A Year After the Boston Bombings

21-Apr-2014 • Chris C.

The one year anniversary of the Boston Bombings and the ensuing manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers was marked this past week (15-April - 19-April). Now the day of the 2014 Boston Marathon, the target of the Boston Bombings which resulted in four fatalities, including an MIT police officer, and two-hundred and eighty injuries, it is worth reflecting on Tamerlan and Dzhokhar’s radicalization, attack cycle, and assessing whether or not a similar act of terrorism could be carried out today.

Why Every Website Should Use Always on SSL (AOSSL)

11-Apr-2014 • Chris C.

This article explains that while serving websites over Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) does not eliminate all sources of insecurity (e.g., the recently discovered Heartbleed bug) and indeed exacts a latency penalty on the connection between the webserver and the client, the advantages of HTTPS and establishing Always On SSL (AOSSL), even for nonsensitive transactional websites, far exceed the disadvantages.

Heartbleed Bug

10-Apr-2014 • Chris C.

Existant since December 31, 2011, the Heartbleed bug in the OpenSSL 1.0.1 Series up through 1.0.1f, as well as the 1.0.2-beta, exploits the heartbeat mechanism used by transport layer security (TLS) to keep secure connections alive.

Definition of Terrorism

08-Apr-2014 • Chris C.

The definition of terrorism is something that varies widely across governmental and nongovernmental organizations and academia. Herein are common definitions of terrorism.

A Look at Password Strength and Security

02-Apr-2014 • Chris C.

Password strength and security is continually brought up by security professionals, and for good reason. Despite the many warnings that we have all heard and seen in the office or when registering new accounts online, individuals and organizations continue to fall prey to password cracking. Most commonly this comes in the form of a brute-force attack, sometimes referred to as an exhaustive key search, wherein an attacker essentially guesses various password or key combinations until it is guessed correctly. The problem lies in the fact that this style of attack is increasingly becoming more sophisticated while password strength and security is on the decline.

Fragmentation and Entrepreneurial Militancy: The Aftermath of the U.S. Drawdown in Afghanistan

20-Dec-2013 • Chris C.

This paper finds that the militant landscape across central and south Asia is complex, and will only become more so as the contingent of U.S. and coalition forces draw down and ultimately leave Afghanistan. In the wake of the drawdown, with many competing interests amongst militants and high stakes on-the-line, the Taliban movement at large, will further fragment and spin off new groups. “Entrepreneurial militancy,” that is, the inter-group fighting that will take place with the intent of upsetting the status quo, will take hold in the near term. Once things sort out, it can be expected that there will be a rise in attacks against both the Afghan and Pakistani governments as militants seek to further consolidate power under the new order. In sum, while the key actors are unlikely to change much, motivations and the banners they seek power under, very well may.

Agricultural Bioterrorism: A Threat Assessment

12-Dec-2013 • Chris C.

The threat of agricultural bioterrorism remains one of the single greatest threats to local and state economies, as well as the overall U.S. economy. In worst case scenarios, specific vulnerabilities could be exploited by highly capable actors which would extend damage beyond far-reaching economic losses, and threaten broader domestic food security and continuity. This threat assessment will bridge the gap in agricultural bioterrorism scholarship while hopefully spurring a wider and more routine discussion on the subject.

Terrorism in South Asia: Short Essays

23-Oct-2013 • Chris C.

Short essays on how 9/11 impacted South Asia, what caused the insurgency in Kashmir, and what has led to the spill-over violence outside of Kashmir within India.

Unmanned Deterrence: Deterring Terrorism With Armed Drones

22-May-2013 • Chris C.

In utilizing deterrence vis-à-vis drone strikes, a distinct red line is established for anyone who decides to plan an attack or aid in an attempted attack on the U.S. If you plan to attack the U.S., you will become the target of an armed drone strike. This simple framework has the ability to significantly reduce domestic and international controversy by getting away from the policy of mowing the proverbial lawn of terrorists.

Terrorism and Counterterrorism in Africa: Short Essays

10-May-2013 • Chris C.

A pair of short essays comparing and contrasting Islamist and non-Islamist terrorist organizations in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula which conclude with counterterrorism policy recommendations.

The Franchise on the Rise: The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria

06-May-2013 • Chris C.

Having now co-opted what began as a popular struggle against the Assad regime, the ISIGS has expanded its focus beyond Syria. Learning from past mistakes in Iraq, the ISIGS has successfully garnered support through the downplaying of itself as an al-Qa’ida franchise and the playing up of its proximate goals of uprooting regional regimes. Due to widening sectarian violence, moderate Sunnis are increasingly accepting the ISIGS as a legitimate party to the growing conflicts. Complicating matters, the U.S. is politically constrained in what it can do to address the rising ISIGS. So while regional governments line up like dominoes, the ISIGS is not only trying to give them a nudge, but positioning itself to benefit when they fall.

Mexican Drug Cartels: Bringing the Threat of Terrorism Closer to Home

11-Dec-2012 • Chris C.

Seldom discussed is the existence of, and potential for, nexuses between Mexican trafficking organizations and foreign terrorist organizations. In concert, these organizations pose a more integrated and robust threat to the United States than they do as lone enterprises.

Defeating the LTTE: An Analysis of the Fourth Phase of the Sri Lankan Civil War

22-May-2012 • Chris C.

The fourth and final phase of the Sri Lankan Civil War is instructive from a counterinsurgency standpoint since the previous phases were laborious and drawn out without military or political resolution. As such, this paper will briefly discuss the origins of the LTTE and examine the circumstances and tactics of the final phase of the Sri Lankan Civil War.

Al-Shabaab: On the Ropes, but Still Fighting

14-May-2012 • Chris C.

Al-Shabaab poses a credible threat to American interests overseas as well as posing a real threat to the U.S. homeland. Since 2003, the U.S. has waged a counterterrorism (CT) campaign with increasing intensity against al-Qa'ida in Somalia (AQIS). U.S. CT efforts have successfully disrupted and to an extent, degraded AQIS and al-Shabaab, al-Qa'ida's newly dubbed Somali franchise. However, these efforts have failed to exploit existing organizational cleavages and dwindling popular support which threaten to dismantle and defeat al-Shabaab while dealing a significant blow to al-Qa'ida's weakened core.

Still the Most Dangerous Place on Earth

01-Nov-2011 • Chris C.

Indo-Pakistani conflict and nuclear weapons possession by both states represents the greatest threat of WMD usage in South Asia.

Obtaining Nuclear Weapons: So Easy a Caveman Can Do It

01-Nov-2011 • Chris C.

There are many reasons that states pursue nuclear weapons, numerous options available to them in the pursuit thereof, and regrettably, insufficient means to prevent a state with sufficient resources from acquiring nuclear weapons once it is determined to do so.

Iraq Surge Policy: A Policy Process Assessment

01-Nov-2011 • Chris C.

The Bush Administration pursued a surge policy that added 21,500 troops to the war in Iraq in a concentrated effort to quell violence and restore order.