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Cyber War Will Not Take Place 1st Edition

3.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199330638
ISBN-10: 0199330638
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Editorial Reviews


"Rid argues that what we have seen so far in the cyber realm can't properly be classified as war at all. And, he and his allies suggest, in thinking of it that way, we're creating new international hazards and diverting attention from changes that might actually keep us safe. Rid represents one pole of an emerging debate, as the world's policy establishment grapples with how to think about virtual attacks. One side believes that to downplay them is dangerously naive. . . Rid's side of this debate, which includes both experts on cybersecurity and those given the task of designing the new 'weapons' for cyberspace, argues that although the threat is real, in overstating it we're helping create a new kind of global risk."--Boston Globe

"'In Cyber War Will Not Take Place, Thomas Rid throws a well-timed bucket of cold water on an increasingly alarmist debate. Just as strategic bombing never fulfilled its promise, and even airpower at its apogee -- Kosovo in 1999, or Libya two years ago --only worked with old-fashioned boots on the ground, Rid argues that the promise of cyber war is equally illusory. . . What Rid does, with great skill, is to pivot the discussion away from cyber war and towards cyber weapons."--Financial Times

"His provocatively titled book attacks the hype and mystique about sabotage, espionage, subversion and other mischief on the internet. He agrees that these present urgent security problems. But he dislikes talk of warfare and the militarisation of the debate about dangers in cyberspace. Computer code can do lots of things, but it is not a weapon of war."--The Economist

"With news of cyber war, terrorism and espionage seemingly everywhere, separating hype from reality is not always easy. Many agencies and companies stand to gain by inflating cyber security fears. In Cyber War Will Not Take Place , Thomas Rid takes a razor to the evidence and carefully dissects the evolution of conflict and espionage in the cyber age. The result is a compelling and authoritative take on war and strategy in cyberspace, one that will surely be seminal in this area for years to come."--Ronald J. Deibert, Citizen Lab Director and author of Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace

"We're in the early years of a cyberwar arms race, one fueled by both fear and ignorance. This book is a cogent counterpoint to both the doomsayers and profiteers, and should be required reading for anyone concerned about our national security policy in cyberspace." -- Bruce Schneier, security guru and author of Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust Society Needs to Thrive

"'This book will be welcomed by all those who have struggled to get the measure of the 'cyber-war' threat. As Thomas Rid takes on the digital doomsters he also provides a comprehensive, authoritative and sophisticated analysis of the strategic quandaries created by the new technologies." --Sir Lawrence Freedman, Professor of War Studies, King's College London

About the Author

Thomas Rid is Reader in War Studies at King's College London. He is also a non-resident fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations in the School for Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Washington, DC.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199330638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199330638
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 1 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The upshot: Save your money.

At the outset, this author seems to have at least two major problems in his reasoning.

1. He chooses a definition of war (it must involve violence, it must be political, and it must be instrumental) and then concludes that whatever does not fit onto that definition does not constitute war. It's like he never stops to consider that, in light of new technology the definition of war could (and should) be expanded.

2. He gives a lot of anecdotal examples from history and shows where they were ultimately of little consequence. And therefore he arrives at the conclusion (not too lightly) that future attacks will be equally benign (or will not be able to wreak the destruction that many people fear). But to follow that reasoning to its logical conclusion, one could conclude that because the last attack where people fired muskets (and didn't kill that many people) meant that guns would never get to the level of destruction of an AK-47.

The book is written such that any of the chapters can be read stand-alone. And so I'll go through the book and make some statements chapter by chapter.

Chapter 1 (Definitions). This is where Rid lays out the definition. Again, war must be political, instrumental, and violent. The author then goes on to make the case that since not many people have been killed by electronic warfare, that it is not the same thing as hand to hand warfare or nuclear devices. The problem is that words are not our masters. They are our servants. If we follow this author's line of reasoning to its logical conclusion we could say something like: "So and so said that a legal system should have impartial jurists and be predictable.
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Format: Hardcover
The author uses a very restricted and dated definition of war, emphasizing again and again that cyber attacks do not constitute war because computers cannot directly make people bleed. he would have been right 200 years ago, but today, a view like that is naive. The author presents anecdotal information and questionable assumptions to validate his point-of-view and presents himself as an authority in this area.

I attended his presentation and ended up walking out because he failed to directly answer simple direct questions from the audience. His responses were evasive and did not address the specific questions members of the audience presented.

For a more comprehensive view of cyberattacks there are superior sources that have credibility. "Cyber War Will Not Take Place" is a simplistic, contrarian view of a very complex area.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book gives me hope. I will follow the example, do a lot of research on a topic with which I have no experience, publish it, and hopefully make enough money to pay off my wife’s Sears card. The interest rate is killing me!

Dr. Rid’s book provides many interesting stories about computer attacks and provides a slant on them that supports his thesis that a Cyber 9/11 will not happen. He also writes for pages and pages about topics unrelated to Cyber and though his command of the English language is impressive, more correctly, magniloquent, those pages still do not relate to Cyber.

Why does everybody have to pick on the U.S. Air Force? It’s because we mock what we don’t understand. A lack of understanding and misguided assertions are common themes for this book. Dr. Rid cites over 200 sources in this 174 page thesis making me wonder if he had any original thought based on his experience, so I did a little research. Dr. Rid is a Professor who teaches wartime studies though I could not find evidence of him ever serving his country. I could also find no information on his Cyber or even IT background (yes, there is a difference), making it clear that he lacks the credentials to write on this topic.

Dr. Rid asserts that Cyber is non-lethal, therefore Cyber war will not take place. His assertion can be discredited with three letters: UAV. Here we have a flying computer with weapons that is flown through the Internet. I would say that UAVs are most certainly lethal and they are flown from thousands of miles away through Cyberspace. Yes, the U.S. Air Force was right: Cyberspace is actually a fifth domain.

I retired from the U.S. Air Force and also the U.S.
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Format: Hardcover
Excellent book. Highly recommended. Some of the other reviews on this site criticise Thomas Rid for using the Clausewitz definition of war. If anyone has a better definition of war, I would like to see it. Clausewitz's definition is still taught in military command and staff college all around the world, including in non-Western countries such as China. If anyone here has a better definition, please go and publish a book so we can finally replace "On War".

Thomas Rid is a Professor at the War Studies Department, King's College London. This is probably the world's leading institution for strategic studies. I would discount the criticism here, and go read the book or at least the article of the same name in Journal of Strategic Studies, which preceded the book.

I have been studying Cybercrime for a postgraduate law degree and found Rid's analysis absolutely invaluable. It helped bring clarity to the issue of subversion, espionage and sabotage emanating from cyberspace. There is a lot of muddled thinking out there on the issue, unfortunately. Rid helps you cut through the chaff.
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