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The Darkening Web: The War for Cyberspace Hardcover – July 11, 2017
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“A quietly horrifying new book. . . . The Darkening Web eventually accumulates the picture of an impending apocalypse, an utterly unwinnable war in which the world’s few good guys. . . are outgunned, outspent, and outmaneuvered at every stage of what Klimburg refers to as the great cyber game.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“An extraordinarily informative and accessible examination of the threats to physical infrastructure, privacy and the free flow of information posed by the struggle for control of cyberspace. Ripped from yesterday’s—and tomorrow’s—headlines, The Darkening Web shines a spotlight on a vitally important and little understood threat.”—The Tulsa World
“The Darkening Web provides a sweeping yet nuanced overview of how we got to where we are online, with ample backstory… A thoughtful framework for assessing developments in this fast-moving area…Ultimately, Klimburg concludes, the battle for a free Internet ‘is nothing less than the struggle for the heart of modern democratic society.’”—Nature
“Exhaustively researched. . . . A complex, fascinating book. . . . Indispensable reading for anyone keen to understand what lies ahead as cyberspace displaces conventional battlefields as the preferred venue for resolving conflict.”—The Toronto Star
“A dark but riveting account of how competition between nations threatens the future of the Internet. Klimburg provides a broad overview of the technical and political underpinnings of the Internet and reveals how many of them are being eroded by short-sightedness and national pride. A must-read.”—Jeff Moss, founder of Black Hat and DEF CON conferences
“A compelling and authoritative book that will shape the conversation about the intersection of the Internet and foreign policy.”—Bruce Schneier, author of Data and Goliath
“At a time of rising focus on threats to the internet, Alexander Klimburg introduces much needed clarity and precision into such concepts as cyber war and information security. This book is indispensable—not only for national security officials formulating policies on cyber conflict, cyber crime and cyber governance, but for any reader seeking a strong grounding in this critically important material and what it means for our global future.”—Michael Chertoff, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security
“Alexander Klimburg provides a chilling but well-informed and readable tour of cyber interdependence. Anyone interested in our growing global vulnerabilities should read this book.”—Joseph S. Nye, Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University and author of The Future of Power
“Klimburg is exceedingly qualified to write about cyberspace as a new field of war. . . . The dark side of cyberspace is a daunting subject, but Klimburg’s narrative is very accessible, and frankly, this is all far too important to ignore.”—Booklist
“A very frightening book. . . . Reading it is well worth the effort. Recommended for anyone interested in international affairs.”—Library Journal
“An excellent primer on cyberwarfare. . . . A chilling portrait of the emergence of cyberspace as a domain for political conflict.”—Publishers Weekly
“Klimburg delivers an urgent warning that civil libertarians and cybernauts alike will want to heed.” – Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Alexander Klimburg is a program director at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, and an associate and former fellow at the Belfer Center of the Harvard Kennedy School. He has acted as an advisor to a number of governments and international organizations on cybersecurity strategy and internet governance, and has participated in various national, international, NATO and EU policy groups. He splits his time between Boston, Vienna and The Hague.
Top customer reviews
If you're interested in why its darkening, Alexander Klimburg will give you the reasons. The hardware, the software, telecoms providers, governance of the internet, and great power politics all play substantial roles in the difficulties inherent in maintaining and sustaining the internet. It's a wonderful resource, but preserving this resource is threatened by powerful competing interests.
The author sharply criticizes the U. S. for its efforts to dominate and control the internet. The Snowden disclosures gravely damaged much of the international trust in America's oversight and use of the internet for national purposes. He also devotes major sections of the book to Russia;s and China's efforts to seize control of the internet for their national purposes. One Chinese undertaking that the author discusses, which I had not previously heard, seeks to create what amounts to a credit card score for its citizens use of the internet. Go to Chines government websites and your point score goes up; go to Chinese government disfavored websites and your score goes down, way down. Post a favorable comment about the government and your score rises; online criticism of the government gravely damages a citizen's score. It's like a rewards program. A good score will result in perks from the government; a bad score and you don't get to make that special trip to Shanghai. A diabolical approach that may prove quite effective, in my opinion.
