but merely accepting this fact is not enough……we need to do our bit too in whatever way possible.

We have all heard horror stories as to how relief , both financial and in kind, has been misused whenever given to government agencies,but now we have a choice. Most of you are aware of the joint venture launched by actor Akshay Kumar and MoD-Bharat Ke Veer . For those who are not, this is a venture in which Rs. 15 lacs is transferred directly into the accounts of the martyrs next of kin.This amount is over and above all the emoluments and benefits given by the central government to their families.The minimum amount accepted is Rs.10/- .You can contribute to any individual whose name is listed there, or to the corpus fund. Once the martyr’s family is given the amount, his/her name gets automatically removed from there.The link to the website is-


I would request that even if you don’t contribute, please forward this to as many as possible so that more people get to know of this noble cause.

GCSC Cyberstability update, February 15th, 2019

GCSC Cyberstability Update, February 15th, 2019

Your weekly news updates on the GCSC, its members, and relevant developments in the field of international cyber affairs. For more information about the GCSC, please visit www.cyberstability.org.


Europe Hopes to Fend Off Election Hackers with ‘Cyber Sanctions’

The article by Laurens Cerulus was published in Politico, 11 February 2019
A regime for "cyber sanctions" is taking shape — and it could already hit mischievous election hackers in May. The European Union is closing in on a procedure that would allow it to sanction foreign hacker groups when they target the upcoming EU election. The measures would not only allow EU countries to slap sanctions on hacker groups that succeed in intruding into IT systems, but also those attempting to get in, like the suspected Russian intelligence officers who allegedly plotted but failed to hack into the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons last year. In this article, Commissioner Christopher Painter elucidates the utility and effectiveness of imposing sanctions.

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Trying to Craft Global Cyber Limits

This article by Derek B. Johnson was published in GCN, 4 February 2019


Cyberattacks may not meet the traditional definition of war, but they can have serious physical and financial consequences. But U.S. officials, international organizations and independent experts have so far been unable to come to consensus about where to draw that line. In a series of meetings in Geneva, the nongovernmental Global Commission on Stability in Cyberspace hashed out fundamental principles that states, non-state actors and private industry should follow in the digital domain.

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Michael Chertoff on the Growing Threats to Our Privacy Today


This interview with Hari Sreenivasan was published in KSMQ, 12 February 2019
In this interview, Hari Sreenivasan sits down with former US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, who authored the USA Patriot Act which led to a massive expansion of government surveillance. He joins the program to discuss growing threats to our privacy today.

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Election Security: Questions for the House Homeland Security Hearing

This article by Joshua Geltzer, Beth George and Jonathan Zittrain  was published in Just Security, 12 February 2019

The U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security conducted a hearing on election security on Wednesday February 13th. It’s part of a series the new Democratic majority in the House is holding related to the H.R. 1 legislation on election security, campaign funding, and government ethics, entitled the “For the People Act.” Just Security asked several experts what questions they think would be fruitful for discussion at the hearing. One of these experts, Commissioner Jonathan Zittrain, stressed the precarious balance between intelligence sharing and the protection of civil liberties. Furthermore, he raised questions with regard to public-private interaction and its implications for civil liberties.

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D.C. Metro System Beefs Up Supply-Chain Cybersecurity Provisions for New Railcars

The article by Sean Lyngaas was published in Cyber Scoop, 6 February 2019
The Washington, D.C. area’s Metro system, in response to U.S. senators who raised security concerns about a new line of railcars, now says it will use the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s cybersecurity framework to vet software and hardware proposed for the project. The senators had expressed security concerns over the railcar procurement after reports that a Chinese state-owned manufacturing company could win the bid. They asked if Metro would consult with defense officials before allowing foreign-government-built railcars to stop at the Pentagon, which is part of the Metro system. Alluding to China, the senators wanted to know if Metro would consider a company’s ties to foreign governments with a history of industrial and cyber-espionage when assessing bids.


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Russia to Disconnect from the Internet as Part of a Planned Test

The article by Catalin Campanu (for Zero Day) was published in ZDNet, 11 February 2019
Russian authorities and major internet providers are planning to disconnect the country from the internet as part of a planned experiment, Russian news agency RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK) reported last week. A date for the test has not been revealed, but it's supposed to take place before April 1. The Russian government has been working on this project for years. In 2017, Russian officials said they plan to route 95 percent of all internet traffic locally by 2020.

