Understanding Indian Govt attitude to Iran and Iraq wars

This is a collection of links for a geo-strategic analysis, and the economics of wars and allies. The author neither condones nor condemns current global dynamics in the balance of power.

nations don’t have friends or enemies…nations only have interests

In 2003

The war in Iraq had a unique Indian angle right at the beginning. Some members of the US administration felt they needed more troops in Iraq, and they started negotiating with India. Those negotiations broke down because the Indians wanted to fight under the UN flag and on MONEY!!

India wanted-

  • More money per soldier deployed,
  • more share in post War Oil Contracts,
  • better diplomatic subtlety
Govt changed in India due to elections in2003 (Muslim voters are critical in any govt forming majority party), and the Iraq war ran its tragic course without any Indian explicit support.
In 26 Nov 2008, Islamic Terrorists killed US, Indian and Israeli citizens in terror strikes in Mumbai Sieze- thus proving that appeasing terrorist nations is just riding a tiger.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2003-06-13/india/27203305_1_stabilisation-force-indian-troops-pentagon-delegation

NEW DELHI: There will be a lot a Iraq on the menu over the weekend before the Pentagon team arrives here on Monday to talk India into sending troops to the war-torn nation.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2003-07-28/india/27176989_1_troops-issue-stabilisation-force-defence-policy-group

Jul 28, 2003, 01.28pm IST

NEW DELHI: Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Richard B Myers, who is arriving here on Monday evening on a two-day visit, will request India to reconsider its decision on sending troops to Iraq.

and

Jul 29, 2003, 07.00pm IST

NEW DELHI: Though Gen Myers flatly denied his visit had anything to do with persuading India to send troops to Iraq, it is evident that the US desperately wants Delhi to contribute a division-level force of over 15,000 combat soldiers.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2003-09-10/india/27176101_1_stabilisation-force-force-under-american-control-regional-dialogue

Sep 10, 2003, 05.34pm IST

NEW DELHI: Even as the US-drafted resolution on Iraq is being heatedly debated in many countries, American Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Christina Rocca held a series of meetings with External Affairs Ministry officials on Wednesday.

Though it was officially called “a regional dialogue”, the US request to contribute a division-level force of over 15,000 combat soldiers to the “stabilisation force” in Iraq is learnt to have figured in the discussions.

The penny wise -pound foolish attitude of then Def Secretary Rumsfield led to break down in negotiations.

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Sir Winston Churchill

In 2012

Indian govt again faces elections and we have 150 million Muslim voters just like other countries have influential lobbies.

and while Israelis are being targeted again in attacks in India-

India is still seeking money-

India has struck a defiant tone over new financial sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union to punish Iran for its nuclear programme, coming up with elaborate trade and barter arrangements to pay for oil supplies.

However, the president of the All India Rice Exporters’ Association, said Monday’s attack on the wife of an Israeli diplomat in the Indian capital will damage trade with Iran and may complicate efforts to resolve an impasse over Iranian defaults on payments for rice imports worth around $150 million.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Unfazed-by-US-sanctions-India-to-step-up-ties-with-Iran/articleshow/11887691.cms

India buys $ 5  billion worth of oil from Iran. Annually. Clearly it is a critical financial trading partner to Iran.

It has now gotten extra sops from Iran to continue trading-and is now waiting for a sweeter monetary offer from US and/or Israel to even consider thinking about going through the pain of unchanging the inertia of ties with Iran.

There are some aspects of political corruption as well, as Indian political establishment  is notoriously prone to corruption by lobbyists (apparently there   is a global war on lobbyists that needs to happen)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Unfazed-by-US-sanctions-India-to-step-up-ties-with-Iran/articleshow/11887691.cms

 Feb 14, 2012, 05.54PM ISTUnfazed by US sanctions, India to step up ties with Iran
India is set to ramp up its energy and business ties with Iran. (AFP Photo)
NEW DELHI: Unfazed by US sanctions and Israel linking Tehran to the attack on an Israeli embassy car here, India is set to ramp up its energy and business ties with Iran, with a commerce ministry team heading to Tehran to explore fresh business opportunities. 

The team is expected to go to Tehran later this month to discuss steps to expand India’s trade with Iran, part of a larger strategy to pay for Iranian oil, said highly-placed sources. 

Despite the US and European Union sanctions on Iran, India recently sealed a payment mechanism under which Indian companies will pay for 45 percent of their crude oil imports from Iran in rupees. 

So diplomats with argue over money in Israel, Indian and US while terrorists will kill.

Against Stupidity- The Gods Themselves -Contend in Vain

Denial of Service Attacks against Hospitals and Emergency Rooms

One of the most frightening possibilities of cyber warfare is to use remotely deployed , or timed intrusion malware to disturb, distort, deny health care services.

