Vietnam reportedly fortifies some islands against China


The Guardian and Reuters  passed on not totally confirmed reports that Vietnam has fortified several islands it controls in the South China Sea with mobile rocket launchers  so  that it can strike Chinese military bases in the region. This would be one of the most assertive Vietnamese moves in decades and would be in response to China growing militarization in the sea, which it claims control of in violation of international law.

To read the full article on this, please hit this link.

Action plan to block cyberattacks in Vietnam

By Allan M. Cytryn, principal at Risk Masters International, and John E. Savage, An Wang Professor of Computer Science at Brown University. Both are members of The Boston Global Forum.

We recommend a series of short- and long-term actions to block cyberattacks in Vietnam. The ultimate goals of these actions are to 1) ensure that the appropriate international agencies are fully engaged in addressing this issue and its longer-term implications; 2) operationally address the issue immediately and restore reliable, safe operations for air travel, and 3) more broadly enhance Vietnam’s cyber-resilience so that it is less vulnerable to such incidents.

Ensure that the appropriate international agencies are engaged: 

  • This is an airline-security issue. We recommend reporting it to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and requesting its assistance. While that agency may not have cybersecurity expertise, its leaders are very concerned about security and thus may be able to help address the problem.
  • We recommend reporting the late July incident affecting Vietnamese airports to FIRST, the global Forum for Incident Response and Security Teams. FIRST describes itself as the “premier organization and recognized global leader in (computer-security) incident response.” As you can see from its Web site, it can provide much help with long- and short-term solutions.
  • This serious incident should also be reported to other international bodies, including ASEAN, the G7, the G20 and UNGA.

Address the issue immediately and restore reliable, safe operations:

  • Consultants should be hired to do a forensic analysis of the affected systems. Friendly nations, such as the United States, can advise on companies that are highly qualified to do this analysis and that can be trusted as well.
  • Companies that we would recommend include Crowdstrike and Fidelis.

Longer-term, more broadly enhance the cyber-resilience of Vietnam:

  • Implement broad-based cybereducation at multiple levels.
  • Train local specialists in computer security.
    • The Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF) can help to develop university-level cybersecurity-education programs.
    • The Boston Global Forum can also help with this effort.
    • Vietnam could also emulate the U.S. Computer Science for All program, which encourages young Americans to acquire computer-science skills.

Educate policymakers and academics about Internet-governance issues.

  • The DiPLO Foundation has cybersecurity programs to help diplomats acquire the knowledge necessary to participate in international policy development.
  • The Boston Global Forum can also help with this matter.
  • Develop programs in cyberhygiene for the general population and develop policies and practices to ensure that the general population is appropriately educated in this area:
    • Begin classroom training in early education and continue through all levels of schooling.
    • Provide online courses to let all persons, including those not in school, to be properly educated.
    • Consider policies and incentives to encourage people to take the cyberhygiene courses.
    • Develop a cyber-resilient infrastructure.
  • Broadly adopt the principle of cyber-resilience across all the IT and communications infrastructure in Vietnam.
  • Jumpstart the process by targeting key industries, individual businesses and other organizations that have the highest level of exposure and risk.
    • Consider “pooling” or sharing resources and teams across multiple organizations where appropriate and practical to maximize the speed and effectiveness of the initial programs.
    • Identify and address reasonable impediments to success, including funding, product availability, staff availability and training.
  • Align these efforts with training goals, using these implementation activities to further the nation’s plan to train individuals who can then apply their learning to other enterprises.

Pro-Chinese hackers disrupt Vietnamese aviation


Hackers, presumably directed by the Chinese government, have attacked the Web site of Vietnam’s two biggest airports and its national airline, Vietnam Airlines, with pro-Chinese messages about China’s attempts to take control of most of the South China Sea. The attacks come after a ruling  by an international tribunal  earlier in July in the Hague that China’s claims are almost entirely spurious.

Vietnamese state media said the hackers criticized the Philippines and Vietnam and their comparatively modest claims in the South China Sea.

Vietnamese officials said the hackers directed browsers to what Vietnam Airlines called   “bad Web sites overseas”.

To read an Agence France-Presse article on this, please hit this link.

To continue rise, Asian nations must enact wrenching reforms

(June 6th, 2016) Chung Min Lee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace writes:

“…., Asia’s rise has captured the popular imagination for three decades. By most hard-power measures, such as gross domestic product, trade volumes, technological prowess and military capabilities, Asia has emerged as the world’s third pillar, along with the United States and Europe. Indeed, many commentators have argued that the 21st century will not only be dominated by key Asian states such as China, India and Japan, and major middle powers including South Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia, but also that the region as a whole is on its way to eclipsing the West.’’


“But …. it’s timely to point out that such linear conceptions of Asia’s inexorable rise are misleading and incomplete, given the magnitude of political, security and socioeconomic problems confronting Greater Asia. With the Asian economic juggernaut coming to an end, due to lower growth in China, an aging Japan and South Korea, and India’s ongoing problems with corruption and a bureaucracy that impedes structural reform, the continent must be viewed from another angle: as a department store of many of the world’s gargantuan political and military challenges. Indeed, unless Asia’s strategically consequential states can significantly mitigate, if not resolve, the region’s political and military deficits, Asia’s rise will never be completed.’’

“There is no doubt that Asia has made enormous progress over the past half-century, but it’s time to wake up to the continent’s political, security and strategic quagmires….Asia must undertake wrenching political reforms, including the embracing and strengthening of universal values, for an Asian century to truly dawn. Asia has risen, but it is far from reigning.’’

Hit this link to read his entire essay.

Cohen: Rejection of TPP would be big win for China

(June 6th, 2016) Roger Cohen, a foreign-affairs columnist for The New York Times, writes:

“The best way to kick Vietnamese aspirations in the teeth, turn the country sour on the United States, and undermine the stabilizing American role in Asia, would be for Congress to fail to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Obama’s signature trade agreement with 11 Pacific Rim countries, including Vietnam but not China.


“If TPP falls apart, China wins. It’s as simple as that. Nonratification would signal that Beijing gets to dictate policy in the region {of Southeast Asia}, and the attempt to integrate Vietnam comprehensively in a rules-based international economy fails.’’ Hit this link to read his entire column on this subject.