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Artificial intelligence and intelligence

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As was also clearly stated by Vladimir Putin on September 4, 2017: “whichever country leads the way in Artificial Intelligence research will be the ruler of the world”.

According to Thomas Kuhn’s old, but still useful, epistemological model, every change of the scientific paradigm – rather than the emergence of new material discoveries – radically changes the visions of the world and hence strategic equilibria.

Hence, first of all, what is Artificial Intelligence? It consists of a series of mathematical tools, but also of psychology, electronic technology, information technology  and computer science tools, through which a machine is taught to think as if it were a human being, but with the speed and security of a computer.

The automatic machine must representman’s knowledge, namely show it, thus enabling an external operator to change the process and understand its results within the natural language.

In practice, AI machines imitate the perceptual vision, the recognition and the reprocessing of language -and even of decision-making – but only when all the data necessary to perform it are available. They do so creatively, i.e. they self-correct themselves in a non-repetitive way.

As can be easily imagined, this happens rarelyin a complex system with a high rate of variation over time and space, as is exactly the case in war clashes.

Just think about the intelligence reserved for the Chiefs of Staff, which obviously no one ever feeds into any machine to “run” it.

Hence, first and foremost, AI is about making the machine imitate the human reasoning process, which is achieved by applying the Turing test.

As you may remember, Alan Turing was the mathematician who devised for the British intelligencea number of techniques for speeding the breaking of German ciphers and cracking intercepted coded messages that could find settings for the Enigma machine used by the German Nazi Intelligence Services.

Due to the large amount of data to be checked and translated, his mathematics required an electromechanical machine, a sort of computer which was in fact created at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre, with the technologies of the time: vacuum valves, copper wires and electric engines.

To be precise, the Nazis had developed a primitive computer, namely Z1, that was hard to program, while the British Colossuspermitted the introduction of cards and tapes that allowed its adaptation to the various needs of the British SIGINT of the time.

Furthermore, in Turing’s mind, the Imitation Game involving three people (a sort of deception game) could be replaced by a machine – and here the mathematical theory permitting AI comes into play.

The machine takes the place of either human beings who try to prevent the correct identification of the third human being (C) – an identification that remains hidden to both A and B.

Hence Alan Turing claims that man A can be replaced by a machine and that this can be correctly defined as “thinking”.

Hence, according to Alan Turing,the human thought can be creatively imitated and recreated through a Finite State Machine (FSM) that can simulate other Discrete State Machines.

In principle a Finite State Machine is a machine allowing  to fully describe – in mathematical terms – the simultaneous or non-simultaneous behaviour of many systems.

With a view to better understanding this concept, we can think of an image: the warp of a fabric with respect to its weft, which can have various colours or designs.

Conversely, a Discrete-State Machine is a calculator, i.e.a machine evolving by sudden jumps from one state to another.

The same evolutionary jumps that the epistemologist, Thomas Kuhn, thought as steps of a scientific paradigm.

Finally, in Turing’s mind, the Discrete State Machine was the most suitable for simulating the human thought-behaviour.

Currently, in AI, almost exclusively “hybrid spots” are used, i.e. systems unifying various types of finite or discrete state machineswhich develop and process also probabilistic scenarios.

There is no need for going further into this network of technical reasoning, which only partially regards the topic of this article.

It is worth recalling that the issue has its true conceptual and strategic origin in March 2017, when a computer program developed by Google, namely AlphaGo, beatthe world champion in the ancient Chinese board game Go, an extraordinary strategy game.

According to some US analysts, it was the game that inspired the Head of the North Vietnamese Armed Forces and of the Viet Mihn Communists, Vo Nguyen Giap, in his confrontation with the United States and its allies.

A game in which – unlike what happens in chess-there is no immediate evidence of the victory of either contenders.

Years before, in 1997, a much less advancedalgorithm than AlphaGo had beaten the chess champion Gary Kasparov.

With a view to better understanding what an AI system is, it is worth recalling that AlphaGo is made up of two deep “neural networks” having millions of neural connections very similar to those of the human brain.

A neural network is a mathematical model inspired by the structure of the neural networks typical of the human brain.

It consists of information interconnections and it is a mathematical-information system made up of artificial neurons and processes using computational connections common to all “neurons”.

Furthermore the AlphaGo system self-corrects and learns by itself, because it stores and quickly processes the many matches and games in which it participated.

As can be easily imagined, this also makes it largely unpredictable.

In the future, however, the new military robots with high autonomy of movement and selection of targets – and, sometimes, even of the AI ​​procedure to be used – will incorporate a great deal of Artificial Intelligence.

This will make the difference between a losing robot and a winning one on the ground.

Hence, at some point of technological evolution, they may also take autonomous actions.

Therefore the problem arises of how much autonomy can be given to robots, whether they are mobile on the ground or centralized in a command brigade.

Tactical autonomy, while the neural connections between the various military robots are managed simultaneously by a “classic” human system and by a 2.0 AI mechanism?

Probably so.

But here factors such as each country’s doctrine and the assessment of the probability of a war clash and with whom, must be considered.

Therefore many human lives can be saved even in a conflict and on the war theatre, except in a counter-resource robot action, which hits the civilian population.

It will also be easier to resortto armed confrontation, but a higher cost of automated defense or attack operations will be expected.

Obviously considering that the AI systems are derived from “natural thought”, if – in the activities – very few changes are to be made to an already-defined program, the machines always work better than human beings.

They are faster, much more precise and they never rest. Moreover, they have no parallel reasoning patterns deriving from personal tastes, ideologies, feelings, sensations, affections.

They are not distracted by value, cultural, symbolic, ethical and politicalissues and probably not even by the typical themes of the Grand Strategy.

In principle, however, if what is at stake are substantially equivalent technical choices or similar evaluations of the final future scenarios, on which the machine has no pre-set programming, man will always prevail in the match between man and robot.

Hence Metaphysics – or the “science of aims”, to put it in Aristotle’s words – is the unique attribute of our species.

But the process to achieve extra-technical goals can always be formalized and hence there is always at least one finite state machine in the world that can imitate it – on its own, however, without further support of the homo sapiens sapiens.

It must also be considered that the techniques for the AI “autonomous weapons” cannot be completely classifiedbecause, in these technologies, the commercial sector can often overcome the efficacy of “covered” technology weapons.

If we open up to commercial technologies, that would be the end of confidentiality.

In fact all AI, ranging from finance to machine tools up to biological and environmental programming, is a market-driven technology controlled by open markets- or rather  still oligopolistic ones.

However, what are the limits and the merits of a war or global strategy technology entirely rebuilt according to  AI standards?

The simple answer is that firstly no finite state or hybrid machine can evaluate the reliability of the data and systems it receives.

Hence we can imagine a new kind of intelligence action, that is the possibility of “poisoning” the command systems of the enemy’s AI machines.

The deep Internet, the area of ​web​sites – often having  criminal relevance – not resulting in the official search engines, could also host viruses or even entire opposing systems, which directly reach our AI machines, thus making them fulfill the enemy’s will and not ours.

It is worth recalling that Von Clausewitz defined victory as “the prevailing of the opponent’s will or of our will”.

Nevertheless the Artificial Intelligence systems can be extremely useful in the military and intelligence sector, when it comes to using them in the “computer vision”, where millions of data must be analyzed creatively in the shortest possible time.

In fact, the Turing machine and the derived AI ​​machines can imitate abduction, a logical process that is very different from that of deduction and induction.

Deduction, which is typical of traditional machines, such as the calculator, is the logical process that, starting from a non-analyzed premise, rationally derives particular propositions describing the perceivable reality.

Conversely, induction is a logical process that, with a number of finite steps fully adhering to the natural logic, allows to shift from empirical data to the general rule, if any.

Hence abduction is an Aristotelian syllogism in which the major premise is certain while the minor one is only probable.

The Aristotelian syllogisms are made up of a general statement (the major premise), a specific statement (the minor premise) and a conclusion that is inferred.

