Israel’s War with Hamas 2014: The Social Media Battle

In the battle to win the hearts and minds of the world, the Israeli war against Hamas in Gaza has seen Psy-Ops raised to a new level of intense information overload. Through the use of operational blogs, websites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts both antagonists have flooded the internet with graphic images, videos and propaganda endeavoring to convey messages about their war aims. They are cultivating positions that reflect real time actions on the battlefield. Israel, while punishing Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza through aerial strikes, bombardments and a massive ground incursion has justified their actions because of the rocket war on its civilian population. IDF and independent Israeli hasbarah social media operations have taken great pains to illustrate the extent to which Israel goes to warn Palestinians in Gaza of intended targets via cell phone Text messages, Tweets and even non-explosives missiles.

Israel is concerned about homes, schools, hospitals and other buildings, some of which harbor launching sites, command and control centers and armories of rockets and weapons. The discovery of a massive network of tunnels, many interlaced and excavated under the Israel- Gaza frontier, have become a prominent aspect conveyed in videos of captured facilities. Battles with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad suicide terrorists have taken a toll of IDF fallen. Hamas has produced Tweets with graphic images of alleged women and children killed due to Israeli missile and artillery attacks. Many of these images have been photo-shopped, faked or purloined from the Syrian civil war and even Hollywood films. That has led to blocking of Hamas twitter accounts. The two sides frequently accost each other in social media in a number of different languages seeking to win over the world’s opinion.

BBC report, “Hamas and Israel step up cyber battle for hearts and minds” highlighted the Hamas military wing’s Twitter campaign:

The English-language Twitter account of Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, provides updates on casualties resulting from Israeli air strikes and reports on its own rocket activity, mirroring the IDF’s account.

The Qassam Brigades operate several Twitter accounts in different languages, including Arabic and Hebrew, some of which have, at times, been suspended.

Using the hashtags #GazaUnderAttack, #Gaza, #StopIsrael, and #PrayForGaza, the accounts defend the Qassam Brigades’ actions and highlight the plight of Palestinian civilians. In a tweet that appeared to be aimed at the international community, the group said Palestinian casualties were “not just numbers.”

The prominence of social media in the current IDF Operation Protective Edge first began during the eight day Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012. IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner spoke about the rising importance of social media in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Israel and Hamas Take Fight to Social Media”:

“We have invested a great deal in our social media presence over the last two years.” One of the latest evolutions was the IDF’s ability to roll out battlefield video on a real time basis. In 2012, Israel set up a video war room, where staff could comb footage beamed straight from units on the battlefield. Footage is selected, edited and sent out — at times directly to journalists and at other times to IDF blogs and social-media accounts.

The IDF expanded the social media staff from less than 5 in 2010 to 40 currently, delivering information via “blogs You Tube, Twitter, and Google+ in five languages.”

The WSJ account contrasted the followings of both the IDF and Hamas:

The Israeli Defense Force’s main Twitter account (@IDFspokesperson) has more than 327,000 followers.

Hamas has been honing its own message on Twitter, while increasingly bringing responsibility for the effort in-house, instead of relying on outside activist groups to get its message across. Both the military and political arms of the organization operate accounts. The Arabic account of the military arm Qassam_Arabic@ @qassam_arabic1has attracted more than 58,000 followers.

Hamas is a foreign terrorist organization so designated by the US State Department. It has been suspended by Twitter for violations of its operating standards that prohibit “direct, specific threats of violence and prohibit people “barred from receiving services” under U.S. law from using the service.”

Watch this Wall Street Journal, Digits video on Israel Hamas War Extends to Social Media:

#IsraelUnderFire –the media savvy students at Israel’s IDC

400 tech savvy students at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel have been engaged in the Psy-ops social media campaign of the current conflict using the hashtag, # Israel Under Fire. The Jerusalem Post noted the student run IDC effort began during Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012:

The Student Union initiated the center two years ago under similar circumstances.

“During Operation Pillar of Defense we all worked at the Student Union and students were getting called up for reserve duty,” said Yoseph. “We thought, since we weren’t being called for reserve duty, why don’t we work on hasbara and help in the way that we can.”

Through the hasbara efforts during the previous round with Hamas, the IDC advocacy room was able to get their message out to an estimated 21 million people around the world. The students created a Facebook page and twitter account under the now-popular “Israel Under Fire” catchphrase, through which they conducted their hasbara efforts.

“We basically picked up where we left off [after Operation Pillar of Defense],” explained Yoseph.

                […]

Currently their operations encompass activities in 31 languages in 62 countries and have so far garnered some 6,000 followers on Twitter and some 55,000 likes on Facebook. They have also opened a dedicated website available in 13 languages, with informative texts, videos, pictures, and testimonials – www.Israelunderfire.com.

One of the prominent concerns of the IDC hasbara team is combating Hamas imagery of what PM Netanyahu has called the “telegenically” dead. A reference to possible faked imagery of casualties. A team leader at the IDC student union program noted:

Tal Yaffe, an Israeli student at the IDC, explained that “the current situation forces us to fight on all fronts. Hamas doesn’t have the military capabilities to harm us, but they can harm our legitimacy in the world and also harm the motivation of the citizens of Israel.”

According to Yaffe, who is responsible for managing the website, social media has become one of the most important tools in the war effort. “When the truth is on our side and we can show that statements or images that Hamas has put out there are false, then the truth spreads faster than on any other media; and we see that what happens on social media also affects the international media,” he explained.

A Palestinian critic of the IDC student effort is Ali Abunimah of the Chicago-based Electronic Intifada. Abunimah was friend of President Obama during the latter’s period as an Illinois State Senator when he was prominently supporting the Palestinian cause. An Electronic Intifada article on the IDC student hasbarah effort was headlined, “Israel student union sets up “war room” to sell Gaza massacre on Facebook.”

Abunimah calls it “organized lying” alleging that, “the National Union of Israeli Students, of which the IDC Herzliya student union is an affiliate, has a history of working on government-funded propaganda schemes, where students are recruited as the country’s “pretty face.”

Perhaps, by Abunimah’s drawing attention to the success of the IDC social media “war room” he is ruing the lack of traction that the PA has had getting exposure in the Hamas war against Israel.

Watch this IDC student You Tube video exposing Hamas’ use of Hollywood film imagery:

The World’s First Facebook/Twitter Rally: #DefundHamas.

When Israel began Operation Protective Edge, the volunteers of the National Security Communications Task Force (NSCTF) of The Lisa Benson Radio Show came up with a brilliant idea. Why not hold the world’s first Facebook /Twitter rally on Tuesday, July 16, to tie in with a social media campaign hashtagDeFund Hamas? A website was quickly put up with the assistance of Larry Ward in Washington, DC at Political Media and blitz emails, Facebook posts and Tweets were sent. This was not an off the cuff effort, as it had first been broached two years ago in conversations between radio talk show host Lisa Benson and Texas ‘mom’ and Ann Linahan, an accomplished user and trainer in the adroit use of social media. They were searching for the right moment and cause to unleash the power of social media. The opening salvos of the rocket blitz by Hamas against targets in Israel gave them that defining moment. Linahan had been involved with several social media campaigns in Texas and nationally in opposition to adoption of the Common Core Curricula. Her email handle MsEmpower capsules the essence of why she has argued that social media works. Benson had experience as a professional fund raiser and both in Israel and Jewish community causes as a former Federation executive. Like many, Benson became more conservative especially on the matter of support for Israel, national security and immigration border security matters in her adopted state of Arizona. Benson, raised in Long Island New York had something else in her family background. Her father had been a liberator of a Nazi concentration camp in Germany late in the Second World War. Averting a second holocaust, whether triggered by a nuclear weapon from Iran or rockets from its proxies, Hezbollah in Lebanon or Hamas in Gaza was something that was foremost in her mind.

The ground work was prepared through a series of private web seminars (webnairs) conducted by Linahan with members of the NSCTF. During those webnairs, Linahan taught the techniques of using social media to push issues and gain the attention of media and influential state legislators and Members of Congress.

Linahan informed the trainees that the success of the Obama Presidential campaigns in both the 2008 and 2012. came in no small measure because the campaign team understood the power of social media. That enabled them to cultivate grass roots support especially among the Gen X millenials who relied on Facebook, Twitter and other social internet groups to communicate messages. She told her students, many of them older adults, to read the social media bible, Tribes by Seth Godin. Godin was VP for Direct Marketing at Yahoo! prior to the launch of his career as a social media guru. The subtitle of Tribes, “we need you to lead us,” is all about “leading, connecting and creating movements.” According to Godin a Tribe is:

…a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.

Tribes is the social media bible for community organizers and political operatives on the left akin to Saul Alinksy’s Rules for Radicals. Godin’s basic communication meme is behind the use of Twitter, “If you can’t state your position in eight words, you don’t have a position.” Another that Linahan frequently quotes by Godin is:

People don’t believe what you tell them. They rarely believe what you show them. They often believe what their friends tell them. They always believe what they tell themselves.

In an era where people do not read daily newspapers or have time to listen to talk radio or watch cable TV news programs. Instead they respond to the latest from their engaged minority, connected authorities, leaders on Twitter, and become followers and pushers retweeting those messages to their social networks. The connected authority in the local community are the activists conveying messaging to the local passive majority.

