Quantum computing and the new threat to cyber security, China's terrifying methods of subduing the Uyghur Muslims... and MORE!
American Opportunity
A/O Global Intelligence Weekly: Cyber Warfare Remains An Existential Threat To The West
by Charles Wagner

To many Americans, the threat of cyber-attacks and discussions of cyber security is limited to concerns of identity theft, Wikileaks intelligence releases, compromised credit card information, and the kind of stuff that only large corporations need to worry about to protect their intellectual property.

The reality of the potential damage represented by cyber malfeasance is orders of magnitude more severe and if wielded as a weapon, represents an existential threat to the functioning of modern civilization.

Cyber warfare could reasonably be classified as the penultimate weapon of mass destruction, but it is not a new threat. The threat of cyber vulnerability was born with the first digital recording device – arguably, the Atlas magnetic drum built for the US Navy in 1950, Univac’s UNISERVO tape drive memory introduced in 1951, and MIT’s Whirlwind magnetic core memory of 1953.

As modern life became increasingly digital, so did our digital vulnerability.  Today, the scope of the cyber threat extends to all aspects of modern life:
  • Communications: loss of interconnectivity, loss of communication security;
  • Loss of data from corrupted, pilfered, modified, and destroyed records;
  • Fraud: identity theft, bank fraud, dark web trafficking, ransomware, extortion, and character assassination.
  • Critical infrastructure: Loss of power, transportation, food and water, and communications.
  • Defense systems: Loss of ships, planes, weapons, sensors, and command and control systems.
Sun Tzu stated in the Art of War:

“Every battle is won before it is ever fought.”

Applying this to modern warfare, cyber warfare is probably the most effective technology ever devised for employment against an enemy’s defenses. Cyber warfare’s intrinsic advantages are that it is inexpensive to develop and to deploy; it can effectively deny the enemy the use of his forces; it is highly conducive to pre-positioning; it does not suffer from battle fatigue, endurance, or conscience; and it minimizes collateral damage and maximizes benefit to the victor.

This is a battle the civilized world cannot afford to lose.

Exacerbating the cyber threat today is the emergence of quantum processors. Unlike classical computers that solve problems by combining one bit with another, quantum computers employ polynomial computations, exponential equations, superposition, and quantum entanglement using a basic unit called a Qubit which can be both a 1 and a 0 at the same time.

Sidestepping a long treatise on quantum computing, suffice it to say that quantum technology's relative speed vs. classical computing that directly threatens to render obsolete all current asymmetric and symmetric cryptology (Enveloped Public Key Encryption/PGP/SSL/TLS/PKI/SPKI/RSA) which rely on integer factorization or discrete logarithm computations.

Quantum computing threatens to break these encryptions in seconds in what is now theoretically impossible for a classic computer to achieve. The interested reader is referred to Shor’s algorithm, a quantum algorithm for integer factorization, or adiabatic quantum computation, another methodology for integer factorization.

The response required for success in the cyber theater of conflict will need to address all aspects of the cyber threat in a unified, integrated endeavor if it is to achieve any measure of success. A quick review of the threats indicates that a vulnerability in any area will have significant impacts to the security of all systems. Any competent cyber response must address and provide the following:
  1. Un-breakable Encryption: Development of post quantum cryptology, secure from the threat posed by quantum computers.
  2. High Confidence, Fast Real-time Threat Identification Engines. Threats must be identified early, in real time, and with high confidence to be effectively combated. This is particularly true in Industrial Control Systems (ICS) as used in defense and critical infrastructure.
  3. Uncompromising Barriers to System Penetration. If the cyber threat cannot gain access, it is defeated. This is a multi-level effort employing physical, computational, and analytical barriers.
  4. Unassailable Back-up Systems. The ability to shift to back-up emergency controls that maintain an adequate level of critical performance is a necessity.
The significant difficulty in protecting a defense or critical infrastructure system is the requirement to perform the identification and response in real time. The real time criteria is an absolute hard requirement, because interrupting system operation may be all that is necessary to achieve the desired intent of the attack. Such a real time response must include:
  • Identification that a cyber-attack is underway;
  • Isolating the mode and/or area of attack;
  • Retaining critical functionality;
  • Restoring full operability as soon as possible.
It is critical the approach proposed for addressing the cyber threat to critical systems addresses all aspects of the control system, and the approach is not limited to simply a software task.

The definition of a Cyber Citadel Architecture is postulated to define a system designed from the ground up to be cyber immune.  The following rules of thumb are postulated as guiding principles (better ones can probably be defined by better minds)

Cyber Rule #1: Software is the Achilles Heel of A Critical Control System: Software only solutions to cyber threats, and by definition, cannot eliminate the cyber threat.

Corollary #1: A Cyber Citadel Architecture Must Include Three or More Non-Software Elements To Its Architecture To Achieve Any Measure Of Operational Success. Citadel architecture must include physical security, proprietary hardware, and off-plane* back-up systems.

Corollary #2: A Cyber Citadel Architecture Must Include Non-Disclosed, Un-Used Operational Modes (Conflict Reserve Modes (CRM)). In the event of cyber-attack, the system must be capable of shifting to a secure hardware and software operating system with a low probability of previous exposure to minimize the potential for prior characterization.

