Short notice in the German newspaper FOCUS today:
„Ten billion dollars Jedi project: Pentagon cancels billion dollar contract with Microsoft Today, 07/07/2021 | 08:26 #
In the future, artificial intelligence will manage all data and information relating to the US military. The Ministry of Defense hired IT giant Microsoft to do this. Now the roll back. The US Department of Defense cancels a ten billion dollar contract with the IT company Microsoft, for which the Internet giant Amazon had also applied. The project to build a cloud system called Jedi no longer meets the needs of the ministry, the Pentagon said on Tuesday. „Given the changing technology environment, it has become clear that the Jedi Cloud contract, which has been long delayed, is no longer sufficient to fill the Department of Defense’s capability gaps,“ the ministry said. Now there should be a new tender. Amazon and Microsoft are favorites – but possible offers from other companies are also taken into account. The decision against Amazon ended up in federal court The Jedi project, which cost the equivalent of 8.4 billion euros, was about setting up a cloud system with which information from all branches of the armed forces can be exchanged in one system using artificial intelligence. The ten-year contract went to Microsoft in October 2019, even though Amazon was the favorite. Amazon has a lot of experience with cloud systems. The company has already equipped other US agencies with systems, including the CIA. Amazon went to court against the award to Microsoft. The company accused the administration of then President Donald Trump of influencing it in order to harm its „political enemy“, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The richest person in the world also owns the Washington Post, which often reports critical of Trump. In February 2020, a federal judge ordered the contract awarded to Microsoft to be temporarily put on hold. The Pentagon then requested a four-month delay to re-examine the award of the contract. In September, the Department of Defense finally announced that it would hold on to Microsoft. But now followed the announcement to cancel the contract.
The interesting part of it is that the integration and exchange of military datas are now packed up in cloud systems. Can they be hacked and which security systems does this integrated cloud have not to come in the danger of being manipulated and used by the other side or feed with desinformation and wrong data and decrypted similar to the British hacking of the German Enigma code- but this time by China or Russia? And what will be the next step? An integrated, automized command like in the Terminator and its Skynet with automized decision-making and algorithams for integrated autonomous warfare? However, there are two very good articles in the Jerusalem Post which analyse the latest private and state- controlled hackings and try to give a rating of the different cyberforces worldwide. However till now it is more about spying, desinformation, supply chanin attacks and ransom attacks and not the big hack which like Enigma tries to take controll and influence of the US military cyberinfrastructure and its new cloud systems.And all the AI, cloud and related cyberwar questions are also related to the development of quantum computers and quantum technology This in mind, we want to repost these artices to give a global review of the cyberforces and their strength and weaknesses. Hopefully the Israelis are not overestimating their own potentials and the strength of US and Israeli cyber force.After Solar Wind and Revil, the question is now to what extent the USA is still a tier one cyberpower. It is also interesting how other countries are rated. Germany is not even mentioned.
“Where do Israel, US stand post REvil mega cyberattack?
The current hack by the Russian-based REvil gang was not directed at any strategic footholds of American power and is not about spying.
July 5, 2021 21:37
Following the July 3 announcement of a mega cyber ransomware attack on the US IT management company Kaseya, currently attributed to the Russian cyber gang REvil, what is the state of cybersecurity in Israel and the US?
The reason this is a mega cyber event is because Kaseya provides IT management tools to 40,000 customers worldwide, many of whom are service providers to hundreds of businesses.
In that sense, it could turn out to be the largest ransomware attack of all time.
Although the cyberattack’s strategic gravity of harm likely would be less than the SolarWinds mega hack announced in late 2020, the volume of businesses the latest hack would impact could be larger, the Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) has told The Jerusalem Post.
Essentially, the only thing in common between the two mega hacks was that a major digital-services supplier was targeted to spread out the effects more widely than an attack on a specific business or industry, INCD said.
Beyond that, the attacks were very different.
SolarWinds was an audacious cyberattack by the Russian government to spy on and obtain sensitive top US national-security secrets and methods of operation.
The current hack was not directed at any strategic footholds of American power and is not about spying.
Rather, it is directed at the private sector to extort businesses for money – the definition of a ransomware cyberattack.
SolarWinds was a far more sophisticated and patient hack, whereas the tactics used here were less fancy but were still formidable and directed enough to expand across the globe, INCD said.
That being said, there has not been a major impact on Israel to date, although the Jewish state has suffered its own separate major attacks, such as the hack of the Shirbit insurance company.
A more basic question raised by this attack is why do pretty much all surveys still rate the US as the world’s greatest cyber power when it keeps getting mega-hacked?
This attack comes just over half a year after SolarWinds and only one to two months after JBS, one of the largest meat producers in the US, paid an $11 million ransom to REvil after a cyberattack and after Colonial Pipeline, one of the US’s largest gas providers, was forced to shut down gas delivery to the East Coast until it paid the hackers $4.4m.
With such an abysmal record at stopping major cyberattacks, one might think the US should rate much lower.
Another question is why has Israel not been hit as hard by either the SolarWinds or Kaseya attack, and what does this mean for how Jerusalem compares to its cyber challengers?
A recent report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (INSS) put the US alone as a Tier One cyber power, saying it was the only country that is a leader in all of the relevant categories of cyber strength, including defensive resilience, protection of infrastructure, offensive capabilities and long-term strategic planning.
In fact, the report specifically addresses the impact of the SolarWinds hack on its rankings, saying its “assessment is unchanged by the discovery at the end of 2020 of the Russian cyber-espionage operation that had hacked into software provided by the US company SolarWinds and infected the company’s many clients, including nine US government departments and about 100 private companies.”