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Cyber Resilience in the Electricity Ecosystem: Principles and Guidance for Boards

The report by the World Economic Forum was published on their website, 13 February 2019
Cyber resilience is a challenge for all organizations, but, due to its vital role as a societal backbone, it is of particular importance for the electricity ecosystem. This report developed by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with electricity industry partners and Boston Consulting Group offers principles to help board members meet the unique challenges of managing cyber risk in the electricity ecosystem.

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Routing Security - Getting Better, But No Reason to Rest


This article by Andrei Robachevsky was published in MANRS, 5 February 2019

In this article, Andrei Robachevsky assesses changes in routing security in 2018, compared to 2017. He thereby sketches an image of an overall move in the right direction. The overall number of incidents was reduced, but the ratio of outages vs routing security incidents remained unchanged – 62/38.  In spite of the abovementioned positive development, Robachevsky calls for more awareness and attention to the issues of routing security in the network operator community.  

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Administration Readies Order to Keep China Out of Wireless Networks

This article by Julian E. Barnes was published in The New York Times, 12 February 2019
The Trump administration is moving closer to completing an executive order that would ban telecommunications companies in the United States from using Chinese equipment while building next-generation wireless networks, according to American officials. The executive order, which has been under discussion for months, is aimed largely at preventing Chinese telecom firms like Huawei from gaining access to the fifth-generation — or 5G — wireless networks that companies are beginning to build in the United States. American intelligence officials have grown increasingly concerned about Huawei and other Chinese telecom companies, saying their inclusion in American networks pose security risks that could jeopardize national security.

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EU Considers Response to China Hacking after U.K. Evidence, Sources Say

This article by  Natalia Drozdiak, Nikos Chrysoloras, and Kitty Donaldson was published in Bloomberg, 11February 2019
European Union member states are considering a possible joint response to cyber attacks allegedly conducted by a Chinese state-linked hacker group after the U.K. presented evidence last month about network infiltration, according to people familiar with the matter. For any retribution against China tied to cyber attacks, the EU would need to agree unanimously that the country was responsible and not all EU members currently agree, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. The EU is developing protocols to respond to malicious cyber activities, for instance by imposing sanctions, but it can be challenging to clearly attribute actions to any individuals or nation-state.

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Maria Ressa: Editor of Rappler News Website Arrested on 'Cyber-Libel' Charges

This article by Hannah Ellis-Petersen was published in The Guardian, 13 February 2019
The editor of an online newspaper in the Philippines has been arrested on charges of cyber-libel as part of what the country’s journalists’ union said was a campaign of intimidation against voices critical of President Rodrigo Duterte. The charges against Ressa relate to a story published on Rappler’s website in May 2012 that alleged ties between a Philippine businessman, Wilfredo D Keng, and a high court judge. The controversial cyber-libel law under which she is being prosecuted, was enacted four months after the story was written.

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Researchers Use Intel SGX to Put Malware beyond the Reach of Antivirus Software

This article by Peter Bright was published in ARS Technica, 12 February 2019
Researchers have found a way to run malicious code on systems with Intel processors in such a way that the malware can't be analyzed or identified by antivirus software, using the processor's own features to protect the bad code. As well as making malware in general harder to examine, bad actors could use this protection to, for example, write ransomware applications that never disclose their encryption keys in readable memory, making it substantially harder to recover from attacks.

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India Proposes Chinese-Style Internet Censorship

This article by Vindu Goel  in The New York Times, 14 February 2019
India’s government has proposed giving itself vast new powers to suppress internet content, igniting a heated battle with global technology giants and prompting comparisons to censorship in China. The new rules could be imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government anytime after the public comment period ends on Thursday night. The administration has been eager to get them in place before the date is set for this spring’s national elections, which will prompt special pre-election rules limiting new policies.

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Facebook Allowed Fake News Ads ahead of Nigeria Vote

This article by Yarno Ritzen  in Al Jazeera, 14 February 2019
Facebook's automated ad approval system can be tricked fairly easily, making it possible to buy ads to spread misinformation and fake news in advance of the Nigeria elections, an Al Jazeera investigation has found. Last month, Facebook said it would temporarily disallow political ads targeting Nigeria from being purchased outside the country in an attempt to prevent foreign influence in the February 16 elections.

