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Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyber-Terrorism 1st Edition

18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 078-3254041721
ISBN-10: 0072227877
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Editorial Reviews


The examples Verton unearths are certainly spooky... Genuine cyberterrorism will be as physical as a punch to the gut. -- The Washington Post, August 10, 2003

From the Back Cover

The new face of terrorism--cyber-terrorism--is all too clear. Gone are the days when the only victims are those who are unfortunate enough to be standing within striking distance of the blast. Today's terrorists have learned that America's national security depends upon its computer- and network-dependent infrastructure. A strategic attack on those systems would undoubtedly have devastating consequences for the nation and the economy.

Written by former U.S. intelligence officer Dan Verton, Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyber-Terrorism investigates how cyber-terrorism could occur, what the global and financial implications are, the impact this has on privacy and civil liberties, and how to prepare for and prevent cyber attacks. The book is packed with revealing interviews and commentary from leading government authorities on national security, including Tom Ridge, James Gilmore, Richard Clarke, CIA and NSA intelligence officials--and even supporters of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

This compelling work will add much to the national debate on homeland security issues. Verton argues forcefully and convincingly that real-time intelligence sharing is the key to ensuring that the high-tech future of terrorism does not become like black ice stretched across the information superhighway­­alerting us to its presence only after we are spinning out of control.

"Reveals a real threat to Homeland Security that the Feds are not fixing." --Richard A. Clarke, Former Special Advisor to the President for Cyber Security, and the Former National Coordinator for Security & Counterterrorism

"Dan Verton has 'connected the dots' like no one else can. He has written this book in such a way that it is relevant to the masses as well as the security experts. [This is] a 'must-read' as it contains a clear message: there is much to be done on the cyber security front to protect us from 'weapons of mass disruptions.'" --Howard A. Schmidt, Former Chair, President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, and Cyber Security Advisor for the White House

"In Black Ice, Dan Verton has done a masterful job in explaining why cyber security is important for every American." --Roger Cressey, Former Chief of Staff to the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, and former Director for Transnational Threats at the National Security Council

"I've spent the better part of 30 years involved in computer security, cyber-incident investigation, and computer forensics. As I read the material that Dan Verton has compiled here, I'm frightened. And you should be too." --Alan E. Brill, Senior Managing Director of Kroll Worldwide's Technology Services Group, and the former Director of the Information Systems and Information Security Bureau of the New York Department of Investigation

"[This book is] one of near incomparable importance in an uncertain post-September 11th world. Black Ice may be the most important book we read in a long while, because it brings to the immediate attention of the leaders of government and commerce a sense of electric urgency and of the consequences of inaction." --MacDonnell Ulsch, Managing Director of Janus Risk Management, Inc., and a former Trusted Advisor to the United States Secrecy Commission


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media; 1 edition (August 19, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0072227877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0072227871
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #413,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Dan Verton is a veteran technology journalist with 20 years of experience covering the federal government. He's written for the oldest and most influential technology trade magazines in the industry and is the 2003 first place recipient of the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for Best News Reporting - the nation's highest award for tech trade journalism.

Dan is a former intelligence officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and has authored several books on cybersecurity, including the 2003 groundbreaking work, Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyber-Terrorism (McGraw-Hill) and The Hacker Diaries: Confessions of Teenage Hackers (McGraw-Hill).

He has a Master of Arts in Journalism from American University in Washington, D.C.

Dan has appeared regularly on national news and documentary broadcasts, including CNN, Discovery Channel, The History Channel and various national radio broadcasts.

In 2008, Dan appeared in a special documentary alongside Steve Wozniak, Richard Clarke and legendary hacker Captain Crunch as part of the 25th Anniversary DVD release of the classic movie War Games, starring Matthew Broderick.