They are adaptable to both induction and deduction.

Furthermore,  in the various types of syllogism the Stagirite developed, the major premise is the general definition of an item belonging or not to a whole.

For example, “All men are bipeds”.

The minor premise is that “George is a man (or is a biped)” and hence the conclusion is that “George is a biped (or a man)”.

Finally, in abduction, there is an opposite reasoning compared to the other two: it is used when we know the rules and the conclusion and we want to reconstruct the premise.

The definition of abduction given by Charles S. Peirce, who long evaluated it in his pragmatist philosophy, is the following: “the surprising fact, C, is observed; but if A were true, C would be a matter of course.

Hence there is reason to suspect that A is true”.

If I have white beans in my hand and there is a bag of white beans in front of me, there is reason to believe  that the beans in my hand were taken out of that bag.

In fact, this is exactly the way in which an AI machine corrects or enhances its knowledge starting from the program we put in it.

Another military use of AI is the “deep” face recognition, far more analytical and fast than it can be done today.

There is also voice recognition, the immediate indication of the sources of an enemy communication and its almost simultaneous comparison with the countless similar or anyway opposing communications.

Artificial Intelligence can also be used for military logistics issues or for the multi-variable resolution of war games, and even for combat automation in mixed environments with men and machines in action.

Therefore recourse to a limited war will be ever more likely if there are no human victims and if the confrontation is directed by advanced automatic systems.

There will also be an impact on political responsibility, which could be shifted to AI systems and not to  commanders or decision-makers in the flesh.

What political and strategic effects would an automatic clash have and what immediate psychological mechanisms would it trigger in the population?

However, who wins in the recently-started war for dominance in AI military and intelligence technologies?

For the time being, certainly China.

In fact, in November 2017 the Chinese startup company Yitu Tech won the contest for the best face recognition system.

The challenge was to recognize the greatest number of passengers accidentally encountered in a civilian airport.

The Chinese government has already approved a project called “Artificial Intelligence 2.0” having specific applications both in the economy and in military and intelligence structures.

The Chinese  Armed Forces are now working on a unified project in AI 2.0, an initiative regarding precisely the relationship between AI civilian and military applications.

As already noted, this is the strategic weak point of the AI military programming, because it verifies strong competition between the market and state organizations, at least in the West.

In fact, for the US Intelligence Services, the line to be currently followed in the smart war automation is to implement the new technologies to enrich the information already present on the President’s table.

In China the “merger” between market and State in the AI ​​sector is directly regulated by the Commission for Integrated Military and CivilianDevelopment, chaired  personally by Xi Jinping – and this says it all.

In the framework of the new AI strategic evolution, the Chinese Armed Forces follow the criterion of “shared construction, shared application and shared use” with private individuals and entities – at least for all innovations in the programming and automatic management of information (and actions) on the battlefield and in the intelligence area.

Therefore the Chinese AI 2.0 puts together robotic research, military systems without pilot or other staff and  the new military brain science.

A new theoretical-practical branch that affects even the mental and remote control of machines through human applications such as headsets detecting and interpreting the brain activity of the wearer, thus allowing them to control the machines.

This already happened at the Zhengzhou Military Academy in August 2015, with students guiding and controlling  robots through sensors placed on their skullcaps.

Hence the new AI activities in the intelligence sector can be easily imagined: infinitely broader and faster data collection – and even structured and semi-processed – creation of automatic intelligence contrast systems; entry into electronic media systems and networks available to  “anonymous” data decision-makers that change the perception of the battlefield and of the whole enemy society.

Finally, the synergic coverage of the civilian and military data of the country that has achieved dominance in AI technologies.

Each new technology in the AI military sector is protected and, hence, implies a civilian, military or hybrid battlefield , in which all the operations of those who possess the advanced tool always hit the target with the minimum use of soldiers and with the utmost confidentiality.

It would be good for the EU to think about these new scenarios, but currently imagining that the European Union is able to think is mere theory.

