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Djibouti: Regional Security News Briefing

Djibouti (HAN) August 4.2016. Public Diplomacy & Regional Security News. Strategies, Lessons, and Challenges

1-UK’s commitment to Somalia, making clear that regional security is a top priority
The UK is the forefront of efforts to improve security and stability in Somalia and the surrounding region. Tobias Ellwood, British Minister for the Middle East and Africa, visited Somalia. Ellwood reiterated the UK’s commitment to East Africa, making clear that regional security is a top priority. The UK is the only EU country to maintain an Embassy in Somalia

2- Kenya Says Somali Security ‘At Risk’ If AMISOM Funding Slashed

Kenyan government has cautioned against the cutting of funding to African Union peacekeeping troops in Somalia saying if the move is implemented the security of Somalia is at “great risk” again. Speaking at UN Security council meeting in the New York, Kenyan foreign minister said the move by the European Union to slash AMISOM funding threatens peace and security in the horn of African region.

3-Djibouti: AFRICOM’s Own Commander Admits Its Strategy

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) chief, General Thomas Waldhauser, did earlier in a statement to the Senate Arms Services Committee (SASC). U.S. Africa Command boasts that it “neutralizes transnational threats” and “prevents and mitigates conflict,” while training local allies and proxies “in order to promote regional security, stability, and prosperity.”

General Thomas Waldhauser, said, “a major challenge is effectively countering violent extremist organizations, especially the growth of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al-Shabaab in Somalia, and ISIL in Libya.”

4- Turkey’s Tilt Toward Moscow
Turkey’s president on Tuesday accused the West of “supporting terror and standing by” those who plotted last month’s attempted coup.

The Turkish state-run news agency, which alleged that the global intelligence firm Stratfor may have played a role in the coup attempt and is a front for the CIA, exemplified that mentality.

The US Joint Chiefs of Staff traveled to Ankara in an attempt to diffuse tensions between the NATO allies

Strategic Update: Turkish-Russian relations look set to be one of the main beneficiaries of the July 15 failed coup attempt in Turkey.

Erdogan was quick to confirm a planned meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, now set for August 9 in St. Petersburg.

5- Saudi Arabia: Women Are “Changing the Game”

Four women will represent the country in Rio 2016, a slight improvement from the two who competed in the 2012 London Summer Olympics. On the eve of the Rio Olympics, the Saudi government, including the new women’s section of the Saudi sports authority, should remove the remaining barriers to sports in schools, businesses, federations, and team sports.

6-Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines Agree on Maritime ‘Hot Pursuit’

Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines agreed to allow each other’s maritime forces to pursue suspected criminals into their waters in a bid to stem a surge of hostage-takings by Islamic militants. Defense ministers of the three Southeast Asian neighbors, meeting for the third time since May to give shape to plans for joint patrols in the waters off the southwestern Philippines, said Tuesday that they were discussing protocols that would allow security forces to enable so-called hot pursuit across land borders as well. “We are still discussing that, because there are some constitutional hindrances,” said Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. “We still have to consult…if we will allow hot pursuit on land.” Lorenzana and his counterparts, Ryamizard Ryacudu of Indonesia and Hishammuddin Hussein of Malaysia, said joint sea patrols already had begun but declined to say what kind of naval forces had been deployed or to provide other details. Indonesian President Joko Widodo proposed joint patrols in late April after a surge in piracy and kidnappings of local seafarers and Westerners by the Abu Sayyaf militant group, which claims ties to Islamic State and is notorious for taking hostages for ransom and occasionally executing them. The group has defied more than a decade of eradication attempts by the U.S.-backed Philippine military. Security experts said the patrols give a boost to Southeast Asia’s broader maritime interests, including in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.


