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Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It Hardcover – April 20, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (April 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061962236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061962233
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (196 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #348,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On today's battlefields computers play a major role, controlling targeting systems, relaying critical intelligence information, and managing logistics. And, like their civilian counter-parts, defense computers are susceptible to hacking. In September 2007, Israeli cyber warriors "blinded" Syrian anti-aircraft installations, allowing Israeli planes to bomb a suspected nuclear weapons manufacturing facility (Syrian computers were hacked and reprogrammed to display an empty sky). One of the first known cyber attacks against an independent nation was a Russian DDOS (Deliberate Denial of Service) on Estonia. Since it can rarely be traced directly back to the source, the DDOS has become a common form of attack, with Russia, China, North Korea, the U.S., and virtually every other country in possession of a formidable military having launched low-level DDOS assaults. Analysts across the globe are well aware that any future large-scale conflict will include cyber warfare as part of a combined arms effort. Clarke and Knake argue that today's leaders, though more computer savvy than ever, may still be ignorant of the cyber threats facing their national security.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

International security experts—Clarke from the nuclear generation and Knake from the cyber generation—ponder the irony that although the U.S. pioneered the technology behind cyber warfare, outdated thinking, policies, and strategies make us vulnerable to losing any cyber contest with a hostile nation. Cyber war refers to hostile attempts by one nation to penetrate another’s computers or networks. Among recent examples: suspicion that in 2007 Israel executed a cyber assault on a Syrian nuclear weapons plant being built by North Korea, the 2008 cyber attack on Georgia by Russia to knock out its government computers before an actual attack on that nation, and North Korea’s actions in 2009 after a nuclear missile test to launch botnets to disrupt government computer systems in the U.S. and South Korea. Cyber warriors often use programs to crash Web sites and computers to cover other, more aggressive actions in the real world. In this chilling and eye-opening book, Clarke and Knake provide a highly detailed yet accessible look at how cyber warfare is being waged and the need to rethink our national security to face this new threat. --Vanessa Bush

More About the Author

I started writing books after a thirty year career in government writing bureaucratic papers. It was quite a shift. Cyber War is my fifth book and my third non-fiction. People often ask which genre do you prefer to write, fiction or non-fiction? They are both a challenge and both are exciting to attempt. Fiction may be the greater challenge, because of the need for imagination, characterization, dialogue, and plot twists. Non-fiction may actually have some real world effects. I've posted excerpts and other information on my web page;

Customer Reviews

An outstanding book and very easy to read and understand.
This is the nightmare scenario that "Cyber War," by National Security Advisor Richard A. Clarke and coauthor Robert E. Knacke, lay out in chilling detail in this book.
Michael Gunther
Though those heads are unlikely to read this book because a 5 page dossier would still get the points across and have ample space for FUD.
Christian R. Unger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

152 of 156 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I've been in the information security field just about my entire professional life, both in and out of government, and I've been hearing people sound the alarms about "cyber warfare" for at least the last 15 years. Most of the time their grasp of the technical aspects is limited, they don't have a clear idea about what they're talking about, their scenarios read like movie plots, and they're usually trying to win government contracts. Although this book does have some serious shortcomings, Clarke's book is without a doubt the clearest and best work I've seen on cyber warfare. I'll lay out his book and his thesis first, then I'll tell you where I thought he fell short and what I thought of it.

Clarke first gives an overview of all the instances to date where cyber attacks have been used by state actors. In all cases but one (The Estonia attacks in 2007), the cyber attack was used to enhance a conventional attack. This is actually the best such overview I've seen, included some examples I hadn't heard of before, and Clarke's analysis is spot on. The only thing he didn't include was the very recent "operation aurora" (Google it if you want details), which probably occurred after he finished writing the book.

The book then has a detailed discussion of American policy on cyber warfare, and Clarke details all the developments to date. Since Clarke worked for presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama on national security issues, this book provides a front row seat to the ins and outs of the way our policies have developed. Clarke also details what is known about the cyber war capabilities of other countries, including China, Russia, and North Korea.
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88 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Reeves VINE VOICE on April 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Richard Clarke's credentials are well established, having been a national security advisor to presidents of both parties, his viewpoints are his own, not politically-driven ideology.

Clarke takes the time to go over the basics of the cyber-universe for those that are not especially net-savvy, and then gets into the meat of the what, who, where and how (the "when" is the big question of course) of potential cyber attacks against the US. He gives a bit of history on attacks that have already happened, and a few that have failed.

I say the information is a bit scary because, even with a degree in Computer Science, I did not know the extent to which the Internet connects and controls so many aspects of our daily lives; in business as well as in our personal lives. More and more machines and appliances are being built with the capability to "talk" to the manufacturers who make them, a legitimate and smart way to diagnose problems and download fixes.... but the idea that the new copy machine in my home office might be hacked, and ordered to malfunction to the point that it catches on fire, is unsettling to say the least.

This is a good book, a page turner, and delivers information every 21st Century American should know.
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78 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Adam Thierer on August 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Clarke and Knake's book is important if for no other reason than, as they note, "there are few books on cyber war." Thus, their treatment of the issue will likely remain the most relevant text in the field for some time to come. They define cyber war as "actions by a nation-state to penetrate another nation's computers or networks for the purposes of causing damage or disruption" and they argue that such actions are on the rise. And they also claim that the U.S. has the most to lose if and when a major cyber war breaks out, since we are now so utterly dependent upon digital technologies and networks.

At their best, Clarke and Knake walk the reader through the mechanics of cyber war, who some of the key players and countries are who could engage in it, and identify what the costs of such of war would entail. Other times, however, the book suffers from a somewhat hysterical tone, as the authors are out here not just to describe cyber war, but to also issue a clarion call for regulatory action to combat it. A bigger problem with the book is the complete lack of reference material, footnotes, or even an index. If you're going to go around sounding like a couple of cyber-Jeremiahs, you really should include some reference material to back up your gloomy assertions of impending doom.

The authors go after ISPs and many other comapnies for supposedly not caring about cyber-security. In reality, those companies have powerful incentives to make sure their networks are relatively safe and secure to avoid costly attacks and retain customers who demand their online information and activities be trouble-free.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Richard Bejtlich on October 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The jacket for "Cyber War" (CW) says "This is the first book about the war of the future -- cyber war." That's not true, but I would blame the publisher for those words and not the authors. A look back to 1998 reveals books like James Adams' "The Next World War: Computers Are the Weapons & the Front Line Is Everywhere," a book whose title is probably cooler than its contents. (I read it back then but did not review it.) So what's the value of CW? I recommend reading the book if you'd like a Beltway insider's view of government and military information warfare history, combined with a few recommendations that could make a difference. CW is strongest when drawing on the authors' experience with arms control but weakest when trying to advocate technical "solutions."

Early in the book I liked the "modern history" of cyber war. I especially enjoyed comparisons with the US military's experiences creating Space Command. I lived through some of that period but was unaware how Space Command's history affected creation of Cyber Command. Later, the book is almost derailed by the over-the-top cyber-geddon described at the end of chapter 3. It's just not necessary to include several pages where everything fails simultaneously, and I bet it erodes the confidence some readers have in the story. I'd remove the doom-and-gloom in future editions because I think people can imagine disasters fairly easily. Push through to chapter 4 and the book is once again on a sensible path, at least with respect to policy and history. For example, I loved reading Microsoft's lobbying goals: don't regulate, keep the military as a customer, and don't critique China! These rang true for me.

Shortly thereafter we encounter the weakest part of CW: technical advice.
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