The NSCTF webnairs had prepared a cohort of older social media users, turning them into connected authorities and pushers anxious to try out their new social media tools defending Israel. The Lisa Benson NSCTF sent out an alert by Facebook and Twitter that a Facebook/Twitter Rally would be held between the hours of 4PM and 10PM EDT on Tuesday, July 16th. The hashtag #DefundHamas entreated Congress to hold off appropriations to a Palestinian unity government with Hamas. Those appropriations were composed of $440 million for Security and another $200 million “donation” to support the UNWRA Palestinian refugee program. A program established in 1950 that supports a network of refugee camps in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The Gaza UNWRA schools and social services facilities had alleged employed Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives and have been revealed to have caches of rockets.

The cement for the virtual rally was a continuous open free conference call, the inspired suggestion of Lisa Benson. That enabled participants to suggest possible tweet messages, and target influential Members of Congress and the media personalities used variations of the basic #DefundHamas theme. Alice Linahan acted as coach throughout the 6+ hours of the open conference call giving encouragement and advice to the tyros enabling them to vault technical hurdles of scripting effective tweet messages. Lisa Benson provided news updates and suggested tactical shifts in Facebook posts and tweets. While it took several hours to build up a head of steam in the rally, by 7:00PM EDT there were over 600 people involved. They were from all across the US and despite the time differences there were Israelis and Europeans. They sent Tweets at a trended rate of over 828 per hour according to the analytics service, Scoopnest.com. Overall, the virtual NSCTF group averaged a trended production of 600 tweets an hour over the five hours. At one point Twitter blocked production because of the surge in tweeting. Look at the range of tweets and retweets sent during the #DefundHamas rally, here. Production and pushing of Tweets continued for several hours after the 10PM EDT close of the open conference call.

The NSCTF rally fought battles with Hamas supporters in Gaza who shot off retorts from their iPhones and iPads between courses of the nightly Ramadan meal. Lisa Benson commented that you knew when they had finished their evening Ramadan meals in Gaza, the rocket barrages against targets in Israel were launched, tracked by the iPhone Red Alert app.

There were some surprise responses during this hashtag battle by the NSCTF contingent. Benson got a Tweet from Al Jazeera America requesting her to call a producer at their US TV news channel for an interview. Because of several tweets directed at Senators and  Members of Congress, they had Tweets from the staff of Sen. Rand Paul, US Representatives Hunter Duncan (R-CA 50th CD) and Hal Rogers (R-KY 5th CD).

The world’s first Facebook/Twitter rally was a success on several levels. It produced a community of trained social media campaigners ably supported by a team of activist specialists led by Linahan and Benson. It was life enhancing. One woman wrote of the exhilarating experience of spending over six hours on her kitchen stool zapping tweets from Hamas and connecting with Members of Congress. Another spoke of being surrounded by her family, the children especially in awe that their parents were engaged in fighting back. The dynamic process of this social media rally has led to another that will occur on 9/11/14 which will bring together noted speakers on an open conference call interspersed with the responses by Linahan and words of encouragement from Benson.

Lots of innovation is occurring in the social media war that erupted on July 8, 2014 with Hamas rocket barrages raining down on Israel. That was dramatically heightened by the exposure of the ‘terror tunnels’ threat to Israel revealed during the IDF’s ground incursion begun on July 17th. While Israel’s IDF and Hamas’ military wing square off with graphic Tweets, videos and Facebook posts, the privateers at both the IDC in Israel and the National Security Communications Task Force team have revealed how effective the social media battle has been in communicating messaging in both current and future conflicts.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review.

Open letter to CEO of Nextera Energy on Smart Meters

Mr. James L. Robo
Chairman and Ceo
Nextera Energy, Inc.

Re:   Are Smart Meters Really the Intelligent Choice

Dear Mr. Robo,

Did you read where FPL spent $800,000,000.00 to buy smart meters for 4.5 million customers and is installing them at no charge along with 10,000 intelligent devices to move the information around because they say it will be a huge benefit to their customers? Now I have read over the huge customer benefits touted by FPL as being able to monitor your electric power usage even by the hour but see nothing else! Wow, that is exactly what I’m sure all people have been waiting for the ability to do. There will probably be block parties formed to watch the results and experiment with turning appliances on and off to monitor usage. I wonder how society ever survived without it and perhaps could become as big a fad as the hula hoop.

If that is true I am sure you would agree Mr. Robo that this would be the first time a company acted so benevolently towards its millions of customers and a utility no less. As I mentioned in my previous letter they are so hell bent on being benevolent to the customers they are penalizing the people staring the gift horse in the mouth though the people declining didn’t consume $1.00 of the $800 Million FPL spent.

Did you read the utility is portraying itself as a real environmentally conscious company even using Agenda 21 words like sustainability and renewable?

Did you read where they tout they have the largest wind and solar portfolio in the Country? Now that might rate a pat on the head from President Obama for battling the evil climate change hoax he is bound and determined to push as an agenda so he can soak consumers even more through eliminating evil carbon that we exhale as we breathe. It is the consumer who pays though.

Did you read where smart people are wondering how much more expensive their electricity is since the cost to produce a KW of electricity is several times higher through solar or wind than through fossil fuels? In the brochure lauding the environmental tilt of the company and patting themselves on the back about how environmentally pure they are they fail to mention an important thing; the hundreds of thousands of birds chopped up by the rotor blades and the birds killed by wings singed from the solar heat causing them to crash and die every year. I suppose they don’t want to ruin the message they are putting out and want to portray to the public since some might get upset that even bald eagles are victims of the blades yet the federal government is silent in spite of the fact there are severe penalties for killing bald eagles.

Did you read where having all of these additional portals from wind and solar farms opens up the windows available for hackers to penetrate to shut down our grid (blackout)? Even worse, the information is all of the millions of smart meters the utility installed also are a path for penetrating the system to shut it down!

So Mr, Robo, it appears the utility that is so proud of its environmental approach to providing “sustainable and renewable” energy that decimates hundreds of thousands of birds every year also is making it dramatically easier for hackers to shut down the grid because of the millions and millions of portals they can now use to penetrate the system. Do you think the utility thought of that before they acquired the largest wind and solar portfolio in the country and installed millions of electronic meters that makes us ever more vulnerable to be attacked by hackers? If that happens, what will the utility say I wonder?

Perhaps the people who refused the meters should be thanked by not increasing the number of portals any further instead of being penalized for not making the grid ever more susceptible for hackers. Would you agree those who declined the meters were really the smart people and those who chose the meter made a dumb choice?

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Bit9+Carbon Black and FL based Sylint Group partner to provide global cybersecurity services

A New Age – The Cyber Information Age

As you know, our firm The Sylint Group, Inc., is composed of engineers from the Intelligence Community, Department of Defense and other government agencies and have been involved with digital data communications and cyber security since the ‘70’s.  In fact the name Sylint is derived from the intelligence community jargon.  “Syl” is Greek for “with” or “together” and “int” is used with various prefixes as intelligence community descriptors such as “commint”, “humint”, etc.  Sylint is therefore bringing together the disciplines of the intelligence world into Cyber Security and Digital Data Forensics. And of course, it’s sounded like “Silent” and therefore a play on the word.

So, Sylint has a certain developed perspective on what people today are recognizing as cyber security. 

Personally, I’ve done everything from programming low orbiter satellites in assembly language as they sped by on their 450 nautical mile orbit, to intercepting digital data communications systems following terrorists across the continents.  That’s before digital data became an integral part of each person’s daily life; cell phone messaging, nanny cameras, “world news” on demand, Facebook, Twitter, digital pictures to be shared in an instant.  I remember when bleeding edge data storage was performed on a RM05, about the size of a washing machine, with a disk pack about 14” in radius, with 12 platters and 250 Mega Bytes (MB) of storage capability.  Today that equals storage for about 10 high resolution photos.  In today’s age my SD storage card, which slips into my pocket, holds 128 Giga Bytes (GB) of data.  Or, consider my digital photography SD (Secure Data) card with 32GB of storage and wireless communications capability from my camera to my tablet.  Data storage and handling has changed dramatically in the last 30 years.  But, so has the amount and types of data communicated.

We are connected to each other electronically through communications systems that we don’t understand and to people we don’t know personally, and maybe don’t know that they are connected to us.  Our lives bleed out through on-line personal accounts and everyone knows our foibles and sins. Our hard earned money is stolen from our bank accounts by somebody in a mid-eastern country, which we didn’t know existed.  And all of this is accomplished using 1’s and 0’s in a nanosecond of time from thousands of miles away.

I notice that the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is held a conference titled “Road Ahead to Cybersecurity”.  I don’t think that there is a “road ahead” for cybersecurity.  There isn’t a road at all!  The whole playing field has changed and there are no defined roads in or out.

I firmly believe that we are stuck in a quagmire alongside that “road” to the playing field and it dead ended at the entry to a new age called “the Cyber Information Age”. 

We have entered this new age, the Cyber Age, and no one realizes it.  A “new age” means that life as we know it has changed dramatically and the forces that shape the economy, world order, international boundaries, social structure, centers of military and political power, level of conflict between countries, and societies moral and ethical foundation are being driven by a new impetus and energy; something called Cyber Information.  Cyber information is different than anything that society has dealt with in the past.  Cyber information is instantaneously created, changed, modified, reformatted and retransmitted.  It’s a lie, half-truth, or fact that is immediately thrown into the world, globally, from unknown sources without vetting, modulation or consideration for its consequences.

Cyber information can be news, control software for a power grid, Programmable Logic Controllers for manufacturing, communications between First Responders, infrastructure support for large buildings, corporate intellectual property, charge card information, a city sewer system, the processor for a pacemaker.  Cyber information has created a virtual world and real world that exist side by side, interact with one another, and impact one another.

