News / Middle East

Cyber War for US, Syria?

Cyber War for US, Syria?i
X
March 05, 2014 12:02 AM
The Syrian government and its allies are widely believed to be using cyberattacks to target members of the opposition. Meanwhile, the Obama administration reportedly has been debating the use of cyberattacks to disrupt the Syrian government's military, but has been hesitant to do so. More from VOA's Kent Klein
Kent Klein
The Syrian government and its allies are widely believed to be using cyber attacks to target members of the opposition. Meanwhile, the Obama administration reportedly has been debating the use of cyber attacks to disrupt the Syrian government's military, but has been hesitant to do so.
 
While violence rages in Syria, not all of the conflict is taking place in the streets. Some of it is happening in cyberspace.
 
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has spent more than two years studying malware campaigns against Syrian dissidents and opposition members. 
 
The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its supporters are to blame, says the Foundation's global policy analyst Eva Galperin.
 
"They are all being run by a very, very limited number of groups.  And the organizations with the strongest reason to spy on people in this fashion would be the Assad regime," says Galperin.
 
At the Washington-based Syrian Emergency Task Force, Evan Barrett says social media sites are used to identify Syrians for detention or torture.

“Syrian activists are confident that the regime is doing this, and feel that there are people who have been sort of rounded up and detained, where there’s no way that the regime could have known about their activities except through online surveillance,” says Barrett.
 
News reports say the Obama administration is discussing using cyber attacks to disrupt Syrian military operations, especially the barrel bombing of civilians.
 
Barrett says that would be a low-cost way to limit human suffering. 
 
“Even if we can only delay bombing of civilian areas for a week or two weeks, that seems like an important accomplishment to me,” says Barrett.
 
The U.S. has used cyber attacks in the past, against Iran's nuclear facilities, through the computer virus Stuxnet and other reported operations.
 
But some in the U.S. intelligence community say the effectiveness of the attacks is limited.
 
Barrett says his group asked the National Security Council in 2012 to wage cyber warfare against Syria, and was rebuffed.
 
“That doesn’t mean they’re not pursuing some cyber strategy, and they may have just viewed it as their prerogative to not let us know what they’re doing.  But we have had conversations with the State Department, with the NSC, and have been told that, you know, they’re not pursuing that at this time,” says Barrett.
 
On the problem of Syrian cyber attacks, Eva Galperin says there is no need for the U.S. government to get involved, since American Internet companies are motivated to fight the problem.
 
"...the malware is being spread largely using platforms that are controlled by U.S. companies, such as Facebook or Skype, or by email such as Gmail.  We've really had the most luck in cooperating with U.S. companies," says Galperin.
 
And while the administration's strategy discussion continues, so does the fighting in Syria.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs