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Myths About Cyberattacks

In an editorial in the Washington Post last week, Ben Buchanan, the author of The Hacker and the State: Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics, debunks five myths about cyberwar.

Myth No. 1: Cyberwar Is Overhyped and Impossible

“One of the most common myths in cybersecurity,” writes Buchanan, “is that destructive hacking is a wildly overblown threat, nearly impossible, or incapable of shaping geopolitical conflicts.” Believers of this myth are fond of pointing out that squirrels cause more blackouts than hackers.
Buchanan cites several examples to debunk this myth, including the 2015 and 2016 attacks by Russian hackers that turned off the power in parts of Ukraine, and the June 2017 Russian cyberattack “NotPetya” that caused more than $10 billion in damage around the world. The same day that Buchanan’s editorial appeared in the press last week, United States joined several countries in accusing Russia of a major cyberattack in the Republic of Georgia in late 2019 that knocked …

The 2020-2022 Counterintelligence Strategy and Its Relevance for Courts’ Participation in a Whole-of-Society Approach to Threats to Our Safety and Security

On February 10, the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) published the National Counterintelligence Strategy of the United States of America 2020-2022, outlining “a new approach” to counterintelligence to address threats that have become more aggressive, complex, diverse, and harmful. The new approach in the 2020-2022 counterintelligence strategy represents a new perspective on the threat landscape. 


Past counterintelligence strategies categorized the threats by foreign nation-state adversaries and non-state actors by the nature the threat – nuclear, chemical, biological, cyber, and natural and man-made disasters. The new approach focuses on “five key areas where foreign intelligence entities are hitting the U.S. hardest and where we need to devote greater attention – critical infrastructure, key U.S. supply chains, the U.S. economy, American democratic institutions, and cyber and technical operations,” said NCSC Director William Evanina. 


The five key areas where for…

Courts Vulnerable to Exfiltration of National Security Technology and Sensitive Intellectual Property Through Bankruptcy Proceedings

State and federal courts are becoming acutely aware of their vulnerabilities to cyberattacks on their case management systems, computer networks, websites, and other parts of their information technology infrastructure (see Court Manager Vol. 34 #4 – Winter 2019, “Courts Have a Significant Role to Play in the Whole-of-Government Approach (WGA) to Our Safety and Security”; and National Center for State Courts, “Current cybersecurity threats highlight need for state courts to have prevention and response policies in place.”


Entrepreneurship and Innovation Keys to Economic Growth


Another vulnerability which poses an oversized threat to our national security but has received far less attention, lies not in courts’ IT infrastructure but in court processes, especially bankruptcy proceedings. Bankruptcy is a legal process through which persons who cannot repay their debts seek relief from those debts. The link between entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic growth, led policymakers to imple…

Courts and the Corona Virus (2019 -nCoV)

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On January 30 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus, dubbed 2019-nCoV, a global-health emergency. As health authorities and governments struggled to control the advance of the dangerous disease, and experts scrambled to figure out how it is transmitted, what the duration of the incubation period might be (generally between three and seven days, with the longest period being 14 days), how many other people each infected person will infect (epidemiologists call this the reproduction number), and how and when people without symptoms can spread the disease, the use of quarantine and isolation of people created urgent civil liberty issues for courts. Generally, for example, quarantine and isolation must be carried out in the least restrictive setting and manner necessary to maintain public health.

Isolation and quarantine are used to protect the public by preventing exposure to infected persons or to persons who may be infected but show no symptoms. Isolation separate…

An All-of-Society Approach to Existential Threats We Face Today

We face unprecedented threats to our survival – including increasingly sophisticated adversaries with deadly chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive weapons, cyberattacks, global warming, artificial intelligence, autonomous weapons, deforestation, the decimation of animal species, and the list goes on. If we are to survive, an “all-of-society” response to these existential threats is urgently needed. These are the conclusions my colleagues Katharine Jennings, Susan Ehrlich, Caroline N. Broun, Kathryn H. Floyd, and Michael L. Buenger reach in an article to be published next month in The Court Manager (“Courts Have a Significant Role to Play in the Whole-of-Government Approach (WGA) to Our Safety and Security,” Winter 2019 - Vol. 34/4).


The Problems of Complexity and Hyper-Specialization


In his posthumously published 2018 book, Brief Answers to Big Questions, Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned physicist and cosmologist, who we quote in our article, wrote that our earth …

Hidden Champions and Bright Spots

Suppose you have embraced one or more of the organizational performance measures of the Global Measures of Court Performance of the International Framework of Court Excellence, and let’s say, for example, it is Measure 9, Employee Engagement. The short definition of the measure is the percent of the employees of a court who, as measured by a court-wide survey, are passionate about their job, committed to the mission of the court and, as a result, put discretionary effort into their work beyond their assigned.
You know, of course, there will be variation across courts and tribunals, across several courts in one jurisdiction, and across the 20 questions in the employee engagement survey, and so forth. Our common approach to using the results of such a measure is to focus on the average – the central tendency – and immediately identify the laggards, the poor performing courts, regions, and countries. And then we immediately speculate about what we believe may be the causes of the poor pe…

Happy New Year and Justice for All

Bringing good Holiday Cheer to advocates of justice and the rule of law, Dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster announced on December 17 that its 2018 "word of the year" is "justice." In his Wall Street Journal column, “Word on the Street,” Ben Zimmer cites Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster at large, who told Zimmer that “justice” made its appearance in English in the 12th century as a French version of the Latin word “iustitia,” meaning “fairness” and “equity.”The word “justice” helped to turn the concepts of fairness, equity, and judicial independence into a system that became the basis of common law.
Zimmer notes that the Latin “iustitia” has given us a historical legacy that has a familiar allegorical form: the Roman goddess of justice, Iustitia, portrayed holding the scales of justice in one hand and a sword in the other. She wears a blindfold to represent impartiality in the application of law.

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