Cyber information cannot be easily secured, stopped, acknowledged, or controlled. No leadership has arisen that can formulate a means to force the direction of cyber information for the good of society.  Rather, just the opposite, forces both immoral and unethical are using cyber information for nefarious purposes because it’s a crime against society which goes unpunished and yields huge rewards.

To address Cyber Security we must first understand that we are in a new age, an age of Cyber Information and what that means for society, business and the world order.

Just a few thoughts for a Monday morning surrounded by ones and zeroes.

RELATED ARTICLE: What Was Stolen?: Massive Cybersecurity Breach Raises Concerns About What Hackers Stole [+video]

RELATED VIDEO: June 14, 2014 AEI Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy conference – After Snowden: The Road Ahead for Cybersecurity

Obama’s phony “anger” at Chinese cyber attacks

It’s not anger, it’s fear.

The Obama administration is furious at China, supposedly for cyber attacks.

But China has hacked our government and businesses forever and no one ever complained. Why now?

Here is the secret no one in the MSM will mention, and it is obvious:

Russia (which the US has started a cold war with over Ukraine, even though the Kiev disturbances were made in USA and EU) just signed with China a huge deal for around $400 billion under a gas supply contract for the piping of gas to China for at least 30 years. This is designed by Russia as a stopgap measure in case Europe decides at some point to stop buying Russian gas, which is a real threat. The West sees this deal as a threat to their economy. But since signing energy contracts does not rise to the level of an act of war, a pretext had to be concocted.

The alleged cyber attacks came in handy.

But it’s worse than just a gas supply deal: China and Russia have long been planning to dedollarize (as reported in numerous sources in both the English language and foreign–including Russian–media). That means international sales would be transacted in currencies other than the dollar. A look at the shambles the Fed has created and especially a look at the QEs, i.e., the insane issuing of dollars in the trillions with no backing in noble metals, goods, services, or anything of value at all except the brand name US dollar, will help you understand why they see this as necessary. Issuing unbacked currency for any purpose other than replacement of worn out notes and coins, is like adding water to the soup when unexpected guests show up. It gets the host out of a tough spot but spoils the dinner. Guests tend to stay away next time.

Recent reports that I have seen do not state whether this gas deal that was just signed will be in a currency other than the dollar, but most likely the contract will be denominated in the yuan or the ruble.

This is the true source of the anger in Washington, but anger is hardly the right word. Call it fear.

Well, folks, the US government could have reined in the NGOs in Ukraine (including Soros’ Open Society Foundation. Don’t take my word for it. It’s proudly mentioned on Soros’ own web site!) and it didn’t have to spend $5 billion of our money (as Victoria Nuland foolishly blurted out in a meeting) on destabilizing Ukraine via USAID. Nor did it have to send the ancient lunatic John McCain (who never met a war he didn’t like) to meet with a known Nazi in what must have been a deliberate provocation of Russia, a country that lost millions of its people and millions of dollars worth of infrastructure to the Nazis. To the average Russian, there is nothing more hated than a Nazi, and with good reason. And now the US and the EU are schmoozing with Nazis in Kiev. (Please note that Russians never never never give up. Which is largely why Hitler and Bonaparte saw the bulk of their armies devoured by Russian vultures.)

No one made the US government accept the Wolfowitz doctrine of encirclement of Russia. Russia had traditional economic and diplomatic ties to every country surrounding it and there was no rational motive for trying to harm it economically as long as it was cooperating with the US, as it was. But we meddled in each one, even grooming a president for Georgia. It was deliberate provocation.

Some people believe implicitly that “war is good for the economy.” They never stop to think why they think that. This is because it has nothing to do with cognition. It is a cliché that became popular after WW II, when FDR implemented Keynesian stimulus. The war was his biggest stimulus experience, and it worked, but only because the US was industrialized, unlike today, and we had a captive market in countries whose infrastructure was destroyed and hence could not produce their own manufactured goods.

Those conditions no longer exist. And further, a group of economists at UCLA have shown that FDR’s Keynesian policies, far from stimulating, actually delayed the recovery from the depression by about 7-8 years. Yet the foolish politicians in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, believe the ‘stimulus’ myth implicitly.

But here is a pattern that has been followed by such Keynesians in the past in times of severe crisis: bailouts of business and banks, paid for by the tax payer failing that, issuance of unbacked dollars failing that, war.

What makes Keynesians so feckless is that their approach to all of these reflexive steps is wholly unscientific. When scientists test new drugs, for example, they generally propose a mechanism that would explain why the drug would most likely be efficacious. That is usually the start, before the rats get their doses of the samples. But Keynesians are not scientific. They are religious fanatics who do not question anything. No one could possibly explain a mechanism by which the standard forms of “stimulus” work because there is no logic or reason behind these elaborate Ponzi schemes. Clearly, throwing money away will not bring more money into the treasury; it will only more quickly empty it out.

It is clear that China and Russia are aware of this error, and probably the rest of the BRICS nations are as well. Yet arrogant Western powers demand that they behave as recklessly as we do. To these nations, that must be seen as provocation.

Now ask yourself: If you told your teen not to go out to the bear cave and taunt the mother bear by stealing her cubs, what would you expect to happen if he disobeyed you? And would your teen be blameless if he failed to heed your warning and got mauled or eaten?

We were at peace with the Russian bear. Now that peace is troubled. It didn’t have to be this way.

The bear has shown its claws, and they are scary. No one expected it, but then they never do expect the unexpected consequences. They think they are dealing with a circus bear and are used to it sitting up and begging.

Don’t get me wrong. We desperately need a war. But it ought to be between the political and corporatist class in the West on the one hand and We the People on the other, not between us and a scapegoat country under a narrative concocted by our keepers.

The US has lost war after war since the 50s, including the ones we ‘won.’ Will we be fooled again?

God grant us wisdom this time around.

Hacking Law and Governance with Startup Cities: How Innovation Can Fix Our Social Tech by ZACHARY CACERES

Outside of Stockholm, vandals and vines have taken over Eastman Kodak’s massive factories. The buildings are cold metal husks, slowly falling down and surrendering to nature.  The walls are covered in colorful (and sometimes vulgar) spray paint. In the words of one graffiti artist: It’s “a Kodak moment.”

After its founding in 1888, Eastman Kodak became the uncontested champion of photography for almost a century. But in early 2012, the once $30-billion company with over 140,000 employees filed for bankruptcy.

Kodak was the victim of innovation—a process that economist Joseph Schumpeter called “the gales of creative destruction.” Kodak could dominate the market only so long as a better, stable alternative to its services didn’t exist. Once that alternative—digital photography—had been created, Kodak’s fate was sealed. The camera giant slowly lost market share to upstarts like Sony and Nikon until suddenly “everyone” needed a digital camera and Kodaks were headed to antique shows.

How does this happen? Christian Sandström, a technologist from the Ratio Institute in Sweden, argues that most major innovation follows a common path.

From Fringe Markets to the Mainstream

Disruptive technologies start in “fringe markets,” and they’re usually worse in almost every way. Early digital cameras were bulky, expensive, heavy, and made low-quality pictures. But an innovation has some advantage over the dominant technology: for digital cameras it was the convenience of avoiding film. This advantage allows the innovation to serve a niche market. A tiny group of early adopters is mostly ignored by an established firm like Kodak because the dominant technology controls the mass market.

But the new technology doesn’t remain on the fringe forever. Eventually its performance improves and suddenly it rivals the leading technology. Digital cameras already dispensed with the need to hassle with film; in time, they became capable of higher resolution than film cameras, easier to use, and cheaper. Kodak pivoted and tried to enter the digital market, but it was too late. The innovation sweeps through the market and the dominant firm drowns beneath the waves of technological change.

Disruptive innovation makes the world better by challenging monopolies like Kodak. It churns through nearly every market except for one: law and governance.

Social Technology

British common law, parliamentary democracy, the gold standard: It may seem strange to call these “technologies.” But W. Brian Arthur, a Santa Fe Institute economist and author of The Nature of Technology, suggests that they are. “Business organizations, legal systems, monetary systems, and contracts…” he writes, “… share the properties of technology.”

Technologies harness some phenomenon toward a purpose. Although we may feel that technologies should harness something physical, like electrons or radio waves, law and governance systems harness behavioral and social phenomena instead. So one might call British common law or Parliamentary democracy “social technologies.”

Innovation in “social tech” might still seem like a stretch. But people also once took Kodak’s near-total control of photography for granted (in some countries, the word for “camera” is “Kodak”). But after disruptive innovation occurs, it seems obvious that Kodak was inferior and that the change was good. Our legal and political systems, as technologies, are just as open to disruptive innovation. It’s easy to take our social techs for granted because the market for law and governance is so rarely disrupted by innovations.

To understand how we might create disruptive innovation in law and governance, we first need to find, like Nikon did to Kodak, an area where the dominant technologies can be improved.

Where Today’s Social Techs Fail

Around the world, law and governance systems fail to provide their markets with countless services. In many developing countries, most of the population lives outside the law.

Their businesses cannot be registered. Their contracts can’t be taken to court. They cannot get permission to build a house. Many live in constant fear and danger since their governance systems cannot even provide basic security. The ability to start a legal business, to build a home, to go school, to live in safe community—all of these “functions” of social technologies are missing for billions of people.

