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Global Rise In Military Spendings, Data States

Eighteen years after the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil, the world's military spending is at an all-time high

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U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in have lunch with troops at U.S. military installation Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Nov. 7, 2017. VOA

Eighteen years after the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil, the world’s military spending is at an all-time high. According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, military spending was $1.8 trillion in 2018 alone, which SIPRI Senior Researcher Pieter Wezeman called a “worrying trend.”

“We have to see that as a warning signal, not necessarily something which will lead to war, but something which needs very close attention,” Wezeman told VOA.

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A U.S. fighter jet takes off from the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to patrol the international waters off the South China Sea, Aug. 6, 2019. VOA

Military spending hit a post-Cold War low in 1998, but took a sharp rise after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

The Obama administration began making military budget cuts during efforts to end U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now military spending is on the rise again — thanks to Russia and China.

Speaking exclusively with VOA, the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper called Russia and China “revisionist powers that would like to be in a place where they’re not.”

“I wouldn’t call this an arms race,” Cooper said, “but what is different is that we are in places that are more competitive than they were in the past.”

The United States accounts for more than a third of global military spending.

It boasts 11 aircraft carriers, a powerful nuclear arsenal, new elite fighter jets and about 2.1 million troops. Experts agree its military remains the dominant force.

“I think sometimes there’s a tendency to make Russia and China 30 feet tall, and they’re not,” Bradley Bowman, a former military officer and a current senior director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told VOA. “There are real vulnerabilities there that we could exploit in a conflict, but there are also areas where they’re more advanced than we are.”

‘Coerce and defeat’

China is now the world’s second-largest military spender — going from just 2% of the world’s military budget in 1990 to 14% now.

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Troops are seen by a row of over a dozen army jeeps at the Shek Kong military base of People’s Liberation Army in New Territories, Hong Kong, China, Aug. 29, 2019. VOA

Bowman warned allies and partners that China has undertaken this comprehensive effort to modernize its military in order to “coerce and defeat” the U.S. and its allies in a future conflict.

China built two aircraft carriers in the past decade, and a third is under construction. China has developed its own elite fighter jets, troop numbers have swelled to more than 2.5 million, and it is investing in new technologies, including hypersonics weapons that would fly five times the speed of sound.

Wezeman says the swift modernization has been “perceived as a threat by its neighbors.”

Other top spenders

In reaction, India has upped its military spending by more than $11 billion in just three years, now ranking fourth overall behind Saudi Arabia.

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Although Russia slipped from the top five spending countries in 2018, it still has NATO’s attention after invading Georgia in 2008 and annexing part of Ukraine in 2014.

The 29 NATO countries spent $963 billion, 53% of world military spending, in 2018.

That number is likely to increase as the U.S. continues to pressure NATO allies to spend 2% of their Gross Domestic Product on defense.

“We can’t let countries off the hook,” U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday at the Royal United Services Institute in London. “You can’t simply substitute and say, ‘Well, my 2% is going to go to technology, or I’m going to build infrastructure. I can’t deter a Russian brigade with a road.’ We need real capability.” (VOA)

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Truecaller Denies Breach as Indian Users’ Data Goes on Sale

ruecaller records of 4.75 crore Indians were being sold on web for just about Rs 75,000

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TrueCaller
Records of 4.75 crore Indians were being sold on the dark web for Rs. 75,000. Wikimedia Commons

After an online intelligence firm flagged that a cybercriminal was selling Truecaller records of 4.75 crore Indians on dark web for just about Rs 75,000, the Swedish caller identification app on Wednesday denied any breach of its database.

“There has been no breach of our database and all our user information is secure. We take the privacy of our users and the integrity of our services extremely seriously and we are continuously monitoring for suspicious activities,” a Truecaller spokesperson said in a statement.

“We were informed about a similar sale of data in May 2019. What they have here is likely the same dataset as before. It’s easy for bad actors to compile multiple phone number databases and put a Truecaller stamp on it.

“By doing that, it lends some credibility to the data and makes it easier for them to sell. We urge the public and users not to fall prey to such bad actors whose primary motive is to swindle the people of their money,” the spokesperson said.

Truecaller
“There has been no breach of our database and all our user information is secure.”, a Truecaller spokesperson said in a statement. Wikimedia Commons

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Online intelligence firm Cyble in a blog on Tuesday said that its researchers have “identified a reputable seller, who is selling 47.5 Million Indians Truecaller records for $1000. The data is from 2019.”