Furthermore China has created a new Research Institute on AI and related technologies linked to the Central Military Commission and the Armed Forces.

Liu Ghuozhi, the Director of this Research Institute, likes to repeat that “whoever does not disrupt the adversary will be disrupted”.

The current rationale of the People’s Liberation Army is that the new and more advanced AI environment 2.0 –  i.e.  that of war, of the strategic clash and of the apparently peaceful political one – is already a new stage in military thinking.

This is a qualitatively different level, far beyond the old conflict information technologies – a stage requiring a “new thinking” and a completely different approach to military confrontation, which immediately turns into a social, economic, technological and cultural one.

Hence a Chinese way – through technology –  to the Russian “hybrid warfare”, but a strategic thinking remaining along the lines of the Unrestricted Warfare theorized by Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui in 1999, at the dawn of globalization.

In fact, the origin of globalizationshould not be found in the fall of the Berlin Wall, but in the beginning of Deng Xiaoping’s Four Modernizations in 1978.

It is also worth noting that, from the beginning, the implicit planning in the “Unrestricted Warfare” theorized by the two Chinese Colonels had been thought against “a more powerful opponent than us”, namely the United States.

Hence merging of technical and intelligence services in the area of ​​operations;union of intelligence and AI networks; integration of command functions with other activities on the ground, obviously also with intelligence, and finally use of the large mass of information in real time.

This is made possible thanks to the adaptation of the Chinese Intelligence Services to the speed and wide range of data provided by all technological platforms and by any “human” source.

The ultimate goal is unrestricted warfare, in which you do not dominate the “enemy’s will”, but all its resources.

Therefore China currently thinks that “technology determines tactics” and the People’s Liberation Army intends to develop also support systems using Artificial Intelligence to back strategic decision-making.

Still today this should work also on the basis of the old US program known as Deep Green created in 2005 by the  Defense Advanced Research Program Agency (DARPA).

It is an AI system intended to help military leaders in the strategic evaluation of scenarios, of their own options and of the enemy’s options, as well as their own potential – at such a speed enabling to counteract any enemy move before it could be fully deployed.

Finally what is the Russian Federation doing in the field of modernization of its Armed Forces by means of Artificial Intelligence?

It is doing many things.

First and foremost, Russia is carefully studying unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), such as Uran-9, Nerekhta and Vir.

They are all armoured tanks that can host anti-tank missiles and mid-sized guns.

Secondly, since 2010 Russia has favoured the development of its Armed Forces in relation to what its military doctrine  defines as “intelligence exchange and supremacy”.

In other words, the Russian military world believes that the intelligence superiority is central both in times of peace and in times of war.

Superiority vis-à-vis its own population to be protected from others’ dezinformatsjia and superiority with respect to the enemies’ propaganda in their own countries – an information action that must be mastered and dominated, so that the enemy’s public can develop an ideological universe favourable to Russian interest.

This psycho-intelligence “exchange” – always based on AI supports – implies diplomatic, economic and obviously military, political, cultural and religious tools.

It is mainly developed through two intervention areas: the technical-intelligence and media area and the other one  more traditionally related to psychological warfare.

Russia is also developing a program to adapt its supercomputers to deep learning, with an AI system  significantly callediPavlov.

The deep learning of computers having hundreds of petaflops (a petaflop is equivalent to 1,000,000,000,000,000 floating point operations per second)is an AI system allowing to fully imitate not only the “normal” human thought- which is defined as “logical” – but also the possible statistical variations, which are in fact involved in abduction, of which we have already spoken.

It is worth repeating that the EU closely follows America with regard to drones, computer science and information technologies and it is also starting to fund some projects, including military ones, in the 2.0 AI sector.

However, they are technological goals far away in time and, in any case, despite the dream, or the myth, of a  European Armed Force, intelligence, advanced battlefield doctrines and intelligence neural networks – if any – are strictly limited to the national level.