7- How a Secretive Branch of ISIS Built a Global Network of Killers
Harry Sarfo, a former ISIS member from Germany, provided new insight into the militant group’s plot to attack Western countries in an August 1 interview with theNew York Times conducted in English inside the maximum-security prison near Bremen. The Islamic State’s attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 brought global attention to the group’s external terrorism network, which began sending fighters abroad two years ago. Now, Sarfo’s account, along with those of other captured recruits, has further pulled back the curtain on the group’s machinery for projecting violence beyond its borders. What they describe is a multilevel secret service under the overall command of the Islamic State’s most senior Syrian operative, spokesman and propaganda chief, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. Below him is a tier of lieutenants empowered to plan attacks in different regions of the world, including a “secret service for European affairs,” a “secret service for Asian affairs” and a “secret service for Arab affairs,” according to Sarfo. The operatives belonged to an intelligence unit of the Islamic State known in Arabic as the Emni, which has become a combination of an internal police force and an external operations branch, dedicated to exporting terror abroad, according to thousands of pages of French, Belgian, German and Austrian intelligence and interrogation documents. Taken together, the interrogation records show that operatives are selected by nationality and grouped by language into small, discrete units whose members sometimes only meet one another on the eve of their departure abroad.

8- Cybercrime Infrastructure Being Ramped Up in Brazil Ahead of Olympics

Cybercriminals have been setting up thousands of malicious domains and servers in Brazil ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. According to data from Fortinet, over 2 million sensors worldwide show that between April and June, the number of malicious URLs detected in Brazil grew by 83 percent. A Fortinet report set to be released on Aug. 2 says that the number of spoofed domains that are typically used in phishing attacks has also increased, particularly those that try to mimic payment systems and government institutions. Phishing activity increased 76 percent worldwide between April and June, with Brazil, Colombia, Russia, and India being the top four countries where this type of activity was observed. Researchers at Fortinet believe that a large number of cybersecurity attacks will occur during the games, and that more will succeed because cyber threats are not treated as a very high priority in Brazil.

9- Libya, U.S. Face Entrenched Islamic State
Even with the U.S. launching airstrikes on an Islamic State stronghold in Libya, the battle to uproot the extremists from the nation is expected to be long and difficult. The United States began the attacks on Monday and struck again on Tuesday in support of a ground offensive to retake Sirte, a strategic port on the Mediterranean coast. But Islamic State is also entrenched in other pockets across the country. The competing militias and centers of power that have stoked Libya’s civil war complicate the fight against Islamic State. The chaos has given the group an opening to gain its first territorial foothold outside its self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Libya has two rival governments—one that is internationally recognized in the capital, Tripoli, and another based in the east. The competing governments so far have refused to work together to defeat Islamic State or toward national unity, despite international efforts. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that he hopes combating Islamic State will help move Libya toward a functioning government, something he said would be “a long process.” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said that Obama’s authorization is limited to using U.S. air power to help Libyan forces allied with the Tripoli government retake Sirte. In the quest to defeat Islamic State in Libya, international and regional powers have haphazardly supported competing factions, worsening the protracted civil war that allows the insurgents to thrive, said Abubaker Baira, a parliamentarian representing the eastern government.


10- Mobile Scan and Pay Could Encourage Retail Theft, Warn Criminologists
University of Leicester criminologists on Tuesday released a report cautioning that mobile scanning and payment technology might facilitate shoplifting and decrease fear of legal consequences by eliminating human interaction. The technology provides shoplifters with an excuse for not scanning items by saying the technology or a barcode malfunctioned, the report says. Available data suggests self-scanning technologies have loss rates that are 122 percent higher than the average loss rate, with retailers having difficulty determining whether items were intentionally missed in scanning. Self-scan technologies are growing in use and are expected to become even more pervasive as mobile devices are increasingly used to scan and pay, according to the report. As awareness of these issues grows, retailers are introducing ways to amplify risk in the mobile scan and pay environment to ensure that customers pay for all items, says report co-author Dr. Matt Hopkins.


