This page serves as a dynamic resource for OODA Network members looking for insights into the geopolitical dynamics driving global risks. This collection of resources includes content produced exclusively for OODA members as well as a continually updated list of insights from our daily pulse report.
For a comprehensive list of OODA reports on security, cybersecurity and resiliency see: OODA Security and Resiliency.
Something is different in the geopolitical situation today. The reasons are probably a combination of factors that include the pandemic, the rise of the global grid of cyberspace, plus the payoff of years of planning and strategic moves by our adversaries. But whatever the reasons, the world today is more complicated and more dangerous than the world of just a year ago, and in many cases the risks being faced by open societies have never been seen before. The changes are so significant, OODA recommends all business leaders take stock of the geopolitical situation and assess how the nature of these changes should impact your business strategy.
“The world is a more dangerous and complicated place than it was just a year ago. Your corporate strategy and defensive posture needs to reflect that” See: C-Suite Considerations Regarding Current Geopolitical Tensions
In an article entitled “The international environment and countermeasures of network governance during the “14th Five-Year Plan” period” by Xu Xiujun (徐秀军) in the February 27, 2021 edition of China Information Security, we see the continuation of China’s concerns over Weaponized Interdependence and China’s desire to shape a global technology and economic environment that is less influenced by Western power. Xiujun identifies concerns in several interconnected areas including cybersecurity, economic centralization, and advancement in technologies like AI, Quantum, and 5G.
How Changes In China’s Approach To The World Should Change Your Strategy: The situation in China has changed over the last year (see: C-Suite Considerations Regarding Current Geopolitical Tensions). Changes in China’s behaviors include new approaches to diplomacy, new aggressive moves by the Chinese military, new compliance requirements for companies seeking to do business with China, and increased punishment of corporations that are seen to be behaving in ways not supportive of China’s strategic objectives. Cyber threats emanating from China have also continued to evolve, with criminal groups and national level intelligence agencies all leveraging increasing capabilities to gain unauthorized access to data meant to be protected. Meanwhile, many legal, but unfair trading practices are contributing to the rapid rise of China’s economic power and shifting global markets.
Russia Threat Brief:
Russia should be considered a kleptocracy, where the rule of law exists as long as it supports the objectives of the state and the ruling oligarchs. All U.S. businesses should exercise extreme caution before doing business in or with Russia. Our special report on The Russian Threat captures insights on the full spectrum of Russian capabilities and intention, including their actions in cyber conflict. For more read the continuously updated Russia Threat Brief. Also, be sure to check out our special report: Russia What Will Putin Do Next? and The Kinetic Potential of Russian Cyber War, which examines Russia’s mastery of cyber and kinetic linkages, and What Kleptocratic Support for Cybercriminals Means for Russian Cyber Capabilities and Cybercriminals as the Russian State’s Deniable Proxies and The Five Most Dangerous Criminal Organizations Acting As Proxies for Russia.
China Threat Brief:
Several countries have the capability to inflict harm on U.S. interests. However, China is the only one who has declared an intent to challenge the U.S. for global supremacy. China remains a closed society where challenges to party rule are met with harsh, sole crushing response. China is a powerhouse, but one with weaknesses. The same statement carries over to military and intelligence domains. For more read the continuously updated China Threat Brief. Also see our special report on Your Strategy for This Phase of the Trade War – The short version is, stay agile! Also see our special report on What You Should Know About China’s “Destructive Warfare” Doctrine. What’s the China-Arab State Data Security Pact Really Mean?: What the C-Suite needs to know about the rise of China.
Iran Threat Brief:
Iran has been investing heavily in cyber operations and is experienced in conducting both espionage and attack. Iran is undemocratic, with power centered in a Supreme Leader (Ali Khamenei). A President exists but has little power compared to the Supreme Leader. But below them is a vibrant and powerful country of over 81 million. Iranian education systems and scientific pursuits make them a technologically empowered nation that can mount surprisingly sophisticated cyber operations. Iran Threat Brief. Also see: What You Need To Know About Iranian Cyber War Capabilities and Intentions.
