The Perfect Weapon: How the Cyber Arms Race Set the World Afire

The Perfect Weapon: How the Cyber Arms Race Set the World Afire

From the premiere New York Times Washington correspondent, a stunning and incisive look into how cyberwarfare is influencing elections, threatening national security, and bringing us to the brink of global war.Behind the Russian cyberattacks that may have thrown the 2016 election; behind the Sony hack; behind mysterious power outages around the world and the disappearance...

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Title:The Perfect Weapon: How the Cyber Arms Race Set the World Afire
Author:David E. Sanger
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Perfect Weapon: How the Cyber Arms Race Set the World Afire Reviews

  • Brandon Forsyth

    David Sanger is simply the best writer alive working on issues of global and American security, and his latest book proves how far ahead he is of everyone else in his field. His meticulous reporting and cogent analysis of where cyber warfare is headed makes an urgent argument for international standards (a "digital Geneva Convention" is mentioned) to be discussed and adopted with haste. From the Iranian centrifuge sabotage to Russian hacking of Ukrainian power systems and American election tampe

    David Sanger is simply the best writer alive working on issues of global and American security, and his latest book proves how far ahead he is of everyone else in his field. His meticulous reporting and cogent analysis of where cyber warfare is headed makes an urgent argument for international standards (a "digital Geneva Convention" is mentioned) to be discussed and adopted with haste. From the Iranian centrifuge sabotage to Russian hacking of Ukrainian power systems and American election tampering, Sanger exposes how little-understood these new capabilities are, and makes a powerful case that this confusion could lead us to a very dangerous place. THE PERFECT WEAPON is a gripping, insightful read that I can't recommend enough.

  • Mehrsa

    This is an excellent and terrifying read. The Russians and Chinese and North Koreans are in the house and it seems that this administration is not at all aware of the magnitude of the threat. Sanger has a lot of access and a depth of knowledge on the issues and this history. He's also an excellent writer. I do have some critiques--he seems to think that the olympic games project where the US and Israel hacked into the Iranian computer networks was completely justified (though he worries about it

    This is an excellent and terrifying read. The Russians and Chinese and North Koreans are in the house and it seems that this administration is not at all aware of the magnitude of the threat. Sanger has a lot of access and a depth of knowledge on the issues and this history. He's also an excellent writer. I do have some critiques--he seems to think that the olympic games project where the US and Israel hacked into the Iranian computer networks was completely justified (though he worries about its effects). I'm not so sure. Seems a bit sanctimonious to say--when we did it, it was totally responsible and justified. Now that everyone else is doing it, it's not.

  • Kent

    Philip Graham is credited with calling journalism "the first rough draft of history." The author of The Perfect Weapon, David E Sanger, one of the highly respected journalists for the New York Times, called his book "current history." I am going with a 'polished second draft of history.'

    As a daily reader of The Times I already had some familiarity with the topics covered in Mr. Sanger's book. However, that reading did not prepare me for what I learned from the depth of research and clarity of wr

    Philip Graham is credited with calling journalism "the first rough draft of history." The author of The Perfect Weapon, David E Sanger, one of the highly respected journalists for the New York Times, called his book "current history." I am going with a 'polished second draft of history.'

    As a daily reader of The Times I already had some familiarity with the topics covered in Mr. Sanger's book. However, that reading did not prepare me for what I learned from the depth of research and clarity of writing presented by Mr. Sanger in each chapter. And it's all here: Iran's nuclear centrifuges blowing up; North Korean missiles falling out of the sky; China's remarkable and frightening rise of power in cyberspace; the Russian influence in the 2016 election; and a United States president that is utterly clueless in regard to cybersecurity but still able to spout utter nonsense when asked to discuss our current cyberage.

    Mr. Sanger used two words in his subtitle that stand out most to me after finishing his book: War and Fear. Although Mr. Sanger didn't actually state that we're in an ongoing cyberwar, I believe we are and to borrow from the heading of the final chapter, the ongoing cyberwar is 'just left of conventional war.'