Computer Virus Shuts Down Georgia Hospital

A doctor in an Emergency Room depends on critical information that may save lives if it is electronic and comes on time. However this electronic information can be distorted (which is more severe than deleting it)

The electronic system of a Hospital can also be overwhelmed. If there can be built Stuxnet worms on   nuclear centrifuge systems (like those by Siemens), then the widespread availability of health care systems means these can be reverse engineered for particularly vicious cyber worms.

An example of prime area for targeting is Veterans Administration for veterans of armed forces, but also cyber attacks against electronic health records.

Consider the following data points-

http://threatpost.com/en_us/blogs/dhs-warns-about-threat-mobile-devices-healthcare-051612

May 16, 2012, 9:03AM

DHS’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) issued the unclassfied bulletin, “Attack Surface: Healthcare and Public Health Sector” on May 4. In it, DHS warns of a wide range of security risks, including that could expose patient data to malicious attackers, or make hospital networks and first responders subject to disruptive cyber attack

http://publicintelligence.net/nccic-medical-device-cyberattacks/

National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center Bulletin

The Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) sector is a multi-trillion dollar industry employing over 13 million personnel, including approximately five million first-responders with at least some emergency medical training, three million registered nurses, and more than 800,000 physicians.

(U) A significant portion of products used in patient care and management including diagnosis and treatment are Medical Devices (MD). These MDs are designed to monitor changes to a patient’s health and may be implanted or external. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates devices from design to sale and some aspects of the relationship between manufacturers and the MDs after sale. However, the FDA cannot regulate MD use or users, which includes how they are linked to or configured within networks. Typically, modern MDs are not designed to be accessed remotely; instead they are intended to be networked at their point of use. However, the flexibility and scalability of wireless networking makes wireless access a convenient option for organizations deploying MDs within their facilities. This robust sector has led the way with medical based technology options for both patient care and data handling.

(U) The expanded use of wireless technology on the enterprise network of medical facilities and the wireless utilization of MDs opens up both new opportunities and new vulnerabilities to patients and medical facilities. Since wireless MDs are now connected to Medical information technology (IT) networks, IT networks are now remotely accessible through the MD. This may be a desirable development, but the communications security of MDs to protect against theft of medical information and malicious intrusion is now becoming a major concern. In addition, many HPH organizations are leveraging mobile technologies to enhance operations. The storage capacity, fast computing speeds, ease of use, and portability render mobile devices an optimal solution.

(U) This Bulletin highlights how the portability and remote connectivity of MDs introduce additional risk into Medical IT networks and failure to implement a robust security program will impact the organization’s ability to protect patients and their medical information from intentional and unintentional loss or damage.

(U) According to Health and Human Services (HHS), a major concern to the Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) Sector is exploitation of potential vulnerabilities of medical devices on Medical IT networks (public, private and domestic). These vulnerabilities may result in possible risks to patient safety and theft or loss of medical information due to the inadequate incorporation of IT products, patient management products and medical devices onto Medical IT Networks. Misconfigured networks or poor security practices may increase the risk of compromised medical devices. HHS states there are four factors which further complicate security resilience within a medical organization.

1. (U) There are legacy medical devices deployed prior to enactment of the Medical Device Law in 1976, that are still in use today.

2. (U) Many newer devices have undergone rigorous FDA testing procedures and come equipped with design features which facilitate their safe incorporation onto Medical IT networks. However, these secure design features may not be implemented during the deployment phase due to complexity of the technology or the lack of knowledge about the capabilities. Because the technology is so new, there may not be an authoritative understanding of how to properly secure it, leaving open the possibilities for exploitation through zero-day vulnerabilities or insecure deployment configurations. In addition, new or robust features, such as custom applications, may also mean an increased amount of third party code development which may create vulnerabilities, if not evaluated properly. Prior to enactment of the law, the FDA required minimal testing before placing on the market. It is challenging to localize and mitigate threats within this group of legacy equipment.

3. (U) In an era of budgetary restraints, healthcare facilities frequently prioritize more traditional programs and operational considerations over network security.

4. (U) Because these medical devices may contain sensitive or privacy information, system owners may be reluctant to allow manufactures access for upgrades or updates. Failure to install updates lays a foundation for increasingly ineffective threat mitigation as time passes.

(U) Implantable Medical Devices (IMD): Some medical computing devices are designed to be implanted within the body to collect, store, analyze and then act on large amounts of information. These IMDs have incorporated network communications capabilities to increase their usefulness. Legacy implanted medical devices still in use today were manufactured when security was not yet a priority. Some of these devices have older proprietary operating systems that are not vulnerable to common malware and so are not supported by newer antivirus software. However, many are vulnerable to cyber attacks by a malicious actor who can take advantage of routine software update capabilities to gain access and, thereafter, manipulate the implant.

