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Two Cyber Resolutions Are Better Than None

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The latest annual report of the Global Economic Forum lists cyberattacks among the top 5 global risks, along with extreme weather events, natural disasters and the effects of climate change. Moreover, experts offer pessimistic forecasts: in 2019, the risks will only increase as a result of the lack of collective will and the growing divisions in the global community.

Clearly, the issue of international information security (IIS) today is not just pressing, but burning. The problem is relevant to virtually all participants in international relations and requires a political solution.

At the same time, Russia warned of the dangers of cyber incidents 20 years ago and was the first to launch a discussion on the matter at the United Nations. At first, support for Russia’s initiative was reluctant, but the more information technologies progressed and cyber challenges evolved to match them, the greater traction the problem of information security gained in the agenda of the UN and other international platforms.

In late 2018, truly important steps were taken to bolster international information security. In particular, the global community realized the need to re-launch the UN Group of Governmental Experts (UN GGE), the principal multilateral venue for information security talks, which in 2017 found itself at an impasse due to disagreements among its members. Now, though, there will be two groups…

A/RES/73/27 and A/RES/73/266

Today, we can confidently state that the global discussion on international information security has been resumed. In November 2018, the United Nations General Assembly First Committee adopted two draft resolutions at once on the behaviour of states in the information space, and in December, the General Assembly voted in pleno and approved both documents. This article considers the contents of both resolutions.

Resolution A/RES/73/27 “Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security” was proposed and promoted by Russia in collaboration with 32 states. A total of 109 states voted in favour of the resolution, with 46 voting against and 14 abstaining. The overwhelming majority of states supporting the resolution are members of BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), as well as many countries of the developing world. The West preferred to collectively oppose the document.

Resolution A/RES/73/27 has several key features. First, it is intended to protect the digital interests of all states regardless of their level of technological development. In that connection, the resolution notes the importance of aiding some states in overcoming the gap in information and communication technologies (ICT), which, as the authors of the document believe, has a major significance for international security.

Second, the resolution presents a code of 13 rules, norms and principles of the responsible behaviour of states in the information space. Their objective is to lay the foundations of peaceful interaction between states in the ICT environment and prevent wars, confrontations and any aggressive actions. The following rules are of principal significance:

  • using ICT for peaceful purposes only;
  • observing the principle of state sovereignty in the information space;
  • cooperation in the fight against the use of ICT in criminal or terrorist purposes;
  • preventing the proliferation of malicious ICT tools and techniques and the use of harmful hidden functions.

Third, a new UN GGE – an Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) – is set to launch work in June 2019. Its chief task will be to continue to develop norms, rules and principles of the responsible behaviour of states in the information space and consider the issue of the applicability of international law to the ICT environment. Russia believes that the previous UN GGE with limited representation is no longer workable and a new level of interaction on matters of information security must be reached. The resolution proposes making the negotiating process more democratic so that it can be truly open, inclusive and transparent. Initially, the Group of Governmental Experts comprised, at various times, between 15 and 25 states. Now, all UN members states, without exception, will be able to take part in the OEWG. Additionally, for the first time, non-state actors will be involved in the group (business, non-governmental organizations and the academic community) via intersessional consultative meetings. Therefore, the Russian side has succeeded in getting IIS topics to grow beyond the narrow scope of the UN GGE. “The Club of the Elect“ has been transformed into a full-fledged UN organ. The results of the group’s work will be summarized in the consensus report to be presented in two years at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly.

The second document approved by the General Assembly is Resolution A/RES/73/266 “Advancing Responsible State Behaviour in Cyberspace in the Context of International Security.” It was proposed by the United States in collaboration with 35 states. The vote was as follows: 139 in favour, 11 against and 16 abstentions. The resolution was primarily supported by of the EU and NATO member states and other allies of the United States.

The resolution stresses the effective work of the UN GGE and the importance of assessments and recommendations contained in the Group’s reports for 2010, 2013 and 2015. The document calls for the creation of a new Group of Governmental Experts in 2019 based on equitable geographic distribution. As before, it will not be an open group, which, it has to be admitted, does not make the process of developing the “road traffic rules” in the information space truly inclusive. This is certainly one of the principal differences between the U.S. and Russian approaches.

