Geeska Afrika Online

Djibouti:Top Regional Security News Briefing

Djibouti (HAN) May 4. 2016. Public Diplomacy & Regional Security News. 

1. Good news for SNA Operations and logistics: British troops in Somalia as part of the UK’s plans to fight terrorism & Empower FGSBritish-troops-East-Africa-608380

British soldiers have entered Somalia under the United Nations, in an effort to fight terrorism in Somalia; Land, Sea and Air.The British Elits are the first from the United Kingdom to be deployed to Somalia, since 1991, a second group of 70 are set to be sent, as part of the UN peacekeeping mission to counter Al-Shabaab & other extremists.  Some of the Elite soldiers will offer medical, logistical and engineering support to the African Union forces in Somalia, as well as SNA Forces.

2. Ethiopian stability remains a major concern

Ethiopia a rising star in Africa? By some measures, yes: As the second most-populous country on the continent (after Nigeria), it has achieved GDP growth rates above 10 percent for a decade. It is home to the African Union headquarters and a key U.S. ally in the fight against al-Shabab militants in Somalia and in counterterrorism efforts more broadly. In a region where sectarian and ethnic tensions have a tendency to flare up, Ethiopia has achieved remarkable social cohesion. All this, after suffering decades of conflict, drought, famine, and poverty, among other challenges.

At the same time, the government—led by EPRDF coalition since 1991—has been criticized for cracking down on free speech, the press, and critics. And while Ethiopia is unlikely to re-experience famine, an ongoing drought there remains a major concern.

 3. Djibouti: Army Spy Plane Deploys To The US Africa Command area of operations

An Army spy plane with a rough start has finally reached the ultimate goal: it’s flying in theater (Africa), according to the service’s fixed-wing aircraft project manager.  Three Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS) aircraft are flying in operations, Col. Steve Clark said at the Aviation Association of America’s Mission Solutions Summit. One aircraft was called to duty in the US Southern Command theater of operation, an area of command that can never get enough intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability, and the other two were sent to the US Africa Command area of operations. The aircraft left the continental US in late March and early April, so “very recent,” Clark said.


4. Good News for Security Governance in Somalia: UNSC to make Somalia visit ahead of vote 

UN Security Council to visit Somalia visit ahead of vote
UN Security Council to visit Somalia visit ahead of vote

The UN Security Council will travel to Somalia this month to show support for elections scheduled in August, Egypt’s UN Ambassador and this month’s council president. 

The 15 envoys will also travel to Nairobi during the May 17-21 trip and hold meetings in Cairo with the Arab League, Aboulatta said, presenting the program of work for the month.

 “The council will be going to Somalia to push for the elections,” he said. “The election is supposed to be held in the month of August and we will try to give the support of the council.”

 5. Turkey Seurity prevented 85 security ‘incidents’ since January

Turkey has prevented 85 “major incidents” since January, many involving live bombs, the government’s spokesman said on Monday, a day after the sixth suicide bombing in a Turkish city this year.

“We are making great efforts in the struggle against terror,” Numan Kurtulmus told reporters at a briefing in the capital, Ankara. 

“We have prevented 85 major incidents since January. Forty-nine of those included live bombs.” 

 6. American Serviceman Dies in Iraq Near Irbil

An American serviceman has been killed in combat in Iraq near the city of Irbil, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday. The U.S.-led coalition issued a statement saying one of its service members died in northern Iraq as “a result of enemy fire.” A U.S. military official, speaking on condition on anonymity, said that the service member was on an advise-and-assist mission with Kurdish Peshmerga forces when enemy fighters penetrated. It is the third U.S. combat death in Iraq in the past seven months. Last month, Carter announced the U.S. would be sending 217 more troops — including special operations forces — to Iraq.