These failures of social technology create widespread poverty and violence. Businesses that succeed do so because they’re run by cronies of the powerful and are protected from competition by the legal system. The networks of cooperation necessary for economic growth cannot form in such restrictive environments. The poor cannot become entrepreneurs without legal tools. Innovations never reach the market. Dominant firms and technologies go unchallenged by upstarts.

Here’s our niche market.

If we could find a better way to provide one or some of these services (even if we couldn’t provide everything better than the dominant political system), we might find ourselves in the position of Nikon before Kodak’s collapse. We could leverage our niche market into something much bigger.

Hacking Law and Governance with Startup Cities

A growing movement around the world to build new communities offers ways to hack our current social tech. A host nation creates multiple, small jurisdictions with new, independent law and governance. Citizens are free to immigrate to any jurisdiction of their choosing. Like any new technology, these startup cities compete to provide new and better functions—in this case, to provide citizens with services they want and need.

One new zone hosting a startup city might pioneer different environmental law or tax policy. Another may offer a custom-tailored regulatory environment for finance or universities. Still another may try a new model for funding social services.

Startup cities are a powerful alternative to risky, difficult, and politically improbable national reform. Startup cities are like low-cost prototypes for new social techs. Good social techs pioneered by startup cities can be brought into the national system.

But if bad social techs lead a zone to fail, we don’t gamble the entire nation’s livelihood. People can easily exit a startup city—effectively putting the project “out of business.” If a nation chooses to use private capital for infrastructure or other services, taxpayers can be protected from getting stuck with the bill for someone’s bad idea. Startup cities also enhance the democratic voice of citizens by giving them the power of exit.

Looking at our niche market, a startup city in a developing nation could offer streamlined incorporation laws and credible courts for poor citizens who want to become entrepreneurs. Another project could focus on building safe places for commerce and homes by piloting police and security reform. In reality, many of these functions could (and should) be combined into a single startup city project.

Like any good tech startup, startup cities would be small and agile at first. They will not be able to rival many things that dominant law and governance systems provide. But as long as people are free to enter and exit, startup cities will grow and improve over time. What began as a small, unimpressive idea to serve a niche market can blossom into a paradigm shift in social technologies.

Several countries have already begun developing startup city projects, and many others are considering them. The early stages of this movement will almost certainly be as unimpressive as the bulky, toy-like early digital cameras. Farsighted nations will invest wisely in developing their own disruptive social techs, pioneered in startup cities. Other nations—probably rich and established ones—will ignore these “niche market reforms” around the developing world. And they just might end up like Kodak—outcompeted by new social techs developed in poor and desperate nations.

The hacker finds vulnerabilities in dominant technology and uses them to create something new. In a sense, all disruptive innovation is hacking, since it relies on a niche—a crack in the armor—of the reigning tech. Our law and governance systems are no different. Startup cities are disruptive innovation in social tech. Their future is just beginning, but one need only remember the fate of Kodak—that monolithic, unstoppable monopolist—to see a world of possibility.

Those interested in learning more about the growing startup cities movement should visit startupcities.org or contact startupcities@ufm.edu.

ABOUT ZACHARY CACERES

Zachary Caceres is the CIO of the Startup Cities Institute at UFM and editor of Radical Social Entrepreneurs.

Turkey’s Foolhardy Twitter Ban Backfires: @TwitterTurkey

The municipal elections in Turkey  are less  than eight day hence.  Premier Erdogan  perpetrated a  foolhardy and heedless Twitter ban. He is  desperate to stave off a  possible last minute disclosure about more corruption revelations to  possibly be  released on Tuesday March 25.  With this ban Turkey joins a select group of countries who have similarly banned Twitter; China and Iran.  Within less than 24 hours  of announcing the ban at a campaign rally Thursday, March 20th  in Bursa, Turkey, it backfired.   According to  the website TwitTurk, more than 500,000 tweets were sent protesting the ban demonstrating how tech-savvy Turks  could work around the shutdown of Twitter.  Newsweek  reported:

According to TechCrunch, which compared Twitter activity in Turkey in the past few days, while the ban does seem to have had some negative effect on the number of tweets coming out of the country, it may have done Erdogan more harm than good in terms of global exposure. Before Thursday, there were about 200 tweets per day around the world that mentioned both “Turkey” and “Twitter.” On Friday, there were more than 80,000.

Globally, Twitter users have begun circulating a poster designed in the style of the Turkish flag but depicting Pac-Man eating Twitter’s bird logo.

President Gul, a co-founder of the AKP  with Premier Erdogan, sent a tweet objecting to the ban saying, “can’t be condoned”.  But then  Gul had signed a law  asserting the government’s control over the internet. The absurd part of Erdogan’s Twitter ban was his own party was poised to roll out  campaign  solicitations for the municipal elections  using the social  media.  The   AKP  deputy premier and Istanbul Mayor were  still using Twitter to communicate.   Lutfi Elvan (no relation to Gezi Park victim Berkin Elvan), the minister for communications , absurdly premised the Twitter ban  on a court ruling related to pornographic pictures.  The  opposition  People’s Republican Party (CHP)  leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said the ban was hurting Turkey’s image abroad and his party would seek to overturn it.   The Turkish bar association called the ban illegal and immediately filed a criminal complaint.  Twitter had unnerved Erdogan as the social media became the source of revelations  from release of taped phone calls  to the extent of  family involvement  in money laundering, and interference with the judiciary in the swirl of corruption charges.

Erdogan’s  vain attempt at controlling social media, whether Facebook, Twitter or You Tube  might make a difference in next Sunday’s municipal elections.   His  actions denying free speech and engaging in desperate cover-ups of corruption might  unleash  a massive wave  of Turkish voters going to the polls committed  to cast votes for the opposition. That might reduce the chances of Erdogan doing a kind of ‘Putin –Medeved maneuver’ if a national referendum is passed prior to the 2015  general elections creating an executive Presidency.

Twitter Power in Turkey: the death of Berkin Elvan

The power of Twitter was evident on March 10th with the announcement by the grieving parents of  the passing  of 15 year old  Berkin Elvan using the social media  . They wrote ,” We lost our son. May he rest in peace .” Elvan  had lain in a coma  for 269 days reduced to less than 35 pounds,  after he had suffered a head injury from a tear gas canister fired by riot police during the Gezi Park protests of last June. The irony was that young  Elvan was  mortally injured on his way to purchase food for his family.  The announcement  of Elvan’s death sparked  further protests against Erdogan, as he had ordered the riot police to break up the Gezi Park sit-ins. His passing marked the sixth  death from the breakup of the Gezi  Park sit-in protests.  Those Twitter messages led to  protests by ex-pat Turkish communities organized throughout  the EU and large crowds  that swarmed  to protest rallies in Turkey.  The funeral of Elvan was attended  by thousands.   Sheikh Mohammed Fethulleh Gulen offered his condolences to the Elvan family. But nothing from Premier Erdogan who had called Gezi park protesters,  “looters”. He referred to Twitter last June as a  “ troublemaker” and in February 2014 as the “robot lobby”.

Erdogan’s  pique at Twitter was because of the corruption scandals revealed  through the social media. Bloomberg  reported :

The tweets targeted by Erdogan are primarily from two anonymous users: one going by the name of Haramzadeler, a phrase translated by Turkish media as “Sons of Thieves” though it could also mean “bastards,” and another called Bascalan or “Prime Thief,” a play on the Turkish term for prime minister.

Local media has reported that the most damaging leaks were yet to come. In a column in the Yeni Safak newspaper, Hayrettin Karaman, a retired professor of Islamic law, preemptively denied the validity of a tape he said would be aired showing him advising Erdogan on whether Islam would permit him to order the killing of politician Muhsin Yazicioglu, who died in a helicopter crash on March 25, 2009.

Twitter has become the weapon of choice seeking to topple tyranny in Turkey.  There are more than 10 million Twitter users in Turkey, a testament to the use of  social media to communicate the news. This  despite the controls imposed on both print and  other electronic media, including state TV channels.  It is the 21st Century equivalent of those computers, video recorders and fax machines sent to Poland from  the US by NGO’s. Using  secret  CIA funds  and Catholic Church support  that allowed Solidarity to  survive the declaration of the martial law regime in 1981. Those electronic devices   got ting the word out  in samizdat publications that  ultimately  defeated  the Communist government and  returned Solidarity’s legal status in 1989.

The Bursa Campaign Rally launch  of the Twitter Ban that failed

Premier Erdogan had earlier castigated  the immorality of Twitter and other social media. On Thursday at a campaign rally in Bursa he launched his failed campaign.  “We’ll dig up Twitter – all of them – from the roots,” he raged, “they’ll see the power of the Republic of Turkey”. Within a few hours of the Bursa campaign announcement the ban began in earnest when countrywide access  to Twitter  was  blocked.

The Guardian noted the immediate responses by what it termed  tech savvy Turks:

Thursday was Twitter’s eighth birthday. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s birthday present to the social media giant, and to millions of Turks who use it daily, was to block the site. At about 11.20pm Thursday, those who wanted to use Twitter were greeted by a message from the Telecommunications Presidency referencing a court order that blocked access to it.

Within minutes, detailed methods of bypassing the block by changing DNS numbers and using VPNs were shared via Facebook, WhatsApp and text message. Hashtags using the Turkish for “Twitter Is Blocked in Turkey”, “Turkey Blocked Twitter” and “Dictator Erdo?an” began trending worldwide almost immediately. When the official Turkish account of Twitter tweeted, “Turkish users can send Tweets using SMS” and gave detailed instructions, Turks were already ahead of the game.

