Turkey inflation rate eases but still stubbornly high in December

Economists forecast that double-digit core inflation would persist throughout the first half of 2018. (AFP)
Updated 03 January 2018
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Turkey inflation rate eases but still stubbornly high in December

ANKARA: Inflation in Turkey eased slightly in December after reaching the highest rate in 14 years the month earlier, but remained stubbornly high at almost 12 percent, in a continued headache for policymakers, according to statistics released Wednesday.
Consumer prices rose by 11.92 percent year-on-year in December, the Turkish statistical institute said, down slightly from 12.98 percent in November, which was the highest annual rate recorded since 2003.
On a month-on-month basis, inflation stood at 0.69 percent in December from November, with the biggest price hikes seen in transportation, while clothing prices declined.
The Turkish central bank’s official inflation target is an annual rate of five percent, but double-digit data over the last months have made a mockery of this.
Nevertheless, the bank has been unwilling to make any substantial rate hikes to combat inflation, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is wary that raising borrowing costs could put the brakes on growth.
Economists at QNB Finansbank in Istanbul said the December reading of 11.92 percent was the highest year-end figure since 2003.
They forecast that double-digit core inflation would persist throughout the first half of 2018 and could take longer to fall if the lira stayed weak.
“We think inflation will continue to ease over the coming months,” added William Jackson, economist at Capital Economics in London, arguing the latest reading would take some pressure off the central bank for further tightening.
“Even so, headline inflation is likely to remain in double digits until late this year,” Jackson said in a note to clients.
Erdogan has built his popularity on solid stewardship of the economy in the wake of Turkey’s devastating 2000-2001 financial crisis. Any signs of economic weakness would be a bad omen for the Turkish strongman as he prepares for 2019 elections.
Turkey notched up impressive growth of 11.1 percent in the third quarter, but economists warn this masks growing risk factors, such as inflation and a high current account deficit.


Europol warns on Daesh cyber threat

Updated 18 September 2018
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Europol warns on Daesh cyber threat

  • Daesh said to be seeking malware on 'dark web'
  • Extremist groups also experimenting with digital currencies

LONDON: Daesh followers could be seeking cyber-attack tools from the so-called ‘digital underground,’ according to a new report from Europol.
With Daesh forces having lost most of their territorial strongholds in the Middle East since 2016, the terror organization has increasingly retreated to the web to continue its campaign.
The annual report published on Tuesday looks at current and anticipated threats in cybercrime across the globe, and comes just as the Syrian war seems to be entering its final stage with the last militant rebel fighters holding up in the province of Idlib.
Daesh had already become well-known for using encrypted messaging apps and the ‘dark web’- an area of the Internet not accessible to search engines — to promote itself and recruit new members to its organization.
Europe’s law enforcement agency’s report now suggests that Daesh may also considering the use of cyber-attacks and using the ‘dark web’ to buy illicit malware.
“There has been much concern and speculation over the past few years that terrorists could turn to launching cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure,” the report said.
Daesh-affiliated groups have only managed to carry out a handful of “low-level” cyberattacks in the last year, the report found, including the hacking of a Swedish radio station last year when the attacker managed to play out an IS song on air, the report said.
In March this year, Daesh supporters also attempted to set up an alternative to the social networking platform Facebook, called the “Muslim’s Network.”
While concerns are growing, Europol said the organization’s current cyber-crime abilities remain in their “infancy.”
Daesh is also far more likely to buy cyber-attack tools that use malware or ransomware technology, rather than develop their own tools yet, the report found. 

“While IS sympathizers have demonstrated their willingness to buy cyber-attack tools and services from the digital underground, their own internal capability appears limited,” the report read.
“While terrorist actors are aggregating open- source tools, they have yet to develop their own,” it added.
Extremist networks have also experimented with cryptocurrencies as a means of moving funds across borders, the report said.
Europol highlighted IS-affiliated websites calling for donations of the virtual currency Bitcoin last November.
As yet, no on-the-ground attack carried out in Europe has been funded with virtual currency, the report found, with financing still mainly coming from the conventional banking system and money remittance services.
The report recommended that efforts must be made to disrupt Daesh’s online propaganda in order to hinder the group’s “access to human expertise, funding and cyber tools.”
In July, a survey of academics specializing in cyberterrorism found that just over two-thirds of respondents thought cyberterrorism constituted a “significant threat.”
However, Stuart Macdonald, professor of law at Swansea University and author of the Cyberterrorism Project report told Arab News that there were differences surrounding the definition of cyberterrorism.
Cyberterrorism could potentially covering an attack that resulted in killing a huge number of people or it could just involve shutting down a website for a few hours, he said.
“But overall most agree that vulnerabilities exist in critical infrastructure. Where opinions tend to differ is whether terrorists have the capability to perpetrate acts of cyberterrorism and are motivated to commit acts of cyberterrorism as opposed to more traditional forms of physical attack.
“Some researchers believe that terrorists are likely to prefer traditional physical attacks, as these are more headline-grabbing and generally less expensive,” he said. Still, not all threats are associated with terror groups. Andrew Silke, professor of terrorism, risk and resilience at Cranfield University, said: "Today the major threat of cyber attacks comes from foreign governments, not terrorist groups and their sympathisers. Governments can control and commit the resources and knowledge needed  to carry out truly serious cyber attacks. "When thinking about security then, nations are already thinking in terms of what can be done to counter attacks orchestrated by a rival government. If your security and resilience is good enough to meet that type of threat, it will also be good enough to meet the threats posed by terrorists."