Roots of Conflict in Northern Ireland Essay and Cybersecurity Case Study

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1388 Words
Date:  2022-03-29


The conflict erupted in 1960s traces to the rift pitting Catholic Nationalists and Protestant Unionists. Nationalists crashed on Ireland reunification and independence against the latter's aim to maintain the country's place in the United Kingdom. Their rift had profound socio-economic and political roots that trace from discriminative policies imposed by the British in the twelfth century to segregate the native Irish Catholics. The policies allowed English Protestants settle in the northern counties while banning Catholics from assuming public office and owning land. The identities would still dominate the political landscape even after the partitioning that bore distinct states.

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The discriminative policies caused tensions in employment, social housing, and political landscape. The prolonged denial of political franchise, aggressive policing and emergency legislation fueled the tension that burst in the late 1960s. The 1971 census revealed Catholics suffered systematic inequalities comprising high unemployment, electoral and policing underrepresentation. Equally, the overwhelming segregation in housing and education prompted angry clashes between Catholic communities and the Protestant police force.

State of Women's Exclusion From Formal Peace Processes in the 1990s and How They Gained Access

Formal peace talks featured top-down diplomacy approaches that excluded civil society actors alongside women despite their prominent role in informal peace processes. The peace talks guaranteed no participation opportunities the burden they bore during violent conflicts. Their access to the peace talks emerged from assuming greater employment opportunities in jobs perceived conventionally 'female.' They would resist the stop-and-search policies and arbitrary arrest of Catholic males, slowly orienting them into freedom movements. Increased politicization of their day-to-day lives blurred the private and communal space prompting residents in Catholic neighborhoods to protect their nationalist men through everyday resistance.

The capacity-building exercises oriented women into peace activism through increased presence of women-led peace organizations. It enabled them to lead important initiatives including Dery Peace Women, Peace People and Women Together for Peace to mobilize thousands of marches that petitioned the warring factions cease attacks. Their experience in the paramilitary groups allowed women leverage networks to gain access in the Good Friday Negotiations. The formation of North Ireland Women's Coalition (NIWC) became an express purpose voice representing civil society. Its participation in the Forum for Political Dialogue laid a platform for their participation in the Multi-Party Talks. Additionally, the reflection on 1994 ceasefire highlighted their importance, hence earning them active membership in political space for their voices.

Role of External Actors in Increasing Women's Participation in Peace Processes

The United Kingdom efforts to normalizing relations featured Tony Blair-led peace efforts to convince hardline Unionists the possibility of peace. Mo Mowlam, then serving Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, convinced loyalists buy-in to the peace process during her visit to Maze Prison. She actively supported the Women's Coalition and helped NIWC gain access to the peace talks.

The United States used megaphone diplomacy and high-level visits to convince all parties to the peace talks table. Women had an active input in the diplomatic efforts led by Jean Kennedy Smith who used her ambassadorial network to conduct capacity-building for Irish women leaders in American organizations. Martha Pope deputized Senator George Mitchell in the All-Party Talks and held exclusive talks to understand the requirements and bottom lines for the conflicting parties. Her direct access to all mediators bore gradual involvement of NIWC.

Hillary Clinton brought key leadership that involved women groups in the peace talks since her Belfast meeting with women groups. She drew participants across the community lines and sensitized them to assume the active role in peace talks. She returned in 1997 to emphasize the peacebuilding input in women. She arranged the Washington, DC visit from the parties representatives and encouraged their participation in the peace process. Her input alongside Mo Mowlam efforts convinced the involvement of women in both the political process and peace negotiations.

NIWC Impact in the Peace Process

NIWC operated as a non-traditional party that drew membership from women leaders in the civil society to resist disenfranchising in the political system. It embraced unified campaigning for women in the March elections using its extensive professional and personal networks across the Catholic and Protestant communities. The vast experience of members in leading civil rights movement earned it a legitimate voice at the formalized peace process. Its members drew energy and commitment to feeding their input into highlighting the impact their communities and families suffered during the Troubles. It illuminated inclusion, human rights and equality in its policy proposals recycled in the final peace agreement. Its inclusivity the honest broker role to unite the parties through relationship-building work. It initiated inclusion of marginalized, reconciliation and social development across the communities alongside integrated housing and education. Besides advocacy for equality and human rights, NIWC institutionalized broader public participation, civic forum and women involvement in Northern Ireland politics.

