Cyber Security at the NATO 2014 Summit

Titania delegate, Andy Williams attended the NATO Briefing to the Industry yesterday at the Farnborough International Airshow.

FIA 2014 is a great opportunity for a day out with the family. The acrobatic demonstrations from renowned aircrafts such as the Breitling Wing Walkers, Aerostars and the RAF Red Arrows, made for a memorable spectacle.

However, Farnborough is not only hosting a public airshow for aviation enthusiasts, but also one of the most recognised trade exhibitions for the aerospace and defence industries. In the run up to the NATO Summittaking place in Wales in September 2014, ADS and UKTI Defence and Security Organisation have jointly offered UK industry the opportunity to connect and engage with the Alliance’s two main agencies: NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA) and NATO Support Agency (NSPA).


The purpose of the briefing was to showcase the NATO market to the UK industry by bringing together the two agencies involved in budget spending and strategic operational activities, together with the UK defence and intelligence industry. The event is consistent with a previous declaration, by President Barack Obama, where he along with NATO’s Secretary General Fogh Rasmussem would identify the host country for the 2014 Summit, which will look at building up NATO’s ability to address cyber threats and “lock in” commitments by members. The “lock in” reference is a reminder of the message that US has sent before to NATO members, that cyber security is a shared responsibility.

Currently the agenda for the Summit revolves around: Afghanistan troop withdrawal; adapting the Alliance’s existence in the 2014 post era to respond to emerging threats – where cyber defence, intelligence cooperation and special op forces are discussed; budgetary concerns.

Previous meetings establishing the agenda have increasingly discussed cyber issues as an emerging challenge which should enter NATO’s defence strategy. So does this mean will see a grounded cyber security strategy at the 2014 Summit, in Wales? According to Chatham House, inside sources have been quoted saying to expect ‘more of the same’ – a focus on exercises, enhanced training, standard and greater work with partners.

The Alliance is confronting serious criticism from within. The first question on cyber issues has been about the defence of the organisation itself before taking over more ambitious projects. In response, the Alliance has hired Finmeccanica and Northrop Grumman to install cyber security equipment and Incident Response Capability programs across NATO headquarters, in 28 countries. In addition, the organisation also set up two Rapid Reaction Teams to protect its networks against cyber attacks.

Another discussion concerns whether the Alliance should leave cyber security policies to the EU. An enhanced long-term dialogue is needed in order to avoid duplicating efforts with the European Union and this seems to be a recognised concern for NATO leaders this September.


Finally, the most pressing question of all is who foots the cyber security bill and from that perspective, the members appear to be fairly reluctant to an offensive cyber strategy, which would put further strain on the already undercut budget. But as indicated in this research paper published by the NATO Defence College, Rome, ultimately there is pressure for the Alliance to justify its presence in the post 2014 era. Perhaps the answer lies in different prioritization over what constitutes a threat in 2014, with new budgets reflecting it appropriately. The Farnborough ‘Briefing to the Industry’, involving the relevant bodies of NATO and emphasizing strategic capacity and budget allocation, indicates the Alliance is already taking steps in the right direction. 

Yemen: Corruption, Capital Flight and Global Drivers of Conflict

Chatham House, the respected London-based think tank, has published an important new report on Yemen, which illustrates the close linkages between the issues we care about – capital flight, tax havens, illicit looting and corruption and so on – and issues of conflict and global security.

There’s a lot in here worth looking at; this blog is really just a pointer to a fascinating case study. As it notes:

“By the time of the 2011 uprising, ownership of the ‘commanding heights’ of Yemen’s economy were concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite. In early 2011, an estimated 10 families controlled more than 80 per cent of imports, manufacturing, processing, banking, the telecommunications and transport sectors (a situation that remained unchanged at the time of writing).”

And the broader global geo-political context for these country-level issues are, of course, crucial:

“All too often the focus on poor and conflict-affected states revolves around domestic dynamics that drive corruption and weaken institutions, ignoring the international factors that incentivize personal enrichment at the cost of good governance.

While Yemen’s dependence on external assistance should provide at least some prospect that external donors can act as a lever for change, overall levels of foreign aid have been overshadowed by high volumes of capital flight. The problems of corruption, cronyism and chronic capital flight are by no means unique to Yemen; and they are exacerbated by the global phenomenon of secrecy jurisdictions or tax havens.

In the United Kingdom in particular, there is growing tension between the financial sector’s support for secretive tax havens, and a desire to see aid spending utilized for the national interest of recipient countries, rather than being siphoned off abroad by elites.”

It also notes that Yemen, according to 2011 UNDP data, had the fifth largest volume of illicit capital outflows ($12 billion) of all the Least Developed Countries between 1990 and 2008, easily outstripping aid inflows.

It covers many of the important angles, including this all-important one:

“Capital flight undermines domestic tax revenues that are needed to fund infrastructure development, deliver public services and ‘establish bargaining relationships between governments and their citizens and build long-term institutional capacity’. Tax collection agencies in countries that suffer high levels of capital flight are generally weak and fail to enforce collection, especially from elite actors with powerful domestic and international connections, limiting growth in government revenues.

Governments in such scenarios tend to depend on taxes paid by smaller- scale players in the private sector who ‘lack the political clout to get tax exemptions’.147 Although they are not the sole contributing factor to weak tax collection, investment or growth, illicit flows have been found to ‘[discourage] domestic investment in poor countries, and therefore [reduce] rates of economic growth’.”

And, again quite rightly, it highlights Britain’s role in the global system of offshore tax havens.

Now read on.

Google Plus review: great features, success unsure

Google +, as all we can guess, is chiefly meant as a rival to Facebook, the world’s top social networker with more than 600 million users. Google, though amassing up a whopping 30 billion every year from its diverse Web services, was yet to develop a competitive social networking site.

Google + is highlighted to sport all major features Facebook provides to its members. There will be advanced status update, photo and video sharing options on Google +, of course more competitive than Facebook’s similar features.

Yet, it is not the time that one can state Google + will kill Facebook. It is not an unattainable thing that one site can overtake another in social networking. Facebook has established its domination surpassing the once-top player MySpace.

source at