The Irish Times noted the swift action by  San Francisco-based Twitter and the resourcefulness of Turkish Twitter users:

Twitter sent out mobile numbers that allowed Turkish consumers to keep using its service. In another technical fix against the ban, Turkish downloads of Hotspot Shield, the world’s most popular virtual private network service, rose to 270,000 on Friday – from a daily average of 7,000.

The Turkish users’ defiance and the sheer scale of their activity suggest no immediate end to the battering Mr. Erdogan has suffered in cyberspace.

Adverse Comments on  Erdogan’s Twitter Ban

Yesterday afternoon, “Twitter’s @Policy account tweeted that the company was opposed to Erdogan’s ban”.  White House press spokesman Jay Carney said called, the Administration was  “deeply concerned”   about Erdogan’s Twitter ban as it undermined Turkish citizens’ “ability to exercise freedom of expression.”

The EUObserver noted these instant tweets:

The EU commissioner on digital affairs, Neelie Kroes, tweeted on Thursday (20 March) that the move “is groundless, pointless, and cowardly. Turkish people and intl [international] community will see this as censorship. It is.”

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, himself a prolific user of the US micro-blogging site, noted: “Erdogan is not only damaging himself, but his entire nation.”

The EU’s former ambassador to Turkey, Marc Pierini, now an analyst at the Carnegie Europe think tank in Brussels, said: “Turkey is estranging itself from the world.”

Australian  film actor Russell Crowe, appearing in the latest Bible epic, “Noah” tweeted, “Turkey has banned Twitter? That is a terrible decision. I don’t understand it?”

Now, let’s see what further revelations about Erdogan’s corruption will be Tweeted on Tuesday, March 25th.  As  a takeoff  on the radio serial program from my youth, the Shadow, might say, What evil lurks in the hearts and minds of men, only Erdogan knows, and he isn’t telling”.  But Twitter soon might.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review. The featured graphic is courtesy of Twitter.

A VERY BAD IDEA: Transferring Control of the Internet to the UN

From an intelligence standpoint, it does not make sense to turn over control of the Internet to the UN. At a time when the US Armed Forces and the intelligence community are both trying to develop our national defenses against the threats of cyber warfare, to divest the nation of control of the Internet is not in the best interest of the nation. The Pentagon, White House, and other agencies of government have been signaling the onset of cyber warfare.

Obama’s transfer of the Internet to the UN is just another illustration of how he continues to weaken the Republic, his goal seems to move the nation to a post-modern utopian world. The Obama administration has been informing the world that Putin is on the wrong side of history, that Putin is living in the 19th Century of nationalism, not in Obama’s 21st Century vision of internationalism.

Obama believes anyone espousing nationalism in the United States is backwards, uneducated, and a danger to the “change” he envision for the United States. While Obama is degrading the strength of the US military to a level that existed before WWII, and is intent on seriously damaging the economic power of the nation, as he drives the Republic into unheard of levels of debt (soon the interest on the national debt will exceed the GNP).

Obama believes that the nation-state, and sovereignty must no longer be the basis for the foundation of the international system, in Obama’s new 21st Century world, he alleges Putin doesn’t understand, he wants to eliminate the US status as the only Superpower. It is rather apparent that Putin does understand Obama’s naive vision of the 21st Century and is taking full advantage of it, and of Obama’s leadership from behind. A destabilizing transfer of control of the Internet to the UN will not be in the best interest of the American people, the US Armed Forces, or for The Free Enterprise System. If control of the Internet is transferred to the UN, the American people can expect the UN to eventually levy taxes on use its use; the American public has been fortunate that ever since the US military created the Internet, it has been free for all Americans to use free of taxes.

Eventually the UN may allow certain restrictions to be imposed against certain member states that are not looked on favorably by the majority of member nations, like Israel, the United States, or any other nation the majority member states may disagree with. Internet privacy and computer security has always been protected by the United States, but can be abused by a new and unknown power structure at the UN.

The Republican leadership in the Congress that has done very little or nothing to oppose Obama’s transfer of the Internet to the UN, must take action to prevent the occupant of the Oval Office from effecting the transfer.

It appears Obama is transferring control of the Internet to the UN because he has had difficulty dealing with the open criticism of his administration on the Internet daily; that criticism, guaranteed by the freedom of speech, under provisions of the US Constitution has been difficult for him to accept.

It has been impossible for the Obama administration to control the American people’s freedom of expression, as they criticize the Obama administration’s multiple failures and scandals on Internet daily. Since the Internet would have to remain free and open if it were to remain under the control of the US Commerce Department, that must be changed. When the Obama administration turns control of the Internet over to the UN, he has full knowledge that a coalition of nations that restrict the freedom of expression of their own populations will endeavor to suppress the freedom of expression on the Internet.

Countries like China, Cuba, Iran, the Soviet Union, Syria, Sudan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Vietnam, Pakistan, Myanmar, Malaysia, Mozambique, Algeria, etc. will take aggressive action to change the Internet as we know it today. The American people will forced by the Obama administration to abide by new oppressive UN Internet regulations, and Americans will be forced to abide by new UN Internet restricted regulations be penalized if they do not, or even worse. The American people must be allowed to assert their freedom of expression on the Internet and their right to oppose any attempt to suppress their freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution, regardless of what any new UN Internet regulations may require.

The transfer of the Internet to UN control is not a small issue, it is about basic freedoms guaranteed to all Americans by the US Constitution, and must be opposed by any and all means possible. We encourage you to contact your Congressional representatives and demand that they take whatever action is required to prevent the transfer of Internet control to the UN.

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Federal Study: America’s Electrical Grid Vulnerable to Sabotage/Terrorism

On February 9, 2014 we reported on the Wall Street Journal’s investigation into an apparent terrorist attack on the Metcalf Substation  of Pacific Gas and Electric  (PG&E) in Silicon Valley, “The Metcalf Incident: California Power Station Terrorist Attack Reveals Highly Vulnerable National Grid”.   We noted:

In the early morning of April 16, 2013, the Metcalf, California transmission substation in Silicon Valley was attacked by what federal investigators believe was a highly professional terrorist team.  That sniper assault caused 17 transformers to crash severing power to Internet Service Providers and other power users in Silicon Valley.  Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) was forced to increase and reroute power to the area served by the disabled transmission station.  Power outages were avoided.  It took 27 days for PG&E to repair and bring the transmission substation back online.

The question of the vulnerability of the national grid surfaced because of the relentless investigations conducted by the former Federal Electrical Regulatory Commission (FERC) head, Jon Wellinghoff, whose term ended November 2013.

Today’s Wall Street Journal had a follow up report on FERC simulation studies conducted  under  the sponsorship of  Wellinghoff that revealed how vulnerable the national grid could be to sabotage of less than 9 critical transformers,  “U.S. Risks National Blackout From Small-Scale Attack.”  Among the concerning revelations in the WSJ investigative report were:

The U.S. could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout if saboteurs knocked out just nine of the country’s 55,000 electric-transmission substations on a scorching summer day, according to a previously unreported federal analysis.

The study by FERC concluded that coordinated attacks in each of the nation’s three separate electric systems could cause the entire power network to collapse.

A small number of the country’s substations play an outsize role in keeping power flowing across large regions. The FERC analysis indicates that knocking out nine of those key substations could plunge the country into darkness for weeks, if not months.

With over 160,000 miles of transmission lines, the U.S. power grid is designed to handle natural and man-made disasters, as well as fluctuations in demand. How does the system work?

“This would be an event of unprecedented proportions,” said Ross Baldick, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.

Note these  comments of former FERC Chairman Wellinghoff:

The study’s results have been known for months by people at federal agencies, Congress and the White House, who were briefed by then-FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff and others at the commission. As reported by the Journal last month, Mr. Wellinghoff was concerned about a shooting attack on a California substation last April, which he said could be a dress rehearsal for additional assaults.

“There are probably less than 100 critical high voltage substations on our grid in this country that need to be protected from a physical attack,” he said by email this week. “It is neither a monumental task, nor is it an inordinate sum of money that would be required to do so.” Mr. Wellinghoff left FERC in November and is a partner at law firm Stoel Rives LLP in San Francisco.

FERC has given the industry until early June to propose new standards for the security of critical facilities, such as substations.

This latest WSJ report on the vulnerability of the national electrical grid noted in conclusion:

While the prospect of a nationwide blackout because of sabotage might seem remote, small equipment failures have led to widespread power outages. In September 2011, for example, a failed transmission line in Arizona set off a chain reaction that created an outage affecting millions of people in the state and Southern California.

Sabotage could wreak worse havoc, experts said.

“The power grid, built over many decades in a benign environment, now faces a range of threats it was never designed to survive,” said Paul Stockton, a former assistant secretary of defense and president of risk-assessment firm Cloud Peak Analytics. “That’s got to be the focus going forward.”

Watch this Wall Street Journal video  interview with National War College Professor Dr. Richard Andress:

In our February 2014   Iconoclast post  we cited the vulnerability of critical   transformer substations throughout the national grid, the lack of sufficient replacement manufacturing capacity in the US and the dependence on foreign manufacturers in China,  South Korea and Germnay.That more than 100 military bases were supplied by the civilian electrical grid.  We also revealed the differing attitudes of leading electrical industry groups and Congressional lassitude on the matter of passing enabling legislation. We said:

The  North American Electric Reliability  Corporation (NERC), the principal electric utility standard setting organization,  has opposed passage of the Shield Act calling the network “resilient”.  Au contraire  says  an official of Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) cited by the WSJ: “The breadth and depth of the attack was unprecedented” in the U.S., said Rich Lordan, senior technical  executive. “The motivation”, he said, “appears to  be preparation for an act of war.”  When we checked the websites of House Energy and Commerce Committee  Chairman  Fred Upton (R-MI ) and  Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) their major concerns as regards the security of the grid is vulnerability to cyber attack.  According to the WSJ  retiring  House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) raised concerns  about the lack of federal  authority to undertake protective actions regarding the safety of the national grid during FERC oversight hearings in December 2013.

