Friday, May 09, 2014

4 Problems Awaiting Putin in Ukraine Gambit - Moscow Times

... Putin's foray into Ukraine has come up against four serious problems:

1. Crimea is now a Russian island. It is dependent on water and electricity supplied from mainland Ukraine as well as road access across Ukrainian territory. Russia controls none of these and cannot create substitutes quickly. Preserving these links is a necessity that might require military intervention.

2. The people of southeastern Ukraine have not risen up in support of the separatists, indicating that there is limited appetite in these regions for secession from Ukraine. Foiling the May 25 presidential election will probably require using Russian proxies to stir up further trouble. The risk, however, is that the violence on both sides could easily spin out of control.

3. Kiev is trying to stand its ground and is deploying forces in an effort to evict the separatists. Even partial success by the Ukrainian Army will increase the pressure on Putin to intervene militarily to protect Russian speakers. Russia's constant warnings about chaos and civil war in Ukraine appears to be intended to prepare the public for a decisive move to stabilize Ukraine ­— perhaps by sending "peacekeeping forces" to the eastern regions of Ukraine. This would certainly force Western countries to adopt tougher punitive measures, possibly sector-specific sanctions, but if Putin hesitates to act, he risks showing weakness

4. "Federalization" does not solve the problem of the self-proclaimed republic of Transdnestr and increases the need to create a land bridge to Ukraine's western border. This carries significant risks because it would very likely trigger a war with Ukraine. This would probably be a prolonged military conflict, particularly given the history of partisan resistance in the western regions.

While Putin is encountering difficulties at the tactical level, he is losing ground at the strategic level because of the growing levels of alienation that his policies are creating beyond the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Outside these areas, economic and cultural links with Russia are less strong and Ukrainian identity is more developed.

For Ukrainians in these parts of the country, the Russian model of governance has been unattractive for most of the 23 years Ukraine has been independent. It holds even less appeal after Russia's aggression against Ukraine and its shift to an old-­fashioned brand of conservative imperialism....

-bth: original article worth reading in full. 

Monday, May 05, 2014

It’s Insanely Easy to Hack Hospital Equipment -

When Scott Erven was given free rein to roam through all of the medical equipment used at a large chain of Midwest health care facilities, he knew he would find security problems–but he wasn’t prepared for just how bad it would be.
In a study spanning two years, Erven and his team found drug infusion pumps–for delivering morphine drips, chemotherapy and antibiotics–that can be remotely manipulated to change the dosage doled out to patients; Bluetooth-enabled defibrillators that can be manipulated to deliver random shocks to a patient’s heart or prevent a medically needed shock from occurring; X-rays that can be accessed by outsiders lurking on a hospital’s network; temperature settings on refrigerators storing blood and drugs that can be reset, causing spoilage; and digital medical records that can be altered to cause physicians to misdiagnose, prescribe the wrong drugs or administer unwarranted care....

-bth: this kind of problem is going to be ignored by the medical community until there is a mass attack that costs them money.  It is going to be the - ignore the problem - now there is a crisis mentality that followed the Tylenol bottle tampering scandal a few decades ago.  Only this time pace makers will be turned off or drug dosages will be altered at pharmacies or in chemo wards.  The FDA needs to be stepping in to set minimum security standards and the sooner the better.