The Cybersecurity Case Study

How Stuxnet Worked, and It's Importance

Stuxnet was a malicious malware that had the singular and specific target on Iran's uranium enrichment facilities. The malware aimed at sabotaging the nuclear efforts in Iran following failure by international sanctions and diplomatic efforts to suppress. Stuxnet comprised a cyberweapon that opened salvo in cyberwar with its mechanics exploiting the zero-day vulnerabilities within the Windows software to bypass and access the industrial control systems in Natanz. Stuxnet creatively altered the industrial control system devices from programmable logic controllers. It interfered with the centrifuge operations within the enrichment facility. The malware would manipulate the centrifuge operations at will while camouflaging to prevent the monitoring system from reporting unusual activities. Speeding and slowing centrifuge damaged twenty percent of Natanz facilities. The destruction from its attack eroded accomplishment in Iranian nuclear program by eighteen to twenty-four months.

Why Did Most Commentators Argue That Stuxnet Must Have Been the Work of a Nation-State?

Commentators held that only a nation-state or their collaboration could harness resources required to create a sophisticated malware. It would involve high cost and difficulty to create Stuxnet. Also, it is challenging to locate zero-day vulnerabilities in software products. Acquiring single Windows zero-day in black market would cost a six figures price. Again, the utilization of four-different zero-days in one malware was previously unattained. It justified the arguments that assembling expertise and finances to procure and discover the multiple zero-days was beyond the capabilities of non-state entities. Stuxnet used legitimate certificates suggesting input from a resourceful author. Lastly, the malware demonstrated an excellent understanding of configurations to access the control systems at the Natanz facilities indicating access of hardly widely-known information in its creation.

Zero-Day Vulnerabilities Are and Their Importance

Zero-day vulnerabilities allowed enterprising attackers create exploits to gain complete control over programmable logic controllers. Zero-day vulnerabilities involve the unknown flaws that remain even after successful testing. Their occurrences allow the attacker reprogram the logic controllers without authorization, hence control the operation at will. Besides, the vulnerabilities would accommodate changing passwords to freeze the engineer out, hence making the system inaccessible. The zero-day vulnerabilities allowed potential explosive consequences when in wrong hands to attack infrastructures using programmable logic controllers. Attackers' prize malware built upon zero-day malware for their ability to bypass intrusion-detectors systems and anti-virus programs.

The Market for Zero Day Vulnerabilities. Who is Willing to Pay the Most?

The market for zero-day vulnerabilities is insatiable from attackers seeking zero-day malware to operate with near-impunity. It has increased demand amongst vulnerabilities purchasers. Again, responsible disclosure to security companies makes it a prized asset to develop software patching the flaws. Parties seeking lucrative security contracts would willingly buy the zero-vulnerabilities and cash on the resulting demand to secure the vital facilities. Zero-days vulnerabilities are the valuable source of partnership with providers of control systems. Its importance leaves criminals, security companies and governments active players that expand its market.

Security companies are active agents commercializing the zero-day vulnerabilities in their desire of providing customized security packages. Clients purchasing their packages need to secure their portfolio from the flaws that rival products cannot find, hence able to differentiate their services. Security companies could equally seek partnership with affected vendors to offer the defense. High rewards for zero-day vulnerabilities results from offenders seeking to create undetectable cyberweapons. They include defense contractors and governments seeking to offensive cyberweapons. The market lacks transparency hence challenging to determine the fair price and pressure to sell fast to avoid becoming a worthless product with the new release of software versions that overcome the flaw.

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Roots of Conflict in Northern Ireland Essay and Cybersecurity Case Study. (2022, Mar 29). Retrieved from

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