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@War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex Hardcover – November 11, 2014
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"Chilling . . . Extraordinary and urgent."
Christian Science Monitor
"Unsettling . . . Deeply informative."
James Risen, author of Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War
“@War is a remarkable achievement. Harris uses dogged shoe-leather reporting to take us deep inside the government’s surveillance and cyber operations to give an unsparing look at what the NSA and other agencies are really doing with all our data. In the age of abstract Snowden documents, @War actually introduces us to the people running America’s electronic spying machine, and offers invaluable insights into how their ambition and turf battles impact our financial security, our privacy, and our freedom.”
Thomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco and The Generals
“A great overview of our new cyberfronts. Unlike most books about cyberwar, this one is enjoyably readable. At times it feels like a modern spy novel, but it is a guide to tomorrow’s headlines.”
Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad
“@War is a tour de force of reporting on the past, present, and future of cyber-conflict. It will be required reading both in the Pentagon and among the army of Chinese cyber spies now assaulting American businesses. Hackers, policy makers, and others will find this book both intriguing and alarming; not to mention very well written.”
"Cyber-espionage is the 'single most productive means of gathering information about our country’s adversaries,' writes Harris (The Watchers: The Rise of America’s Surveillance State), senior writer for Foreign Policy, in this unnerving exposé. After 9/11, the National Security Administration (NSA), the nation’s global information-gathering agency, submitted a wish list to the Bush administration. It was approved and the “'military-Internet complex was born.' According to Harris, electronic eavesdropping was fundamental to 2007’s Iraq surge and the NSA located Osama bin Laden through spyware planted in his operatives’ mobile phones. Readers will squirm as they learn how every communications enterprise (Google, AT&T, Verizon, Facebook) cooperates with the national security establishment. Harris delivers a convincing account of the terrible cyberdisasters that loom, and the intrusive nature of the fight to prevent them."
"Sprawling account of how the U.S. military joined forces with the National Security Agency to develop 'cyber warfare' capabilities, monitoring America's enemies and its citizens alike. Harris adeptly documents the online threats directed at American society, ranging from the Chinese military's well-funded hacking cells to large-scale information thefts committed by international crime syndicates, but he also demonstrates the NSA's insatiable collection of metadata and preparation of "backdoor" cyberweapons for future use, concluding that '[a]nonymity and collective security may be incompatible in cyberspace.'"
From the Inside Flap
The United States military views cyberspace as the fifth domain of warfare (alongside land, air, sea, and space), and the Pentagon, the National Security Agency, and the CIA field teams of hackers who launch cyber strikes against enemy targets and amass staggering quantities of personal information on all of us. These same virtual warriors, along with a growing band of private-sector counterparts, are charged with defending us against the vast array of criminals, terrorists, and foreign governments who attack us with ever-increasing frequency and effectiveness.
Shane Harris infiltrates the frontlines of this fifth domain, explaining how and why government agencies are joining with tech giants like Google and Facebook to collect vast amounts of information. The military has also formed a new alliance with tech and finance companies to patrol cyberspace, and Harris offers a more penetrating and unnerving view of this partnership than we have ever seen before. Finally, he details the welter of opportunities and threats that the mushrooming military-Internet complex poses for our personal freedoms, our economic security, and the future of our nation.
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The book is divided into two parts. The first section focuses on early developments in cyber warfare. General Keith Alexander, then director of NSA, saw the need to move his Agency from traditional SIGINT collection into the realm of monitoring the internet. NSA needed this ability in order to protect all aspects of American industry from cyber-attacks. To achieve this goal, he worked with industry giants, such as Google, Microsoft, and AT&T.
The second part of the book is even more interesting in that it highlights how industry began to surpass the Government. The author describes noteworthy events such as “Buckshot Yankee,” where DoD computers were infected with malware. This was a pivotal event in the subsequent creation of US Cyber Command.
He then describes the penetration of multiple defense contractors by the Chinese. These events led Northrup Grumman to create its own cyber security operations center.
The books ends with an insightful assessment of how industry is evolving to a point where companies are now defending themselves or relying on private cyber security firms. Industry realizes that it cannot depend on the Government to defend their interests. Bottom line: This is an insightful book that covers multiple aspects of cyberspace, cyber security, and America’s evolving efforts to meet the threat.
@WAR opens with a top-level meeting of government and private stakeholders, those entities who could be affected by a cyber attack. They where told of the emerging cyber threat. At that time, very little was known about cyber threats, let alone the scope of the threats. So not surprisingly, the invitees came away from their meeting shocked and completely surprised that our very existence was under attack by bad guys with desktop computers and an Internet connection. And the threat was growing at an accelerated pace, fueled by the breakthrough advancements in computer technologies, high-speed processors, more memory, fiber optic cables, just to name a few. Experts predicted that in the near future, cyber war would dominate the war theaters. Indeed, in 2012 the US former defense secretary, Leon Panetta referred to the growing cyber threat as, “Cyber Pearl Harbor.”
The term Cyber Pearl Harbor was coined with the obvious purpose to jolt the audience into the realization that cyberwar was serious business, grave and immediate. Something had to be done. Cyber Pearl Harbor then led to the category, “Fifth Domain of Warfare.” Placing Cyber Warfare, referred to as Information, on the list along with the other four domains of warfare:
Each chapter of the book is filled with interesting stories. After the the Fifth Domain of Warfare the author addresses the topic of the NSA’s monitoring inside the United States. That was an eyebrow-lifting discussion. Imagine every single phone conversation and electronic communication being recorded. Another story discusses how the Chinese stole huge amounts of information about our high-tech, stealth F-35 strike fighter; the most advanced jet fighter design in the world. In other words, our most secrete of secrets were silently sucked away through wiretaps, satellites and undersea cables using a cryptographic hash of zeros and ones. The book's chapters are also loaded with an abundance of computer terms and phrases. War Driving, rogue access points, bots and digital backdoors, are only a few examples. To get the most enjoyment out of this book, you probably should have some knowledge of these terms and phrases.
Finally, from Cyber Pearl Harbor to Dan Coates’ recent warning that we are still under cyber attack, @WAR connects the complex of dots so that we all may understand the cyber threat facing our nation, what it is, where it came from and how to deal with it. I found the book interesting and a bit scary. In the end, however, absolutely no doubt is left that Cyber Warfare has become a threatening reality that potentially affects every American, maybe even every person on the planet. I enjoyed the book and have no trouble giving @WAR a five stars recommendation.
I will say there are times where he seems repetitive, but he does elaborate and go more in depth for the most part when he does repeat.