DPRK Threat Brief:
North Korea describes itself as a “self-reliant socialist state” but it is really best described as a Stalinist dictatorship. Leader Kim Jong-un holds power and dominates all functions through a mix of violence, rewards and intense propaganda. A common misperception about the DPRK is that they are so backwards and poor that they cannot mount a modern cyber war. But reality is that their policy of “Songun” (military first) means there are resources for capabilities considered strategic, and that includes cyber war. North Korea Threat Brief
Security In Space and Security of Space:
The last decade has seen an incredible increase in the commercial use of space. Businesses and individual consumers now leverage space solutions that are so integrated into our systems that they seem invisible. Some of these services include: Communications, including very high-speed low latency communications to distant and mobile users. Learn more at: OODA Research Report: What Business Needs To Know About Security In Space Also see: Is Space Critical Infrastructure, and the special report on Cyber Threats to Project Artemis, and Mitigating Threats To Commercial Space Satellites
We have not yet figured out how to create an enterprise that brings material together from local PDs, feds, private sector, and foreign sources and shares it with those who need to know. There are (or were) some good operations at the local level, but these were the result of individual initiatives and were difficult to institutionalize. I also think that, as one participant noted, this is a major challenge resulting from the country’s political polarization, which will make intelligence collection more difficult. This is not a new problem, but it has become more acute even in the last several years.
Russians and Chinese using human targeting – amongst other tools- to achieve security advantage in key emerging technologies by 2030
In late October, The National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) issued a report warning of China’s goal to achieve a technological advantage over the U.S. in certain key emerging technologies. Beijing’s long-term goal is a strategic advantage over the U.S. and its security interests by 2030 in areas such as biotechnology, genomic technology, artificial intelligence, and semiconductors. Russia is making strides in this direction as well, but is constrained by resources and has not made the level of commitment as the Chinese. Human targeting is highlighted as a tool used prolifically by the Chinese.
What the C-Suite Needs to Know about the Potential Political Instability of Xi Jinping, the CPC and the PLA
The Sunday Morning Herald reports that Xi Jinping and his loyalists have experienced a plot against their power; have deployed subsequent purges of power based on these challenges, and question the loyalty of their top military brass in China. Details of these events are reviewed here.
In November 2021, the U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission published its annual report to Congress. The Commission addressed several key areas in the report including the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ambitions in the wake of its centennial. One of these included China’s burgeoning use of its cyber capabilities as a state tool supporting its political, military, and economic well-being.
This post provides insights into what the C-Suite needs to know about the rise of great power competition, based largely on a recently released report by the policy and legal research agency of the United States Congress, the Congressional Research Service (CRS), titled Renewed Great Power Competition: Implications for Defense—Issues for Congress. For more see: What the C-Suite needs to know about a Return to “Great Power Competition”
A research team uncovered that the Great Firewall (GFW) runs a hidden layer of HTTPS censorship. Another team of researchers determined the size of the GFW through a nine-month project measuring Chinese DNS censorship. Censorship evasion strategy tools and a DNS blocking measurement platform dashboard have also been made available by the researchers.
The US Government released a statement jointly produced by the Department of State, Department of Treasury, Department of Commerce and Department of Homeland Security on the topic of business risks associated with operating in Hong Kong. If any single agency released a memo on a topic like this it would be important. With all four teaming to produce this it is a clear signal that this advisory should be read and understood by any company doing business in or with Hong Kong. For more see: What The C-Suite Needs To Know About The USG Advisory on Risks and Considerations for Businesses Operating in Hong Kong
The business environment in China has changed over the last year. Changes in China’s behaviors include new approaches to diplomacy, new aggressive moves by the Chinese military, new compliance requirements for companies seeking to do business with China, and increased punishment of corporations that are seen to be behaving in ways not supportive of China’s strategic objectives. Cyber threats emanating from China have also continued to evolve, with criminal groups and national level intelligence agencies all leveraging increasing capabilities to gain unauthorized access to data meant to be protected. Meanwhile, many legal, but unfair trading practices are contributing to the rapid rise of China’s economic power and shifting global markets.
Beijing appears to be engaging in political warfare where it is attempting to fester animosity between foreign governments that show favor to Taiwan, a threat to the long-standing policy of “One Country, Two Systems” with regard to the island. In a recent instance, a fake announcement appeared to be from Taiwan’s Presidential Office on Facebook that asserted that the Taiwanese government intended to accept contaminated wastewater from a Japanese nuclear power plant. A second incident occurred in December 2020 when Taiwanese authorities investigated two Taiwanese with ties to Chinese mainland spreading a similar fake Presidential Office announcement that alleged U.S. and Taiwanese in involvement in protests in Thailand.
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