No need for trenches in cyber-warfare, when all you need is a computer

Cyber warfare doesn't need anything more complex than a laptop and a power source. (Shutterstock/File)
Updated 12 February 2019
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No need for trenches in cyber-warfare, when all you need is a computer

  • Estimates put the cost of cyber attacks at $575 bln
  • Conference told cyber warfare impacts the very fabric of society

DUBAI: Cyber-warfare allows anyone to hack and take over billboards, television stations and even speeches far from where the conflict is and from the comfort of their own homes, warned information security researcher and analyst Rodrigo Bijou on Tuesday.

“Cyberfare goes beyond just hacking a few computers and systems, it is the manipulation of the very fabric of society, online and offline,” Bijou told audience members at a packed hall Dubai’s World Government Summit.

“Maintaining cybersecurity is a necessity because it goes beyond simple piracy to manipulation of the fabric of society.”

Organizations operating in the Middle East – including media – have been targeted in cyberattacks so sophisticated and so big that they could only have been by governments or agencies operating on their behalf.

In 2018 the British government estimated the global cost of cyber attacks ranged from a “conservative” $375 bln to a top end of $575 bln.

Costs come as a result of a multitude of reasons: media company websites are taken over, bank accounts emptied, sensitive information stolen and leaked, or websites are simply disabled in malicious attacks.

None of these examples are good for any organization or government, but for smaller companies without the back up of highly experienced technical teams it can be crippling.    

Bijou spoke of the need for governments worldwide to be wary of “digital vulnerabilities” in order to stay ahead of hackers.

“We can change the dynamics of cyber-warfare through a global collaborative approach, turning hacking into a force for the betterment of humanity,” he said, adding that “Government must design cybersecurity strategies and ensure cyber resilience and work on unified cyber strategies operating in a single system to take care of any digital imbalance in order to confront piracy.”

Also speaking on the third and last day of the World Government Summit in Dubai was Facebook’s policy manager for Europe and MENA on counterterrorism and countering violent extremism, Erin Marie Saltman.

“We must fight the rhetoric of extremism and hatred that is spread through extremist content and calculations,” she said, adding that governments and companies “must constantly conduct objective analysis in the cyber world to challenge the threat of terrorism and extremism.”

“There are penetrating accounts and hate speech, so we must urge governments to do more to address this phenomenon that is spreading in the cyber world,” she said.

Saltman urged both governments and powerful companies to work together to counter these rhetorics.

“We must work together to create a digital fingerprint that contributes to creating a digital society to counter extremism,” she said.


What happened to the Apollo goodwill moon rocks?

Updated 16 June 2019
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What happened to the Apollo goodwill moon rocks?

  • Some of the gifts have either gone missing, were stolen or destroyed over the decades

HOUSTON, Texas: US President Richard Nixon gave moon rocks collected by Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 astronauts to 135 countries around the world and the 50 US states as a token of American goodwill.
While some hold pride of place in museums and scientific institutions, many others are unaccounted for — they have either gone missing, were stolen or even destroyed over the decades.
The list below recounts the stories of some of the missing moon rocks and others that were lost and later found.
It is compiled from research done by Joseph Gutheinz Jr, a retired NASA special agent known as the “Moon Rock Hunter,” his students, and collectSPACE, a website which specializes in space history.

• Both the Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 moon rocks presented to perpetually war-wracked Afghanistan have vanished.

• One of the moon rocks destined for Cyprus was never delivered due to the July 1974 Turkish invasion of the island and the assassination of the US ambassador the following month.
It was given to NASA years later by the son of a US diplomat but has not been handed over to Cyprus.

Joseph Gutheinz, an attorney known as the "Moon Rock Hunter," displays meteorite fragments in his office on May 22, 2019 in Friendswood, Texas. (AFP / Loren Elliot)



• Honduras’s Apollo 17 moon rock was recovered by Gutheinz and Bob Cregger, a US Postal Service agent, in a 1998 undercover sting operation baptized “Operation Lunar Eclipse.”
It had been sold to a Florida businessman, Alan Rosen, for $50,000 by a Honduran army colonel. Rosen tried to sell the rock to Gutheinz for $5 million. It was seized and eventually returned to Honduras.

• Ireland’s Apollo 11 moon rock was on display in Dublin’s Dunsink Observatory, which was destroyed in a 1977 fire. Debris from the observatory — including the moon rock — ended up in the Finglas landfill.

• The Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 moon rocks given to then Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi have vanished.

• Malta’s Apollo 17 moon rock was stolen from a museum in May 2004. It has not been found.

• Nicaragua’s Apollo 17 moon rock was allegedly sold to someone in the Middle East for $5-10 million. Its Apollo 11 moon rock ended up with a Las Vegas casino owner, who displayed it for a time in his Moon Rock Cafe. Bob Stupak’s estate turned it over to NASA when he died. It has since been returned to Nicaragua.

• Romania’s Apollo 11 moon rock is on display in a museum in Bucharest. Romania’s Apollo 17 moon rock is believed to have been sold by the estate of former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who was executed along with his wife, Elena, on Christmas Day 1989.


Spain’s Apollo 17 moon rock is on display in Madrid’s Naval Museum after being donated by the family of Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, who was assassinated by the Basque separatist group ETA in 1973.
Spain’s Apollo 11 moon rock is missing and is believed to be in the hands of the family of former dictator Francisco Franco.
cl/sst