The resolution also requests that the Office for Disarmament Affairs of the Secretariat (UNODA), on behalf of the UN GGE, collaborate with regional organizations (the African Union, the European Union, the Organization of American States, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the ASEAN Regional Forum) in matters of information security.

An “American style” UN GGE will be vested with powers to carry out research on possible joint measures to eliminate existing and potential cyber threats and study the norms, rules and principles of the responsible behaviour of states and confidence- and potential-building measures, with due regard to their effective implementation. The results of the group’s work are slated to be presented in three years at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. The final report, which does not require a consensus of all participants, is expected to contain written national materials on how international law applies to the use of ICT by states.

Complementarity Instead of Competition

On the whole, Russia and the United States proposed two largely competing resolutions. Therefore, discussion on ISS will be more complicated and multilevel, as the dialogue space on the issue is fragmented, especially since the degree of mutual distrust between the two countries is very high. Such circumstances certainly make any constructive international cooperation far more difficult, but they do not mean it is impossible.

However, even given the differences on many issues, there are no particular obstacles to block working in parallel, especially since both resolutions welcome the previous achievements of the UN GGE and their 2013 and 2015 reports. For instance, both resolutions confirm that international law is applicable in the information space and both promote the creation of an open, secure and accessible information environment. Both resolutions also recognize the importance of the business and academic communities and NGOs in increasing the effectiveness of international cooperation intended to ensure security of the ICT environment. These are not the only points of contact between the two documents.

Theoretically, with the political will, a joint negotiating process can be organized between the parties that would be complementary rather than competitive. Moreover, the GGE and the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) can motivate each other to develop and steadily move towards a rapprochement, since neither group would want to lag behind the other in terms of agreements or breakthrough solutions achieved.

It is noteworthy that many countries (77 in total) voted for both resolutions, including India, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, etc. For those states, these documents do not represent opposite positions on ISS. They believe that both groups could complement each other and increase awareness of the problems related to the ICT environment. And this means that there is potential for creating a single track on the issue of putting information and communication technologies in order. In any case, a huge number of countries are ready for this, and they are interested in it happening. It is important to build a constructive, non-politicized dialogue and launch steady forward movement towards a consensus instead of competing in a “tug-of-war,” thus killing the long-standing dream of a peaceful and secure digital space.

The world has different approaches to solving various problems, and this is normal in the paradigm of the modern democratic process. However, this plurality of approaches notwithstanding, the global community should work for the benefit of a common positive result and not allow the security of some to be based on supremacy over others.

First published in our partner RIAC

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Indian Chronicle: Exposing the Indian Hybrid warfare against Pakistan

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In recent years Indian hybrid warfare against Pakistan has intensified manifold to malign Pakistan Internationally through disinformation and propaganda tactics. Hybrid warfare has mainly been described as achieving war-like objectives with the help of fake news, disinformation, and propaganda. The Objectives of Hybrid warfare are mostly to secure long term victory against the opponent. Similarly, India has launched massive hybrid warfare against Pakistan, which was uncovered by EU DisinfoLab in its report called “Indian Chronicle”.

EU DisinfoLab is an independent organization working to expose and tackle disinformation campaigns targeting the European Union and its member states. The organization has claimed that the disinformation campaign against Pakistan has been active since 2005, “a massive online and offline 15-year ongoing influence operation supporting Indian interests and discrediting Pakistan internationally”.

In a recent investigation EU DisinfoLab has exposed a malicious Indian campaign against Pakistan. In the report, “Indian Chronicle” EU DisinfoLab has exposed the dubious use of media outlets, NGOs, and fake personnel by India to malign Pakistan. The disinformation campaign mainly targeted the United Nations and the European Union through more than 750 fake media outlets and 10 fake NGOs. According to the report, “uncovered an entire network of coordinated UN-accredited NGOs promoting Indian interests and criticizing Pakistan repeatedly. We could tie at least 10 of them directly to the Srivastava family, with several other dubious NGOs pushing the same messages.”