“Looking at the information itself, it has over 47.5 million records, and it includes interesting information such as phone number, carrier, name, gender, city, email, Facebook ID and others,” said the blog post.

On Wednesday, Cyble updated the blog to say that the same hacker has dropped another 600 million records for sale. (IANS)

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Cybercrime on Rise During Pandemic, Warns UN

There has been a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the ongoing pandemic

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A Toyota Hybrid during a test for hackers at the Cybersecurity Conference in Lille, northern France, Jan. 29, 2020. VOA

The U.N. disarmament chief said the COVID-19 pandemic is moving the world toward increased technological innovation and online collaboration but warned that “cybercrime is also on the rise, with a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the current crisis.”, as suggested by Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) news.

Izumi Nakamitsu told an informal meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday that “there have also been worrying reports of attacks against health care organizations and medical research facilities worldwide.”

She said growing digital dependency has increased the vulnerability to cyberattacks, and “it is estimated that one such attack takes place every 39 seconds.”

According to the International Telecommunication Union, “nearly 90 countries are still only at the early stages of making commitments to cybersecurity,” Nakamitsu said.

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Nearly 90 countries are still only at the early stages of making commitments to cybersecurity. Pixabay

The high representative for disarmament affairs said the threat from misusing information and communications technology “is urgent.” But she said there is also good news, pointing to some global progress at the United Nations to address the threats as a result of the development of norms for the use of such technology.

Also Read: New York Times Devotes Entire Front Page to COVID-19 Victims

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas, whose country holds the Security Council presidency and organized Friday’s meeting on cyber stability and advancing responsible government behavior in cyberspace, said “the COVID-19 crisis has put extra pressure on our critical services in terms of cybersecurity.”

He said the need for “a secure and functioning cyberspace” is therefore more pressing than ever, and he condemned cyberattacks targeting hospitals, medical research facilities and other infrastructure, especially during the pandemic.

“Those attacks are unacceptable,” Ratas said. “It will be important to hold the offenders responsible for their behavior.” VOA

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India Witnesses a 37% Rise in Cyberattacks in the First Quarter of 2020

The report shows that India ranks 27th globally in the number of web-threats

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India has seen a 37 per cent hike in cyberattacks in the first quarter of 2020. Pixabay

India has seen a 37 per cent increase in cyberattacks in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020, as compared to the fourth quarter (Q4) of last year as a result of social media disadvantages, a new report revealed on Saturday.

The Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) report showed that its products detected and blocked 52,820,874 local cyber threats in India between January to March this year.

The data also shows that India now ranks 27th globally in the number of web-threats detected by the company in Q1 2020 as compared to when it ranked on the 32nd position globally in Q4 2019.

“There has been a significant increase in the number of attacks in 2020 Q1 that may continue to rise further in Q2 as well, especially in the current scenario where we notice an increase in cybercriminal activities, especially in the Asia Pacific region,” said Saurabh Sharma, Senior Security Researcher, GReAT Asia Pacific at Kaspersky.

The number of local threats in Q1 2020 in India (52,820,874) shows how frequently users are attacked by malware spread via removable USB drives, CDs and DVDs, and other “offline” methods.

Protection against such attacks not only requires an antivirus solution capable of treating infected objects but also a firewall, anti-rootkit functionality and control over removable devices.

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The high numbers of cyberattacks are likely to keep rising in Q2. Pixabay

According to the firm, the number of local threats detected in Q4 2019 was 40,700,057.

India also ranks 11th worldwide in the number of attacks caused by servers that were hosted in the country, which accounts of 2,299,682 incidents in Q1 2020 as compared to 854,782 incidents detected in Q4 2019, said the report.

Also Read: Reimagining Business Models for a Post-Pandemic World

“We see smartphone users being targeted more due to mass consumption and increased digitalisation,” Sharma said.

“Risks like data leakage, connection to unsecured wi-fi networks, phishing attacks, spyware, apps with weak encryption (also known as broken cryptography) are some of the common mobile threats that Android users face,” he added.

“In order to mitigate some of the major risks like data breaches, targeted ransomware attacks, large scale (distributed denial-of-service) DDoS attacks, etc, businesses will need to allocate their budgets correctly to build a stronger security infrastructure,” said Dipesh Kaura, General Manager for South Asia, Kaspersky. (IANS)