During the last year several op-ed articles and commentaries have proposed that private companies should have the right to strike back if cyber attacked and conduct their own offensive cyber operations.
The demarcation in cyber between the government sphere and the private sphere is important to uphold because it influences how we see the state and the framework in which states interact. One reason why we have a nation state is to, in a uniform and structured way, under the guidance of a representative democracy, deal with foreign hostility and malicious activity. The state is given its powers by the citizenry to protect the nation utilizing a monopoly on violence. The state then acts under the existing laws on behalf of the citizens to ensure the intentions of the population it represents. These powers create an authority that federal government utilizes to enforce compliance of the laws and handle our relations with foreign powers. If the federal government cannot uphold the authority, legitimacy and confidence in government will suffer. The national interest in protecting legitimacy and authority and to maintain the confidence in the federal government is by far stronger than the benefits of a few private entities departing on their own cyber odysseys to retaliate against foreign cyber attacks.
Continue reading Hacking Back – The Impact on Norms
From our article C4ISRNET (Defense News):
“Command by intent can ensure command post survivability”
Link to full text
“In a changing operational environment, where command posts are increasingly vulnerable, intent can serve as a stealth enabler.
A communicated commander’s intent can serve as a way to limit electronic signatures and radio traffic, seeking to obfuscate the existence of a command post. In a mission command-driven environment, communication between command post and units can be reduced. The limited radio and network traffic increases command post survivability.
The intent must explain how the commander seeks to fight the upcoming 12 – 24 hours, with limited interaction between subordinated units and the commander, providing freedom for the units to fulfill their missions. For a commander to deliver intent in a valuable and effective manner, the delivery has to be trained so the leader and the subordinates have a clear picture of what they set out to do.
Continue reading Bottom line: Commanders that can’t delegate will not survive in the modern battlefield
Australian Broadcasting Corporation interviewed me regarding the events unfolding in Southern Ukraine;
“Dr Kallberg believes that Russia is facing other hurdles as well.
“They’re pulling out of storage drawn artillery pieces that, by Western standards, are 1950s, 1960s standard. And they have lost a lot of their ability to do counter battery fire. They have lost artillery radars. And they’re losing artillery at speed,” he said.
And he thinks the change in seasons will further help Ukraine.
“All Russian arrangements will be visible when the leaves fall in October, and the Ukrainians have precision long-range firepower. So the Ukrainians can methodically take out position after position.”
For full article: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-04/why-ukraine-counteroffensive-could-be-close-to-major-prize/102801456
Kallberg, Jan. “Designer satellite collisions from covert cyber war.” Strategic Studies Quarterly 6, no. 1 (2012): 124-136.
/This text was published in 2012 but is as relevant today/
Outer space has enjoyed two decades of fairly peaceful development since the Cold War, but once again it is becoming more competitive and contested, with increased militarization. Therefore, it is important the United States maintain its space superiority to ensure it has the capabilities required by modern warfare for successful operations. Today is different from earlier periods of space development,1 because there is not a blatantly overt arms race in space,2 but instead a covert challenge to US interests in maintaining superiority, resilience, and capability. A finite number of states consider themselves geopolitical actors; however, as long as the United States maintains space superiority, they must play according to a set of rules written without their consent and forced upon them.
US space assets monitor the actions of authoritarian regimes and their pursuit of regional influence—a practice these regimes find quite disturbing. Therefore, any degradation or limitation of US space-borne capabilities would be seen as a successful outcome for such regimes. Cyber warfare offers these adversarial actors the opportunity to directly or indirectly destroy US space assets with minimal risk due to limited attribution and traceability. This article addresses how they might accomplish this objective. We must begin by examining US reliance on space before focusing on space clutter and the means an adversary might use to exploit it. While satellite protection is a challenge, there are several solutions the United States should consider in the years ahead.
Continue reading Designer Satellite Collisions from Covert Cyber War – Jan Kallberg
The alliance has not properly considered the risks emanating from the half-hearted or hostile within the organization.
During the Cold War, the insider threat to the transatlantic alliance was either infiltration by the Warsaw Pact or some form of theft. The central focus was on counterintelligence and the main enemy was Soviet espionage. Today, in 2023, the insider threat is not only spies and sabotage; it is any misalignment with the mission, which undermines the mission and its ability to conclude the tasks successfully. Regretfully, that can mean some member states are the issue. This is of course a problem of success. As the alliance grows — Finland’s entry on April 4 making it member state number 31 — was a wonderful moment, reflecting the free choice of a representative democracy to seek the security offered by military alliance with its fellows.
