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Weekly Session 11 - Cybersecurity

Secretary Wed, 02/20/2019 - 19:34


Technology is playing an ever more important part of our lives, but with it come the dangers of infiltration and manipulation. Will governments band together to ensure the respect of their information? Or will they defend their uses of technology?
Come and Join us this Thursday 21st February at Parkinson to discuss the topic cybersecurity.

-----Study Guide-----

In a world dominated by technological growth and advancement, attack on information systems has become a legitimate cause of concern for security. With the increasing amount of data leading to its increasing importance, these cyberspace risks can also pose a threat to the national security of a country. We saw this with the WannaCry ransomware, walloping hundreds of thousands of targets, including the crippling UK’s NHS hospitals and facilities, hobbling emergency rooms and delaying vital medical procedures.

Alongside attempts to access, damage and sabotage other nations or organizations’ information, espionage is seen as a major threat that must be redeemed. These threats are multi-polar in nature and can be politically, socially or religiously motivated. A rising trend has been the perpetuation of cyber-attacks by nationalist groups, such as when 10 Israeli hackers organized to launch an attack against Palestine in October 2000, during a period of conflict. Anti-Israel hackers responded by crashing several Israeli websites by flooding them with bogus traffic.

In March 2013, South Korea’s cyberspace came under a wave of cyber-attacks. Information systems of major broadcasting corporations and banks were hacked, costing an estimated £500 million. Similarly, both French and American elections have come under assault, with the explosive WikiLeaks release of the Democratic National Congress’ hack and the hack of Macron’s campaign, the latter of which seemed to be orchestrated to give the now French President minimal time and ability to respond, since French Presidential candidates are barred from speaking publicly beginning two days before an election. Researchers did find evidence that the Russian-government-linked hacker group ‘Fancy Bear’ had attempted to target the Macron campaign.

Inevitably, this has led to tensions, particularly seen between the already fraught Sino-American relationship, with the US having banned the Chinese firm Huawei, afraid that China would have access to sensitive user information, such as location data, and that Chinese technologies could pose a possible threat to critical American infrastructure, as the rollout of 5G may prove crucial for both civilian and military applications.

Huawei and ZTE were the subjects of an investigation, which concluded that "Huawei did not fully cooperate with the investigation and was unwilling to explain its relationship with the Chinese government or Chinese Communist Party, while credible evidence exists that it fails to comply with US laws." Since then, the US has been on a mission to prevent its allies from using Huawei technology for critical infrastructure, focusing on fellow members of the ‘Five-Eyes’, a group of five English speaking countries (US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, UK) whose intelligence agencies share information on a large scale.

While they have been successful in New Zealand and Australia, who have banned Huawei, France, the UK and Germany have resisted their calls, concluding that it is possible to mitigate the risk from using the aforementioned equipment.

Robert Hannigan, former head of GCHQ, the UK intelligence agency, recently wrote in the Financial Times that they had “never found evidence of malicious Chinese state cyber activity through Huawei” and that any “assertions that any Chinese technology in any part of a 5G network represents an unacceptable risk are nonsense”.