News Roundup Archive

Thursday, November 6, 2014

PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, October 30 - November 5, 2014


Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

Social Media Did Not Create ISIS, Nor Did It Spark Revolutions
The real reasons ISIS and other extremist groups have been successful is only partially due to social media and far more to do with international and regional policy failures. Just as there was no Twitter revolution in Iran and no Facebook revolution in Egypt, ISIS is not merely a social media phenomenon. The real questions are why does ISIS attract followers and why does the West and its allies have such a poor record in countering this?
See the full article (Al Arabiya, 11/5/14, Chris Doyle)
Click to read "Islamic State and Related Attacks in Lebanon Demand Comprehensive Response" an Olive Branch Post by Elie Abouaoun.
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How Social Media Is Helping Islamic State To Spread Its Poison
Whistleblower Edward Snowden's treachery has paved the way for a very new form of propaganda, as terrorists change the way they communicate to evade security agencies. Groups that use the internet for their own sinister purposes have changed the way they communicate so as to evade detection by Western security agencies. Aided by the increased use of encryption software by the leading internet service providers, terrorist groups such as Isil have found that, simply by adding freely available security programs and apps to their devices, they can conceal their activities from prying eyes.
See the full article (The Telegraph, 11/5/14, Con Coughlin)
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Has The World Forgotten The Central African Republic?
A "forgotten crisis." That's how the Council on Foreign Relations defines the state of affairs in the Central African Republic. Despite a refugee crisis to rival Syria's, the international community hasn't done nearly enough to alleviate suffering in C.A.R. The media's scant coverage of the crisis means that the average Westerner is wholly unaware of what's happening in the country. Unlike for Gaza, there have been no marches or protests in support of humanitarian aid for the civilians in the Central African Republic.
See the full article (The New York Times, 11/5/14, Jake Flanagin) *New York Times subscription may be required to read this article
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Peacebuilding in Central African Republic: The Views of Top Religious Leaders" on November 10, 2014 at 2:00pm.
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Social Media, Journalism And Wars: 'Authenticity Has Replaced Authority'
The growth of social media has changed the way news organisations cover conflicts around the world, but traditional journalistic values are still vital. These, at least, were the main conclusions from a panel at the Web Summit conference in Dublin this morning, featuring representatives from Time, Vice News and News Corporation-owned social curation service Storyful. While the panel shook their heads en masse when the phrase "citizen journalism" was mentioned, they admitted that on-the-spot witnesses are now as likely to be posting on social media as talking to a journalist.
See the full article (The Guardian, 11/5/14, Stuart Dredge)
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IS Releases Video Address By Ethnic Russian Militant
The Islamic State (IS) group's Al Hayat media wing has released a video message by an apparently ethnic Russian militant. IS's choice of Abu Muhammad Ar-Rusi -- an ethnic Russian -- to make this video rather than a Chechen or Dagestani is likely not coincidental. IS's Al Hayat media wing, created in May, has released a number of recruitment and propaganda videos showing militants from various ethnic groups, a strategy designed to show that there are no ethnic barriers to joining IS, and that fighters from Western countries can easily join the group.
See the full article (Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, 11/3/14)
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Facebook Sets Up 'Dark Web' Link To Access Network Via Tor
Facebook has created the ability for users to connect directly to the social network via anonymising "dark web" service Tor. While it was already possible to access Facebook via Tor, the new set-up means all data is encrypted and Tor users are not mistaken for hacked accounts. It may appeal to people in places where the network is blocked. China, Iran, North Korea and Cuba are among countries that have attempted to prevent access to the site.
See the full article (BBC, 11/3/14, Dave Lee)
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Jemima Khan Selfie Campaign Raises Funds For Syrian Children
Journalist, campaigner and UNICEF ambassador Jemima Khan has used her social media skills to raise awareness and much needed funding for the millions of Syrian children affected by the war in their country. The #wakeupcall selfie campaign was launched in early October after Khan, who is the associate editor at the New Statesman and European editor-at-large for Vanity Fair, posted a photo of herself after just waking up alongside the hashtag.
See the full article (Al Arabiya, 11/2/14)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