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Undercover Spy Exposed in NYC Was 1 of Many

The article by Raphael Satter was published in AP News, 11 February 2019
When mysterious operatives lured two cybersecurity researchers to meetings at luxury hotels over the past two months, it was an apparent bid to discredit their research about an Israeli company that makes smartphone hacking technology used by some governments to spy on their citizens. The Associated Press has now learned of similar undercover efforts targeting at least four other individuals who have raised questions about the use of the Israeli firm’s spyware. The details of these covert efforts offer a glimpse into the sometimes shadowy world of private investigators, which includes some operatives who go beyond gathering information and instead act as provocateurs. The targets told the AP that the covert agents tried to goad them into making racist and anti-Israel remarks or revealing sensitive information about their work in connection with the lawsuits.

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Athens at the Center of European Cyber Security Strategy

This article by Yiannis Mouratidis was published in Forbes, 10 February 2019
To address the issue of cybersecurity effectively, the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) recently took a big step in terms of efficient European cooperation. ENISA has taken the opportunity to work closely with its partner organizations: the European Defense Agency EDA, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation Europol, and the Computer Emergency Response Team for the E.U. Institutions, Agencies and Bodies CERT-EU. In this regard, ENISA has signed a memorandum of understanding, which establishes a framework promoting cooperation on cybersecurity and defense.

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Cybersecurity Workers Scramble to Fix a Post-Shutdown Mess

This article by Lily Hay Newman  was published in WIRED, 10 February 2019
Two weeks out from the longest government shutdown in United States history—and with the possibility of another still looming—government employees are still scrambling to mitigate impacts on federal cybersecurity defenses. And the stakes are high. The effects of the shutdown extend even to agencies that were funded throughout, like the military and intelligence community, thanks to interdependencies and network connections between agencies. The only potential silver lining? The risk management firm SecurityScorecard suggests that threats like spearphishing may have been less effective during the shutdown, since furloughed employees literally weren't in the office to check their email. Though government employees and contractors who were furloughed have now spent more than two weeks rebuilding from the shutdown, it will be months or even years before the full toll of the incident is understood. And if another shutdown comes next week, count on erasing whatever little progress has been made.

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Four Opportunities for State’s New Cyber Bureau

This article by Robert Morgus and Justin Sherman in New America, 11 February 2019
In 2017, the Trump administration eliminated the position of cybersecurity coordinator at the White House and closed the cyber coordinator office at the State Department. This was a decision that undoubtedly harmed the United States’ ability to preserve a global and open internet and promote democratic norms around technology writ large. But now, the State Department is reportedly standing up a new cybersecurity bureau. The exact details and timeline are still unclear, but a spokesperson has at least clarified it will be run by “an ambassador-at-large for cyberspace security and emerging technologies.” Leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee have also introduced a Cyber Diplomacy Act that would create a cyber diplomacy office at State, slightly modifying a bill from last year. This article outlines four opportunities for the new bureau moving forward.

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The Future of Cybernorms: European Perspectives on Responsible Behavior in Cyberspace

On the 6th of March, the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) will be hosting a seminar on Europe’s role in promoting responsible behavior in cyberspace.

Since the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Information Security failed to reach agreement in 2017, the global, multilateral efforts to promote responsible behavior in cyberspace have tried to regain the political momentum. However, several initiatives have been introduced at both state, non-state and intergovernmental level. The EU has introduced a cyber diplomatic toolbox, Microsoft continues to promote a digital Geneva Convention, the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace proposed six cyber norms, and Denmark has introduced the world’s first Tech Ambassador.

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The economic war on Syria: Why Europe risks losing



Nour Samaha 
11th February, 2019

Ron Van Oers via Wikimedia Commons (cropped) - CC BY 3.0

Sanctions can never be ‘smart’; new EU and US measures on Syria are only likely to strengthen the regime, not weaken it

As the frontlines in Syria largely fall silent and the Syrian government works on reasserting its control across the country, a new war is in the making: that of the West on the Syrian economy.

Over the last few months several new punitive measures have been inflicted on the Syrian state. In November the US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control issued a new advisory threatening sanctions on ships transporting oil and gas to Syrian ports. And this month the European Union issued new sanctions against several Syrian businessmen and companies operating inside the country. In the United States an expansive bill is awaiting Senate approval, one which would see crushing sanctions not just against Syrian government entities and affiliates, but also third parties and states that take part in reconstruction. These are on top of the numerous sanctions imposed over the last eight years. The new measures aim to ensure that Western actors do not play any role in strengthening the reconstituted Assad order; they seek to pressure the Syrian government into changing its behaviour in return for sanctions relief and reconstruction aid.