With the results we can easily imagine, above all considering the intellectual and technological lack of an EU doctrine on “future wars”.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Somalia: Security Council adopts resolution to keep pirates at bay

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Suspected pirates wait for members of the counter-piracy operation to board their boat. US Navy/Jason R Zalasky

The UN Security Council on Friday adopted a resolution to combat the continuing threat of piracy off the coast of Somalia, as shipping and protection measures to keep vessels safe, have returned to levels not seen since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in the country illustrates that joint counter-piracy efforts have resulted in a steady decline in attacks and hijackings since 2011.

However, although piracy off the coast of Somalia has been “repressed”, the ongoing threat of resurgence remains.

As such – under Chapter VII of the Charter, which provides for enforcement action – the Security Council adopted Resolution 2608, which, among other things, condemns piracy and armed robbery at sea off the Somali coast, underscoring that it exacerbates instability by introducing “illicit cash that fuels crime, corruption and terrorism”.

Making amends

Through its resolution, ambassadors said that investigations and prosecutions must continue for all who “plan, organize, illicitly finance or profit from pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia”.

The Somali authorities were called upon to put in place mechanisms to safely return effects seized by pirates and to patrol the coastal waters to prevent and suppress future acts of armed robbery at sea.

At the same time, they were requested to bring to justice those using Somali territory to “plan, facilitate, or undertake criminal acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea”.

Member States were asked – at the request of the Somali authorities and with notification to the Secretary-General – to strengthen maritime capacity in the country and to appropriately cooperate on prosecuting suspected pirates for taking hostages.

The resolution also encourages the Somali Government to accede to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and develop a corresponding legal architecture as part of its efforts to target money laundering and financial support structures on which piracy networks survive.

Authorization to fight piracy

The Security Council renewed its call to States and regional organizations to deploy naval vessels, arms, and military aircraft to combat piracy, and stressed that the importance of international coordination.

At the same time, the resolution authorized – for a further three-month period – States and regional organizations cooperating with Somali authorities, to fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off Somalia, “for which advance notification has been provided by Somali authorities to the Secretary-General”.

Calls to action

Through its resolution, the Council called upon all States to “take appropriate actions…to prevent the illicit financing of acts of piracy and the laundering of its proceeds…[and] to criminalize piracy under their domestic law”.

Countries were also petitioned to cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of anyone responsible for or associated with acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, including international criminal networks.

Resolution 2608 welcomed the continued work of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) Global Maritime Crime Programme to ensure that those suspected of piracy are prosecuted, and those convicted, imprisoned in accordance with international legal standards.

Finally, the resolution recognized the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) role concerning privately contracted security personnel on board ships in high-risk areas and welcomed its continued anti-piracy role – particularly in coordination with UNODC, the World Food Programme (WFP), the shipping industry and all other parties concerned.

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ISIS-K, Talc, Lithium and the narrative of ongoing jihadi terrorism in Afghanistan

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Terrorism

Chinese and Russian efforts are underway to strengthen the Taliban government economically and militarily, along with legitimacy and international recognition. In return, Pakistan is trying to disrupt the Taliban government’s relations with Iran and Tajikistan, as well as with China and Russia. Subsequent to the fall of the previous republican government, following Russia and China, Iran is a major supporter of the Taliban.

Iran plays a significant role in a new intelligence surge launched by major regional players in Afghanistan, which includes ISIS-K campaign against the Taliban government in country. Although Taliban have been able to crush, ISIS-K in several provinces of Afghanistan, but the group was able to mobilize a bunch of other terrorist organizations such as Turkistan Islamic Party, Khetabat Iman Ul Bekhari, Khetabat ultauhied Waljihad, Islamic Jihad Union, Jamaat Ansarullah and East Turkistan Islamic Movement, and The Army of Justice. According to sources on the ground, the group has also established contacts with the resistance front led by Ahmad Massoud to fight Taliban.