Teenage Wasteland by Sharon Morris
Why do so many efforts to stop young people from joining extremist groups fail? Too often, programs designed to steer young people away from violence don't fully come to terms with what many militant groups seem to offer: the chance to overturn systems that are holding them back, and to explore what life has to offer beyond what an oppressive state or entrenched elites tell them they can have. They want to change the world, to fight injustice, to earn respect, and, maybe most of all, to challenge the status quo.
See the full article

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Technology and Science

Hacking Planes - UK Researchers Developing Plans To Stop 'Flight Cyberjacking'
Theoretical vulnerabilities mean that a 'cyber bomb' could be possible, yet attacks are limited in their scope and extremely complex to carry out. That's why researchers are developing a network architecture that would prevent such attacks. The system would recognise dangerous malware as soon as it made its way onto the aircraft, as its attempts to access and tamper with flight control software should be recognisable.
See the full article (The Guardian, 11/4/14, Tom Fox-Brewster)
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An Unprecedented Look At Stuxnet, The World's First Digital Weapon
In January 2010, inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency visiting the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in Iran noticed that centrifuges used to enrich uranium gas were failing at an unprecedented rate. The cause was a complete mystery. Five months later a seemingly unrelated event occurred. Researchers found a handful of malicious files on one of the systems and discovered the world's first digital weapon. Stuxnet, as it came to be known, was unlike any other virus or worm that came before; it escaped the digital realm to wreak physical destruction on equipment the computers controlled.
See the full article (Wired, 11/4/14, Kim Zetter)
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The Web Is A Terrorist's Command-and-Control Network Of Choice
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is the first terrorist group whose members have grown up on the internet. They are exploiting the power of the web to create a jihadi threat with near-global reach. The challenge to governments and their intelligence agencies is huge - and it can only be met with greater co-operation from technology companies.
See the full article (Financial Times, 11/3/14, Robert Hannigan)
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Programmers Deploy Cellphone Game To Support Hong Kong Protests
Occupy Central pro-democracy protests that have taken over key sites around the city for more than a month have driven new cellphone habits, too. These days, many Hong Kongers are as likely to be found poring over news about the protests roiling around them as they are to be immersed in a game. Now, a Hong Kong-based mobile software company has created an app that allows people to indulge in both gaming and an interest in all things Occupy.
See the full article (The New York Times, 11/3/14, Austin Ramzy) *New York Times subscription may be required to read this article
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Text Messaging Project Helps Ease Religious And Tribal Tensions In Kenya's Tana Delta
A conflict is unfolding in Tana Delta, a remote region of eastern Kenya where two ethnic communities are trading in harmful rumors, misinformation and hate speech. The heightened tensions and mistrust in the homeland of the Pokomo and Orma ethnic communities has led a Canadian-based genocide prevention organization to launch an innovative project to address the problem. In a region where cellphones are ubiquitous but connections to the Internet are scarce, the project uses toll-free text messaging to monitor such rumors and give community members neutral and accurate information.
See the full article (The Washington Post, 10/31/14, Fredrick Nzwili)
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Nato Frontline In Life-or-Death War On Cyber-Terrorists
Cyber-terrorism is now treated in military and political circles as seriously as conventional attacks with bombs and tanks. Conflicts can now be virtual but with consequences that are real and destructive: malware and other computer viruses can be directed to shut down infrastructure such as power grids, hospitals, water networks, financial markets and air security. At their summit in Newport last month, Nato leaders endorsed a policy stating that a digital assault against any of their 28 members could trigger a response under article five, the alliance's collective defence clause.
See the full article (The Guardian, 10/30/14, Leo Cendrowicz)
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