The revelations of this follow up WSJ report buttress the conclusions of our earlier post:

Whether it is  a terrorist attack like the Metcalf substation incident, the threat of a massive geomagnetic storm during  an EMP caused by either North Korea or Iran , this latest WSJ report should embolden US taxpayers and electrical users to request serious  Congressional  consideration of HR 2417: The Shield Act .   If any of those events occurred  that would  bring us back to pre-industrial times. The estimates are that more than 200 million Americans could succumb to a  pandemic  virus from lack of food, water, sanitation  and  medical treatment caused by the breakdown of industrial , transportation and communications networks.

If you are concerned about this lack of security of the national  grid, you should consider signing  the Protect The US Grid  petition requesting Congressional consideration of the Shield Act, here.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Bit9+Carbon Black and FL based Sylint Group partner to provide global cybersecurity services

WALTHAM, Mass.— Bit9, the leader in advanced threat protection for endpoints and servers, today announced the Bit9 Connect Alliance Partner Program. The program integrates the leading endpoint and server security solution from Bit9 + Carbon Black with top network security, analytics and SIEM, threat intelligence and security service provider solutions so organizations can choose best-of-breed solutions from different vendors to create a unified defense against cyber threats.

Companies participating in the program represent the best of the best in their respective segments of security. The end result is enterprises that deploy the Bit9 Security Platform with any or all of the alliance partners’ offerings will strengthen their security posture, decrease their total costs of ownership, achieve faster deployment times, and gain increased value from their integrated solutions. Participating vendors’ solutions are certified to fully integrate with the Bit9 platform.

The new program, which is being introduced a week following Bit9’s merger with Carbon Black, covers the complete security ecosystem, including:

  • Network Security–Bit9 and Carbon Black partner with vendors in the network security space to enable customers to correlate their network data with their endpoint and server data. As network security solutions detect malware on the network, Bit9 and Carbon Black consume the network alerts and automatically determine where the malware landed, if it executed, and how many machines were affected. This instant visibility enables security analysts to filter out non-actionable events, prioritize high-impact alerts, and rapidly respond to security incidents. Likewise, when Bit9 detects unknown or suspicious executable files on endpoints and servers, it can send the file to a detonation engine for analysis. If a risk analysis determines that the file is malicious, Bit9 can automatically ban it from spreading to other endpoints or servers within a customer’s environment. Certified network security solutions include Check Point Next Generation FirewallGeneral Dynamics Fidelis Cybersecurity SolutionsFireEye EXFireEye NX, and Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall.
  • Analytics and SIEM—Bit9 works with vendors in the data analytics and security information and event management (SIEM) space to enable customers to view all of their security information from one centralized data repository. Bit9 offers standards-based and proprietary integrations with leaders in this space so security analysts can view endpoint and server events alongside other security information. Certified analytics and SIEM solutions in the program include HP ArcSightIBM QRadarLogRhythm, and RSA NetWitness.
  • Threat Intelligence—Bit9 partners with threat intelligence vendors to bolster the power of the Bit9 Software Reputation Service (SRS). The Bit9 SRS is a cloud-based intelligence database that provides insight into known-good, known-bad and unproven software, giving IT and security teams actionable intelligence about the software installed within their enterprise. Our threat intelligence partners provide valuable feeds so Bit9 can provide customers with the most accurate and up-to-date software reputation data. Bit9’s threat intelligence partners include OPSWAT and Team Cymru. Bit9 will announce additional threat intelligence partners later this quarter.
  • Security Service Providers—Bit9 partners with managed security service providers (MSSP) to fully empower security analysts to detect, respond and remediate advanced threats that target their customers. Bit9 also works closely with incident response (IR) consulting firms to help clients gain immediate access to the Bit9 + Carbon Black solution to aid in remediation efforts. As IR teams identify the malicious files used to execute an attack, Bit9 can identify each endpoint and server on which the malware has landed. This immediate visibility enables IR teams to rapidly contain attacks and accelerate remediation. Certified security service provider partners in the Bit9 Connect program include AccuvantFishNet Security and Sylint.

Bit9 Executive Quote: Tom Barsi, vice president of business development
“Legacy security systems do not solve the problem for today’s advanced threats. Customers are defending themselves against advanced threats with a completely new approach across their security stack. I’m excited to announce that today, Bit9 is taking a step forward to create a holistic ecosystem of security partners that helps close the security gap and provides a 360-degree view of advanced threat security.”

Palo Alto Networks Executive Quote: Scott Gainey, vice president of marketing and programs
“Bit9 is setting the pace for Endpoint Threat Detection, Response and Prevention solutions. Since our partnership began in 2013, we have been consistently impressed with Bit9’s execution, and our customers have demonstrated strong interest in our integrated network and endpoint security offerings. The Bit9 Connect Program will only deliver further value as customers continue to build out next-generation security infrastructures.”

IBM QRadar Executive Quote: Jason Corbin, director of security intelligence strategy and product management
“With today’s increasingly complex threats, more network context helps security teams detect attacks and remediate breaches faster. The Bit9 Security Platform provides the QRadar Security Intelligence solution with in-depth visibility around endpoint security. Our joint solution identifies where files originate, any propagation to other machines, and whether they’re executable, malicious or involved in a current attack. We’re excited about Bit9 adding more intelligence and visibility around security threats such as malware and zero-day attacks to QRadar’s leading analytical capabilities.”

Sylint Executive Quote: Serge Jorgensen, chief technology officer
“The Bit9 team and product suite bring a strong new set of capabilities to any incident response toolkit. Bit9’s technology consistently increases the accuracy, speed and efficiency of our incident response process by precisely identifying key files and machines and allowing a more effective triage and mitigation.”

About Sylint

Formed in 1998, our firm has developed a national reputation as a leader in its field. We serve clients from Fortune 50 to small firms and municipalities. Our professionals combine experience from National Intelligence Agencies, Department of Defense, law enforcement, and corporate entities Sylint provides comprehensive cyber security and investigative services to keep our clients secure in a cost efficient manner. Our services include detection and remediation of corporate espionage, fraud identification, cyber security posture review, and regulatory compliance.

About Bit9 + Carbon Black

Bit9 and Carbon Black have joined together to offer the industry’s most complete solution for advanced threat protection for endpoints and servers. The merged company helps organizations protect themselves from advanced threats in two critical ways: by reducing their attack surface through new signature-less forms of prevention, and rapidly detecting and responding to threats. We do this by leveraging the powerful combination of Carbon Black’s lightweight endpoint sensor, which can be rapidly deployed with no configuration to deliver “incident response in seconds,” and Bit9’s industry-leading prevention technologies to continuously monitor and record all activity on endpoints and servers and stop cyber threats that evade traditional security defenses. Our lightweight real-time sensor and recorder, cloud-based services, and real-time enforcement engine give organizations immediate visibility into everything running on their endpoints and servers; real-time signature-less detection of and protection against advanced threats; a recorded history of all endpoint and server activity to rapidly respond to alerts and incidents; and real-time integration with network security devices such as Check Point, FireEye and Palo Alto Networks. 1,000 organizations worldwide—from 25 Fortune 100 companies to small businesses—use Bit9 and Carbon Black to increase security, reduce operational costs and improve compliance.

The Cyber Attacks are coming, the Cyber Attacks are coming!

If you Google the words “cyber attacks” you will get 164 million results. So where is our government on defending you and me against this growing peril? According to experts like John Jorgenson, CEO and founding partner of  the Sylint Group, our government is woefully behind the times in capability and capacity to deal with the threat of cyber attacks let alone the cyber warfare being conducted on a global scale by nation states such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran.

Today the cry across America is the cyber attacks are coming, the cyber attacks are coming! But no one is taking action. No one that is except those few who, like Jorgenson, truly understand the catastrophic nature of the threat.

The most recent cyber attack was against our federal court system. Politico’s Tony Romm reports, “Unidentified hackers took aim at the federal court system Friday [January 24, 2014], blocking access to its public website while preventing lawyers and litigants from filing legal documents online. The incident affected uscourts.gov the federal court’s public hub, as well as most if not all federal court sites — not to mention the federal court system’s electronic filing system and its access page, PACER, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said Friday.” The site remained down when this column was posted.

john jorgenson

John Jorgensen, CEO and a founding partner of the Sylint Group.

Jorgenson notes, “Since President Obama created a White House ‘cyber czar‘ position in 2009 there have been six appointed and then leave the position. The reason is a lack of support and funding for the program.”

In an email Jorgenson states, “The Cyber Czar count is difficult to do because of the people who temporarily held the post and the ‘Cyber Czar’ post being identified with the Obama Administration and DHS both. It is not easy to find the names of those who resigned. The press makes it out that there has been only one Cyber Czar under Obama, Schmidt. You have to really search to find the others.” The players since President Obama first took office are:

  • Rod Beckstrom – Resigned/Replaced, White House
  • Melissa Hathaway – Resigned. Hathaway was said to have been temporary, White House. But was she temporary because she resigned so quickly after making negative comments about the administration?
  • Howard Schmidt – Retired (Stated at RSA, 2010 or 2011, that there is no Cyber Warfare), White House.
  • Unknown – There was talk of a woman who took Schmidt’s place but soon resigned and Schmidt stayed on, White House.
  • Mark Weatherford – DHS / resigned.
  • Bruce McConnell – DHS / Temporary.
  • Michael Daniel – Current, White House.

