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What I’m Reading: July/August 2017 – Work Teams, War, Cyber Security, and Big Data

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I am way late on this, so I decided to combine two months worth of articles I found most interesting:

The Pop-Up Employer: Build a Team, Do the Job, Say Goodbye – New York Times, 7/12/2017

This article made me mad. Not because two business professors explored the use of quickly assembling small tech teams to perform a function, how to organize them, and how to let them go after the task is complete, but because this business model is highly insecure and will lead to an insecure workforce that will constantly looking for their next job while not focusing 100% on their current task. While this model is similar to a military task force, the big difference is that the military provide the long-term job security of training and health care needed for a motivated and happy workforce. Building task force teams to tackle problems and then letting them go means employees are responsible for their own training and health care, which is a big problem in America.

Strategy Considerations Across the Spectrum of Warfare – The Strategy Bridge, 8/10/2017

This is a good overview on the threats facing national security and how America should position itself strategically to counter those threats.

Fresh thinking to deal with ‘not quite wars’ (part 1) – Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 7/20/2017

Nathan Finney discusses the need to no longer look at warfare in linear terms. Because threats are no longer lined up as they were in combat centuries ago, linear planning models – where Phase 2 follows Phase 1 – are not effective to operations. Planners need to look more towards cumulative strategies for gaining control than a linear model.

Cyber Attacks On Critical Infrastructure: Insights from War Gaming – War On the Rocks, 7/26/2017

A very interesting piece on wargames developed to bring government and private sector cybersecurity stakeholders to the table. This article details the development of the exercise, as well as the results and the conclusions. Both the government and the private sector need to cooperate in the face of ongoing and unknown cyber attacks, targeting both the government and private sector.

Liberal Arts in the Data Age – Harvard Business Review, July-August 2017

As someone with two liberal arts degrees – one in Arts & Science and the other in Social Science, I loved this article. The article discusses the ideas, mindset, and creativity that come from the liberal arts and why that is needed in computer science and other tech heavy fields. As the article attests, Liberal Arts brings empathy and collective intelligence to issues. Unfortunately, the article does not cite any specific examples of Liberal Arts solving problems in the tech world. It also does not discuss the problem of recruiters and hiring managers who write very specific, unwavering job requirements and do not entertain the idea of Liberal Arts in tech.

Look beyond job boards to fill cybersecurity jobs – CSOOnline.com, 7/13/2017

An overview of how cybersecurity companies can reach out to people without deep tech backgrounds and bring them into the information security workforce.

The Dark Web, between the Myth and the Promise of Anonymity – CCCBLab, 7/3/2017

A very good primer on the Dark Web, what it is and how it is used. The article does a good job of not pinning all illegal activities on the Dark Web, although it does state that it is a forum for such activity. The Dark Web is also a forum for those seeking to communicate outside the watchful eye of web crawlers and government surveillance.

Struggling With Cyber: A Critical Look at Waging War Online – WarOnTheRock.com, 7/5/2017

An interesting exploration of offensive network operations, which the article says is “essentially military cyber-attacks — … a combination of information operations, intelligence collection, and electronic warfare”. The article discusses how other nations such as China and Russia have incorporated cyber operations into offensive operations. What I did not like is the author’s dismissal of offensive cyber operations as “not an attack”. The author believes only in war do attacks happens. That is way too simplistic. War is continuous, as long as one entity is attempting to seize or reduce the power of another.

Despite my objections with the article, I love this line “The dependence of American forces on continuous data means if one can reduce the availability of that data or corrupt it, one can severely impact U.S. military operations”. That’s awesome on so many levels.

Creating a Safe and Prosperous Cyberspace: The Path to Ise-Shima Cybersecurity Norms – The Strategy Bridge, 8/2/2017

This is a high level exploration of cyber policy. The article discusses G20 initiatives to categorize and define cyber attacks. High level cooperation is the only way nations can monitor each other. Unless, of course, nations hire untraceable contractors to attack and deny affiliation.

The Human Landscape: A mosaic of geospatial and sociocultural data – DigitalGlobe, July 2017

A very interesting video demonstration of data visualization tools – placing thousands of data points on maps to see trends and patterns. This is huge for government entities. Companies are taking the lead on incorporating tech with data and creating great results. This is the good side of big data and analytics.

Trump’s Big-Data Gurus Worked On The Kenyan Election, Amid Concerns Over Fake News And Hacking Allegations – Fast Company, 8/10/2017

Scary stuff. Huge data firms are helping political parties around the world. But instead of only providing where potential voters may live, these firms are attempting to inject messaging into social media and influence voter ideals – even if it means promoting “fake news”. Countries with weak democracies, low education standards, and low media standards are easy laboratories for these companies who are bankrolled by politically-minded billionaires. This is the evil side of big data and analytics.

Coming to a City Near You: Stolen Guns – CityLab.com, 7/12/2017

This is a good report on a scary phenomenon. According to CityLab, gun stores are being robbed at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, there are few security regulations on gun selling establishments. Owners are left to their own merits to pay for and install any heavy security for their wares. Any attempt at regulation will be heavily fought, while thieves continue to snatch and grab.

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