This article is presented as an opening discussion of the threat posed by cyber malfeasance today. Follow on articles will discuss threats to specific areas in today’s society, discussing an overview of the threat that will explore potential methods by which to meet the threat and achieve some level of security.

Charles Wagner is the CEO of C3I, an industry leader in the design, development, manufacture, integration, and delivery of sophisticated communication, control and monitoring technologies. 

* Off plane is defined as computational and communication resources that do not employ the same fundamental communication paths, protocols, processors, software, or decision algorithms as are employed by the primary system.

More after the jump. . . 
Joim American Opportunity

China's Abuse of Muslim Ethnic Minorities in Xinjiang --A Commentary

by Judy T. Kushner

On Sept. 8, 2018, the New York Times published an article detailing the extreme measures that have been used by China's communist government since 2014 to suppress dissent and control the Muslim ethnic Uyghur and other populations in Xinjiang province in Western China.

The measures, combined, paint a dystopian picture of a society dominated by a governmental "Big Brother."  Detention camps have been established, which UN human rights groups estimate may hold one million ethnic Uyghurs or more for purposes of so-called "reeducation." According to the article, the government has increased its spending on so-called "security" measures in Xinjiang to $8.5 billion annually. Xinjiang, home to approximately 1.5% of China's population, accounts for some 20% of arrests in China.

It is important to recognize that the detention camps and forced reeducation centers, while new, are only the latest phase of a process which began in China some 40 years ago, and is directed not at curbing terrorism but at eradicating the ethnic identity of Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, stripping them of their cultural identiy and forcing them to learn the Chinese language and culture from elementary school onward.

The Unites States, particularly the Clinton Administration, turned a blind eye to such abuses, seduced as it was by the prospect of U.S. investment in the oil fields of Xinjiang.  Acording to Michael Pillsbury of the Hudson Institute, investments by Clinton Administration officials such as Warren Christopher of as little as $200,000 have brought returns exceeding $2 billion.

It is important not only to acknowledge such abuses as detailed in the Times article, but to place them in their context of China's overall strategy of expanding its economic and military empire, as exemplified by the "one belt/one road" initiative. China now seeks no less than to become an economically and militarily stronger version of the Soviet Union, extending its dominance into Central Asia and, ultimately, into Eastern Europe. With the fall of the Soviet Union, there is no longer a regional power capable of checking its ambitions.

Taking the Uyghur minority's historic lands and destroying that culture's dress, language, architecture and other aspects of its identity are but one part of this plan.  The Xinjiang area is home to a wide number of ethnic minorities, some geneticaly related to Scottish, Celtic and European cultures. This area is populated by Tajiks, Uyghurs, Kazachs, Kyrgyz and numerous other ethnic groups. These groups have had to sacrifice their ethnic identities to survive and be able to work in Xinjiang where Chinese must be spoken now in order to work.

Other attempts to strip away local ethnic identity include restricting the length of the historic Muslim sword, the scimitar, to one-fifth of its former length and requiring all knives, including cooking knives, be registered with a bar code, prohibiting men under age 60 from wearing beards, prohibiting the wearing of hijabs and preventing those under age 18 from attending mosques.

Muslims are routinely fingerprinted and issued ID cards with DNA based data which enables the government to identify one's name, address, ethnicity, age and family data within 30 seconds. These cards are routinely scanned when Muslims board busses, go to shopping malls, restaurants and gas stations, etc. Muslims are subjected to routine body searches when they walk the streets.

This has been accompanied by a mass controlled migration of Han Chinese workers to Xinjiang. Ethnic Han Chinese now comprise a 55% majority of the Xinjiang population, leaving the Uyghurs and other indigenous ethnic groups as minorities in their historic territories.  This has been accompanied by seizures of Uyghur and other historic Muslim lands and businesses as China endeavors to extend its economic and military dominance to central Asia and even beyond to Eastern Europe, leaving local ethnic groups to live in extreme poverty.

The New York Times article, while enlightening, only paints part of the picture of the Chinese government's overall plan for global expansion and hegemony in Xinjiang and beyond.

Judy T. Kushner was born and raised in Shanghai, China. Upon graduating  from college, she received a scholarship from the University of Michigan and came to the United States, earning an MBA in Finance from Wagner College and performing post-graduate studies at the NYU Stern School of Business. She became a U.S. citizen in 1990 and went to work on Wall Street, becoming Senior Vice President of Daiwa Securities USA (now Sumitomo Daiwa) and serving as General Secretary to four publicly traded investment funds. She has done business in the U.S., China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore, including advising U.S. companies on doing business in China and Chinese companies on doing business in the U.S. Her father is a prominent Chinese musician and musical composer. Her uncle was a prominent Chinese aerospace engineer who designed China's first fighter jet; he turned down a prominent position with McDonnell Douglas in the 1980s to work with China's Defense Department.​​

Some news and articles we recommend for information and discussion purposes, none of which necessarily represent the position of A/O:

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