(U) During an August 2011 Black Hat conference, a security researcher demonstrated how an outside actor can shut off or alter the settings of an insulin pump without the user’s knowledge. The demonstration was given to show the audience that the pump’s cyber vulnerabilities could lead to severe consequences. The researcher that provided the demonstration is a diabetic and personally aware of the implications of this activity. The researcher also found that a malicious actor can eavesdrop on a continuous glucose monitor’s (CGM) transmission by using an oscilloscope, but device settings could not be reprogrammed. The researcher acknowledged that he was not able to completely assume remote control or modify the programming of the CGM, but he was able to disrupt and jam the device.

http://www.healthreformwatch.com/category/electronic-medical-records/

February 7, 2012

Since the data breach notification regulations by HHS went into effect in September 2009, 385 incidents affecting 500 or more individuals have been reported to HHS, according to its website.

http://www.darkdaily.com/cyber-attacks-against-internet-enabled-medical-devices-are-new-threat-to-clinical-pathology-laboratories-215#axzz1yPzItOFc

February 16 2011

One high-profile healthcare system that regularly experiences such attacks is the Veterans Administration (VA). For two years, the VA has been fighting a cyber battle against illegal and unwanted intrusions into their medical devices

 

http://www.mobiledia.com/news/120863.html

 DEC 16, 2011
Malware in a Georgia hospital’s computer system forced it to turn away patients, highlighting the problems and vulnerabilities of computerized systems.

The computer infection started to cause problems at the Gwinnett Medical Center last Wednesday and continued to spread, until the hospital was forced to send all non-emergency admissions to other hospitals.

More doctors and nurses than ever are using mobile devices in healthcare, and hospitals are making patient records computerized for easier, convenient access over piles of paperwork.

http://www.doctorsofusc.com/uscdocs/locations/lac-usc-medical-center

As one of the busiest public hospitals in the western United States, LAC+USC Medical Center records nearly 39,000 inpatient discharges, 150,000 emergency department visits, and 1 million ambulatory care visits each year.

http://www.healthreformwatch.com/category/electronic-medical-records/

If one jumbo jet crashed in the US each day for a week, we’d expect the FAA to shut down the industry until the problem was figured out. But in our health care system, roughly 250 people die each day due to preventable error

http://www.pcworld.com/article/142926/are_healthcare_organizations_under_cyberattack.html

Feb 28, 2008

“There is definitely an uptick in attacks,” says Dr. John Halamka, CIO at both Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in the Boston area. “Privacy is the foundation of everything we do. We don’t want to be the TJX of healthcare.” TJX is the Framingham, Mass-based retailer which last year disclosed a massive data breach involving customer records.

Dr. Halamka, who this week announced a project in electronic health records as an online service to the 300 doctors in the Beth Israel Deaconess Physicians Organization,

Credit Downgrade of USA and Triple A Whining

As a person trained , deployed and often asked to comment on macroeconomic shenanigans- I have the following observations to make on the downgrade of US Debt by S&P

1) Credit rating is both a mathematical exercise of debt versus net worth as well as intention to repay. Given the recent deadlock in United States legislature on debt ceiling, it is natural and correct to assume that holding US debt is slightly more risky in 2011 as compared to 2001. That means if the US debt was AAA in 2001 it sure is slightly more risky in 2011.

2) Politicians are criticized the world over in democracies including India, UK and US. This is natural , healthy and enforced by checks and balances by constitution of each country. At the time of writing this, there are protests in India on corruption, in UK on economic disparities, in US on debt vs tax vs spending, Israel on inflation. It is the maturity of the media as well as average educational level of citizenry that amplifies and inflames or dampens sentiment regarding policy and business.

3) Conspicuous consumption has failed both at an environmental and economic level. Cheap debt to buy things you do not need may have made good macro economic sense as long as the things were made by people locally but that is no longer the case. Outsourcing is not all evil, but it sure is not a perfect solution to economics and competitiveness. Outsourcing is good or outsourcing is bad- well it depends.

4) In 1944 , the US took debt to fight Nazism, build atomic power and generally wage a lot of war and lots of dual use inventions. In 2004-2010 the US took debt to fight wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and bail out banks and automobile companies. Some erosion in the values represented by a free democracy has taken place, much to the delight of authoritarian regimes (who have managed to survive Google and Facebook).

5) A Double A rating is still quite a good rating. Noone is moving out of the US Treasuries- I mean seriously what are your alternative financial resources to park your government or central bank assets, euro, gold, oil, rare earth futures, metals or yen??

6) Income disparity as a trigger for social unrest in UK, France and other parts is an ominous looming threat that may lead to more action than the poor maths of S &P. It has been some time since riots occured in the United States and I believe in time series and cycles especially given the rising Gini coefficients .

