- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (March 28, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1476763267
- ISBN-13: 978-1476763262
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War Reprint Edition
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"A compelling history of cyberwarfare." (Evan Osnos The New Yorker)
“A consistently eye-opening history of our government’s efforts to effectively manage our national security in the face of the largely open global communications network established by the World Wide Web. . . . The great strengths of Dark Territory . . . are the depth of its reporting and the breadth of its ambition. . . . The result is not just a page-turner but consistently surprising. . . . One of the most important themes that emerges from Mr. Kaplan’s nuanced narrative is the extent to which defense and offense are very much two sides of the same coin. . . . The biggest surprise of Dark Territory is the identity of the most prominent domestic heroes and villains in the “secret history.” . . . Dark Territory is the rare tome that leaves the reader feeling generally good about their civilian and military leadership.” (The New York Times)
“A book that grips, informs and alarms, finely researched and lucidly related.” (John le Carré)
“Comprehensively reported history . . . The book’s central question is how should we think about war, retaliation, and defense when our technologically advanced reliance on computers is also our greatest vulnerability?” (The New Yorker)
“Dark Territory captures the troubling but engrossing narrative of America’s struggle to both exploit the opportunities and defend against the risks of a new era of global cyber-insecurity. Assiduously and industriously reported. . . . Kaplan recapitulates one hack after another, building a portrait of bewildering systemic insecurity in the cyber domain. . . . One of the deep insights of Dark Territory is the historical understanding by both theorists and practitioners that cybersecurity is a dynamic game of offense and defense, each function oscillating in perpetual competition.” (The Washington Post)
Dark Territory offers thrilling insights into high-level politics, eccentric computer hackers and information warfare. In 15 chapters—some of them named after classified codenames and official (and unofficial) hacking exercises—Kaplan has encapsulated the past, present and future of cyber war. (The Financial Express)
“An important, disturbing, and gripping history arguing convincingly that, as of 2015, no defense exists against a resourceful cyberattack.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
“Kaplan dives into a topic which could end up being just as transformational to national security affairs as the nuclear age was. The book opens fast and builds from there, providing insights from research that even professionals directly involved in cyber operations will not have gleaned. . . . You will love this book.” (Bob Gourley CTOvision.com)
“The best available history of the U.S. government’s secret use of both cyber spying, and efforts to use its computer prowess for more aggressive attacks. . . . Contains a number of fascinating, little-known stories about the National Security Agency and other secret units of the U.S. military and intelligence community. . . . An especially valuable addition to the debate.” (John Sipher Lawfare)
“Fascinating . . . To understand how deeply we have drifted into legally and politically uncharted waters, read Kaplan’s new book, Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War.” (George F. Will The Washington Post)
"Fred Kaplan’s Dark Territory may become a classic reference for scholars and students seeking to understand the complicated people who ushered the United States into the cyber-conflict era and the tough decisions they made." (Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, Director, Center for Cyber Conflict, US Naval War College Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute)
“Deeply sourced. Luckily, he’s not slavishly loyal to his sources.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
EDITORS' CHOICE (New York Times Book Review)
“Chilling . . . Kaplan is one of America’s leading writers on national security, and his accounts of cyberattacks are gripping . . . assiduously researched.” (Edward Lucas The Times (London))
“Peppered with many fascinating behind-the-scenes anecdotes . . . A readable and informative history.” (P.W. Singer The New York Times Book Review)
A “Hot Type” Book Pick for March 2016 (Vanity Fair)
A “Hot Tech Book of 2016” (Tech Republic)
“Worthy of any spy thriller. . . a strong narrative flow . . . impressivelydetailed . . . deeplyrelevant . . . vital.” (The National (UAE))
“Jarring . . . a rich, behind-the-headlines history of our government’s efforts to make policy for the jaw-dropping vulnerabilities of our ever-increasing dependence on computers. . . . Kaplan renders a vivid account of the long struggle waged by presidents, bureaucrats, generals, private-sector CEOs, and privacy advocates . . . Kaplan enjoys considerable credibility in defense circles, but he guides us through the dark territory of cyber conflict with an omniscient-narrator voice reminiscent of Bob Woodward’s behind-the-scenes books. . . . Today, Kaplan argues, it is precisely U.S. pre-eminence in the network connectivity that makes us the most vulnerable target in the world to cyber sabotage.” (Washington Independent Review of Books)
“Pulitzer-prizewinning journalist Fred Kaplan’s taut, urgent history traces the dual trajectory of digital surveillance and intervention, and high-level US policy from the 1980s on.” (NATURE)
“Dark Territory is a remarkable piece of reporting. Fred Kaplan has illuminated not merely the profound vulnerabilities of our nation to cyber warfare, but why it has taken so long for our policy-makers to translate indifference into concern and concern into action. This is a vitally important book by a meticulous journalist.” (Ted Koppel, author of Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath)
“A fascinating account of the people and organizations leading the way towards a cyber war future.” (Dorothy E. Denning, author of Information Warfare and Security, 1st Inductee, National Cyber Security Hall of Fame)