According to the report the disinformation campaign is supported by the Srivastava group. The Srivastava group has helped in “resurrected dead NGOs” to spread fake news. The report says that “Our investigation led to the finding of 10 UN-accredited NGOs directly controlled by the Srivastava Group, which our full report introduces at length. Their common trait? The fact that they all rose from the ashes of real NGOs. Indian Chronicles effectively benefited from the track record of these organizations while pursuing their agenda: discrediting Pakistan and promoting Indian interests at UN conferences and hearings,”.

Moreover, Asian News International (ANI), a major news agency in India has provided a platform for suck fake news campaigns. The aim of the Srivastava group and ANI media outlet is “to reinforce pro-Indian and anti-Pakistan (and anti-Chinese) feelings” in India, and “internationally, to consolidate the power and improve the perception of India, to damage the reputation of other countries and ultimately benefit from more support from international institutions such as the EU and the UN”.

The report claim that the organizations funded by the Srivastava group-sponsored trips for European Parliament members to Kashmir. “The organizations created by the Srivastava Group in Brussels organized trips for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to Kashmir, Bangladesh, and the Maldives. Some of these trips led to much institutional controversy, as the delegations of MEPs were often presented as official EU delegations when they were in fact not traveling on behalf of the Parliament,”. Such sponsored trips aimed to build a positive image of India, while spreading disinformation about the alleged claims of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir.

Moreover, India has been actively involved in portraying Pakistan as a terrorist-sponsored state through its disinformation and fake news technique. For instance, India is lobbying strongly at FATF to put Pakistan on the blacklist.

India has also supported and sponsored Baloch separatist leaders and spread disinformation through their fake media outlets as mentioned in the EU DisinfoLab report.“These UN-accredited NGOs work in coordination with non-accredited think-tanks and minority-rights NGOs in Brussels and Geneva. Several of them – like the European Organization for Pakistani Minorities (EOPM), Baluchistan House, and the South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) – were directly but opaquely created by the Srivastava group,”one of the examples is Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian spy who was captured in Pakistan.

The Indian Chronicle report has exposed the dubious face of India and the administrative structure of the United Nations and the European Union. Indian involvement in the spread of disinformation and resurrection of dead people and NGOs has exposed its long-standing for Human rights and democracy. Meanwhile, the reports have also exposed the administrative structure of the UN and EU, as they failed to notice the activities of fake UN-accredited NGOs and spread of disinformation through their affiliated NGOs.

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Hybrid Warfare: Threats to Pakistani Security

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‘Victory smiles upon those who anticipate the changes in the character of war’-Giulio Douhet

Hybrid threats are becoming a norm in Pakistan and if we want to move forward in this age of technological advancements, cybercrimes, and the use of social media, we must have a wholesome response mechanism.

Hybrid warfare is a military strategy that employs not only conventional forms of warfare but irregular with it as well. It involves propaganda, cyber-attacks, state-sponsored terrorism, electoral intervention, and many more means of multi-dimensional approaches towards war which are used by militarized non-state actors. The term ‘Hybrid’ came into use around 2005-2006 due to the Israel-Hezbollah war (“Lessons from Lebanon: Hezbollah and Hybrid Wars – Foreign Policy Research Institute” 2016) and became a hot-topic in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea. Using non-confrontational means can lead to internal struggles and crumbling of the target. What direct force won’t get you can be easily achieved by infiltration and multi-faceted resources. It’s neither character of war nor its outcome that defines it as a hybrid war, but the changing tactics (“State and Non-State Hybrid Warfare” 2018). In a world where everyone, from wealthy states to those caught in throes of hunger, is armed to the teeth, there are ways to achieve socio-political objectives through the use of violent and non-violent non-state actors.

Pakistan – A Target

Pakistan has risen to incredible heights despite it being a relatively young nation and this is only proved further by the interest international players have in its internal workings. Several factors contribute to the important stature Pakistan holds in the international community such as the Pak-China alliance, its geostrategic location, military aptitude, Russian interests in the Indian Ocean, Deep Sea Gwadar Port (One Belt One Road Project), neighbor to Afghanistan (a country existing as a battleground for proxies), etc. All these reasons make sure to keep Pakistan on the radar.

