Cyber power & the Huntington-ian cliche we love to hate

Most of the media coverage around the sustained Russian disinformation campaign against the US and Ukraine portrays post-Soviet Kremlin as some rogue aggressor devoid of ideology or belief. As the perfect villain, its purported aim is to foment chaos and merely revel in it.

If there is any allusion to strategy — some method in Russian madness — then it is limited to the exponents of tactical hybrid warfare like Gen. Valery Gerasimov, not going any deeper.

But if there is one cliche that fully applies to cyber-enabled information warfare, it is that we are witnessing the veritable clash of civilisations in its most primitive form — whose seeds were sown in the computing architecture that predated the internet. It’s a cliche we love to hate — because of Samuel P. Huntington’s appropriation by the American neoconservative thought. Continue reading “Cyber power & the Huntington-ian cliche we love to hate”

USCYBERCOM’s cyberwar: the Great (Video) Game?

The US Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) seems to be adapting and responding to the Russian disinformation threat in some bizarre ways.

Here’s the developing story:

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Why 2019 Indian general election is likely to be influenced by foreign cyber actors

26th November, 2018: My ominous prophecy turned out to be true. But I could have never imagined Iran meddling like this. Read, Planet-scale influence operation strikes at the heart of polarised Indian polity.

Please challenge this hypothesis. I would like to be rebutted and told that this is just the work of my grandiose imagination.

India has been a hotbed of disinformation since the Cold War. Former R&AW chief Vikram Sood chronicles its history in his new book The Unending Game. He narrates how the KGB had “ten Indian newspapers and one news agency on their payroll and thousands of articles were planted.”

Legendary black ops specialist Bahukutumbi Raman had also recorded the scale of Soviet subversion, assessing the information gleamed from the Mitrokhin Archive.

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Digital Privacy and the Illusion of Choice – The Tribune

My second op-ed on privacy, published in the August 20 issue of The Tribune. Original title: Digital Privacy and the Illusion of Choice. Link.

Unknown to many, the draft Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB) and its harbinger the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are a crucial departure from how states have guaranteed privacy to their subjects. They mark a silent defeat against the pervasiveness of sensors that intrude our public and private lives, shifting the onus of accountability from the agents that produce to the agencies that consume.

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India’s Cyber Readiness: Former Deputy NSA Arvind Gupta’s New Book

Former Deputy National Security Advisor Dr. Arvind Gupta’s new book How India Manages Its National Security was released a few days ago. It has dedicated a chapter to ‘Cyber Security Challenges’ and fills a major gap in my understanding of the NDA government’s manoeuvring on cyber.

Beyond the glib and the rhetoric, very little has come out on the qualifiable and quantifiable assessment of nation’s cyber readiness and how the principals of the establishment perceive it. By design or accident, the UPA government actually had a more accessible interface to the then fledgling cyber apparatus, aided by press briefings, dossiers and, occasionally, media leaks – or this may very well reflect my own bias as I was a part of the system then.

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An oral history of the inapplicability of laws in cyberspace

A recent opinion piece of mine hasn’t gone down well with a clutch of lawyers at the helm of the privacy debate in India. I experienced a backlash of sorts in a Whatsapp group operating under the Chatham House rules, so I’m not in a position to share much. Apart from the fact that the article wasn’t even written keeping them in mind, the clutch imagining itself to be the sole torchbearer on the issue did disturb me.

I was aspersed and told that I don’t know the meaning of “Hobbesian” and “Libertarian” – loaded words for someone like me to use, no doubt. What followed was a minor showdown of sorts. The comment did pinch me a little, not because I’ve invested in education to hone my legal knowledge, but because I’ve always known code and law to be the realm of autodidacts. Anyone can cook, code and interpret the law. I also feared that the group could be an echo chamber, and echo chambers kill republics. Continue reading “An oral history of the inapplicability of laws in cyberspace”