Skip to content

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By
Friday, March 29, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Nicole Perlroth and David Sanger have this New York Times report on recent cyberattacks against the private sector.  The strikes main aim is not to disrupt companies’ activities or collect their trade secrets, but instead to destroy the victims’ capabilities altogether.

The Economist’s Babbage blog tells of a massive cyber assault against a European charity, Spamhaus.  (True to its namesake, the latter combats spam.)  This was the “largest publicly announced DDoS [distributed denial of service--for those beefing up their cyber speak] attack in the history of the Internet.” Wow.  Spamhaus survived, but that’s only so comforting.  That such an attack was technically feasible—and carried out so effectively—says something about the vulnerability of our networks.

And Congressmen Levin and Rangel have sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative, highlighting concerns over alleged swiping of U.S. intellectual property by the Chinese government.  If true, such actions would violate World Trade Organization rules. Here’s Vicki Needham of The Hill.  And U.S. companies aren’t the only victims of Chinese cyberattacks:  crew working on a documentary about Tibet thinks it has been targeted, too. Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post reports.

We may yet see bilateral cooperation between the U.S. and Japan on cybersecurity, according to the Japan Times.  Talks will begin this May on how the two countries can work together to improve countermeasures against attacks.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers went on the record about Japanese company SoftBank’s proposal to buy a big stake in Sprint—you know, that Sprint.   Rogers is pleased that both parties have agreed to stop using equipment made by Chinese company Huawei.  The latter, readers may recall, was the focus of a House Intelligence Committee report—which said that Huawei’s technology, if brought to the U.S., could threaten U.S. national security interests. Here’s a CNN Money story providing more details.

North Korea apparently has put its missiles on standby. Here’s Justin Sink of The Hill and Choe Sang-Hun of the New York Times.  SecDef Hagel says the U.S. takes “seriously every provocative, bellicose word and action” by the DPRK, according to Ernesto Londono of the Washington Post.

Over at The Atlantic, Anoop Mukharji argues that drone operators unlawfully employ “human shields”—not by forcing innocent bystanders into harm’s way, but instead by returning to their civilian dwellings, after a day’s worth of remote piloting and targeted killing.   On this basis, Mukharji ominously warns:

But what happens when the rest of the world has drones? That question is increasingly important as manufacturers look to international markets. While only the U.S. and U.K. have ever deployed armed drones, several countries have them, including China, which considered using one last month to kill a drug lord. Dozens more countries are eager to jump on board and are already investing in research, so drone technology will likely be widely available soon.

The advent of drones challenges the notion of the battlefield and we are far from resolving all of the legal and moral questions it raises. Allowing drone operators to live among civilians is a part of that story. Are we comfortable with a tactic that contradicts one of the essential maxims of warfare, the separation of civilian and military targets?

Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove will command EUCOM, according to SecDef Hagel. Here’s Jeremy Herb of The Hill.

A SARS-like virus has killed 11 of the 17 people which it has infected.  That surely has the World Health Organization’s attention, even though the organization hasn’t yet urged affected countries to take special precautions. Still, Hong Kong—where the SARS virus infected 1,800 people and killed nearly 300 ten years ago—is imposing safeguards and running quarantine simulations.  So far, there hasn’t been a confirmed case of the new virus in Hong Kong.  Here’s Keith Bradsher of the Times.

It seems that the Pakistani Taliban have taken control over significant parts of Karachi.  The group has established tribal courts, set up extortion rackets, and initiated terrorist attacks there, according to Saeed Shah of the Wall Street Journal. Declan Walsh and Zia ur-Rehman of the New York Times likewise report on the “gang” activity in Karachi.

And German police have arrested a Pakistani student assistant, on charges of spying for the Pakistani government.  The assistant had researched Israeli reconnaissance drones used by the German army in Afghanistan. Here’s Pakistan’s Express Tribune story.

A court in Cyprus sentenced a member of Hezbollah to four years in prison for his role in planning attacks against Israelis residing in Cyprus. Here’s the AP with more details.

A long-negotiated U.N. conventional arms control treaty seems to have the support of all U.N. members, save three. Guess which three? Iran, Syria and North Korea opposed the treaty’s consensus adoption by the U.N. General Assembly.  The back-up plan, according to the Times, is putting the treaty up for a vote in that body—which, treaty supporters say, will eventually approve it.

The FBI has filed an affidavit in support of its charges against U.S. Army veteran Eric Harroun, a fellow allegedly in league with Syria’s Al Nusra Front.  The latter is a State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization, and currently fighting the Assad regime. Here’s Sari Horwitz’s report in the Washington Post, and Bobby’s post about it earlier.

Spencer Ackerman at Wired discusses the Office of Naval Research’s bid for certain new technology:  truck-mounted lasers that can shoot down overflying drones.  (Am I the only one reminded of “Austin Powers,” and  Dr. Evil’s laser-equipped sharks?).  Here’s the solicitation from the Office of Naval Research.

A committee of Florida’s legislature proposes to allow law enforcement to use drones only in situations posing an “imminent danger to life” or threatening serious damage to property.  The bill also seems to permit surveillance: it requires a warrant, before a cop-operated drone may collect evidence.  That is, unless there’s a “credible” threat of a terrorist attack; no warrant is required under those circumstances. The AP reports.

For more interesting law and security-related articles, follow us on Twitter and check out the Lawfare News Feed, visit the Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law’s Security Law Brief, Syracuse’s Institute for National Security & Counterterrorism’s newsroll, and Fordham Law’s Center on National Security’s Morning Brief and Cyber Brief. Email Raffaela Wakeman and Ritika Singh noteworthy articles to include, visit the Lawfare Events Calendar for upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings at the Lawfare Job Board.

Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Email this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter2Print this pageShare on Reddit0