The book considers cyber power. It looks at the efforts by powers, other than great powers, to pursue effort to project power over the internet. Israel, Iran, and North Korea have all sought to do so. Some of the attraction of the cyber battlefield is the attribution problem. A given event occurs and it's not always clear what state or non-state actor to attribute the cause. The presence of criminal elements who may be allowed by foreign states, Russia and China, in particular, to pursue acts on the internet that advance national goals without the direct involvement of clearly identified national agencies further complicates the attribution problem.
The author discusses terminology - whether to use the term "cybersecurity" or "data security.' He prefers "data security." Terminology affects the competing visions for the internet between the Free Internet group with the U.S. and Europe as advocates and the Sovereign Internet group led by Russia and China. I found this enlightening.
Can you be secure on the internet? The answer that I came away with was a resounding "no". But I enjoyed the 370 pages of the book and, if the topic interests you, I recommend it.
There is informative on programs like Echelon and Prism and history of hacking and hackers as well as more altruistic developers like Jan Postel. I was surprised to learn that RSA was hacked in 2011, along with other examples. There is a good introduction to attempts at legislative control and international agreements like the Helsinki accords of 1975. After a history of origins and development of the internet, there is in-depth discussion of the major players in cyberwarfare in the United States, Russia, and China. Klimburg then gives his vision and fears for the future of cyberspace security, effect on society and as a vehicle of political and military conflict. Policy and theory gets more abstract than practical.
Klimburg says that up to now pretty much anything goes. Those days may be coming to an end, as governments and corporations seek to control the internet, both to monitor the behavior of users and for state propaganda.
He divides considerations into components: internet security, economic development and crime and Internet governance, resulting in three different focus areas of data security, cyberspace, and governance. He sees an overemphasis on data security at the expense of the social components. Interesting is the Orwellian social credit score, proposed by some members of the Chinese government.
He contrasts American fondness for freedom of internet usage versus Russian and Chinese attempts at censorship and control. He contrasts the naive philosophy of Obama democracy spreading to the more realistic use by Vladimir Putin. US emphasis is on offensive Internet strategy, an extension of Obama administration emphasis on war on the ground at the expense of missile defense.
Russian interference in the recent US election was caused in part by fears of US history of regime change and internet promotion of Arab Spring. Klimburg contends that the West doesn't understand Russian aggressive attitude on the Internet, that may be because other nations are ignorant of Russia’s own burden of cyberattacks from Ukraine, among other enemies. The West has eroded the trust that is the foundation of the free Internet by engaging in indiscriminate surveillance activities, such as some of those enacted by the NSA and disclosed in 2013 by Edward Snowden.
The first cyberattack on critical infrastructure occurred in 1981/82 when the CIA tricked the KGB into stealing Western pipeline technology that had been programmed to turn malicious at a certain point. Critical infrastructure, power grids, banking data, etc. will be subject to cyber attack.
Klimburg speculates on how the Internet will develop over the coming years as he asks whether it will remain “free and open” or be controlled by the state. He cites two international factions the Cyber-sovereignty bloc, led by Russia and China, versus free internet adherents in the West.
The United States holds that the internet is a non-state domain, while nations like Russia, China, India, Brazil and much of the developing world are moving to restrict online freedom. The “great cyber game” may result in criminality and illegality corrupting the free internet.
It's sometimes hard to separate futuristic speculation from reality. The epilogue aggrandizes the internet to a struggle for the soul of democracy. Ultimately, Klimburg concludes, the battle for a free Internet “is nothing less than the struggle for the heart of modern democratic society”. He doesn't compare internet significance to finance and war or to environment, population growth and poverty.
The book needs organization diagrams as well as an acronym list and glossary.
It exposes the inherent ambiguities and contradictions of the cyber domain and suggests a set of seperate policy dimensions intended to manage the complexity of achieving a stable cyberspace.
It is an inspiring plea not only for governments, but also for businesses, academics and researchers of civil society to find a global consensus on how to coherently govern this dominant domain of the future. Don't miss it!
I'll evaluate the article in the WSJ. Since I didn't read the book. I was very impressed with it.