“At issue is that a post as important as this, has had enormous turnover and turmoil, and we are only five years into the administration ‘leadership’. Nothing of substance to protect commercial industry, the countries infrastructure, or the citizen has come out of the White House. From the attacks being made on the United States on the Cyber Battlefield our advisories are taking Cyber Warfare seriously while we can’t find a credible Field Marshall let alone decide what needs to be done,” notes Jorgenson.

John Kelly from HowStuffWorks.com wrote, “In 2009, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared that the U.S. ‘is under cyber-attack virtually all the time, every day’ [source: Farrell]. He wasn’t joking. That year, computer spies gained access to files about the Pentagon’s $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project, intruders breached the Air Force’s air-traffic-control system, Chinese hackers penetrated computers at Google, and Russian cyber-thieves stole tens of millions of dollars from Citibank.”

On June 23, 2009, the Secretary of Defense directed the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command to establish a sub-unified command, United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM). Full Operational Capability (FOC) was achieved Oct. 31, 2010. The command is located at Fort Meade, Maryland.

NextGov.com reports, “In the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act passed by House lawmakers last week, Congress required the Defense Department appoint a high level Principal Cyber Advisor with a broad oversight portfolio that includes offensive and defensive cyber missions, resources, personnel, acquisition and technology. A Senate vote on the bill is expected this week. The new cyber advisor will have ‘overall supervision’ of all Defense cyber operations and will oversee a team that will integrate the cyber expertise of the four services, combatant commands and Defense agencies.”

Jorgenson believes that “major government systems have been compromised, including the US electrical grid.” Jorgenson stated that other systems such as health care, hospitals and our food supply systems are targets of cyber attacks. These attacks are dangerous because according to Jorgenson, “they place malware on corporate and government computer systems with the intent of controlling manufacturing, distribution and information system processes.”

The danger is real, clear and present. However, it appears the federal government and Congress is less concerned with the threat as it is with making political points over the dysfunctional HeathCare.gov website. Which by the way has been compromised!

Time to Amend the Florida Constitution to stop the NSA?

A column on World Net Daily has come to my attention. It deals with legislative proposals in the states of Missouri and Kansas changing their constitutions to protect the privacy, and liberty, of their citizens electronic communications and data. The following are excerpts from the column. Perhaps it is time for Florida to consider amending its constitution in the same way?

The National Security Agency may be able to spy on citizens by collecting data about their telephone calls and Internet usage, but at least two states are developing a strategy that would leave the data largely unusable without a warrant.

The newly revealed practices of the NSA to monitor all telephone calls made by American citizens could even be found in violation of the Missouri state constitution.

Several court cases that could eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court have been filed since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked information about the program.

Lawmakers in several states, however, aren’t waiting.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, lawmakers in Missouri are proposing to amend their state constitution. Their plan would add “and electronic communications and data” to the provision that provides privacy and security for residents.

If changed by voters, it would read:

“That the people shall be secure in their persons, papers, homes [and], effects, and electronic communications and data, from unreasonable searches and seizures; and no warrant to search any place, or seize any person or thing, or access electronic data or communication, shall issue without describing the place to be searched, or the person or thing to be seized, or the data or communication to be accessed, as nearly as may be; nor without probable cause, supported by written oath or affirmation.”

The Joint Resolution, pending before the state Senate, proposes allowing Missouri voters to decide next November whether or not to amend their constitution.

In Kansas, Rep. Brett Hildabrand, R-Shawnee, pre filed a bill that would “ban all state agencies and local governments in the state from possessing data ‘held by a third-party in a system of record’ and would prohibit any such information from being ‘subject to discovery, subpoena or other means of legal compulsion for its release to any person or entity or be admissible in evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding.’”

The access the data, under the bill, government would be required to obtain “express informed consent” or a warrant.

Read more.

Disneyland moves towards a Police State?

Jacob Sloan from DisInfo.com reports, “Who says the Panopticon has to be gloomy? Children will be thrilled to find that Mickey Mouse already knows everything about them.” ANIMAL New York writes:

In an effort to give its theme park patrons a more customized, interactive experience, Disney is adopting the tactics of law enforcement agencies everywhere: giving out wristbands embedded with tracking devices and information about the people wearing them.

Uses for the wristbands, dubbed “MyMagic+,” range from the pedestrian–like tracking purchases and attractions visited, presumably to serve up targeted advertisements–to the surreal. If a child wearing a MyMagic+ band approaches a Cinderella mascot, for example, Cinderella could be automatically informed of the child’s information, so she can greet him or her by name. Fortunately, the devices are strictly optional for now.

“We want to take experiences that are more passive and make them as interactive as possible,” said Bruce Vaughn, Disney Imagineering’s chief creative executive. “Moving from, ‘Cool, look at that talking bird,’ to ‘Wow, amazing, that bird is talking directly to me.”

The Disney World website states:

MyMagic+ will allow you to take control of your Walt Disney World vacation like never before.

You can personalize your experience … and even your MagicBand. Best yet, you’ll have the confidence of locking in incredible Disney experiences—while having the flexibility to make updates as your plans change.

There’s never been an easier way to experience a Walt Disney World vacation that’s all yours. Stay tuned for more Disney magic yet to be revealed!

There is no indication that visitors may opt out of wearing MyMagic+ wristbands.

 

“Electronic Army Of the Caucasus Emirate” threatens Cyber War against Russia

On December 27, 2013, the website posted a video titled “Appeal by the Anonymous Caucasus #OpPayBackForSotchi2014.” The “Anonymous Caucasus” describes itself as the “electronic army of the Caucasus Emirate” and has a website and accounts on Twitter and Facebook. In this video it warns the Russian government to stop its “activities” in Sochi (presumably the preparations for the Winter Olympics), otherwise the group will launch a cyber war against it in retaliation for the “Circassian genocide” of 1864,” reports MEMRI.

The video, which is two minutes and 31 seconds in duration, shows still images of signs in English that read: “Putin, don’t build your credibility on Circassian graves”; “Sochi 2014 – the hidden genocide”; “You’ll be skiing on the mass graves”; “2014 Sochi Olympic winter games – Circassian genocide 150 anniversary”.

The message is delivered by an unseen announcer. The following are excerpts:

“Our message is addressed to the government of the Russian Federation and to all the supporters of the [Winter] Olympics in Sochi. You are spending millions of dollars to organize these games on the land of the Circassians, on the land where their entire people was cruelly annihilated, on the land of the 1864 genocide… 150 years have passed, but Russia has not recognized the genocide of the Circassian people, and continues to ignore the people who live on this land. But now Anonymous Caucasus has decided to carry out a new operation called “Pay Back For Sochi.” We will launch the largest cyber war [that ever was] against the Russian government.

You will pay for [the genocide]. You crossed the line of inhumanity by wanting to hold your games on the land of our ancestors. Our army is now stronger than it was yesterday and [even] a minute ago, and our activity will increase. We support all the peoples of the Caucasus [in the struggle] against our enemy and enemy of Islam – [namely] Russia. Stop your activities in the Sochi region and we will stop ours… [If you don’t], we will attack you, we will destroy you. We will get our own way and you will not stop us. We are the Anonymous Caucasus. We neither forgive nor forget…”

Read more here.

EDITORS NOTE: In the mid-19th century large numbers of Circassians were expelled from the northwest Caucasus following the Russian conquest of the area. An unknown number of deportees died during the expulsions.

Danger: Your coffee maker may be spying on you!

In August Adam Levin from ABC News reported, “For Americans concerned about their privacy, the NSA data grabs are daunting, but what about the data grabs happening inside your own home, perpetrated not by the government, but by your coffee machine?”

Levin notes, “Consider every appliance and every piece of home electronics that you own. Does it gather data about how you use it? Does it connect to the Internet? If so, it could be used to spy on you. Your mobile devices, your TV, and now various other types of home appliances can be wired into a network that can track you. If those networks are hacked, information about your habits and behaviors could be available to people with nefarious goals. The same technological innovation that empowers us also makes us vulnerable to those who would exploit such advances against us.”

Levin list nine categories of ordinary home appliances that are now capable of collecting data on you including: your television, your cable box, dishwasher, toaster, your lights, your heat/AC and coffee maker.

Steve Watson in March 2012 on InfoWars.com stated, “CIA director David Petraeus has said that the rise of new “smart” gadgets means that Americans are effectively bugging their own homes, saving US spy agencies a job when it identifies any “persons of interest”.

“Speaking at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s technology investment operation, Petraeus made the comments when discussing new technologies which aim to add processors and web connections to previously ‘dumb’ home appliances such as fridges, ovens and lighting systems,” writes Watson.

“‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus enthused, “particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft.”

“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” Petraeus said.

Simon Sharwood in his column “DON’T BREW THAT CUPPA! Your kettle could be a SPAMBOT” reports, “Russian authorities have claimed that household appliances imported from China contain tiny computers that seek out open WiFi networks and then get to work sending spam and distributing malware. St Petersburg news outlet Rosbalt reported last week that local authorities had examined kettles and irons and found “20 to 30 pieces of Chinese home appliance ‘spy’ microchips” that “sends some data to the foreign server”.

