- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (27 Aug. 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1408850125
- ISBN-13: 978-1408850121
- Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 3.2 x 16.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 572,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Cyberphobia: Identity, Trust, Security and the Internet Hardcover – 27 Aug 2015
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Edward Lucas has achieved the near-impossible: equipping us all with a highly readable yet instructive guide to the dangers behind our everyday internet use and how best to stay safe. Parents should buy for their children - and vice versa (Sir David Omand, former Director of GCHQ and UK Intelligence and Security Coordinator)
The internet is our greatest vulnerability as well as our greatest resource: hackers and hoodlums can steal your most important resources and disappear into the ether. Edward Lucas not only demonstrates just how vulnerable we are. He demonstrates how we can fight back against the cyber-criminals. And he does so with panache and style - explaining complicated concepts in plain words and brings light to even the darkest corners of the internet (Adrian Wooldridge, author of The Great Disruption: How Business is Coping with Turbulent Times)
Putin [and] his friends ... are gangsters on a scale that makes Al Capone or the Corleones seem small-time ... Lucas is right to castigate our folly in treating all this so lightly (Max Hastings, Sunday Times on Deception)
Entertaining and informative ... Lucas contrasts our complacency and delusion with Russia's ruthless ingenuity (Mail on Sunday, on The New Cold War)
Highly informed, crisply written and alarming ... Outstanding (Evening Standard, on The New Cold War)
An impressive polemic arguing that the West still underestimates the danger that Putin's Russia poses (Sunday Times on The New Cold War)
Unlike all too many authors of books on technology, Lucas does not presume that his readers are au fait with the baffling jargon that puts so many off the subject. His book will be comprehensible even to seemingly incurable cyberphobes. If they confront their fears and read it they will have joined Lucas's fightback against the crooks and spooks who want to exploit our ignorance ( Standpoint 2015-09-01)
Not only does Cyberphobia lay bare the dangers of the internet, it also explores the most successful defensive cyber strategies, options for tracking down transgressors and argues that we are moving into a post-digital age where once again face-to-face communication will be the only interaction that really matters ( Daily Telegraph 2015-08-29)
Cyberphobia provides a readable, exciting, and unusually accurate introduction to the dangerous side of information technology, which is now shaping most people's lives more than they realize. It will make it clear why people like me, who deal with this subject all day long, have trouble sleeping. (Scott Borg, Director (CEO) and Chief Economist, U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit)
A primer on the subject for people who haven't a clue about how the internet works and yet depend on it every day. But people don't need to be experts to learn how to protect themselves. This is Lucas's most compelling point, and his most urgent . Here, Lucas is doing a public service . Where Lucas gets really provocative is in laying blame on institutions for their failure to shore up a system that they know is rife with dangers ( Literary Review 2015-09-01)
An alarming and persuasive exposé of how cyber-crime, cyber-terrorism cyber-espionage and cyber-warfare converge, by the author of The New Cold WarSee all Product description
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Maybe mankind will learn, possibly this is going to be an accelerated form of evolution as society has seen such massive technological leaps in a relatively short period of time. The author seeks to dampen down fear and possible hysteria whilst taking a sensitive look at the risks that cybercrime can create. We can all play our part in reducing its growing footprint, no matter if we are mere users or high-up executives who should know better.
The type of cybercrime and cyberterror can vary, whilst one person’s credit card number being stolen at a restaurant is individually a bad thing, it is a lot different to a hacker shutting down a car travelling at 100 miles per hour along a motorway or turning off all of an aircraft’s systems at take-off. What about messing about with power stations and other sensitive infrastructure; best not to think too much about that. Lots of fun and games await, with potentially deadly, costly consequences. If it is not criminals and malicious people intending on causing havoc, it can be your country’s enemies; sometimes tomorrow’s enemies are today’s friends and partners…
The author lifts the lid on some of the activities that can plague us today. It is written in an open, accessible and demanding format, pulling the reader in without needing to add structures to scare them: the potential cold reality can do that for itself. The then director of America’s Central Intelligence Agency was quite forthright with his forecast in 1998, noting that “we are staking our future on a resource that we have not yet learned to protect” – nearly two decades later have we really made great leaps towards this utopian goal?
Many of the crimes undertaken are quite ingenious or simple on a theoretical level – such as breaking into a bank computer, grabbing debit card numbers and changing their access rights to make them limitless, before the details were sent to gangs in 27 countries who went, armed with copies of the cards, around emptying the accounts in a short time. One enterprising gang visited two thousand cashpoints in New York City alone. So if a criminal group can figure this out, why can’t a team of some of the brightest brains employed by banks and their suppliers do this and react ahead of time?