Seemingly, the group joined forces with the Resistance Front in northern part of the country to downfall the Taliban particularly in northern Afghanistan.  In addition to defeating the Taliban in the central and southern provinces of Afghanistan, the group has started a sectarian war between the Sunnis and Shiites, which has partly soured relations between the Afghan Taliban and Iran. The group had the support of Pakistan as well as other regional countries and beyond.  Furthermore, Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters entered Afghanistan with the help of the Pakistani army, joining the fight between Sunni and Shia in Afghanistan.  Efforts are underway to start a civil war in the country.  According to the information, ISIS militants have been mostly funded and financed by the Saudi government, as well as other Salafi Gulf States to minimize and even eradicate Shiites in the region.

In accordance with some sources, additional costs are being borne by the United States and Great Britain.  Beside all such financial support, Islamic State (ISIS-K) militants also obtain some funding and thrive through mining and establishing business firms throughout the region.

Let us say, Islamic State militants relatively control the oil reserves in Iraq and they illegally extract it, meantime they have hands on talc and other precious stones in Afghanistan to cover their propaganda campaign expenses. ISIS-K uses the same tactics applied by Taliban during the US occupation; Taliban began illegal mining in Afghanistan to finance their activities in order to wage the war against the US aggression.   During the Taliban’s resistance, Taliban fighters had also a strong financial support from Pakistan, and the Pakistani government accordingly received that financial sustenance from other countries namely western and the Arab world.  However, the Taliban forcibly mined Afghanistan’s lapis lazuli and smuggled it to Pakistan. Under the auspices of the Pakistani government, the gems were shipped to the United States and the European countries.  In return, the Taliban were paid in cash.  Likewise, the Taliban, ISIS chose the same path, and made the most of money via mining in Afghanistan.

Subsequently, the ISIS group has chosen Nangarhar province as its stronghold in Afghanistan, since it has mineral deposits of talc, chromite, marble and other precious and rare earth minerals in addition, the group is also trying to control smuggling routes, to launch cross border terrorism.

 Consequently, ISIS-K endeavors to bring Ghazni province under its control, since a huge Lithium, mine exists in the province. The group is well aware of its preciousness in the world market because the element is mainly used by automotive industries to produce batteries for electric cars.

The anti-corruption network of the former Afghan government reported that the Taliban and the Islamic State together received about 46 million in 2016 thru illegal mining from a single district of Nangarhar province. That is why ISIS has spent millions of dollars in Afghanistan because of holding its campaign and propaganda, allegedly, most of which came from mining.

Furthermore, district governors have been appointed by ISIS for Afghanistan’s 387 major districts, with a monthly salary of up to 80,000 Afghanis.  This is a huge financial burden for the Islamic State, but the Islamic State group’s representatives say that they stick to their words, so that everyone will be paid on time. The ISIS group needs a large amount of financial support to achieve its major goals, but the group is not overstrained financially, because it receives a chockfull financial support.

Conversely, Iran is trying to increase the number of Shiite orientated proxies in the world and especially in Afghanistan to eliminate ISIS-K in return; the Saudi and other Gulf Sates want to prevent it. Therefore, they use ISIS and other associates of the group to counter Iran’s ambitious trans-national agenda; ISIS-K takes advantage of having been provided with huge financial support by anti-Iran camp.

Iran has repeatedly tried to spread Shia religion around the world, most notably at Mustafa International School in Bamko, the capital of Mali in Africa.  There have been several attempts by the Iranian government to convert the students to Shi’ism, an issue that has become the topic of international debate supported by Saudi Arabia.  Finally, all of these events are currently having a direct and indirect impact on Afghanistan and the country’s ongoing security crisis, which will affect the entire region at the end.

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The means to manage cyberspace and the duty of security

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Over and above the ethical concepts regarding the near future, it is also good to focus on the present. Governments are required to protect their national resources and infrastructure against foreign and domestic threats, to safeguard the stability and centrality of human beings and political systems and to ensure modern services for civilians. Suffice it to recall the chaos that arose some time ago in the Lazio region for the well-known health issues.

Governments must play a key role in developing and leading the local ecosystems, but this national effort must involve many other stakeholders: local businesses, entrepreneurs, multinational companies, local and foreign investors, State agencies, Ministries and academics, people in education, professional institutions and the public at large.

