Weekly Analysis 5 February

  • 05 Feb 2016 11:02

The G4S Risk Analysis team produces weekly risk analysis pieces on current events pertinent to security and business operations. Please see below for excerpts of our weekly analysis for the week ending 5 February.

Syria: Geneva talks unlikely to stem fighting amid political obstacles  

UN-brokered peace negotiations were suspended on 3 February after getting underway in Geneva, Switzerland, on 1 February in a different format from the one originally intended. Vast obstacles, such as which groups to invite to the negotiating table and the fate of President Bashar al-Assad, continue to loom over the negotiations, which have been downgraded to UN brokers conducting “shuttle democracy”, and the battle continues to intensify on the ground as a ceasefire has not been called. The talks – the first attempt in two years to negotiate an end to the civil war – are therefore unlikely to produce a viable roadmap to de-escalation, compromise and eventually peace, but will serve to highlight the divides in the opposition. To read more, sign up here

UK:  HSBC hack highlights increasing DDoS threat

This week’s cyberattack on HSBC’s online banking services is indicative of the growth in scale and complexity of distributed denial of service (DDoS) tools and the evolution of their use into various fields, including as a distraction technique and as a ransom trap. The hack brought HSBC’s personal banking website and mobile application offline, damaging consumer confidence just weeks after another systems failure. Cyber security experts are warning of a sharp rise in the usage of DDoS this year, as recent attacks reflect a growth in the scale of the malicious tools. CTOs and CSOs alike should pay heed to the threat by proactively hardening the security perimeters of their networks. To read more, sign up here

Pakistan: Energy crisis escalates ahead of spring 

Over January, Pakistan experienced three severe energy outages that demonstrated the underdevelopment of its national grid. An average daily energy shortfall of 4,500MW has resulted in rolling blackouts, reducing GDP by an estimated 2.5 percent per year since 2011. Islamabad, Punjab and Karachi have been exposed to 8-12 hour periods without electricity. Karachi’s electricity utility, K-Electric, has developed a poor reputation following extended periods of load shedding and the inflation of electricity tariffs for poorer districts. Often blamed on humidity, the blackouts are largely down to the poorly maintained and out-dated grid. The outages are having a major impact on Pakistan’s business community and will require substantial external investment to correct. To read more, sign up here

Burundi: Risk of civil war remains critical as African Union defers intervention 

On 31 January, the African Union (AU) decided at a summit in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia not to proceed with its plan to send 5,000 peacekeepers to Burundi with or without the consent of the Burundian government. AU leaders instead decided that a peacekeeping force will only be deployed if Burundi offers its consent. The AU now says it will send a high-level delegation to Burundi to hold dialogue with the government on the deployment of a peacekeeping force. The AU’s decision represents a sharp change in rhetoric from its earlier plan and Burundi is unlikely to alter its position on peacekeepers without a serious escalation in international pressure. The risk of a fully-fledged civil war in Burundi remains critical and the government may increase its repression of the opposition without the threat of AU intervention. To read more, sign up here

Colombia:  UN creates mission to verify peace process  

On 25 January, the UN Security Council approved by unanimity a resolution that creates a political mission to verify a bilateral ceasefire between the Colombian government and rebel group FARC, as well as the guerrilla’s disarmament process. President Juan Manuel Santos has welcomed the announcement, as it largely means that Colombia is the closest it has ever been to reaching a peace agreement with FARC and with it put an end to the 50-year-long armed conflict. Although the latest developments are unprecedented and provide optimism, there are still a series of remaining challenges before comprehensive peace can be achieved. To read more, sign up here