“A very in-depth work... its content is enlightening and intelligent and the secrets it uncovers are astounding.” (The News Hub)
“Everyone has heard the term 'cyber warfare.' Very few people could explain exactly what it means and why it matters. Dark Territory solves that problem with an account that is both fascinating and authoritative. Fred Kaplan has put the people, the technologies, the dramatic turning points, and the strategic and economic stakes together in a way no author has done before.” (James Fallows, national correspondent, The Atlantic)
“Revealing. . . . On a vital current-events topic, the well-connected Kaplan’s well-sourced history gives readers much to ponder.” (Booklist)
“One of the very best books ever written about the American military in the era of small wars . . . Fred Kaplan brings a formidable talent for writing intellectual history.” (The New York Review of Books)
“Excellent . . . An intellectual thriller.” (Time)
“Excellent . . . Poignant and timely . . . A good read, rich in texture and never less than wise.” (Foreign Policy)
“The best account to date of the history of cyber war…a human story: a history as revealed by the people involved in shaping it…full of detail, including information that will be new even to insiders.” (The Times Literary Supplement)
"It’s not easy to write an engaging book on cyberwar, and Kaplan, a national security columnist at Slate, has done an admirable job. He presents a clear account of the United States’ evolution into a formidable cyberpower, guiding the reader through a thicket of technical details and government acronyms." (Foreign Affairs)
About the Author
Fred Kaplan is the national-security columnist for Slate and the author of five books, including Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War; The Wizards of Armageddon; 1959; Daydream Believers; and The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War, which was a New York Times bestseller and Pulitzer Prize finalist. A former Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for The Boston Globe, he graduated from Oberlin College, earned a PhD from MIT, and lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Brooke Gladstone.
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Top Customer Reviews
I say this simply so I can emphasize the following: I wish that we had had Fred Kaplan's "Dark Territory" when we began work on our film.
The use of cyber attack by the military is a topic cloaked in secrecy, a topic that many at the very highest levels of government remain fearful to speak about even in scant outlines. It was only through years of painstaking journalistic work by a team of investigators that we could piece together the understanding of the cyber world that allowed us to make our film, including the crucial awareness of the deep history that led to operations like Olympic Games and Nitro Zeus. Kaplan has performed a tremendous service by making that history plain to the public here in this book.
For those interested in the history of the subject, the books that are worth reading are few. Jay Healey's "A Fierce Domain" and Shane Harris's "@War" are excellent complements to Kaplan. I expect Thomas Rid's upcoming book will join that list.
But start with Kaplan. He has details you won't find elsewhere, and tells the story with characteristic skill. Knowing how heavy that cloak of secrecy weighs on the people who have worked behind it, I am impressed by what Kaplan has achieved here, and I highly recommend the book.
A story stretching over five decades
Unlike previous treatments that I’ve read about the topic, which zero in on the vulnerability of the American economy to attacks through cyberspace, Dark Territory traces the history of our government’s slowly growing awareness of the threat, beginning nearly half a century ago. Then, a prescient Pentagon scientist wrote a paper warning about the dangers inherent in computer networks. Apparently, though, no one in a position to do anything about it paid much attention to him.
Kaplan identifies an incident fully fifteen years later in 1984 when President Ronald Reagan — a movie fan, of course — saw the film War Games. He queried the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at a top-level White House meeting whether it was possible for a teenager like the one portrayed in the film by Matthew Broderick to hack into sensitive Pentagon computers. When the chairman, General John Vessey, reported some time later that the feat was in fact possible, Reagan called for and later signed the government’s first policy directive on the topic of cyber war. But that, too, led to no significant change at the Pentagon or anywhere else in the federal government.
Dark Territory is filled with revealing anecdotes like this, based on what surely was top-secret information not long ago. Kaplan reveals many little-known details about the Russian cyber war on Estonia and Ukraine, the Chinese Army’s prodigious hacking of American corporations and the Pentagon, the massive North Korean assault on Sony, Iran’s disabling of 20,000 computers in Sheldon Adelson’s casino empire, and the successful US-Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Kaplan also reveals the reason why US complaints about China’s cyber attacks have fallen on deaf ears: it turns out that the National Security Agency is attacking the Chinese government in much the same way. As The Guardian revealed in 2013, “the NSA had launched more than 61,000 cyber operation, including attacks on hundreds of computers in Hong Kong and mainland China.”
The book casts a particularly harsh light on the Administration of George W. Bush. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and other senior officials in the early 2000s cavalierly dismissed urgent reports from national security and intelligence officials that the threat of cyber war, and the vulnerability of the US economy, were growing at an alarming rate. Only under Bush’s successor did reality strongly take hold. As Kaplan writes, “During Barack Obama’s presidency, cyber warfare took off, emerging as one of the few sectors in the defense budget that soared while others stayed stagnant or declined.”
