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Cyberwarfare between the U.S. and China
internet income
Image by jurvetson
At the Churchill Club top 10 tech trends debate I disagreed with the propositions that “Cyber Warfare Becomes a Good Thing” and that “US is the Supreme Cyber Security Force in the World and its Primary Force; citizens accept complete observation by the functions of a police state. A devastating electronic attack results in govt. militarization of major gateways and backbones of the Internet.” I have problems with the “goodness” in the first prediction, and while the U.S. may argue that it is the best, I don’t think the trend is toward a sole superpower in cyberspace.

The NSA TAO group that performs the cyber–espionage pulls 2 petabytes per hour from the Internet. The networking infrastructure to support this is staggering. Much of it is distributed among the beige boxes scattered about in plain view, often above ground on urban sidewalks. When President Obama receives his daily intelligence briefing, over 75% of the information comes from government cyberspies. (BusinessWeek)

Cyber-offense may be very different than cyber-defense. Some argue that open disclosure of defense modalities can make them stronger, like open source software. But offensive tactics need to be kept private for them to be effective more than once. This leads to a lack of transparency, even within the chain of command. This leaves open the possibility of rogue actors — or simply bad local judgment — empowered with an ability to hide their activities and continual conditioning that they are “beyond the law” (routinely ignoring the laws of the nations where they operate). We may suspect that rogue hacking is already happening in China, but why should we expect that it wouldn’t naturally arise elsewhere as well?

Since our debate, the Washington Post exposé reported:

“Chinese hackers have compromised the designs of some of America’s most sensitive and advanced weapons systems—including vital parts of the nation’s missile defenses, fighter aircraft and warships… Also compromised were designs for the F/A 18 fighter jet, V-22 Osprey, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and the Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship meant to prowl the coasts.”

And today, a new report from the U.K. Defense Academy, entitled The Global Cyber Game suggests that my mental model may be a bit antiquated.

Shall we play a game?

“When the Internet first appeared, the cultural bias of Western countries was to see it as a wonderful and welcome innovation. The fact that it created security problems somewhat took them by surprise and they have been reluctant to respond.

In contrast, states such as Russia and China saw the Internet as a potential threat from the outset, and looked at the problem in the round from their perspective. They formulated strategy and began to move pre-emptively, which has allowed them to take the initiative and to some extent define the Cyber Game.

As a result, cyberspace is now justifiably seen by Western countries as a new and potentially serious avenue of international attack, which must logically be militarized to protect the nation.

But what if information abundance is so deeply transformative that it is changing not only the old game between nations but the global gameboard itself? In this case, we need a different approach, one that seeks to fully appreciate the new game and gameboard before making recommendations for national security.

The ability of national governments to understand and tame the Global Cyber Game, before it takes on an unwelcome life of its own, may be the crucial test for the effectiveness and even legitimacy of the nation state in the information age.” (p.107)

The China Hypothesis

“It makes extensive state-bankrolled purchases of many critical parts of the local economies and infrastructure under the guise of independent commercial acquisitions. These include contracts for provision of national Internet backbones, and equity stakes in utility companies. These enable it to control ever larger parts of the target economies, to install national-scale wiretaps in domestic networks and, in effect, to place remote off-switches in elements of critical national infrastructure.

Finally, to round off the effort, the ‘competitor’ simultaneously makes a massive effort to build its own domestic knowledge industry, sending students around the world in vast numbers to learn local languages and acquire advanced technical skills. In some cases, these students even manage to obtain funding from the target country educational systems. This effort, which only pays off on long timescales, allows it to consolidate and make full use of the information it has exfiltrated from around the world.

If it is allowed to continue for long enough, the target countries will find that they have lost so much autonomy to the ‘competitor’ country that they are unable to resist a full cultural and economic take-over, which is ultimately accomplished without open hostilities ever being declared, or at least not of a type that would be recognizable as industrial-era conflict.

National geopolitical strategy can be disguised as normal commercial activity and, even if this is noticed, it cannot be challenged within the legal systems of target countries. Thus an international-scale offensive could be mounted without it ever being understood as such.

These difficulties are somewhat reminiscent of the industrial cartelization strategy pursued by Germany in the years running up to the Second World War. This carefully orchestrated form of economic warfare was effectively invisible because it was positioned in the cognitive blind spot of British Empire industrialists. Until war broke out, and the deliberately engineered shortage of materials became apparent, they were unable to see it as anything but apparently profit-seeking industrial strategy on the part of German industry.