11- Magnetic Stripes Vulnerable to Hackers, Shows Researcher
Cybersecurity researcher Weston Hecker at this week’s DEF CON hacker conference will demonstrate a device that can create the magnetic signatures of magnetic stripes without creating entirely new cards. The technology could enable hackers to wreak havoc on many systems designed to use magnetic stripes as input, including hotel room key cards, credit and debit cards, and grocery store rewards points. Hecker, a security researcher at the firm Rapid7, is coordinating with the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) to alert vendors of the widespread problem across many brands of card readers. The trouble, says Hecker, is that much of the security for magnetic stripes comes from the time-consuming process to print a new card. Hotel key systems Hecker studied do not use particularly complicated pass codes. Usually, they are unencrypted and based on easy to guess information, like check-in and check-out dates, and a sequentially assigned identification number. If attackers check into hotels and check their room keys for their own identification numbers, it is likely that any other guest’s sequentially assigned number is within a few hundred of theirs. There is a similar problem for the point of sale systems that accept credit cards and the systems that accept rewards program cards. The systems are designed to let a user enter commands by scanning cards as if cards were input from a keyboard.


12- Famed Hacker Creates New Ratings System for Software
Hacker Peiter Zatko and his wife, former NSA mathematician Sarah Zatko, are developing a Consumer Reports-style rating system for software, and Zatko says the initiative, if successful, could lead to major changes in the business practices of some of the world’s largest software companies. The Zatkos today will explain how the system works and point out some of the early winners and losers in their analysis. Peiter Zatko, known in the hacker world as Mudge, was the best-known member of pioneering Boston hacking group the L0pht. More recently, he headed a Defense Department grant program for computer security projects. The initiative, if it catches on, could lead to major changes in the business practices of some of the world’s largest software companies. It could also, he says, help deliver something that decades of the free market, the open-source movement, government commissions and well-paid lawyers have not: software that is consistently secure, or at least very expensive to compromise.


13- U.S., Singapore Deepen Cybersecurity Cooperation
The U.S. and Singapore are strengthening their cybersecurity cooperation, according to a joint statement on Tuesday by the two countries after a meeting between President Obama and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Both countries pledged to increase their information exchange and sharing, and to continue to cooperate on cybercrime, cyber defense, and regional capacity building activities.


14- A New Sandy Hook School Arrives, With High-Tech Features and Security ‘Second to None’
Officials opened the doors to the new Sandy Hook Elementary School on July 29, the first time it has been open to the public since Dec. 14, 2012, when a lone gunman fired 151 shots in five minutes, leaving 26 people dead. The school includes state-of-the-art security features. The $50-million school, paid for by the state, will open on Aug. 29. Superintendent of Schools Joseph Erardi says “the safety and security in this building will be second to none.” There is a gate at the entrance to the driveway where a guard will be posted to monitor who enters the parking lot. The front entrance has two sets of doors through which visitors must be buzzed to enter, and the windows have bulletproof glass. Authorities have said the gunman entered the school by shooting through the front windows. Other security measures are more subtle. The doors to every classroom look like standard wood doors but are made of stainless steel and weigh 350 pounds. They automatically lock when closed and can’t be opened from the outside. The security at the old school is the subject of a lawsuit filed by two of the victims’ families. The lawsuit alleges that security was lax and notes that substitute teacher Lauren Rousseau did not have a key to lock her door when she heard gunfire. The assailant entered her room first and killed 14 of 15 students as well as Rousseau and aide Rachel D’Avino.

15- Banks Turning to Voice Recognition
Barclays has announced that it will be using voice recognition as a form of secure identification for telephone banking customers. All Barclays’ personal telephone banking customers are eligible to use the system, although they can opt out. The technology recognizes a customer’s unique formation of words, eliminating the need for security questions or passwords. The Barclays “voice print” is comprised of over 100 characteristics based on the physical configuration of the speaker’s mouth and throat. According to the bank, the system can still identify customers when their voice is changed due to a cold, sore throat, or gender reassignment. Steven Cooper, chief executive of personal banking at Barclays, said, “we can all relate to the frustration of forgetting a password at the crucial moment. Voice security can cut out that part of the call completely and, unlike a password, each person’s voice is as unique as a fingerprint.” A number of other banks, such as First Direct and HSBC, are at varying stages of introducing similar technology.





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