Dan has addressed the United Nations twice on cyberterrorism and has testified before both the U.S. House and Senate on critical infrastructure protection.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Bill Richards on November 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Verton's book is full of hyperbole, repetition, unsupported statements, and contradictions. It is poorly written, poorly organized, and poorly edited. His "research" consists mostly of quoting his own magazine articles (29 times) and the magazine he writes for (16 times). By comparison, he quotes from only three books. Example of hyperbole: In commmenting on a admittedly fictional scenario called Dark Winter, the author claims that, "entire communities and cities could be rendered as helpless as those affected by the Black Death of the 14th century, a bubonic plague that killed one third of Europe's population." Yet, he fails to support that claim with any evidence or even a reference to the report on the exercise.
He repeats the same story about an al Qaeda interview with an Italian journalist in his introduction and again at p. 98. He writes nearly the same sentence about radical terrorists living in the U.S. once in the main text on p. 5 and again in a footnote on the same page. He tells a story about the Ptech company at p. 111 and again at p. 223-25, and uses nearly the identical paragraph in each. Where is the editing to catch these duplications?
Worse yet, his uses the Ptech story to draw two contradictory conclusions. In the first telling, he says that Ptech is an example of al Qaeda using American companies as fronts for terrorist financing. He claims that "evidence was uncovered" to show this connection. Yet, two pages later, he asserts that the FBI has been "unsuccessful in finding any evidence linking Ptech to terrorism financing.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dr Anton Chuvakin on September 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Cyberterrorism, does it exist? A weapons-grade hype or a nightmare from the near future, which we are all soon to face? This fascinating book seeks to answer the above question by collecting and evaluating many stories during author's "6 year research" trying to piece the puzzle together.
Undoubtfully, the book is written by a journalist, thus it sometimes feels sensationalistic, "newspaperish" and fluffy. Some things (such as the "doomsday" scenario from chapter 1 and "al-Qaeda certified hackers") are "lighter" than others, but all are well-written and fun to read. At times, it feels that the author seeks to replace proving things by quoting many potentially unreliable sources talking about the thing. Thus "such and such ex-government guy said cyberterrorism is real" subtly mutates into "cyberterrorism is real!" Similarly, if a PC was discovered in some hideout or it becomes known that terrorists surfed the web, suddenly the specter of cyber-terror rises high, although the facts themselves can be interpreted in a less ominous manner.
Another subject covered extensively in the book is whether al-Qaeda is really going in the direction of cyberterror. I find the case built by the author somewhat convincing, but not completely compelling. However, if truck bombs against data storage facilities and IT infrastructure as well as EMP weapons are added to the fray (as suggested in the book), suddenly cyberattacks are not about hacking anymore and the damage potential rises dramatically.
As for the conclusion, one of the main points I realized after reading the book is that everything is modern society is so a) interdependent and b) dependent upon computers that a push applied in a certain place from within the "cyber-world" does stand a chance of wrecking something in a "real world".
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Northcutt on September 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dan has an amazing gift as a journalist and also to explain technical material in an approachable manner. I've read or been briefed on a lot of this material at one time or another, but to have it in one place, well laid out, with example after example, really helped me focus on just how vulnerable our country and my organization is. The "shock" value of this material is high, but he took no shortcuts in making his case. Buy the book, read the book, then grab your organization's disaster recovery and business continuity plans and get out your red pen. I promise you will be inspired to improve those plans.
If I had a criticism of the book it would be the ending, it is a bit too much gloom and doom. So, I propose the following alternate ending:
Each of us has the ability and the responsibility to make our environment a bit more resistant to attack. The actions we can take range from reviewing our web pages to make sure we are not giving too much information away to simply running Windows update. Don't let a week go by without doing something, anything, to strengthen your defenses.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Connie Lapenta on May 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Without a doubt a book of monumental importance to the nation during this time of war and increased threat from terrorism. I recommend this book to anybody who is interested in homeland security and how terrorism may be changing and evolving its strategy against the U.S.
Well-written, full of intrigue and first-hand interviews with top security officials from both the Clinton and Bush administrations. Verton had unfettered access to those directly involved in the Sept. 11 response, including Richard Clarke.
You will not find another book on this subject that is this well researched and written. And because Verton is a journalist, he wrote this book so that you don't have to be a computer expert to understand the issues.
Buy this book. You will not be disappointed.
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