Furthermore, cybersecurity is a national opportunity for developing the local economy and for positioning any country in the international arena as a safe place to establish and develop economic relations between States and companies. It is also important as a regional cyber hub.

Cyber strategy therefore consists in prioritising operational cyber activities with a view to optimising and monitoring the overdevelopment of cyber intelligence that could one day take such turns as to be ungovernable.

This is the reason why investment in technology, local capacity building and resource allocation and concentration are required. This means providing strategic advisory services to government agencies that are seeking to advance cyber security at a strategic and operational level.

It is therefore necessary to work with governments to develop their strategic and operational capabilities in cybersecurity, either at the national or sectoral level, as well as providing comprehensive cyber projects that combine cyber defence and the development of a local cyber ecosystem, based on the models tried and tested by various countries around the world, such as the People’s Republic of China, Israel, the United States of America, etc.

There is a need to specialise in setting up Cyber Units and Cyber Centres (SOC & Fusion Centres) and in developing Cyber Eco-Systems and Cyber Strategies. This means providing various cyber solutions, services and know-how to companies in various sectors, such as financial, industrial, energy, health, technology and many other sectors.

Stable OT (operational technology) security services and strategic advice to companies in the fields of energy, manufacturing, security, medicine, transport, critical infrastructure and many others create the prerequisites for defending cyberspace. As well as helping OT-based organisations integrate cybersecurity into their processes and products. Design, develop and deliver advanced technologies and solutions to protect critical assets in OT environments, such as ICS, SCADA, IIoT, PLC, etc.

In this regard there is a basic need for creating professional IT schools around the world that teach the meaning of cyberspace, and not just how to use Word and other simple Office programs.

The expansion and creation of universities and institutes of cyber knowledge is a starting point from which partnerships are launched with organisations seeking to create their own cyber schools or with academic or educational organisations offering cyber training to their students.

Providing comprehensive solutions for IT schools, enables the training of IT professionals and new recruits in all IT roles, so that hackers do not remain the sole repository of digital truth. Advanced training is a solid starting point for organisations seeking to train their IT professionals. Professionals who can manage and master schemes such as Cyber Defender, Cyber Warrior, Cyber Manager, SOC Analyst, Digital Forensics, Basic Training and many others, including through the use of simulation.

Leading the creation and development of the high-level cybersecurity ecosystem is a duty of States towards the citizens who elect their leaders. The same holds true for seeking and employing highly experienced experts in the various security subject matters, including strategic cyber defence, cyber warfare, cyber intelligence, cyber research and development and cyber strategy, as well as defining training policies for these branches of operation.

Having examined the prerequisites for protecting cyberspace, it is worth addressing the structure of some of the risks faced by institutional network systems.

One of the most typical operations made by hackers relates to the use of client/server technology to combine several computers as a platform to launch DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks against one or more targets, thus exponentially increasing damage.

A malicious user normally uses a stolen account to install the DDoS master programme on a computer. The master programme will communicate with a large number of agents at any given time and the agent programmes have been installed on many computers in the network. The agent launches an attack when it receives an instruction. Using client/server technology, the master control programme can activate hundreds of agent programmes in a matter of seconds.

A DDoS uses a group of controlled machines to launch an attack on a computer, be it server or client. It is so fast and hard to prevent that is therefore more destructive. If we consider that in the past network administrators could adopt the method of filtering IP addresses against DDoS, it becomes more difficult to prevent such actions today. How can measures be taken to respond effectively?

If the user is under attack, defence will be very limited. If there is a catastrophic attack with a large amount of traffic pouring onto the unprepared user, it will very likely that the network will be paralysed before the user can recover. Users, however, can still take the opportunity to seek defence.

Hackers usually launch attacks through many fake IP addresses. At that juncture, if users can distinguish which IPs are real and which are fake – and hence understand from which network segments these IPs come – they can ask the network administrator to change them. Firstly, the PCs should be turned off to try to eliminate the attack. If it is found that these IP addresses are coming from outside rather than from the company’s internal IP, a temporary investigation method can be used to filter these IP addresses on the server or router.

