Interfor’s Weekly Digest | Global Security and Policy Insights – August 30,2023
Global Security Matters
- A state of emergency was declared for most of Florida’s Gulf Coast. The executive order was signed for 33 counties in Florida which allows for quicker emergency resources and preparation. Tropical Storm Idalia is set to hit as a Category 3 hurricane. While many schools were advised to shut down, Florida Gov. DeSantis said on Tuesday that residents do not have to leave the state, but rather, should seek higher ground in a safe structure.
- Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group, was killed in a plane crash on last week. Russian officials stated that a DNA test confirmed those who died in the crash matched the list of the 10 people who were supposed to be on the flight, including Prigozhin. Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder stated that the initial US assessment is that Prigozhin was indeed killed, along with his deputy and other top Wagner members.
- North Korea’s state media said that Kim Jong Un called for its military to be ready “to maintain the constant combat alertness and get prepared to break the enemy’s will for war in contingency.” This comes as the US, South Korea, and Japan have been holding a trilateral naval exercise. On Monday, Kim said in a speech that because of US-led hostilities, the waters off the Korean Peninsula have been made unstable “with the danger of a nuclear war.”
- The United States has signed an expanded bilateral law enforcement agreement with Palau. The agreement follows similar diplomatic moves in the region and is another step in the US-China battle for influence in the region. The agreement enables the US Coast Guard (USCG) to enforce regulations in Palau’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ),including boarding vessels and security efforts on behalf of Palau. The focus of the agreement is to protect against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. The USCG highlights that the US has 12 bilateral maritime law enforcement agreements with Pacific Island countries and has been actively supporting the Philippines during recent interactions with China.
- A new report by the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security assesses that Russia and Iran likely act as cybercrime safe havens for cyber criminals in their countries. The report highlights forms of cybercrimes, such as ransomware, which could have financial and physical effects on victims. The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security believes that Russian intelligence services and police will help cybercriminals operate with “near impunity” against their targets.
- Researchers have identified vulnerabilities that are affecting the smart light bulb Tapo L530E that threat actors can use to break into home systems and gain access to the victim’s Wi-Fi and Tapo app. Amongst other vulnerabilities, a lack of authentication of the smart bulb with the Tapo app means that the app can be authenticated by anyone and they can pretend to be the smart bulb.
Health & Pandemics
- Hospitalizations due to Covid-19 increased last week by another 19%, and deaths have increased by 21%. 26 states have seen an increase, while only three states, Alaska, New Hampshire and North Dakota, have seen a decrease. South Dakota has the biggest spike with more than 127% increase in hospitalizations in one week.
- US Department of State Travel Advisories
- CISA: nation-state cybersecurity threats and other resources for cybersecurity matters.
- Our most recent blog posts discusses the US Cyber Trust Mark’s role in smart device safety.