Our picksImagine a Crippling Cyberattack | The Reach of Ransomware | The Military & the Pandemic, and more

Published 31 March 2020

·  The Thing That Determines a Country’s Resistance to the Coronavirus

·  How to Counter China’s Coronavirus Disinformation Campaign

·  It Wasn’t Just Trump Who Got It Wrong

·  If Trump Can’t Do the Job, Other People Need To

·  FBI Turns to Insurers to Grasp the Full Reach of Ransomware

·  Hackers Target Mobile Users in Italy and Spain, Taking Advantage of Coronavirus Hot Spots

·  We Weren’t Ready for a Pandemic — Imagine a Crippling Cyberattack

·  Will the Military Be Ready for War in a Pandemic?

The Thing That Determines a Country’s Resistance to the Coronavirus (Francis Fukuyama, The Atlantic)
The major dividing line in effective crisis response will not place autocracies on one side and democracies on the other.

How to Counter China’s Coronavirus Disinformation Campaign (Natasha Bajema and Christine Parthemore, Defense One)
Beijing is using lies to undermine America’s standing; the U.S. should fight back with science and truth.

It Wasn’t Just Trump Who Got It Wrong (Zeynep Tufecki, Defense One)
Many will be tempted to see the tragic coronavirus pandemic through a solely partisan lens: The Trump administration spectacularly failed in its response, by cutting funding from essential health services and research before the crisis, and later by denying its existence and its severity. Those are both true, but they don’t fully explain the current global crisis that has engulfed countries of varying political persuasions.
As it turns out, the reality-based, science-friendly communities and information sources many of us depend on also largely failed. We had time to prepare for this pandemic at the state, local, and household level, even if the government was terribly lagging, but we squandered it because of widespread asystemic thinking: the inability to think about complex systems and their dynamics. We faltered because of our failure to consider risk in its full context, especially when dealing with coupled risk—when multiple things can go wrong together. We were hampered by our inability to think about second- and third-order effects and by our susceptibility to scientism—the false comfort of assuming that numbers and percentages give us a solid empirical basis. We failed to understand that complex systems defy simplistic reductionism.
Widespread asystemic thinking may have cost America the entire month of February, and much of what we’d normally consider credible media were part of that failure.

If Trump Can’t Do the Job, Other People Need To(Juliette Kayyem, The Atlantic)
The president is more hindrance than help, so leaders in and out of government have to plan around him.

FBI Turns to Insurers to Grasp the Full Reach of Ransomware (Jeff Stone, Cyberscoop)
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 2,047 ransomware complaints from U.S. victims in 2019, resulting in adjusted losses of roughly $8.9 million. The most recent figures represent an uptick in reported attacks — 1,493 victims told the FBI about $3.6 million in losses in 2018 — yet still fail to account for the exponential growth in the number of incidents. Beazley, the London-based insurance firm, said last week that its clients reported 131% more ransomware attacks in 2019 than in 2018.
“There’s a percentage of ransomware attacks that go unreported, just generally, because there’s no legal federal requirement to report them,” said Katherine Keefe, global head of Beazley’s Breach Response Services. “There’s a lot more of this going on than the public is aware.”
Over the past year, the FBI has taken steps to change that.

Hackers Target Mobile Users in Italy and Spain, Taking Advantage of Coronavirus Hot Spots (Sean Lyngaas, Cyberscoop)
Coronavirus-themed scams show no signs of letting up as hackers have tried to breach mobile phone users in Italy and Spain, the two countries with the most deaths from the virus.
Attackers laced mobile apps with malware to try to steal data from, or otherwise compromise, Italian and Spanish residents looking for updates on the pandemic, according to Slovakian antivirus firm ESET. The phony apps posed as legitimate ones offering updates on the spread of the novel coronavirus and how to assess your risk of infection.

We Weren’t Ready for a Pandemic — Imagine a Crippling Cyberattack (John Shkor, The Hill)
Amid the tumult surrounding the coronavirus, it is now crystal clear that an existential threat can engulf our entire nation with a speed and level of impact that we previously believed was impossible.
As crippling as the coronavirus situation is for our nation, a major grid catastrophe likely would be considerably worse, for one simple reason: In today’s world, our critical infrastructure cannot function properly without electricity. 

The Pentagon’s Big Problem: How to Prepare for War During a Pandemic (Bryan Bender. Politico)
Concerns are growing inside the Pentagon and Congress that the virus could seriously erode the military’s preparedness to fight.