    The fear (or fears) are first: most Americans, including myself, are blissfully unaware of the ongoing war until we're struck by the "digital equivalent of shrapnel" that inflicts permanent damage on our lives. The second fear: the knowledge that there is a subset of Americans actively and gleefully, consciously and unconsciously, aiding and abetting the same cyberwar enemies that our country is fighting against. This is a must read book in my opinion.

    I also recommend checking out: Lights Out-A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath by Ted Koppel; LikeWar-The Weaponization of Social Media by PW Singer and ET Brooking; and Click Here to Kill Everybody-Security and Survival in a Hyper-Connected World by Bruce Schreiner.

  • Radiantflux

    66th book for 2018.

    Nice summary of current situation around cyberwar from an American perspective. This is a scary world where large state players (China and Russia, but also North Korea and Iran) are increasingly intruding (attacking?) US targets. The US is largely unprotected from a cyberattack, which could take down power, water etc. relatively easily. Having read this it's really unclear how secure US voting systems are from an attack during 2018 election cycle.

    Well worth a read. A nice com

    66th book for 2018.

    Nice summary of current situation around cyberwar from an American perspective. This is a scary world where large state players (China and Russia, but also North Korea and Iran) are increasingly intruding (attacking?) US targets. The US is largely unprotected from a cyberattack, which could take down power, water etc. relatively easily. Having read this it's really unclear how secure US voting systems are from an attack during 2018 election cycle.

    Well worth a read. A nice complement to Russian Roulette which covers some of the same material as it relates to Russia's hacking of the 2016 US Elections.

    4-stars.

  • Clif Hostetler

    This book consists largely of the retelling of cyber attack incidents that have previously been in the news over the past ten years. However, the retelling in this book at this time has the advantage of hindsight which provides the enabling perspective regarding background, motive and attribution that were largely uncertain when the stories were first reported. Additionally, encompassing all these stories into one book at this time allows the pondering of their ramifications on privacy, crime, a

    This book consists largely of the retelling of cyber attack incidents that have previously been in the news over the past ten years. However, the retelling in this book at this time has the advantage of hindsight which provides the enabling perspective regarding background, motive and attribution that were largely uncertain when the stories were first reported. Additionally, encompassing all these stories into one book at this time allows the pondering of their ramifications on privacy, crime, and international relations.

    Some of the better known incidents elaborated by this book include (1)

    during the 2016 presidential election, (2) American/Israeli computer worm

    that blew up Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, (3) Russian cyberattacks on

    and

    , (4) the 2014 North Korean

    Pictures, and (5) the 2017 worldwide cyberattack by the

    cryptoworm. Of course part of the story also includes the

    and

    affairs, and the ripple effects they had on subsequent relations between tech companies and nation states. The author covered these stories as an investigative reporter for the New York Times at the time when they were first in the news. Thus, he is able to retell these stories by frequently switching into first-person voice while recounting interviews with the individuals affected by the incident.

    As indicated by the book's title and subtitle, the cyber world provides a new way of exerting power, committing crime, and/or waging war. Cyber arms are a great equalizer. They're low cost and largely

    . They allow a degree of anonymity and stealth in their use while at the same time holding large swaths of nation-state infrastructure and private-sector infrastructure at risk. Additionally, rogue nations such as North Korea have been able to use cyber tools to make money by illegally hacking into electronic bank transfers (e.g.

    ).

    Cyber conflict has the additional complication for governments and businesses because of their unwillingness to admit victimhood or participation in such action. Cyber damage not only hurts reputations, going public can reveal techniques and tools that are best kept secret. Another complication is that even though national interests are involved, many of the tools and technologies involved are controlled by private companies who are marketing their products worldwide and thus prefer to appear independent of their home country.

    Below are some excerpts from the book involving stories that I found interesting. The first excerpt is an example of how antiquated technology can be advantageous. The second excerpt is an example of the gullibility of Americans.

    The following is a description of the findings of an American team sent to the Ukraine to determine if the Russians could shut down the American electrical grid the same way

    .

    The following describes some of the early Russian cyber-meddling in American political discourse, and their surprise at their own effectiveness—and American gullibility.

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