The Cyber Defense Review


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The Cyber Defense Review: Cybersecurity within a Pandemic Environment

May 18, 2021 — Welcome to the COVID-19 Special Edition of The Cyber Defense Review (CDR). In this issue, we are examining how the pandemic has impacted cybersecurity, and how pandemics may impact it in the future. The genesis of this issue occurred in early Spring 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was emerging, infection numbers were rising, and the world began shifting to a telework-focused workplace to mitigate the spread. Immediately, the cyber threat space became much more complex as attack surfaces multiplied. Organizational information security officers and IT departments had to immediately focus on employees’ home systems, networks, and Internet Service Providers (ISP) while maintaining the security of existing company networks. Teleconference capability providers, such as Zoom, instantly became household names and experienced unprecedented growth (Zoom, for example, saw a 30-fold increase in its use), and Virtual Private Networks became commonly used among the growing teleworking population. MORE

COVID-19 and the Cyber Challenge

May 18, 2021 — Over the past year, a massive public health crisis has gripped the world, fundamentally changing the way individuals and entities work and interact with one another. This global pandemic has also caused new cyber threats to surface, along with the expansion of existing threats from criminal organizations and nation-states as well. This introductory piece sets out some of the key threat vectors in the cyber domain specific to COVID-19 that have emerged in the past year. It also highlights some potential paths forward to mitigate the risk presented in this new environment, including implementing critically important public-private collaboration to mitigate threats going forward. MORE

COVID-19 and Cyber – Foreshadowing Future Non-Kinetic Hybrid Warfare

May 18, 2021 — 2020 was a year like no other in our lifetime. The COVID-19 Pandemic had a broadly evident and devastating impact on our health, our society, and our economy. Less evident have been adversaries’ attempts to employ cyber-attacks to exacerbate the pandemic through cyber-based disruption, exploitation and cyber-driven disinformation. The focus of this essay is on the nexus between cyber security and our future biological threat security (biothreat security). This article begins with a few key questions. What have we learned from observing adversary cyber tradecraft this year? What can we surmise our adversaries have learned from trying to take advantage of the current pandemic that they will use against the US in the future? More importantly, what can we extrapolate from these observations for the future of cyber-attack as the key element of strategic hybrid non-kinetic warfare? MORE

Seven Cybersecurity Lessons the Coronavirus Can Teach the Armed Forces (and Us All)

May 18, 2021 — Iwe have learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that very bad things can happen very quickly, especially if we are not sufficiently prepared. It turns out that everything we have been told about the pandemic is also relevant for cybersecurity; as such, the pandemic is an exceptional learning tool for cyber professionals. Cyberattacks are like biological viruses in several ways: they can spread incredibly fast, their consequences can wreak huge economic damage, and the destruction they cause can be very difficult from which to recover. Viruses spread through human social networks and cyber-attacks exploit our online networks of trust. Viruses and cybercrime are conceptual and invisible, which can make it challenging to understand how they propagate and how they can be stopped. Analogies can be helpful, and there is a strong connection between COVID-19 and cybersecurity that can increase our understanding. We have been forced to learn what it takes to stop a virus; those lessons are helpful here. MORE

Achieving Systemic Resilience in a Great Systems Conflict Era

May 18, 2021 — A converging trifecta of national disruptive threats – pandemic, cyber attacks, and a rising authoritarian China – is draining the wealth, political harmony, and international influence of today’s consolidated democracies. The result is a more palpably apparent decline in the likely future of democracy as the preferred regime alternative world-wide. The collective dismay and frustration may, however, offer a rarely open door for better postures for democracies in facing a more, not less, turbulent future. This article makes three arguments about a new and more accurate characterization of the coming world as Great Systems Conflict, a list of minimal must-do actions for systemic resilience, and the collective structures critical for resilient democracies over the long-term. The article ends with a discussion of two examples of structures meant to build cybered resilience for allied national systems—domestically in the National Cyber Security Centre equivalents and across consolidated democracies in a Cyber Operational Resilience Alliance. MORE