7. U.S. Troops Are Getting Closer to the Fight Against the Islamic State in Iraq.
Within 10 miles of the front lines in the push toward the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the U.S. outpost, known as Firebase Bell, is manned by nearly 200 Marines. The new firebase is part of a creeping U.S. buildup in Iraq since troops first re-entered the country with a contingent of 275 advisers, which the Pentagon described as a move to help get “eyes on the ground.” Now, nearly two years later, the official troop count has increased to 4,087, excluding those on temporary rotations. The troops are maneuvering outside the confines of more established bases to give closer support to the Iraqi army as it prepares for an assault on Mosul. The battle will require coordination from various parties, including the U.S., the Kurdish regional government in the north, and Iraq’s counterterrorism forces. The shift to give Iraqis closer support comes at a time of political turmoil in Baghdad, which is threatening the legitimacy of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the key partner for the U.S. Iraqi commanders have expressed concerns that the crisis could complicate and slow progress on the battlefield.


8. Pentagon Bug Bounty Program Attracts Strong Hacker Interest
The Pentagon’s bug bounty program is halfway done and reports indicate the initiative has been a success thus far. More than 500 security researchers and hackers have submitted background checks and taken part in the search for security flaws in the “Hack the Pentagon” pilot, the first federal government program to use a private-sector crowdsourcing service to search for system vulnerabilities. The program will continue for another two weeks, and it is likely to be the start of many similar programs in the future. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter characterized the initiative as a way for the government to take new approaches to blunt the attacks targeted at the agency’s networks. “I am always challenging our people to think outside the five-sided box that is the Pentagon,” he said. “Inviting responsible hackers to test our cyber-security certainly meets that test.” The $150,000 initiative is also a step forward to the current administration’s Cyber National Action Plan, which calls for the government to put a priority on immediate actions that bolster network defenses.


9. CIA Director: ’28 Pages’ Contain Inaccurate Information.

John Brennan, director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, announced on May 1 that releasing classified pages of the 9/11 Commission report would be a mistake, as they contain inaccurate, un-vetted information that could be used to tie Saudi Arabia to the 2001 attacks. According to Brennan, the “chapter was kept out because of concerns about sensitive methods, investigative actions, and the investigation of 9/11 was still underway in 2002.” Moreover, he said that the information in the 28 pages has not been corroborated or vetted. “There’s a combination of things that are accurate and inaccurate [in the report],” he said. This applies particularly to information regarding Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the attacks. While Brennan stated that the commission “came out with a very clear judgment that there was no evidence that … Saudi government as an institution or Saudi officials or individuals had provided financial support to al Qaeda,” former and current congressman, including former Sen. Bob Graham, who helped author the report, argue that the pages reveal the existence of a Saudi support network for the hijackers involved in the attacks. The critics cite the vague wording of the report as evidence of the possibility that less senior officials or other parts of the Saudi government could have played a role.


10. U.S. Steel Accuses China of Hacking.
U.S. Steel Corp. has filed a complaint alleging that Chinese government hackers stole proprietary methods for making lightweight steel. The complaint notes that a computer belonging to a researcher was hacked in 2011 and plans for developing new steel technology were stolen. The ITC will investigate the complaint. China’s Commerce Ministry released a statement in response saying that the allegations “are completely without factual basis.” The accusations are the latest in an extensive fight over China’s massive production and export of industry metals. The federal government has already leveled new duties on Chinese steel imports and is investigating overproduction of aluminum that could lead to new tariffs. In addition, steel imports into the U.S. continue to decline. The 2011 cyberattack has made these issues come into the national spotlight. The plans that were stolen included the chemistry for an alloy and its coating, as well as the layout of production lines. In addition, the hackers stole designs for one of U.S. Steel’s most valuable products, a metal known as Dual-Phase 980 that can withstand more than 140,000 pounds per square inch. Following the hack, Chinese state-owned steel giant Baosteel had a new line of products, with Dual-Phase 980 leading the way. U.S. Steel says it expects to show the product was made using technology stolen in the alleged 2011 hacking, and turned over to Baosteel.


11. Security of Critical Phone Database Called Into Question
Federal officials believe that the Swedish firm Telcordia may have jeopardized national security by violating federal requirements during the building of a sensitive phone number database. The database tracks nearly every phone in North America and its security is in question because Telcordia allowed a non-U.S. citizen to work on the project. Now, the company is in the throes of assuaging concerns that foreign officials had access to the massive project. Many believe that if other countries were to gain access to the code, they could hit the counterintelligence jackpot. The worker who violated the U.S.-workers-only policy is Chinese, stoking further fears about China’s role in spying, particularly after its alleged role in the breach at the Office of Personnel Management. FBI spokesman Christopher Allen confirmed that the FBI is working “closely with the FCC to help identify and mitigate national security and law enforcement risks.” Telcordia is now in the midst of rewriting the database computer code, a massive undertaking that began in March.


