Copenhagen and Cambridge

Over the weekend, I went to a reading of Michael Frayn’s “Copenhagen.” When I came home, I saw this long Twitter thread.

I’ve long been annoyed with what I often refer to as “Silicon Valley boys.” It’s becoming more acceptable to say that out loud, and I occasionally do on Twitter. The shallowness of their exhortations for everyone to learn coding, their ignorance of human relations, and their belief that they can change the world for the better with code alone are at best naïve.

Revelations of Facebook’s ethics-free policies in taking advertising and manipulating its users have been dribbling out for over a year. Christopher Wylie’s insider view of Cambridge Analytica and Britain’s Channel 4 investigation have made questions of responsibility impossible to ignore. Read More

Links – February 1, 2018

Cool dinosaur and mammal tracks at NASA. Top photo from here.

The first thing Congress needs to do, when it can get away from the fever dreams of the worst of its members, is to reconstruct the process for passing a budget before the end of the fiscal year.

Americans Are Rising to This Historic Moment. I’m not as convinced as Eliot Cohen, but I think there are positive signs.

Heather Cox Richardson on creeping authoritarianism.

Five Questions the Nunes Memo Better Answer. What is at stake – the grand bargain with the intelligence community. And why aren’t we hearing more from the intelligence community?

Is the Trump foreign policy great-power competition or America First? It depends on whom you ask.

Zeynep Tukfeci on the latest data privacy debacle. It’s not enough to ask individuals for their permission.

Leaks, feasts and sex parties: How ‘Fat Leonard’ infiltrated the Navy’s floating headquarters in Asia. There are simple ways to avoid this kind of corruption. We need to know why the Navy didn’t apply them.

Victor Cha: Giving North Korea a ‘bloody nose’ carries a huge risk to Americans. Cha was to be US ambassador to South Korea, but apparently the ideas expressed in this op-ed were felt to be disqualifying.

This is definitive, if you have friends who are still pushing the Sy Hersh narrative about nerve agents in Syria. It was the Syrian government who were responsible for the sarin attacks.

 

Cyber Strategy – Different From A Shooting War

Big hack of pretty much everything in Ukraine this morning: internet, power plants, government. I wrote this post before that happened, but it applies.

The Obama administration was in an extremely difficult position after learning about Russian hacking of last year’s election. Several factors came into play: the difficulty of dealing with international cyber attacks, intransigent Republican partisanship, and the decaying relationship with Russia. I’m going to break down those factors into at least two posts.

Cyber attacks present a national security problem different from any encountered before. Lumping them into a designation of “cyberwar” projects assumptions of conventional war onto them and distorts the difficulties and possibilities. I haven’t seen much analysis of these differences and how they affect strategy. Please point me to them, if they exist. Most punditry assumes that cyber attacks can be equated to war, and numerous opinion articles have referred to the Russian hacks as a form of war. In this post, I will consider only that part of last fall’s situation. A later post will consider the political ramifications. Read More

Russian Computer Experts Arrested for Treason

Two men were arrested on Wednesday, January 25 in December by Russia’s FSB on charges of treason. The men are Sergei Mikhailov, a senior officer of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, and Ruslan Stoyanov, the head of computer incident response investigations at Kaspersky Lab, which makes antivirus programs. [Update: The arrest was just announced; it appears the men were arrested in December.]  Earlier, the firing of the director of the Center for Information Security, Andrei Gerasimov, was announced, reportedly related to an investigation into the agency’s cooperation with Kaspersky on criminal hacking cases. Moscow Times is now reporting that two more men have been arrested: Dmitry Dokuchaev, who worked in the same FSB unit as Mikhailov, and another whose name has not been released. Read More

Links – October 8, 2015

A very overhyped article on nuclear smuggling. A few things to put this in perspective: A market requires buyers and sellers. Typically these articles report on sting buyers from various law-enforcement organizations. They do not count as a market. Only one “real” possible buyer is mentioned in the article. Also, more and more of these materials are locked up every year. Russia, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, was the largest potential source of illicit nuclear materials. In 24 years, there has been no serious incident of nuclear material getting loose. And Russia’s security has improved greatly. I commented further on Twitter: start here and here and follow the linked tweets. Read More