Though it may be secure militarily, Pakistan is still vulnerable to hybrid threats due to internal dynamics, numerous conflicting interests of nations in state-affairs, and increasing non-state actors. South Asian nuclearization has all but guaranteed that a full-fledged war between Pakistan and India is unlikely therefore the latter uses hybrid warfare to weaken Pakistan from within.

Evolutionary Nature of War

There was truth to Heraclites’s words when he claimed that change is the only constant in our world. The social theory of evolutionary change tells us that individuals, communities, societies, and states are always in a state of motion, continuously evolving according to the era. War is born from man, it is only fair that if a man changes, so shall war. It has become more complex; the stakes have raised from territorial boundaries to the maintenance of world order and preservation of state sovereignty. Wars are no longer fought on the borders, skirmishes aside, the real destruction takes place within. Due to the paradigm shift after the Cold War (Ball 2018), there rose a need for legal, economical, socio-political, and informational means of warfare. It is used as a way to undermine other nation-states in pursuit of national power; the international system is not only a race but also a way to tear others down.

Threats to Pakistani Security

To secure Pakistan from all sides, we must first analyze the threats it faces from all sides. Conventional Warfare used to be seen as one dimensional and it only perceived assault to be done through the land, air, or sea channels. However, now it is fought in various intangible zones.

·         External

India

India is a budding regional hegemon due to its political and economic growth including hidden agendas. Pakistan is perceived to be a direct threat to India especially after the launch of the CPEC project, perceived to be undermining its hold over the region, which is why it is employing stratagems of hybrid warfare to internally weaken Pakistan. Till now India has used State-Sponsored terrorism, funded insurgencies, operated terror cells, and even sent fighter jets into Pakistani Airspace as an attempt to ruin its reputation in the international community.

Afghanistan

There has been growing instability in Afghanistan which has led to mass migrations across the porous border into Pakistan, with around 1.4 million registered Afghans (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2018) and 1 million unregistered (“Amnesty International” 2019). India has its claws in Afghan matters as well and will use it to exploit Pakistan’s weaknesses even after US forces leave the arena. Afghan Government’s poor administrative capability especially after the return of DAESH (Tribune 2020) and Tehrik-e-Taliban Afghanistan are threats to Pakistan as well as regional peace and are a major cause of lawlessness in the country and has a spillover effect for its neighbors.

Iran

Ideologically speaking, Iran is a sectarian threat to Pakistan and its Port Chahbahar stands to lose active traffic once CPEC is fully functional which means it stands as an instigator of hybrid warfare and it would be a risk to overlook it based on past good relations.

USA

Even after the Cold War, strategic rivalry and animosity between the powers including Russia, America, and China still exist. The emergence of China as an economic superpower is perceived as a threat to the US due to which there is a major shift in its defensive posture towards the region.

The US has shown significant interest in Pakistan due to its geo-strategic location but not all interest has yielded positive results. They carried out a surgical strike for the capture and assassination of Osama-Bin-Laden. Such a breach of sovereignty and security is a hybrid threat.

·         Internal

Sectarian

There are several lobbies in Pakistan all vying for their own cause. The Iranian lobby has sectarian undercurrents. Sectarianism has always been one of the leading factors of the divide in the Muslim civilization and is the rising trend of terrorism.Such conflict itself is volatile and is deepening the rift between different sects(Shia-Sunni) of Pakistan, causing unrest.

Economic

Rising prices of commodities such as flour and sugar can lead to social unrest and discord. Such industries and their stocks are under the thumb of a select few, the elites. With the right bribes and conditions, even they would agree to sell out society.

Non-State Actors

Non-state actors are groups or organizations that have influence in the state but work independently and have their socio-political agendas (“Towards a Typology of Non-State Actors in ‘Hybrid Warfare’: Proxy, Auxiliary, Surrogate and Affiliated Forces” 2019). They work on political opportunities and mobilized grievances. Groups like BLA (Balochistan Liberation Army), TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan), and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are some of the major actors. Pakistan needs to focus on curbing Jihadist Terrorism as it is keeping it from leaving the grey list of FATF.