Unleash the Dragon: China’s Strategic Narrative during the COVID-19 Pandemic

May 18, 2021 — This article argues that the disruption of the coronavirus was a critical opportunity among states to draw compelling narratives and consequently negotiate their power status and level of influence based on their management of the outbreak. This argument will be explored through the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at the height of the pandemic. The article investigates the evolution of the CCP’s information warfare as an asymmetric capability from its early days of technological inferiority towards its ascendancy to great power status. It highlights the breakthrough of Chinese app TikTok in the US-dominated social media landscape and its potential impact in expanding China’s strategic narrative. Using the proposed analytical tools—assets, tactics, and narratives—this article examines the whole of CCP approach aimed to shape the narrative in China’s favor following the global outcry from its lack of transparency during the early stages of the pandemic set against the backdrop of its deepening strategic rivalry with the US. It concludes that the CCP will continue to capitalize on information warfare to promote the superiority of the Chinese model amid the eruption of unexpected global crises while depicting the decline of the Western-centric order. MORE

Homefront to Battlefield: Why the U.S. Military Should Care About Biomedical Cybersecurity

May 18, 2021 — Immunity to the cybersecurity risks and potential hazards presented using biomedical devices. US Military and civilian personnel use these devices on the Homefront and battlefield. As the use of biomedical devices increases with time and blurs the lines between private and professional, more attention is required of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to understand the strategic importance of securing biomedical devices. This work provides a better understanding of biomedical devices and analyzes current use of biomedical devices within DoD. It also provides recommendations on actions DoD can undertake to safeguard its workforce today and in the near future. This article examines the significance of cybersecurity for biomedical devices within the context of US national security and demonstrates the important role biomedical cybersecurity plays for DoD. MORE

Factors That Motivate State-Sponsored Cyberattacks

May 18, 2021 — The study of the factors involved in the initiation of violent interstate conflicts has been well documented within international relations. However, scholars have yet to analyze the factors associated with the initiation of international state-sponsored cyberattacks due to the lack of available data. This study is a first attempt to address this limitation. This project examines the political, economic, and military factors associated with the initiation of state-sponsored cyberattacks from 2005–2012, using a unique dataset that incorporates author-collected political, economic, and military data, along with cyber data on known state-sponsored cyberattacks extracted from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Cyber Operations Tracker Dataset. With this unique dataset, we seek to better understand those states most likely to cyberattack other states. MORE

Censored: Distraction and Diversion Inside China’s Great Firewall - Reviewed by Cadet Tommy Hall

May 18, 2021 — This review discusses the content and implications of Margaret E. Roberts’ book, Censored: Distraction and Diversion Inside China’s Great Firewall, (Princeton University Press, April 2018), beginning with the author’s background, and followed with a by-chapter breakdown and conclusion. This review also evaluates Roberts’ ability to deconstruct false assumptions about authoritarian censorship in the digital age. While information is more widespread and accessible now than ever, it also comes with greater vulnerability to the weaponization of disinformation in the cyber domain. Although some of China's dystopian cyber censorship follow conventional wisdom while other features are radically different from conventional wisdom. Liberal democracy advocates must brace for China’s integrated model of “porous censorship” to rapidly proliferate. MORE

The Cyber Defense Review: Looking Forward

March 15, 2021 — As 2020 was ending, there was a good deal of “Glad this year is over!” humor across social media. Of course, 2020 was unique with a global pandemic, but I think we all realize that the difference between the last day of 2020 and the first day of 2021 was not much more than a single rotation of the Earth. Most of the conditions between one moment to the next have not substantially changed. However, one thing that is changing is an increasing awareness of the threat of cyber infiltration and attacks. Being a U.S. Presidential election year served as a focal point for cybersecurity, despite little evidence of disruption through electronic means. Instead, we learned of infiltration across vast amounts of industry and the United States Government (USG). The SolarWinds attack highlighted the pervasiveness of threats across organizations and networks. With over 250-plus government agencies and businesses affected, it is becoming clear that no organization is safe.[1] Considering the reports that the intrusion occurred as early as March/April 2020, it highlights the challenges of maintaining and defending networks. Simply put, by the time you discover the threat, it is already too late. Instead, increasing situational awareness ahead of time becomes even more critical. To that end, The Cyber Defense Review Winter edition presents a great collection of authors from across the global community. We hope that these articles will expand your understanding of the challenges we face with respect to cyberspace while also providing recommendations on how to mitigate these issues. MORE

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