Continue reading NATO: The Growing Alliance and the Insider Risks
The most cost-effective and simplistic cyber attack in outer space with the intent to bring down a targeted space asset is likely to use space junk that still has fuel and respond to communications – and use them to ram or force targeted space assets out of orbit. The benefits for the attacker – hard to attribute, low costs, and if the attacker has no use of the space terrain then benefit from anti-access/area denial through space debris created by a collision.
Continue reading Offensive Cyber in Outer Space
In the industrial age of the mid-20th century, tycoons became tycoons because they saw the big picture and could assess opportunities and risks. During World War II when Sweden stayed neutral, the industrial magnates and brothers Marcus and Jacob Wallenberg ran their businesses while also acting as official trade emissaries. The brothers were well-traveled and understood the fundamental dynamics of world trade and industry. Jacob negotiated with the Germans and Marcus with the Allies.
Continue reading Russia’s Industry and Economy Can’t Sustain the War Effort
The original text in CyberWire: “After the war in Ukraine: Cyber revanchism.”
At some point in time, the war in Ukraine will end. How it will end is harder to forecast, but it will end.
Russia has taken a significant beating in the war; even if the Russian forces learned as the war progressed and partly mitigated the worst vulnerabilities, the war was not the intended success story it set out to be. The planned three days until the Ukrainian government collapsed and Ukraine could be absorbed into Russia never happened. Instead, it became a long war that made Russia look incapable, and less than a superpower.
The limited cyber exchanges during the conflict have surprised the cyber community as many expected far more cyber attacks and cyber campaigns to be executed at a time of war. So, will future peace be cyber peace as well? Probably not.
Continue reading My text in CyberWire: After the war in Ukraine: Cyber revanchism.
The change from a focus on counter-insurgency to near-peer and peer conflicts also introduce the likelihood, if there is a conflict, of a fight in colder and frigid conditions. The weather conditions in Korea and Eastern Europe are harsh in wintertime, with increasing challenges the further north the engagement is taking place. I have personal experience facing Arctic conditions as a former Swedish reserve officer and light infantry company commander.
In traditional war, theaters have the threat to your existence line up as enemy, logistics, and climate. In a polar climate, it is reversed – climate, logistics, and the enemy.
An enemy will engage you and seek to take you on different occasions meanwhile the climate will be ever-present. The battle for your physical survival in staying warm, eating, and seeking rest can create unit fatigue and lower the ability to fight within days, even for trained and able troops. The easiest way to envision how three feet of snow affects you is to think about your mobility walking in water up to your hip, so either you ski or use low-ground pressure and wide-tracked vehicles such as specialized Small Unit Support Vehicle (SUSV). The climate and the snow depth affect equipment. Lethality in your regular weapons is lowered. Gunfire accuracy decreases as charges burn slower in an arctic subzero-degree environment. Mortar rounds are less effective than under normal conditions when the snow captures shrapnel. Any heat from weapons, vehicles, or your body will melt the snow and then freeze to ice. If not cleaned, weapons will jam. In a near-peer or peer conflict, the time units are engaged longer, and the exposure to the climate can last months. I say this to set the stage. Arctic warfare occurs in an environment that often lacks roads, infrastructure, minimal logistics, and snow and ice blocking mobility.
The climate affects you and the enemy; once you are comfortable in this environment, you can work on the enemy’s discomfort.
Continue reading Cyber in Arctic Warfare
Russia has moved from Soviet-style warfare to self-pitying introspection, but it remains dangerous and must be defeated.
Russia is going to war with Ukraine to defend the Motherland from gay parades. Russia is defending against an onslaught of transgender NATO satanist mercenaries of mixed ethnicity. Russian state television discusses whether it’s best to bomb Berlin first, or more sensible to start with London and then move on to eradicate the rest of Western Europe, thus removing the sources of support for the queer-Nazi government in Kyiv.
Continue reading Russia’s Imperial Farce
For a mobilization effort to create new units that can enter the war and successfully fight, not only are arms, equipment, and soldiers are needed, but a cadre of available experience tactical leaders that can train, forge cohesion, and lead the new units into combat. After over ten months of war in Ukraine, Russian ground forces lost a significant portion of their able tactical leaders – the ground-war company commanders. The company commanders lead the fight at the forward platoons, are close to contact with the enemy, and must be in the forefront to maintain the initiative. The Russian junior officers have been more exposed due to the low motivation of the Russian troops, forcing the officers to be at the edge of the front and lead by example in urban combat, with heightened risks. The Russian mobilization efforts’ strategic impact is doomed to fail as the Russian army runs out of experienced tactical leaders – the company commanders.
Continue reading The War in Ukraine – Russian officer losses reach strategic impact