These targeted sanctions criminalise the Syrian government as a whole, and consequently those who do any work in government-held territories

Yet this policy reveals a dangerous and fundamental misreading of both the Syrian government’s proven history of seeking to withstand pressure – at the expense of the Syrian population – and the extent to which the government’s allies will step in to ease the pressure – increasing their own influence within the country in the process. Not only will this policy prove ineffective in shifting the government’s behaviour towards the West’s desired goal, it will also have a hugely detrimental impact on the most vulnerable members of Syria’s population, significantly increasing the likelihood of further flight from Syria to countries with more opportunities and stability.

Sanctions often serve as an expression of moral outrage for Western policymakers.  And certainly, moral outrage is justified. The Syrian regime has committed enormous crimes against its own people. But outrage is not a strategy and Western sanctions as currently envisioned reveal a scorched earth policy that indiscriminately and arbitrarily punishes ordinary Syrians and threaten legitimate businesses.

Sanctions impact

While the government’s behaviour plays a central role in creating the desperate conditions on the ground, the sanctions on Syria have also exacerbated this suffering, as UN officials point out. Described by experts as the “most complicated and far-reaching sanctions regimes ever imposed”, the mixture of targeted, financial, and sectoral sanctions has created a situation today where Syrians are being punished twice: once by an authoritarian and corrupt government, and again by the international community through the imposition of inhumane and destructive sanctions.

And this is only getting worse. The latest OFAC advisory led to Syria’s most serious gas crisis in recent years, in the peak of winter. Within 48 hours of its issue, insurance companies cut their ties with vessels going to Syria, ships stopped sending their cargo, and the gas all but dried up. In an effort to deal with the crisis, the Syrian government asked prominent businessmen to buy vessels and transport gas from Iran and Russia, uninsured, which is highly risky and expensive. The cost of shipping has now soared due to the risk.

Inside the country today, ordinary Syrians are queueing for hours to buy a canister of gas to heat and cook with. Electricity cuts are plaguing the country. There is growing and very public discontent among the population. The situation has become so dire that government officials are acknowledging it and warning the population to brace themselves for ‘storms ahead’. As one Syrian official pointed out to this author, “the economic war is far worse than the military one, as the economic one enters into every single household and no one is untouched by it.”

Sanctions have left a larger and, in some cases, fatal impact beyond their intended goals: much has been reported about critical medical equipment and pharmaceuticals still being prevented from reaching Syria, including life-saving cancer medication and hospital equipment, because of the terms stipulated in the sanctions.

After eight years of conflict it is clear that sanctions have made absolutely no impact on shifting government positions. Meanwhile, sanctioned figures remain the dominant business actors in Syria today and, where it closes off opportunities for some, other government-affiliated figures quickly rise up in their place. The recent visit to the United Arab Emirates by a large delegation of Syrian businessmen and officials to drum up investment in Syria’s private sector was headed by Mohammad Hamsho – who has been on the sanctions list since 2011. Some actors are now profiting as a direct result of the sanctions-based economy, while average Syrians are forced to find alternative – and increasingly expensive – ways to bring in basic materials in order to survive.

A major flaw in the recent EU sanctions and the proposed US sanctions is that they fail to distinguish between the regime, the government, and non-official institutions. They do not define what the regime is, and what behaviour and business practices they accept as legitimate. Essentially these targeted sanctions criminalise the Syrian government as a whole, and consequently those who do any work in government-held territories.

The most recent instance saw several wealthy Syrian businessmen, including prominent Samer Foz, named in the recent EU sanctions. Foz rose to prominence when he became one of the very few businessmen to stay in Syria in 2012 following massive flight of the Syrian business community. Foz is listed because he is one of several developers who has invested in the Marotta Project, which is frequently conflated with Law 10, a recently introduced measure which is seen as an ‘anti-opposition’ bill that legalises the deliberate displacement of opposition supporters from certain areas.

In theory, Law 10 is based on an international practice that has been widely used across continents for decades. This provides a model through which countries affected by war and destruction can rebuild, using minimal state investment and depend instead on the private sector to invest. Meanwhile, the Marotta City project is a luxury real estate development project based on the notion of buying plots of land in return for shares in the project. It is not a project based on Law 10 – it was developed prior to the law’s creation. While it has bought out those who lived there, it is not an anti-opposition political project, rather a project that should be defined as neoliberal, serving upper-class investors at the expense of the lower classes.