Gini indices for the United States at various times, according to the US Census Bureau:[8][9][10]

  • 1929: 45.0 (estimated)
  • 1947: 37.6 (estimated)
  • 1967: 39.7 (first year reported)
  • 1968: 38.6 (lowest index reported)
  • 1970: 39.4
  • 1980: 40.3
  • 1990: 42.8
    • (Recalculations made in 1992 added a significant upward shift for later values)
  • 2000: 46.2
  • 2005: 46.9
  • 2006: 47.0 (highest index reported)
  • 2007: 46.3
  • 2008: 46.69
  • 2009: 46.8

7) Again I am slightly suspicious of an American Corporation downgrading the American Governmental debt when it failed to reconcile numbers by 2 trillion and famously managed to avoid downgrading Lehman Brothers.  What are the political affiliations of the S &P board. What are their backgrounds. Check the facts, Watson.

The Chinese government should be concerned if it is holding >1000 tonnes of Gold and >1 trillion plus of US treasuries lest we have a third opium war (as either Gold or US Treasuries will burst)

. Opium in 1850 like the US Treasuries in 2010 have no inherent value except for those addicted to them.

8   ) Ron Paul and Paul Krugman are the two extremes of economic ideology in the US.

Reminds me of the old saying- Robbing Peter to pay Paul. Both the Pauls seem equally unhappy and biased.

I have to read both WSJ and NYT to make sense of what actually is happening in the US as opinionated journalism has managed to elbow out fact based journalism. Do we need analytics in journalism education/ reporting?

9) Panic buying and selling would lead to short term arbitrage positions. People like W Buffet made more money in the crash of 2008 than people did in the boom years of 2006-7

If stocks are cheap- buy. on the dips. Acquire companies before they go for IPOs. Go buy your own stock if you are sitting on  a pile of cash. Buy some technology patents in cloud , mobile, tablet and statistical computing if you have a lot of cash and need to buy some long term assets.

10) Follow all advice above at own risk and no liability to this author 😉

 

Cognitive Biases exploited by Spammers and Phishers

"Keep Walking"

Since they day you arrive on this planet, you are programmed into accepting reality as good and bad.

Beautiful people good. Ugly people not good.

Fellow countrymen good. Fellow earthling not so good.

Same religion is good. Different religion is awkward.

These cognitive biases are exploited in social media in the following manner-

1) Same Name Bias- You like people of the same name as you. or people who remind you of your brothers name. or uncles name.

All that information is already known. Esp true on Linkedin.

2) Same Orientation Bias- People tend to react better to photos considered attractive of opposite sex / opposite preference. Especially true on Twitter and Facebook.

3) Nationality Bias- Israeli Americans tend to respond better to Jewish looking phishers who claim to be from Israel but are not. Ditto for Indians- Arabs etc. E|sp true on Linkedin and Facebook.

You are positively biased to people of same country or of friendly nation states and will likely accept invites/friend/poke

4) Same organization/ alumni bias- People at end of phishing attack will have higher response rate if proxy identity claims familiarity with organizations or schools attended. Especially true on Facebook and Linkedin.

5) Same interests/movies/books bias- Your likely response rate is higher to someone who has seen your profile page on Facebook for interests, and checked the RSS stream of your tweets for stuff you like.

Bias is just maths. Period.

Stuxnet DeMystified

Detail of a New York Times Advertisement - 1895
Image via Wikipedia

A fascinating article in New York Times details the fascinating details of the Stuxnet virus, apparently the most successful cyber weapon in recent times.

Given that Industrial Controllers are a part of a everything from factories to missile launch configurations, I believe this is a fascinating area of study for the world’s research scientists including creating variants and defenses for this.

https://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/16/world/middleeast/16stuxnet.html

Also a 2008 presentation by Siemens that the NYT was kind enough to link to- (whither Wikileaks ??)

Interview-Data Mining,Israel-Edith Ohri

An interview with Edith Ohri ,a pioneer in Data Mining from Israel, one of the technologically and educationally advanced countries in Asia.

1) Tell us how you came in this field of work, and what factors made you succeed.
My introduction to data mining was at work right after my MS degree. The CEO of the company asked the IE department to organize the many small customer orders in groups that "make sense" for production, in a remote plant which the company had just opened. At the time, there was no solution available for this request. Whoever got the job was destined to months of laborious work. As a new comer I was assigned that unpopular job. Being new at that place, my problem with it was even greater: I had no knowledge about the production preferences and practices and could not had guessed what to assume and where to focus. This lack of expertise and inability to rely on expert knowledge or past conventions was as things turned out the key for success, as it forced me to rely on objective analysis alone.

2) Most challenging and fun project you ever did (anonymous details).
Every project is fun for me. It is always challenging to crack new complex data especially if previous analysis attempts have little results. In almost every project there is a surprising and interesting twist. I find it every time again very rewarding to discover hidden facts and then rationalize them with the client. Currently I’m working on an extremely large data set that requires farther software development. For me is

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