Critical infrastructure legislation should also set the parameters of cognitive security – Australian Strategic Policy Institute

My article for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/critical-infrastructure-legislation-should-also-set-the-parameters-of-cognitive-security/.

With the heightened threats in cyberspace, the Australian government wishes to hasten the passage of crucial amendments to the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018.

The unannounced information war with China has put tremendous strain on the Five Eyes intelligence-gathering alliance in Oceania. The relentless compromising of the private sector, which remains a soft but strategic target, has diluted the conventional boundaries of conflict, forcing the government to enhance its legislative reach.

Continue reading “Critical infrastructure legislation should also set the parameters of cognitive security – Australian Strategic Policy Institute”

The equities of telco cyber exploitation: 5G and the Huawei ban – Observer Research Foundation

My article for the Observer Research Foundation: https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/the-equities-of-telco-cyber-exploitation-5g-and-the-huawei-ban/

The Indian government has commenced the trials of 5G technology, but the Chinese company Huawei is notably absent from the list of approved vendors. The Indian strategic community is almost unanimously supportive of the decision, concerned about the emerging Chinese hegemony around 5G standards and architecture. Although think tanks and experts have delved into some of the technical intricacies of 5G, the commentary remains largely polemical and rooted in the complicated verbiage of Sino-Indian geopolitics.

It would be worthy to briefly deconstruct the nature of the threat posed by the telco networks, why they are deemed so critical when it comes to Indian national security imperatives, and the kind of exploits and vulnerabilities which cyber adversaries have used to subvert them. It may paint a slightly different picture and offer a more nuanced take on China’s forays into 5G.

Continue reading “The equities of telco cyber exploitation: 5G and the Huawei ban – Observer Research Foundation”

The SolarWinds hack pokes holes in Defend Forward – Observer Research Foundation

My article for the Observer Research Foundation: https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/the-solarwinds-hack-pokes-holes-in-defend-forward/

In December 2020, the cybersecurity company FireEye discovered a cyber espionage campaign, compromising dozens of government and private organisations in the US.

Orchestrated by subverting the supply-chain of the popular IT administration software-maker SolarWinds, the operation showcased remarkable ingenuity and precise tradecraft at every step of the “kill chain” to skirt around the phenomenal counterintelligence capabilities of the US. They had no plans to outmatch the strategic cyber offensive might of the US, so the spies tactically blended-in with the environment, exploited “transitive trust” of the computers, and used deception to look like routine processes.

Yet, beyond all the technical details, it was the palpable strategic calculus which strikes at the heart of US cyber policy. The SolarWinds hack could potentially upset many of the US’ cyber statecraft initiatives—bolstering national cyber defence in the aftermath of the 2016 electoral interference—which took years to mature.

Continue reading “The SolarWinds hack pokes holes in Defend Forward – Observer Research Foundation”

SolarWinds: Cyber strategists are back to the drawing board – Hindustan Times

My geo-strategic take on the SolarWinds hack, published by the Hindustan Times: https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/solarwinds-cyber-strategists-are-back-to-the-drawing-board/story-L5QunVMY7vRa04isQlT1QL.html.

The SolarWinds hack – a cyber espionage campaign compromising critical organisations of the United States (US) – has fundamentally disrupted the power dynamics of cyberspace.

It is not only a major setback to the cyber statecraft initiatives of the US which took years to mature, but also challenges the basic assumptions upon which the West’s strategy for cyber dominance rests.

Continue reading “SolarWinds: Cyber strategists are back to the drawing board – Hindustan Times”

It has nothing to do with Facebook – The Quint

A very contrarian piece for The Quint: https://www.thequint.com/voices/opinion/facebook-politics-hate-speech-controversy-indian-government-modi-freedom-of-speech-activism.

The recent investigative reports by TIME and the Wall Street Journal on Facebook’s content handling and lobbying activities have triggered an intense political debate in India.

On the one hand, Facebook’s moderation of hateful content in India seems to have been influenced by business and political imperatives; on the other, it appears as if the relationship between its public policy team and the ruling political dispensation was too close for comfort.

Continue reading “It has nothing to do with Facebook – The Quint”

On China, it’s time to consider cyber operations – Hindustan Times

My opinion piece for Hindustan Times: https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/on-china-it-s-time-to-consider-cyber-operations/story-crMraUyDc64taDRHMhEnhP.html.

The recent border clashes between India and China have led analysts, habituated to conventional warfare, to compare the relative strengths of the two adversaries in terms of the number of tanks, aircraft and other military paraphernalia.

It appears that Indian strategic discourse has yet again discounted cyber operations as an instrument of power projection, which could have offered a degree of flexibility when it comes to coercing, compelling and imposing costs on the contentious neighbour. This is unfortunate considering how much Indian think-tanks have glamourised the cyber domain.

Continue reading “On China, it’s time to consider cyber operations – Hindustan Times”

Understanding strategic (cyber) threat Intelligence – SC Magazine

Written for the SC Magazine. The original link seems to have died. Here’s an archived version: https://web.archive.org/web/20200730233821/https://www.scmagazineuk.com/understanding-strategic-threat-intelligence/article/1685804.

In March 2020, Booz Allen Hamilton released a fascinating dossier analysing the cyber operations of GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency, spanning 15 years. The dossier ran the traditional cyber threat intelligence (CTI) tradecraft through an impressive analytic process, thus credibly gluing the cyber operations of GRU to the doctrinal framework and geopolitical imperatives of the Russian state.

Continue reading “Understanding strategic (cyber) threat Intelligence – SC Magazine”