What sort of response should be made to a strategy like this… is retaliation of any kind appropriate? Should the Cyber Game be played as a zero-sum game? The essential problem is that the strategy involves IP theft on a grand, indeed global scale. This is real destruction of value for those companies and agencies who have been targeted

Is there any other way of looking at this? Possibly the one thought that trumps Western outrage at the idea of information theft is to recall that it can be stolen without being lost, though it may be devalued. It may not be the knowledge itself but how we create it and use it that is important. In this view, the Cyber Game, being ultimately knowledge-based, is genuinely a non-zero game. Among economic players of the Cyber Game, this understanding is gradually turning into an approach that author Don Tapscott calls ‘radical openness’.

A true knowledge-era strategy may not be stealing information but sharing it, playing the Cyber Game high on the gameboard, as Internet pioneers have been doing all along. Maybe Western democracies should respond to China’s alleged actions in the same way. Dare they choose to reframe in this way?” (pp.52-8.)

The Future

“The most likely form of conflict is now civil war in countries with governments referred to as anocracies, neither fully democratic nor fully autocratic.

Income polarization is rising within wealthy countries, as a side effect of globalization, and is hollowing out the middle class. Commentators and researchers have noted this effect particularly in the US. Whether this rising polarization could raise the risk of civil war in wealthy countries is questionable, as long as their governments remain effective. This itself will be a function of how well they adapt to the evolving information environment. If they fail, and a combination of financial, economic and environmental crises threaten the ability of governments to maintain the quality of life, then internal conflict is entirely possible.” (p.74)

And as I try to look farther to the future, the offensive cyber-code and autonomous agents of today are not so different from the bio and then nano-weapons of tomorrow. The cell is but a vessel for the transmission of code.

I think humanity will cut its teeth on cultural norms and responses (police state, cyber-counter-guerillas (beyond governments to posses and bounty hunters), and a societal immune system for the crazy ones) in response to the imminent cyber threats… and then we will face bio threats… and finally nano threats. So there is little reason to focus on the latter until we have solved the former.

Caldey Abbey 26th June 2013 (20)
internet income
Image by Gareth Lovering Photography 4,000,423
Caldey Abbey is an abbey and monastery of the Cistercian order, situated on the island of Caldey, south of Tenby on the Welsh coast of Pembrokeshire. Caldey Island has been known as one of the centres of Cistercian activity since Celtic times and thrived during medieval Europe. However, the current abbey was built in 1910 by Anglican Benedictine monks. It is considered to be the most complete example of the Arts and Crafts style in the country, and the largest project of John Coates Carter. At the time of building, the abbey was called "the greatest phenomenon in the Anglican community at the present time". The roofs are of white roughcast with red tiling, and the abbey church has a south tower, with five side-windows, and has a "tapering" tower with primitive crenellations. The abbey passed to the Cistercian order in 1929. Today, the monks of Caldey Abbey are known for their lavender perfume, shortbread and chocolate production, and opened a shop on the Internet in 2001. A Celtic monastery was founded on the island in the sixth century, and a Benedictine foundation existed from 1136 until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536 (Benedictian monks were from the St Dogmaels Abbey located on the River Teifi. Pyro was the abbey’s first abbot; Saint Samson was also one of Caldey Abbey’s pioneer abbots. William Done Bushell offered the island to Dom Aelred Carlyle in 1900. An Anglican Benedictine community, led by Carlyle, arrived six years later in 1906, and built the current abbey in the Italian style with assistance from Lord Halifax and others between 1906 and 1910. Initially a row of cottages were built for the people working on the building; hence the abbey was named as "cottage Monastery." The chapel was added in 1910. Three years later the monks were received by the Roman Catholic Church. They left Caldey later in 1925, due to financial difficulties, and by 1928 moved to Prinknash Abbey. The much stricter Cistercian Order, who now occupy the abbey, came in 1929 from Scourmont Abbey in Belgium. The monastery was rebuilt in 1940 after a fire The monks are now financially self-reliant, supporting themselves with tourism and sale of perfumes. Perfume, shortbread and chocolate production all provide income for the monks, as well as the sale of prime beef. The monastery opened an internet shop in 2001. Their lavender perfume is said to be "simply the best lavender soliflore on earth" by the perfume critic Luca Turin. Chocolate is also sold under the "Abbot’s Kitchen" brand. The monastery used to operate a now-defunct dairy which would sell iced confectionary and cake. Profuse growth of wild lavender flowers in the Caldey Island prompted the monks of the abbey to create scents with new fragrances. They branded the scents and marketed them with the brand name “Caldey Abbey Perfumes.” With booming demand for this brand of scent there was need to import scent oil from outside the island. The scent is now manufactured throughout the year and is partly based on the island’s gorse. The structure is considered to be the most complete example of the Arts and Crafts style in the country. It was also John Coates Carter’s largest project. The roofs are of white roughcast with red tiling, while the large basement arches are of brick. The abbey church has a south tower, with five side-windows, and has a "tapering" tower with primitive crenellations. The windows are simple, with lead glazing. Originally the fittings included silver and ebony altar decorations and other luxurious items, but many were destroyed in the 1940 fire. The refectory of the Abbey was made from fine timber, and although inspired by an ancient pattern, it was modern in design. Two large water tanks underground and a narrow water shaft eliminate the threat of water scarcity in dry seasons