The solution would be to discover the route through which the attackers pass and block them. If hackers launch attacks from certain ports, users can block these ports to prevent intrusion. After the exit port is closed, all computers cannot access the Internet.

A more complex method consists in filtering the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP), a service protocol for packet networks transmitting information regarding malfunctioning, monitoring and control information or messages between the various components of a computer network. Although it cannot completely eliminate the intrusion during the attack, filtering the ICMP can effectively prevent the escalation of the aggression and can also reduce the level of constant damage to a certain extent.

The DDoS attack is the most common attack method used by hackers. Some conventional methods of dealing with it are listed below.

1. Filter all RFC1918 IP addresses. The RFC1918 IP address is the address of the internal network, such as 10.0.0.0, 192.168.0.0, 172.16.0.0, etc. These are not fixed IP addresses of a particular network segment, but confidential local IP addresses within the Internet, which should be filtered out. This method serves to filter out a large number of fake internal IPs during an attack, and can also mitigate DDoS attacks.

2. Use many PCs to resist hacker attacks. This is an ideal response phase, if the user has sufficient ability and resources to enable a defence against hackers who attack and continue to access and take over resources. Before the user is fatally attacked, the hacker has little means to control many PCs. This method requires considerable investment and most of the equipment is usually idle, which does not correspond to the actual functioning of the current network of small and medium-sized enterprises.

3. Make full use of network equipment to protect resources. The so-called network equipment refers to load balancing hardware and software such as routers and firewalls, which can effectively protect the network. When the network is attacked, the router is the first to fail, but the other devices have not yet collapsed. The failed router will return to normalcy after being restarted and will restart quickly without any loss. If other servers collapse, their data will be lost and restarting them is a lengthy process. In particular, a company uses load balancing equipment so that when a router is attacked and crashes, the other will work immediately. This minimizes DDoS attacks.  

4. Configure the firewall. The firewall itself can resist DDoS and other attacks. When an attack is discovered, it may be directed to certain sacrificial hosts, which are able to protect the actual host from the attack. The sacrificial hosts may obviously choose to redirect to unimportant hosts or to those having systems with fewer vulnerabilities than some operating systems and with excellent protection against attacks.

5. Filter unnecessary services and ports. Many tools can be used to filter out unnecessary services and ports, i.e. filter out fake IPs on the router. For example, Cisco’s CEF (Cisco Express Forwarding) can compare and filter out Source IP and Routing Table packets. Opening only service ports has become a common practice for many servers. For example, WWW servers open only 80 ports and close all the others or use a blocking strategy on the firewall.

6. Limit SYN/ICMP traffic. The user must configure the maximum SYN/ICMP traffic on the router to limit the maximum bandwidth that SYN/ICMP packets can occupy. Therefore, when there is a large amount of SYN/ICMP traffic exceeding the limit, this means it is not normal network access, but hacking. In the beginning, limiting SYN/ICMP traffic was the best way to prevent DDoS. Although the effect of this method on DDoS is currently not widely used, it can still play a certain role.

7. Scan regularly. Existing network master nodes should be scanned regularly, checked for security vulnerabilities and new vulnerabilities cleaned up promptly. Computers on backbone nodes are the best locations for hackers to use because they have higher bandwidth. It is therefore very important to strengthen the security of these hosts. Furthermore, all computers connected to the major nodes of the network are server-level computers. Hence regular scanning for vulnerabilities becomes even more important.

8. Check the source of the visitor. Use suitable software to check whether the visitor’s IP address is true. This should be done by reverse-searching the router: if it is fake, it will be blocked. As said above, many hacker attacks often use fake IP addresses to confuse users and it is hard to find out from where they come. Therefore, for example, the use of Unicast Reverse Path Forwarding can reduce the occurrence of fake IP addresses and help improve network security.

As seen above, we need experts who know more than hackers, and this is the duty that States and governments have towards their institutions, but primarily towards their citizens.

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