What the Syrian government did was take the international practice and develop it into very poorly constructed legislation; it saw the Marotta City project as a viable redevelopment project that could be applied across the country in order to extract money from private investors and limit its own funding in reconstruction. What subsequently came out was a bill that discriminates against the poor and sees all land seized for small entitlements that will not be enough to secure their access to the newly developed residential areas.

For the government, Foz and others are useful as their businesses and investments inside the country contribute towards keeping the economy running. But at the same time, there is no friendship or loyalty to the top businessmen. Like the population as a whole – rich or poor – they are viewed as a resource to plunder.

In this context the sanctioning of Foz effectively represents a European attempt to crack down on business activity in government-held territories, equating it with “regime” efforts. It also implies that Syrian businessmen are guilty of regime crimes simply for participating in business opportunities inside Syria, warning them it is now illegal to work with local governing bodies and institutions. Such targeted sanctions also fuel the businesses of less savoury characters who are wholly embedded with the regime.

This may, in part, be the Western objective, but it risks debilitating the entire economy for which the wider population will pay the largest price. Foz and others like him represent an important source of wider economic activity and jobs, which risk now being curtailed.

The view from Damascus

The perspective from Damascus is that the Syrian state, and the population living under its control, will weather the sanctions storm. Not because people necessarily support the government, but because there is no alternative – both the state and the population know this. Indeed, this provides an easy alibi for the government to blame its own shortcomings on the actions of hostile external actors. In fact, the government’s control of patronage networks means that increased shortages caused by sanctions will help further solidify its control.

The Syrian government will continue to seek out partners to help alleviate the pressure, and today there are more actors willing to work with it, with few or no preconditions, in an effort to secure their own interests and get a slice of the post-conflict Syria pie. There are now ongoing talks between Iran, Iraq, and Syria to boost energy links between the three countries across their land borders. Within a week of the new EU sanctions, the Syrian government signed nine memoranda of understanding with Iran.  If successful, all these business ventures will address a number of the economic issues inside the country, including the gas shortage, removing this pressure from the government, while also giving Iran more access to the Syrian market.

The Syrian government has been under various sanctions since the 1980s and is therefore used to them. These new sanctions, and the possibility of even wider sanctions that would place punitive measures on partners who are looking to participate in reconstruction and investment opportunities in the country, will only strengthen interdependence between actors in Syria that the West considers to be problematic.

Moving forward

Sanctions are not ‘smart’. They create and empower oligarchs who, when targeted by sanctions, double down, become more powerful, and multiply in number. Sanctions also force the worst impulses of economic interaction across the entire market and destroy legitimate businesses while strengthening illegitimate ones. And many small- and medium-sized enterprise owners in Damascus are today suffering because of the rise of war profiteers, who have been enabled by the sanctions. These sanctions are likely to make life miserable for the ordinary Syrian, which in turn will feed ongoing instability and the prospect that some may choose to migrate to Europe.

In recognition of the dilemma of how to deal with Syria’s post-conflict phase with the Assad government still in place, the West clearly does not need to actively do business with Assad or “regime” elements. Nor does it need to actively fund reconstruction. But, even as it maintains this distance, it needs to be far more honest about the counter-productiveness of a tool, and particularly sectoral sanctions, which will produce little in its stated intentions and instead have a detrimental impact on the wider population.

February 14, 2019

India strongly condemns the cowardly terrorist attack on our security forces in Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir

India strongly condemns the cowardly terrorist attack on our security forces in Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir

February 14, 2019

The Government of India condemns in the strongest possible terms the cowardly terrorist attack on our brave security forces in Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir earlier today (14 February 2019).

This heinous and despicable act has been perpetrated by Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based and supported terrorist organisation proscribed by the United Nations and other countries. This terror group is led by the international terrorist Masood Azhar, who has been given full freedom by Government of Pakistan to operate and expand his terror infrastructure in territories under the control of Pakistan and to carry out attacks in India and elsewhere with impunity.

The Government of India is firmly and resolutely committed to take all necessary measures to safeguard national security. We are equally resolved to fight against the menace of terrorism. We demand that Pakistan stop supporting terrorists and terror groups operating from their territory and dismantle the infrastructure operated by terrorist outfits to launch attacks in other countries.

We strongly reiterate our appeal to all members of the international community to support the proposal to list terrorists, including JeM Chief Masood Azhar, as a designated terrorist under the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council and to ban terrorist organisations operating from territories controlled by Pakistan. 

We express our sincere condolences to the family members of our fearless security personnel who have made the supreme sacrifice.

New Delhi
February 14, 2019