CFR Presents

Net Politics

CFR experts investigate the impact of information and communication technologies on security, privacy, and international affairs.

FBI to Apple: We Would Probably Disclose the iPhone Flaw if We Knew What It Was

by Robert Knake Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Apple FBI Cyber CFR Net Politics An Apple iPhone is pictured next to the logo of Apple in Bordeaux, southwestern France, February 26, 2016. (Regis Duvignau/Reuters).

With yesterday’s announcement that the FBI had gained access to the phone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, the San Bernardino gunman, the tech community is clamoring to find out how they did it. Many commenters believe that any vulnerability used to access the data must be subject to the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP), the process by which the U.S. government decides whether to disclose a computer vulnerability (partially declassified here).

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After a Chinese National Pleads Guilty to Hacking, What’s Next for the U.S.-China Relationship?

by Adam Segal Thursday, March 24, 2016
Mark Jette, lawyer for Su Bin, speaks to the media after Su was denied bail during a hearing in Vancouver July 23, 2014. (Ben Nelms/Reuters) Mark Jette, lawyer for Su Bin, speaks to the media after Su was denied bail during a hearing in Vancouver July 23, 2014. (Ben Nelms/Reuters)

Late Wednesday, the Department of Justice announced that Su Bin, a Chinese national living in Canada, had plead guilty to “participating in a years-long conspiracy to hack into the computer networks of major U.S. defense contractors, steal sensitive military and export-controlled data and send the stolen data to China.” Over several years, under Su’s direction, two hackers stole some 630,000 files from Boeing related to the C-17 military transport aircraft as well as data from the F-35 and F-22 fighter jets. The information included detailed drawings; measurements of the wings, fuselage, and other parts; outlines of the pipeline and electric wiring systems; and flight test data.

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Crisis Averted, Postponed, or Exacerbated? The Department of Justice Delays the Apple iPhone Case

by David Fidler Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Apple FBI Cyber Net Politics A New York City Police officer stands across the street from Apple Store on 5th Ave. in New York March 11, 2016. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters).

On the eve of oral arguments concerning a court order directing Apple to assist the Department of Justice (DOJ) in accessing an iPhone as part of the investigation into the San Bernardino terrorist attack, the DOJ asked federal court to postpone the hearing. The court granted the request. The DOJ told the court that, on March 20, “an outside party” demonstrated a possible way to unlock the iPhone without Apple’s help. The DOJ informed the court it needed time to test the proposed method, but that, if viable, the method “should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple.”

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Live Tonight: Discussing The Hacked World Order

by Adam Segal Wednesday, March 16, 2016

It’s been a little over three weeks since the release of my new book, The Hacked World Order: How Nations Fight, Trade, Maneuver, and Manipulate in the Digital Age. So far it’s been getting some good press and kind reviews. Thanks to everyone who has bought a copy. And, if you haven’t already, what are you waiting for? You can pick it up on Amazon or an actual bookstore.

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The Chinese Government Has its Eye on the FBI-Apple Battle

by Adam Segal Monday, March 14, 2016
A military delegate takes pictures with her iPhone ahead of the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 3, 2016. (Kim Kyung-hoon/Reuters) A military delegate takes pictures with her iPhone ahead of the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 3, 2016. (Kim Kyung-hoon/Reuters)

Shadowing the standoff between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Apple over access to an encrypted iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers is the question: What will China do? If Apple creates unique software that allows Washington access to the phone, does that open the door for Beijing to make similar demands on the company and all other foreign technology firms operating in China? As Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) argued, “This move by the FBI could snowball around the world. Why in the world would our government want to give repressive regimes in Russia and China a blueprint for forcing American companies to create a backdoor?”

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Send in the Malware: U.S. Cyber Command Attacks the Islamic State

by David Fidler Wednesday, March 9, 2016
social media islamic state cyber net politics cfr A 3D printed logo of Twitter and an Islamic State flag are seen in this picture illustration taken February 18, 2016. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters).

At the end of February, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter told a House subcommittee that U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) is conducting offensive operations against the Islamic State. This statement went viral. “Make no mistake,” Peter Singer of New America said, “this is a very big deal.” It signals a shift in the fight against the Islamic State and marks the first time the United States has acknowledged undertaking cyberattacks during armed conflict. CYBERCOM’s campaign makes real what was anticipated—the integration of offensive cyber capabilities in strategies and tactics for waging war.

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