Finally Watson states, “Petraeus’ comments come in the same week that one of the biggest microchip companies in the world, ARM, unveiled new processors that are designed to give practically every household appliance an internet connection, in order that they can be remote controlled and operate in tandem with applications.

When you get your next appliance better check your privacy at you door.

RELATED COLUMN: Your Car Could be ‘Spying’ on You! US Report Reveals Carmakers are Collecting Data about Drivers’ Travel Habits

Is Rumored Saudi – Israeli Collaboration on a “Super Stuxnet” Iranian Disinformation?

Photo source: FARS News Agency

There is lots of chatter in the media and on the internet speculating on a possible Israeli Saudi entente to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program with a Super Stuxnet malware.  That speculation was triggered by an Iranian FARS agency report on November 30, 2013  concerning  a supposed alliance of convenience between the Jewish nation and the Wahhabist Saudi Kingdom, “Riyadh, Tel Aviv Cooperating to Sabotage Iran’s N. Program.”.  The report focused on  possible of  development a coordinated sabotage effort aimed at delaying and ultimately destroying Shiite Iran’s achievement of nuclear breakout.  Some seasoned observers considered this part of an elaborate Iranian disinformation campaign in the wake of the November 24th P5+1 deal struck with Iran in Geneva.

Here is what FARS reported that gave rise to the speculations:

“Saudi spy chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency Tamir Bardo sent their representatives to a meeting in Vienna on November 24 to increase the two sides’ cooperation in intelligence and sabotage operations against Iran’s nuclear program,” an informed source close to the Saudi secret service told FNA on Saturday.

“One of the proposals raised in the meeting was the production of a malware worse than the Stuxnet (a comprehensive US-Israeli program designed to disrupt Iran’s nuclear technology) to spy on and destroy the software structure of Iran’s nuclear program,” the source who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of his information added.

[…]

Bandar himself had also earlier met Bardo in Jordan’s Aqaba port city, a meeting which elicited outrage from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz who had already advised the Saudi spy chief to run indirect and clandestine consultations with the Israeli regime on strategic issues in the Middle East. In the wake of the secret talks, Prince Salman ordered the prosecution of the spymaster.

In addition to the Iranian disinformation campaign directed at exposing a possible Israeli -Saudi entente aimed at conducting cyber warfare against Iran’s  nuclear program there were other defensive moves by the US played out in Washington, Jerusalem and Bahrain this week.

President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry began an intense public relations campaign this past week. That began Wednesday evening with a final Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony in the White House. That event featured a Holocaust survivor lighting the final blaze of candles for the eighth evening of the Jewish holiday. This provided an opportunity for President Obama  to make a pitch to the American Jewish community that the interim deal would grant time for negotiations to perfect a permanent one  blocking Iran from achieving a nuclear breakout threatening Israel’ s existence. On Thursday in Jerusalem, Secretary of State Kerry briefed Israeli PM Netanyahu on the P5+1 interim deal that the latter had roundly criticized as an “historical mistake”.

According to the Washington Post, Kerry was suggesting that Netanyahu provide some ‘breathing room’ to permit the Geneva deal to proceed to a definitive final agreement forestalling Iran’s nuclear weapons development. Netanyahu’s objections were that the current negotiations track  would not lead to dismantling Iran’s nuclear program, let alone prevent it from achieving a nuclear capability.  Kerry was trying to prevent Netanyahu from emboldening bi- partisan Congressional allies in Washington from rushing to judgment and passing strengthened sanctions.  As this weekend began, another voice in  Administration’s PR campaign for the P5+1 interim deal  with Iran was heard.  Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel, in his remarks, today, at the Manama Dialogue with the Gulf Cooperating Council States  suggested that a military option was a complement to the current diplomatic track with a nuclear Iran. Further, that arms and other support would still flow to America’s querulous allies in the Gulf. That may have sent a message to Netanyahu in Jerusalem that Israeli consideration of a unilateral action against Iran’s nuclear program was unwarranted.

Serious questions have arisen about unresolved arrangements and issues in the P5+1 deal. Jonathan Schanzer of the Washington, DC Foundation for Defense of Democracies noted some glaring examples in a CNN report, “US and Iran See Nuclear Deal Differently”.

On the Arak heavy water reactor:

According to the White House Fact Sheet, this means that “Iran has committed to no further advances of its activities at Arak and to halt progress on its plutonium track.”

[. . .]

According to Reuters, however, Iran could “build components off-site to install later.”  According to the Iranian Eghtesad Online website, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told the Majles that while “no new nuclear fuel will be produced and no new installations will be installed… that “building and construction will continue because currently we are at this stage in Arak.”

On Iran’s rights to continue nuclear enrichment:

U.S. officials claim the Geneva deal does not recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium. Iranian officials claim it does. According to Zarif, “Iran enjoys that right and it is important to recognize that right. This recognition is there [in the agreement].” Similarly, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araghchi tweeted in Farsi, “Our enrichment program has been formally recognized.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also boasted that the “nuclear rights of the people of Iran and their right to enrichment was acknowledged by global powers.”Rouhani later declared that “enrichment, which is one part of our nuclear right, will continue, it is continuing today and it will continue tomorrow and our enrichment will never stop and this is our red line.”

On the reality of Sanctions relief under the P5+1 deal:

According to the White House Fact Sheet, Iran will receive approximately $7 billion in sanctions relief over six months. However, according to Araghchi, the Geneva deal will provide Iran with access to $15 billion over that time. Iranian officials have further reportedly claimed that the United States has unfrozen $8 billion in Iranian assets thus far. The math on the deal remains somewhat fuzzy in Washington.

President Obama stated that the “broader architecture of sanctions will remain in place and we will continue to enforce them vigorously.” Rouhani, however, claimed that “cracks in the sanctions organization have begun…and as time passes, the space between these cracks will increase.” And in other remarks, the ever-smiling Rouhani boasted that “we broke the structure of sanctions.”

The lack of transparency and appeasement at Geneva has aroused concerns in Washington, in Jerusalem and Riyadh. Thus giving rise to the speculations about an Israeli- Saudi Entente tilting towards covert sabotage of Iran’s nuclear program.  There are several cautionary notes. The first is the rumored accusations by the Administration that Israel may have leaked information about the Stuxnet malware joint development program with the US begun during the Bush Administration. Israel has contended it was the other way around.

The FARS report was clearly meant to widen the divide between the Administration and the Saudis. The Saudis are angry over the Administration  failures to actively support the Sunni Islamist opposition in the Syrian civil war.

There is also the sense that broad spectrum use of Malware like Stuxnet may incur  “collateral damage”.  Eugene Kaspersky,  principal at the Russian anti-virus Kaspersky Institute,  recently commented at an Australian conference that, “Stuxnet – the famous worm widely credited with crippling the Iranian nuclear weapons program for several years – also infected the internal network of a Russian nuclear plant. Unspecified malware has even reached the International Space Station”.

That point was amplified in a post by Luigi Pagnani,  Editor in Chief  of Cyber Defense Magazine in the on-line journal, Security Affairs, “Israel and Saudi Arabia aHudare plotting a cyber weapon worse than Stuxnet”.   We have edited his conclusions, as follows:

Israel and Saudi Arabia consider Iran an enemy to destroy.  Progress in the Iranian nuclear program is not acceptable to both governments and represents a dangerous threat.

The creation of cyber weapons is no less dangerous than the Iranian nuclear program.  The diffusion of such malware could cause serious damage to a critical infrastructure with unpredictable results, not to exclude the possibility of  directly affecting civilian populations.

It is absolutely necessary that there be development of a legal framework for using a cyber weapon with rules of engagement. A cyber weapon could have effects similar to a nuclear bomb.

The quixotic nature of the rumored Saudi – Israeli Entente endeavoring to disable if not stop ran’s quest for nuclear hegemony is problematic. Walter Russell Mead in a Wall Street Journal op ed, “A Riyadh-Jerusalem Entente”, elaborates on the dynamics of this suggested entente.   He notes in conclusion:

The two temporary allies could settle a few other scores. They could work jointly against Hezbollah and Hamas, perhaps with Egyptian help returning Fatah to power in Gaza. From Syria to Iran, the Kurds might suddenly find they’ve got more money and that their relations with their Sunni Arab neighbors might improve.

Those who think the Israelis and Saudis will have to accept whatever treatment the Americans dish out may be right. But if access to Saudi facilities changes the calculations about what Israeli strikes against Iran can accomplish, the two countries have some careful thinking to do. It would be an error for American policy makers to assume that allies who feel jilted will sit quietly.

The rumored momentary alliance between Zionists and Sunni Supremacist exemplifies the “enemy of my enemy” doctrine rising to the fore. It is only a temporary pact of convenience, at best. In Islamic doctrine it would likely be equivalent to the Treaty of Hudaibaya.  Israel is the convincing dominant techno-military power in the region.  It is able to undertake a possible sabotage program while the Saudis have the money and the pathways to perfect a meaningful threat.  If a victory occurs, courtesy of the alleged Saudi-Israeli entente, a big if, then the Islamic fundamentalists will still retreat to their primal doctrine of hatred toward its Jewish saviors. Saviors who lie frustratingly beyond the control of Wahhabist religious political doctrine. A doctrine of totalitarianism that like Fascism and Communism will crumble and ultimately fail. In this instance it will fail because regional Sunni tribal loyalties coupled with Islamic doctrine will inevitably trump civil polity and modernization.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.