Caldey Abbey 26th June 2013 (13)
internet income
Image by Gareth Lovering Photography 4,000,423
Caldey Abbey is an abbey and monastery of the Cistercian order, situated on the island of Caldey, south of Tenby on the Welsh coast of Pembrokeshire. Caldey Island has been known as one of the centres of Cistercian activity since Celtic times and thrived during medieval Europe. However, the current abbey was built in 1910 by Anglican Benedictine monks. It is considered to be the most complete example of the Arts and Crafts style in the country, and the largest project of John Coates Carter. At the time of building, the abbey was called "the greatest phenomenon in the Anglican community at the present time". The roofs are of white roughcast with red tiling, and the abbey church has a south tower, with five side-windows, and has a "tapering" tower with primitive crenellations. The abbey passed to the Cistercian order in 1929. Today, the monks of Caldey Abbey are known for their lavender perfume, shortbread and chocolate production, and opened a shop on the Internet in 2001. A Celtic monastery was founded on the island in the sixth century, and a Benedictine foundation existed from 1136 until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536 (Benedictian monks were from the St Dogmaels Abbey located on the River Teifi. Pyro was the abbey’s first abbot; Saint Samson was also one of Caldey Abbey’s pioneer abbots. William Done Bushell offered the island to Dom Aelred Carlyle in 1900. An Anglican Benedictine community, led by Carlyle, arrived six years later in 1906, and built the current abbey in the Italian style with assistance from Lord Halifax and others between 1906 and 1910. Initially a row of cottages were built for the people working on the building; hence the abbey was named as "cottage Monastery." The chapel was added in 1910. Three years later the monks were received by the Roman Catholic Church. They left Caldey later in 1925, due to financial difficulties, and by 1928 moved to Prinknash Abbey. The much stricter Cistercian Order, who now occupy the abbey, came in 1929 from Scourmont Abbey in Belgium. The monastery was rebuilt in 1940 after a fire The monks are now financially self-reliant, supporting themselves with tourism and sale of perfumes. Perfume, shortbread and chocolate production all provide income for the monks, as well as the sale of prime beef. The monastery opened an internet shop in 2001. Their lavender perfume is said to be "simply the best lavender soliflore on earth" by the perfume critic Luca Turin. Chocolate is also sold under the "Abbot’s Kitchen" brand. The monastery used to operate a now-defunct dairy which would sell iced confectionary and cake. Profuse growth of wild lavender flowers in the Caldey Island prompted the monks of the abbey to create scents with new fragrances. They branded the scents and marketed them with the brand name “Caldey Abbey Perfumes.” With booming demand for this brand of scent there was need to import scent oil from outside the island. The scent is now manufactured throughout the year and is partly based on the island’s gorse. The structure is considered to be the most complete example of the Arts and Crafts style in the country. It was also John Coates Carter’s largest project. The roofs are of white roughcast with red tiling, while the large basement arches are of brick. The abbey church has a south tower, with five side-windows, and has a "tapering" tower with primitive crenellations. The windows are simple, with lead glazing. Originally the fittings included silver and ebony altar decorations and other luxurious items, but many were destroyed in the 1940 fire. The refectory of the Abbey was made from fine timber, and although inspired by an ancient pattern, it was modern in design. Two large water tanks underground and a narrow water shaft eliminate the threat of water scarcity in dry seasons

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