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Having burned through a host of like minded books on the shadowy side of the internet (Spam Nation, Flash Boys, Countdown to Zero Day, Worm, No Place To Hide) all in the last 6 months, @War is the latest.
While it lacks the finesse and technical prowess of Kim Zetterman's Countdown to Zero Day, @War clearly chronicles the United States approach to digital security and warfare, following small vanguard in the US government.
It starts off by building initial successes of digital intelligence, particularly as seen in the "Surge' in Iraq and places the reader at first as the justifications as seen by the Bush Jr and Obama administrations, and carefully builds a case for the relentless assaults on cyber security, primarily by government sponsored Chinese hackivists, spies and agents. Harris displays a far reaching knowledge, exposing readers to the little known National Reconnaissance Office to the even lesser known private "security" firms Vupen, Endgame and Netragard, as exposed by other journalists like Andy Greenberg, and heavily borrows from Greenwald's investigation of the Snowden files.
Right about the point where Shane Harris starts to feel like he's cheerleading the surveillance state, he starts in by exposing the problems of the government over-reach, Harris starts to dissect the shaky future ahead from hoarding zero day exploits, with rogue corporations initiating retaliation hacks that reaks of William Gibson novel.
As a writer, Harris is to the point avoids over novelization that Mark Bowden was suspect to in Worm, but also lacking the urgency of Countdown to Zero Day. In the end, its the best game in town if you're looking to understand how we got from point A to B and strong piece of journalism, although slightly diminished by others who have gotten there first. The true gift is having a single book that pieces several major stories into one coherent narrative.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
Fascinating, fast-paced, and more than a little scary. A nice compliment to a number of other books cover cyber issues and where they intersect with terrorism, war, and crime (see also Ted Koppel's Lights Out, Gordon Corera's CyberSpies, Marc Goodman's Future Crimes, amont others). This book acts as a very tightly written and incisive overview of the US government's cyber efforts, both military and intelligence based. I'd love to see an updated version encompassing some of the recent happenings (further incursions by China, Russian election-related hacking) and also more in depth information about what exactly the US engages in (likely unavailable due to classification). That said, Harris does an admirable job explaining some of the technology, putting it in perspective, and keeping his own opinions to a minimum so the reader can determine how they feel about the path being followed. Recommended.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful