GDI Risk Advisory Group

Posts Tagged ‘China’

Electronic Jihad – The New Terrorism?

In cyber security, cyber terrorism, cyber threats, Defense, Global Economy, Intelligence, Iran, Israel, Libya, multinational corporations, North Korea, Syria, Terrorism on May 24, 2014 at 6:55 am

cyber hoodie pic

March 2014 marked the hacking of 12 Indonesian Government websites by unknown hackers made up of both adventure enthusiasts and radicals. Apart from giving the hackers visibility, the episode crippled critical components of Indonesian government’s daily functioning where e-Governance is depended upon so much. This does not appear to be an isolated episode but enumerates scores of other recent transnational cyber attacks performed by non-state actors for a larger ideological goal.  This new era of ‘Cyber Jihad’ has far reaching implication, and if fully realized, would further underscore the magnitude of threats that it presents to practically every industry and government sector around the world.

The Edge will be presenting a three part series on what some cyber officials are calling the ‘Electronic Jihad’, and how it is shaping the landscape for this new battleground of international terrorism.

PART I – The New Cyber Warriors and their Tactics

Although the traditional purveyors of cyber attacks – states like China, Iran and their supporters continue to dominate state sponsored activities across the global cyber sphere, the existences groups of irregulars and non state actors – script kiddies, anarchists, hacktivists, hostile insiders, criminal elements and independent enthusiasts have added additional challenges, more lethal and ominous for legitimate Governments and multinational corporations to combat than could have been imagined.  The current state of cyberspace warfare will move to control every spectrum of a conventional battlefield – space, energy & power, economic and finance. This lays out an eerie scenario when a state or multinational is presented with evidence that weapons of cyber warfare are available to any warrior in the cyber world and they are available in the public domain.

In the field of intelligence and counter terrorism, capability assessments form an essential part of gaging the threat. Such assessments provide astonishing outcomes, especially when presented with inputs about a power system being attacked such as the case in the US by a cyber jihadist group.  This input was as early as January 2014, at a time when government agencies and regulators around the world have worked tirelessly to institute stringent control measures, cyber security monitoring and information security audits to defend against these very attacks.  Infiltrating these perimeters and conducting attacks on a critical infrastructure demonstrates the extent and capability being harnessed by cyber jihadists.

Counter terror operations are now challenged with the concept of identifying ‘cyber trade craft’, cyber radicalization, and recruitment.  The entire cycle of Spotting, Recruiting and Developing an agent for these activities can be comfortably performed from the confines of one’s home.  Blogs like Jhuf.net (Jamia Hafsa Urdu Forum) and Al Ansar.info have been critically tracking developments in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and using these issues to motivate members to fight against intruding western government and corporations.  Membership in the cyber realm is usually a virtual walk-in or referral, in which case both can be entertained using pseudonyms.  As a result, we have a potential candidates in the terror recruitment cycle being indoctrinated to fight in the cyber space, and have his/her identity concealed which keeps the original identity intact.  Ironically, these very recruits are corporate employees, information technology experts, businessmen, educated youths in the real-world.  We thus have the creation of an educated breed fighting a radical cause in an open world notoriously shrouded by fake IP addresses.  Through the creation of fake social media profiles, recruiters are able to conduct targeting, spotting and assessing operations for indoctrination.  Through the use of such tactics as  cyber ‘Dead drops’ – where confidential messages are passed in the cyber world and the use of image and text files, they are able to communicate without the possibility of it being detected.  A bomb attack in Tel Aviv back in January 2013 had traces of planning activities left in the cyber world when jhuf.net members posted a message in .jpg format highlighting the plans to attack Tel Aviv.  This was made more scrupulous by the use of codes in the image or text files.  Agencies tracking keywords to identify a possible attack would have missed the inconspicuous text hiding superficially in an image format.  In the real world, recruitments for these causes is prone to being intercepted by security agencies.  However, cyber ‘handling’ accomplishes not just recruitment but also indoctrination, financing and tasking for a potential acts without ever having a handler and agent come in contact. 

How big is the challenge to secure global cyber infrastructure?  It’s huge and growing by the second.  As new users and new technologies take hold, the scale of the battlefield expands exponentially.  Join us next month for Part II as we examine other players, threats and the tactics being employed by this new breed of terrorists.

OIL: China Demand Creating A New Paradigm

In Uncategorized on December 26, 2013 at 6:07 am

 

China Oil and GasWith China oil demand increasing at a profound rate and new sources of oil production in the North America and Southeast Asia, we are seeing a shift in oil markets that are changing the old Middle East, OPEC driven model.  As China attempts to quench its voracious appetite for crude, many of these new oil projects find themselves in a good position of not only servicing internal consumption, but selling into internal markets driven by the big red tide.  We are seeing markets and pricing taking on stronger, regional controls but with growing international markets still in their sights.  Here is some recent media that lay out a case for new short-term and long-term developments and how as a result, we are seeing the dividing of oil markets that will change how local and international demand is met, a shift how international security is viewed and drive influence on pricing.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-23/top-oil-market-news-u-s-gasoline-prices-decline-at-the-pump.html

http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2013/october/name,43501,en.html

http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/12/03/markets-oil-idINDEE9B201220131203

PLA General tests Reform Waters; Supports American- style Democracy in China

In China, Global Economy, Intelligence, International Relations, military, PLA, Uncategorized on August 15, 2010 at 9:30 pm

PLA General backs the American Dream

General and scholar test reform waters

PLA Political Commissar  [Lieutenant, not Full General as reported by the Age article below] General Liu Yazhou seems to be constantly pushing boundaries. He argues his points in a recent report by Hong Kong-based magazine Phoenix. He seems to have been able to freely comment on a systemic shift for China to move forward since 2007. Since 2007 the Commissar has be redesignated from the Air Force.

He’s not the only notable figure challenging reforms. For more, check out this article by the Asia Times Online – General and scholar test reform waters (Asia Times, 09 August 2010).  It is noteworthy that one is a military man and the other, an economist. As an observer with vested interest, I am of Chinese ethnicity.  I am still not sure if reform that essentially transforms all significant global powers today to one of American-style democracy will work. I understand where they are coming from, and the Chinese overseas I have met over the course of the past two years are quite happy with the status quo (i.e. Communism with Chinese characterstics – translated Authoritarian Capitalism a la Singapore style, arguably). That being said, I have not visited China since 2002. I shall verify this when I travel to China again this year.

The Chinese are notoriously resistant toward adopting ideals not self-generated. So, why not find a balance between the two?  The Chinese have been a collectivist society for the past few millennia.  Such a wholesale reform to one of individualism, just twenty years after opening up to the world, is going to be a challenging one with many contemporary implications.

Sun Yat-Sen tried it in the early 20th century with Western-influenced nationalism based on democratic ideals, but corruption, far worse than ever before, emerged and set China into further turmoil. It started with civil war involving war lords initially, and then the fight between the Nationalists and Communists.  Key to this is that Sun sought reform against a dynasty that was plunging China into darkness on all fronts – social, economic, political, military – the list is endless.

Today is quite different. Communism 1.0 may have been a disaster with the Cultural Revolution and the like, but Communism 2.0 today really is a marked improvement.

The bigger question is this – how is it that such reports see the light of day in supposedly ‘fully’ authoritarian China?

”If a system fails to let its citizens breathe freely and release their creativity to the maximum extent, and fails to place those who best represent the system and its people into leadership positions, it is certain to perish…’

CONTRIBUTOR:  Wandering China is a Foresight Perspective contributor and comes to us as a researcher on Chinese politics, international relations and security.  Thanks for the piece WC. 

China Eyes the Dream Factories (China Daily)

In Global Economy, International, International Relations, International Trade on August 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm

China Eyes the Dream Factories

China now eyes Western film companies. China is already a major stimulant for many world economies.  Add in ownership of such ‘dream factories’, and China will not only determine and have a say in what we use and wear, but how we see the world as well.  Interesting.

“If you are in too much of a hurry to label the company as a carrier of Chinese culture, that may draw hostility from the US audience, and may eventually even destroy the brand.”

CONTRIBUTOR:  Wandering China comes to us as a researcher on Chinese politics,international relations and security.  While brief, this piece represents the efforts China is making in all areas of geo-political and economics to influence and control behaviors of western consumers.   We look forward to more from this contributor.