Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from February 10, 2014

Selling Your Secrets- The Invisible World of Software Backdoors and Bounty Hunters

By Pratap Chatterjee


 - Imagine that you could wander unseen through a city, sneaking into houses and offices of your choosing at any time, day or night. Imagine that, once inside, you could observe everything happening, unnoticed by others -- from the combinations used to secure bank safes to the clandestine rendezvous of lovers. Imagine also that you have the ability to silently record everybody’s actions, whether they are at work or play without leaving a trace. Such omniscience could, of course, make you rich, but perhaps more important, it could make you very powerful.

That scenario out of some futuristic sci-fi novel is, in fact, almost reality right now. After all, globalization and the Internet have connected all our lives in a single, seamless virtual city where everything is accessible at the tap of a finger. We store our money in online vaults; we conduct most of our conversations and often get from place to place with the help of our mobile devices. Almost everything that w…

In Ukraine, Western Aid Has Limits

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) talks to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich during a signing ceremony at the Kremlin on Dec. 17, 2013. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

Summary


With offers of new financial and technical assistance for Ukraine, the European Union and the United States aim to strengthen the Ukrainian opposition's position in negotiations with President Viktor Yanukovich by showing that there are alternatives to Russian aid. Ukraine's longstanding financial difficulties are being aggravated by the current political crisis. For whoever is in charge in Kiev, securing financial assistance from abroad is a priority to stabilize the domestic economy.

There are several avenues by which the West can offer aid to Ukraine. However, demands for reform, lengthy procedures to approve aid, the European Union's own economic troubles and required coordination among states limit the European Union and United States' ability to match the financial and economi…

The Geopolitics of Airlift Support in Africa

Summary


Due to geographic constraints on the African continent that force the use of air transport for military deployments over long distances, security operations in Africa have often called on foreign airlift support. As a result, delivering this capability to African forces and their Western partners operating in Africa has become an important political tool that allows international powers to secure common interests without committing sizable numbers of troops to African conflicts.

Analysis


Vast swathes of rainforests, deserts, mountain ranges, lakes and rivers break up the African continent, and a lack of transport infrastructure such as hardened roads or rail connections in many parts of Africa makes ground transport inefficient for deployments over long distances. In most cases, especially when time is of the essence or when large volumes of equipment and supplies need to be transported into a remote theater, there is no alternative to air transport.

This need for a well-develop…

Argentina's Banks Depend on Agriculture

Soy is loaded onto a ship at the Luis Dreyfus industrial complex in Argentina in September 2013. (CARLOS CARRION/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Amid a steep but anticipated decline in the value of the peso, the Argentine government is forcing banks to sell off foreign exchange reserves. In a ruling issued Feb. 5, the Argentine central bank will require all Argentine banks to cap their foreign exchange holdings to 30 percent of reserves and 10 percent of all futures positions. In effect, the rule will force banks to sell off their holdings of foreign currency and foreign-denominated assets, including bonds and futures contracts.

The move is designed to relieve pressure on Argentina's struggling local currency markets but will reduce the country's long-term buffer against a currency crisis. The development will put increased pressure on the relationship between the Argentine government and the agricultural sector, creating the possibility of greater conflict.

Analysis


Argentina's c…

A Chronology of Militancy in the Russian Caucasus

Analysis


Editor's Note: As global attention turns to Russia during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi -- with questions about security and culture at the fore -- Stratfor is publishing collections of analyses that illuminate the geopolitical context of the region. Part one looks at Russia's resurgence. The following is the second installment of this series.

Security concerns about militants in the Russian Caucasus have dominated talk ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Russia inherently breeds instability because it is so large and home to hundreds of ethnicities -- many of which have never wanted to submit to Moscow's authority. The primary cauldron for hostilities is in the Russian Caucasus, a relatively small and mountainous territory home to dozens of ethnic groups, republics and religions. Though the region's rebels pose an obvious threat, the rebels themselves and the threats they pose differ from those faced by Russia in the past. Below is a chronology of Stra…