Sunday, October 10, 2010

Review of Cyber War Posted

Amazon.com just posted my four star review of Cyber War by Richard Clarke and Robert Knake. From the review:

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."

3 comments:

Andrew Hay said...

I'll admit, I started reading it and then got bored and abandoned my Kindle downloaded version of the book. Perhaps I'll try and find time to pick it up again.

Destroying Angel said...

One of Clarke's assertions is that we need to stop playing defense and go on the offense. One of my own flights of fancy (okay, I'm a novelist with the beginnings of an idea) is that pursuant to US Constitution Article 1 Section 8 the Congress authorize bonded cyber privateers and make security really profitable (see www.TheMorganDoctrine.com). The idea is still rough, so don't throw out the baby with the bath water, but privateers substantially financed and won the Revolutionary War. Maybe this could be part of the new equation. Or maybe it just makes for a good movie?

Anonymous said...

Seymour Hersh's latest article in the New Yorker (November, 2010), is about Cyberwar and includes quotes from Clarke and others. The article isn't one of his best, technical details need to be fact checked however the first few paragraphs are very interesting.
Remember that altercation with China where a spy plane crash landed on an island in China, after a Chinese fighter "accidentally" came too close? Apparently, either the spy team screwed up, and didn't properly wipe the systems, or the NSA procedure was faulty, but it seems the Chinese were able to learn enough such that they are now able to eavesdrop and understand U.S. communications! To me, amateur that I am, this is akin to the British cracking Enigma contributing more to the end of the war than any number of bombs. If memory serves, the ability of the Brits to get an intact Enigma, from a captured u-boat, and code book, was what enabled them to solve the encryption technique. The Chinese fighter "accidentally" hit the spy plane, conveniently forcing it to land on the military island? Right, and I have a bridge to sell. Sure, this could be disinformation (Hersh offers the point that this is a great way to push for the budget for a new OS), but the whole stupidity of the situation makes me think it isn't.