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

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.


“Punch in the gut” as scientists find micro plastic in Arctic ice

Chief Scientist for the Northwest Passage Project Dr. Brice Loose drills an ice core in the Arctic as part of an 18-day icebreaker expedition that took place in July and August 2019 in the Northwest Passage, in a still image taken from a handout video obtained by REUTERS on August 14, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 August 2019

“Punch in the gut” as scientists find micro plastic in Arctic ice

  • The researchers said the ice they sampled appeared to be at least a year old and had probably drifted into Lancaster Sound from more central regions of the Arctic

LONDON: Tiny pieces of plastic have been found in ice cores drilled in the Arctic by a US-led team of scientists, underscoring the threat the growing form of pollution now poses to marine life in even the remotest waters on the planet.
The researchers used a helicopter to land on ice floes and retrieve the samples during an 18-day icebreaker expedition through the Northwest Passage, the hazardous route linking the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
“We had spent weeks looking out at what looks so much like pristine white sea ice floating out on the ocean,” said Jacob Strock, a graduate student researcher at the University of Rhode Island, who conducted an initial onboard analysis of the cores.
“When we look at it up close and we see that it’s all very, very visibly contaminated when you look at it with the right tools — it felt a little bit like a punch in the gut,” Strock told Reuters by telephone.
Strock and his colleagues found the material trapped in ice taken from Lancaster Sound, an isolated stretch of water in the Canadian Arctic, which they had assumed might be relatively sheltered from drifting plastic pollution
The team drew 18 ice cores of up to two meters in length from four locations, and saw visible plastic beads and filaments of various shapes and sizes. The scientists said the findings reinforce the observation that micro plastic pollution appears to concentrate in ice relative to seawater.
“The plastic just jumped out in both its abundance and its scale,” said Brice Loose, an oceanographer at the University of Rhode Island and chief scientist of the expedition, known as the Northwest Passage Project.
The scientists’ dismay is reminiscent of the consternation felt by explorers who found plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean’s Marianas Trench, the deepest place on Earth, during submarine dives earlier this year.
The Northwest Passage Project is primarily focused on investigating the impact of manmade climate change on the Arctic, whose role as the planet’s cooling system is being compromised by the rapid vanishing of summer sea ice.
But the plastic fragments — known as micro plastic — also served to highlight how the waste problem has reached epidemic proportions. The United Nations estimates that 100 million tons of plastic have been dumped in the oceans to date.
The researchers said the ice they sampled appeared to be at least a year old and had probably drifted into Lancaster Sound from more central regions of the Arctic.
The team plans to subject the plastic they retrieved to further analysis to support a broader research effort to understand the damage plastic is doing to fish, seabirds and large ocean mammals such as whales.
Funded by the National Science Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation in the United States, the expedition in the Swedish icebreaker The Oden ran from July 18 to Aug. 4 and covered some 2,000 nautical miles.