12. Insider Threats: A Bigger Risk Than You Think
The term “insider threats” often refers to individuals who use their knowledge of or access to an organization and its systems to perpetrate fraud, sabotage, theft, or a violent act. These individuals can be current or former employees, contractors, or employees of third-party service providers. Insider threats also can include individuals who do not intend to do harm, but whose actions compromise the safety or security of their organizations. For example, new employees might neglect to properly encrypt email containing sensitive data, leaving those messages vulnerable to certain kinds of cyberattacks. Other employees might be aware of company policies, but are complacent or lackadaisical about them. When organizations include “innocent” individuals in the definition of insider threat, the risk becomes considerably larger and more complicated to manage. Deloitte Consulting director Michael Gelles and specialist leader Robert McFadden suggest data points organizations could collect to proactively detect individuals who may pose a potential insider threat. The researchers also identify statistics that highlight the widespread scope of malicious and accidental insider incidents and the ability of stronger mitigation programs and detection tools to prevent these risks.


13. Big Data Analytics a Useful Security Tool, Says Analyst
The majority of companies utilizing big data security analytics are reporting a high business benefit, according to a recent survey from the Business Application Research Center (BARC). The report found that 53 percent of organizations find big data security analysis to have a high business benefit, according to BARC founder and managing director Carsten Bange. Only 6 percent of survey respondents said the benefit of such a program was low. Adoption across the board is still relatively low, but over two-thirds of the more advanced companies questioned for the survey are beginning to integrate advanced big data security technologies, such as user behavior analytics, the survey revealed. However, “of the 87% who did not consider themselves to be in the more advanced group, only 27% have deployed user behaviour analytics,” said Bange. According to Bange, technologies such as user behavior analytics can help improve an organization’s cybersecurity resilience by tracking user behavior across all IT systems to determine whether there are notable deviations from normal behavior to warn of potential malicious activity. Bange continued on to say that big data security analytics is a useful tool to add to an organization’s arsenal of defense measures, and is to be used in conjunction with other intrusion detection technologies. Smaller companies can also benefit from such approaches to understand what is happening in their IT environments in real time.


14. In Europe’s Terror Fight, Police Push to Access American Tech Firms’ Data
U.S. laws and corporate policies are complicating European efforts to prevent new terrorism attacks, according to European counterterrorism officials. The difficulties stem from legal procedures related to the seizing of international evidence from U.S.-based social media firms. The process for European police officials can be long and arduous at a time when all that matters is for the information to be received quickly and efficiently. Even emergency requests for basic customer data, which often don’t require a legal and diplomatic review, can cause friction. If European police believe suspects are plotting an attack on European soil, they can’t get access to the suspects’ real-time Internet conversations on American-owned social media sites. Under U.S. law, authorities can’t conduct a legally valid intercept of communications if the suspected activity doesn’t involve American interests. While some believe privacy would be at risk if these restrictions were eased, many U.S. Internet companies agree there is a problem. Facebook, for example, has come out and said it is “actively pushing the United States and other governments for reforms.”


15. Persistent Tracking of Endpoint Devices Takes on Insider Threats
Absolute, a security and data risk management solution provider, has developed Endpoint Data Discovery (EDD), a system that enables organizations to locate and protect specific sensitive data on endpoint devices even when they are outside the enterprise network. Research shows most data breaches are consistently caused by staff, ex-employees, or third-party members, and a 2015 study found 74 percent of breaches originate from the extended enterprise. Absolute’s Persistence module is built into the firmware of desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. After the software agent is installed and activated, it provides a reliable two-way connection enabling IT managers to remotely track, manage, and secure devices, investigate potential threats, and take action in the event a security incident occurs. The combination of Persistence and EDD gives IT managers a consistent endpoint connection that locates devices and users beyond the organization’s network that are accessing sensitive information without authorization. If suspicious activity is detected, users can determine if data is at risk and secure the device and information remotely. In addition, EDD provides detailed reports to prove no sensitive data was stored on a compromised device during a security incident.





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