“Although this will have heightened dissatisfaction with the country’s cyberdefenses, it should also be noted that the operation was detected, and is being disrupted, by the US private sector,” the report said.
Another interesting comment in the report is that “it is likely that US cyber-enabled influence operations are far less prolific than those conducted by the Russians and Chinese, given the number of the latter that have been detected and publicly revealed. But that should not lead us to judge that the US has substantially less capability or weaker intent.”
“We might instead conclude that the US use of its capability is more sophisticated, with less chance of detection, and that it is more controlled and responsible… It remains an open question whether the Russians and Chinese have gained an advantage owing to their growing peacetime… aggressive use of offensive cyber for influence and information operations,” the report said.
In terms of addressing Israel, the report puts the Jewish state in the same second tier along with China, Russia, France, UK, Australia and Canada.
In the report’s third tier are India, Japan, Indonesia, Iran, North Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam.
“Owing to the audacity, controversy and success of their operations, Israel’s intelligence services have acquired a formidable reputation,” the report said. “That said, and despite the regional superiority of its cyber-intelligence capabilities, Israel lacks the global intelligence reach of some other states.”
“It compensates for this through a particularly close relationship with the US cyber-intelligence community, and also through collaboration with the UK’s agencies and… France, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates,” it said.
“The annual survey of 500 leading cybersecurity companies published in Cybercrime Magazine demonstrates the global competitiveness of Israel’s cyber industry… with no fewer than 42 companies in the list, Israel was second only to the US (354 companies),” the report said. “The UK, ranked third, had only half as many companies as Israel in the list, while China had only six.”
“Many people working in Israel’s cybersecurity start-ups – including the founders of Palo Alto Networks, NSO and Checkpoint – had served previously in Unit 8200 as combat or technology personnel,” it added.
“The close collaboration between Israel’s military and private sectors provides a unique technological advantage for both, with new cyber technologies tried and tested on real battlegrounds, ensuring their effectiveness and scalability before they are released on the global market,” the report said.
It appears that the US makes up for how hackable it has been with its first-rate offensive capabilities and that so much of the world’s digital existence still emanates from America, no matter how much impressive catch-up Beijing has played.
Interestingly, the US also has almost double the number of satellites than the entire rest of the world combined and close to five times as many as China, which is in second place.
Israel has vulnerabilities that Iran and others can exploit, but its offensive, defensive and future potential creative cyber capabilities still far outstretch the Islamic Republic’s.
What this means is that Washington and Jerusalem will likely continue to face mega hacks, but the overall cyber playing field, for now, still favors both when pitted against their relevant adversaries.
Where is Israel in US-China quantum supremacy race?
“Like many other technological areas, the US and China are in a race to see who will dominate the quantum computing sector.
By Yonah Jeremy Bob
July 1, 2021 21:15
As the US and China battle it out for quantum computing supremacy, where does Israel fit into the picture?
The theme of a zoom conference organized by the Maryland/Israel Development Center and the University of Maryland on Wednesday was “How Quantum Computing Will Revolutionize the World: Maryland and Israeli Experts Weigh In,” but one of the speakers did discuss the ongoing race between Washington and Beijing.
Dr. Tal David, who heads the Israel National Quantum Initiative, noted that America has instituted a ban on the export of various quantum technologies to China and that the Chinese are in the process of responding in kind.
There is also a process starting within the EU to limit exports of quantum technology to non-EU members, which could impact Israel, England, Switzerland and others.
Like many other technological areas, the US and China are in a race to see who will dominate the quantum computing and other related quantum sectors.
Some analysts say that whoever wins the race will have a potential revolutionary advantage in both the economic and military sectors over competitors, without even getting into the potential for quantum computers to hack virtually the entire internet.
David said “the window of opportunity for collaboration is shrinking all the time,” but that he was hopeful Jerusalem would convince its EU partners to continue joint quantum projects.
According to David, there is still ongoing quantum research cooperation going on between Israel and China in the academic fields and there has been some cooperation in the business arena.
He explained that Israel’s general approach was to promote as much collaboration as possible in the field of quantum given the complexity of the challenge and the diversity of global efforts to meet the challenge.
Although there are technological areas like 5G where the Jewish state has committed to America that it will use American and allied technology, and not Chinese technology, there is no public indication to date of Israel having to make such a commitment in the quantum realm.
David summarized the state of quantum technologies, calling quantum sensing the most advanced and mature area which is already being used in the field.
In contrast, he said quantum communications and cryptography are not as ready, but are moving forward at high speed and could have a major impact on “markets in the next five years or so,” with quantum computing getting “the most hype and investment, but is the least mature.”
Israel is “trying to be enablers” in a range of these areas with a recent jump in investment by both the state and the private sector, said David.
Christopher Monroe, a professor at both University of Maryland and Duke University, as well as co-founder of quantum computing company IonQ, discussed how future applications in business could help multinational companies and national defense organizations optimize the shortest routes for delivering packages at a whole new level.
However, he said that “quantum will have a scientific use before a commercial use” and explained that governments need to get involved because businesses may not stay invested in quantum during the full cycle of peaks and valleys, since they worry more about profits in the short term.
In contrast, he said that quantum computers will change the face of the planet, but are a marathon.
Co-Founder and CEO of Quantum Machines, the first Israeli quantum start-up, Dr. Itamar Sivan tried to explain to those attending why quantum computing has still not been fully mastered despite nations across the world now throwing, in total, tens of billions at the issue.
He presented a picture of an entire galaxy to describe the quantum processor’s computing potential as greater than a number needed to represent the number of atoms in the universe.
Sivan’s company works on cloud infrastructure which can control any kind of potential quantum machines.