·         Technological

Information

It refers to the spread of miscommunication. Propaganda and circulation of false news through social media are a relatively common way to cause turmoil in a community. Once a rumor is circling, there is no way to erase it. India claims that Pakistan is spreading the false narrative of ‘Islam being in danger’ to justify its actions, although untrue, is something that the Indians fully believe now. That Pakistani Intelligentsia is made solely to create narratives under which to attack India. Such beliefs further antagonize the states against each other.

Indian Chronicles are a prime example of information warfare being waged against Pakistan.

Cyber

Channels such as Cyber-Jihad and Dark Web come under the purview of cyber warfare and are a threat to the fabric of society and its security in Pakistan.

Given the above discussed bleak prevailing internal security situation, Pakistan needs to formulate a short to mid and long-term response that curbs all external and internal parties alongside proxies from infiltrating and influencing the working of the state and affecting the masses.

For a full-spectrum approach, all domains should be covered such as diplomacy, defense, internal and external security, economic, informational, cyber, and media security.

There are steps to be followed through for active and effective quelling of hybrid threats. First, a strategy must be put for, then tactical action should be taken and lastly, the implementation process should be supervised and fully followed through.

The main focus of the state should be on deterrence towards, protection from, and prevention of hybrid threats to the state.

One must not forget that Hybrid war is a mix of both unconventional and conventional warfare, therefore a nation-wide response should include the intertwined operational capabilities of armed forces alongside political actors. Pakistan sees its security being threatened both by internal factors and external hostile/proxy elements. This is hampering state development. State-building and nation-building must go hand in hand if counter and deter such threats effectively.

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The Impact of Management in Information Security

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Authors: Sajad Abedi and Mahdi Mohammadi

Due to the increasing role of information security in the management of any society, public and private organizations and institutions are inevitably required to provide the necessary infrastructure to achieve this. In addition to material resources, management techniques also have a great impact on the optimal and successful implementation of information security management systems. The recording of management standards in the field of ICT information security can be designed in a planned way to change the security situation of organizations according to the needs of the organization and ensure security in terms of business continuity and to some extent at other levels (crisis management and soft war). Despite extensive research in this area, unfortunately for various reasons, including the level of security of the issue for governmental and non-governmental institutions or the direct relationship of the field with their interests, clear and useful information on how to implement and prioritize the implementation of a system over the years. The past has not happened until today.

The protection of the organization’s information resources is essential to ensure the successful continuation of business activities. The fact that information and information assets play a key role in the success of organizations has necessitated a new approach to protecting them. Until now, risk analysis and management has been used to identify the information security needs of the organization. After analyzing the risks, security controls were identified and implemented to bring the risks to an acceptable level. But it seems that risk analysis is not enough to identify the information security needs of the organization. Evidence of this claim is that risk analysis does not take into account legal requirements, regulations and other factors that are not considered as risk, but are mandatory for the organization.

Identifying, assessing and managing information security risks is one of the key steps in reducing cyber threats to organizations and also preventing the unfortunate consequences of security incidents that make organizations more prepared to face cyber risks. The risk assessment process, which is the first phase of a set of risk management activities, provides significant assistance to organizations in making the right decision to select security solutions. Risk assessment is actually done to answer the following questions: * If a particular hazard occurs in the organization, how much damage will it cause? * What is the probability of any risk occurring? * Controlling how much each risk costs. Is it affordable or not? The results of risk assessment can help in the correct orientation in choosing solutions (which is to eliminate the main threats) and can also be used in formulating and modifying the security policies of the organization. Risk management is a comprehensive process used to determine, identify, control, and minimize the effects and consequences of potential events. This process allows managers to strike the right balance between operating costs and financial costs, and to achieve relevant benefits by protecting business processes that support the organization’s goals. The risk management process can greatly reduce the number and severity of security incidents that occur in the organization. Risk management has 5 steps, which are: 1. Planning: At this stage, how to manage potential risks in the organization is determined and completed by developing a risk management plan. This plan defines the risk management team, defines the roles and responsibilities of individuals and the criteria for assessing identified risks. Documented. 2. Identification: At this stage, team members gather around each other, identify potential hazards, and record them in the organization’s risk list. Arranging group brainstorming sessions is a good way to identify hazards 3. Assessment: In this step, the assessment of identified risks is performed using the criteria defined in the risk management plan. Risks are assessed based on their probability of occurrence and possible consequences.

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