It’s difficult to understand how anyone who was awake could have failed to grasp the problem. For example, a war game conducted in 1997 was intended to test the vulnerability of the Pentagon’s computer systems within two weeks. “But the game was over — the entire defense establishment’s network was penetrated — in four days. The National Military Command Center — the facility that would transmit orders from the president of the United States in wartime — was hacked on the first day. And most of the officers manning those servers didn’t even know they’d been hacked.” Not long afterwards, the Pentagon was hacked in a similar way by two 16-year-old boys in San Francisco. And when national security officials widened the scope of their attention to encompass the country’s critical civilian infrastructure, such as the electricity grid, they were shocked to discover that the situation was far worse. The Pentagon eventually bowed to the warnings and implemented needed security measures. But private corporations blatantly refused to do so because they didn’t want to spend the money — and Congress declined to allow the federal government to make security measures obligatory.
Unfortunately, Kaplan’s book is poorly organized. It’s roughly structured along chronological lines but jumps back and forth through time with such regularity as to be dizzying. And it’s crammed so full of the names of sometimes obscure government officials and military officers that it becomes even more difficult to follow the thread of the story.
However, these challenges aside, a picture clearly emerges from Dark Territory: For decades the American public has been at the mercy of incompetent and pigheaded people in sensitive positions in the government, the military, and private industry — and we still are. Bureaucratic games proliferate. Politics intrude. Inter-service rivalries abound. Personal grudges get in the way. Repeatedly, some of those who are entrusted with the security of the American people make what even at the time could easily be seen as stupid decisions.
Other takes on cyber war
Last year I read and reviewed a book titled Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It, by Marc Goodman. I described it as “the scariest book I’ve read in years.”
Five years earlier, I read Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It, by Richard A. Clarke and Robert K. Knake. From the early 1970s until George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, Clarke filled high-level national security positions under seven Presidents, so he knows whereof he writes. (He resigned in protest over the invasion of Iraq, which he thought distracted the government from the real threats facing the country.) Not long afterward, I read and reviewed Worm: The First Digital World War, by Mark Bowden, a much more focused treatment of the topic — a case study, really — but equally unsettling.
Though less current, all three of these books are better organized and more readable than Dark Territory. Admittedly, though, Kaplan’s book reveals the history that is only hinted at in the others.
About the author
Fred Kaplan wrote five previous books about the nuclear arms race and other topics bearing on US national security. He was on a team at the Boston Globe in 1983 that won a Pulitzer Prize for a series about the nuclear arms race.
Since the dawn of that existence, both sides have been at war, a cyberwar between good and evil, dark and light, knowledge and secrecy. It has always been an avid interest of mine to go deeper into this realm and now Kaplan, a Pulitzer prize winning author brings us into the climax of it.
I say highlights because Kaplan starts off by bringing us into how President Reagan initially jumped on board while viewing the movie War Games with Matthew Broderick and wondering if this could actually happen and the answer was a resounding “yes.”
I say highlights because Kaplan traverses this ground and jumps throughout the internet’s history recalling many stories, interviews with anonymous hackers and although he has a great depth to his reporting, in my view, he is just scratching the surface in relation to many issues and histories of the battleground that is cyberspace.
For those that are unfamiliar with a lot of the history, events and inner workings of what takes place, he does a fantastic job, spotlighting some pivotal moments to help these readers be aware of what goes on in “Dark Territory” Since before the world web existed, our government has largely tapped into a venerable resource for both offensive attacks and defensive efforts to protect our national security. Even though the internet has opened a global stage for other countries trying to accomplish the same goals, it is an extensively daunting battle uphill. This totality of cyber wars has outrun our conventional wars and will continue to be on the upstroke.
Even so, Kaplan kept me interested with tidbits of information from Reagan and “War Games" to “Sneakers” and the NSA, showing the screenwriters for both and how they were intimately tied in with the RAND corporation and how they took cues from one of the original programmers for the North American Aerospace Defense Command computer, and never knew that he was also on an advisory board to the National Security Agency.
These tidbits, highlights and coincidences form a lot of the interweaving of the book, even though Kaplan jumps back and forth through different eras to show us this. He touches on various Presidents and how they viewed cybersecurity and their reasoning for and/or against, throughout history. He brings us on varying accounts of how our government averts disaster, as well as how they have mounted attacks. He talks about Edward Snowden and President Obama’s reactions to the same. Corporate securities, attacks on various corporations (eBay, Sony, Target and many others), banks and generally anything in between. He brings to light, the theme of protecting our nation while balancing our civil liberties, as we are currently seeing now with the Apple quagmire of recent weeks. The book is filled with complexities and is well told and researched by Kaplan.
I believe as I said before, that this just brings to light, a surface view of what is really transpiring daily, on the world wide web. There are so many factors to counter in, with cyber attacks and cyber sabotage, both inward and outward, in between corporations, individuals and government. There is the “Deep Web” running its underground drug trade, credit card fraud trades, human trafficking and much more throughout the world on anonymous TOR servers. The new currency of the criminal world, as Bitcoin has shown us and since most of the credit card fraud trade is Russian and Chinese based, it effectually is bringing about a new world war throughout cyberspace that we have to consistently be aware of, reminiscent of our intelligence operations in the Cold War.
There are simply too many factors to this “Dark Territory” to cover effectively in one book, but I really enjoyed that Kaplan has directed our attention to a taste of it for us. Especially for those reading the book, that do not have this knowledge beforehand, it is an eye opening tour for most readers.
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