Some of the attack vectors are simpler and rely on people not knowing better or assuming things. It happened in the author’s own family, as he notes: “The easiest way to install malicious programs on other people’s computers is to get them to do it themselves. My daughter fell for this on her tenth birthday. I had given her a small £100 ($170) Asus laptop and told her to download Open Office (a free-of-charge program which has most of the functions of the much more expensive Microsoft Office). However, the top entry which came up on Google directed her not to the openoffice.org website, but to another one, where the download came accompanied by some unwelcome search software. This was Mindspark, produced by a legitimate company, but the subject of some controversy because of the way it operates. In my daughter’s case it modified her web browser, so that every search produced an avalanche of unwanted information and advertisements. Mindspark’s business model is based on funnelling computer users to its customers, and also selling data about browsing habits. There is nothing illegal in that – but it was not something that either my daughter or I had consented to.” The consequences, of course, could have been a lot more serious if someone else had a darker intent.
The book is giving; if anything it gave too much as it felt at times overwhelming. This reviewer is quite familiar with computer security and related matters and it managed to keep his interest; in the hands of an interested generalist one can imagine it could be liquid gold. It might encourage them to be a little more alert with their online usage. Of course, even the more experienced of us can get hit; whether by our own laziness, lack of attention or a new, hidden attack vector. We should always be on the alert.
Yet the book delivered what it promised and then some. One would rather there was not a need for a book like this, but there is, so there is no use crying about it. Acting to reduce the threat is the action word of the day. Get to it. Get the book and work on your defensive strategy.
The internet is a great leveller. Hackers can and do wreak havoc , as those using the Ashley Madison dating site and Amy Pascal have discovered. A very major problem is that no matter how ingenious our techniques, used by GCHQ, to protect citizens we cannot be certain that an attacker can't replicate them for nefarious reasons. The greatest fear is a digital Pearl Harbour.
We can be certain of one thing, namely that digital weapons are dramatically changing the nature of international conflict. It took over 200 years for gunpowder to spread. The internet has taken 20 years. There are no real-world equivalents to the problems raised by digital weapons. They operate in totally different ways to kinetic weapons. They cannot be predicted by military planners. Given an attack, how do we know who is the attacker? Unlike, say, nuclear weapons, we cannot display them to deter. How does one read the intentions of the enemy? These and many more are discussed by Lucas. Threats are asymmetrical, costs are low for the attacker but not for the defender. Attackers need to be lucky only once. Defenders all the time. Some recent attacks are mentioned, for example, Red October and in June 1941, Dragonfly. Russia is thought to have been responsible for the latter. This year Chinese hackers infiltrated the US Office of Personnel Management which stores millions of personal details of federal employees. It is a treasure trove of immensely valuable information about people including their convictions, drug abuse, sexual activities and financial problems. The scope for blackmail is therefore huge. As my old tutor Professor Sir Michael Howard has said you don't know where the attack is coming from and there is no deterrent, or if there is we have not been told. The contrast with kinetic warfare could not be more stark.
There is another very major problem. The overlap between the civilian and military use of digital weapons is deeply blurred. Malware can and has been developed by an individual. You do not need teams of very expensive scientists. Who is an armed combatant and who is not? When Russia targeted Estonia we saw how attacks on computers and networks can cripple the financial system and induce panic. So far such sabotage has been limited but the scope of what is possible has been demonstrated. It is to be hoped that the famous scene in Skyfall is purely fictitious. America claims that China attacks her in this fashion every day.
In 1998 the the CIA director, George Tenet, said : 'We are staking our future on a resource that we have not yet learned to protect'. He was referring to the internet. Then the founder of Facebook was aged 14 and Google had just been set up in a rented garage. Lucas makes it clear that Tenet was correct.
Lucas emphasises that we do not realise the risk we take when we go on line. Recently, those addicted to facebook and twitter have discovered this to their cost. Cracks are papered over and hackers exploit. They are persistent, clever, ingenious and anonymous. Many of their targets are ignorant and careless. Lucas describes security issues by using a fictitious , risk-averse middle aged couple who he calls Chip and Pin Hackett to demonstrate how their attitude to computer security differs sharply from that they adopt in other aspects of their life. No other device in our homes is so misunderstood as the computer. We increasingly rely on it yet have no control of it. For example, it is child's play to fake an email address. Bank account fraud on line is increasing. Soon fridges, cookers and boilers will be linked on line, all hackable. Security scanners at airports could also become dangerous in this respect. In China thousands work in unit 61398, a place where hackers hack into Western companies. Corporate espionage is a growing and very dangerous threat.
The book is not replete with baffling jargon, as are many, it ought to be comprehensible even to incurable cyperphobes.
Such people should confront their fears and read this book for the problems it discusses are going to get much worse. We must fight back against the criminals who want to exploit our ignorance.
An excellent book about a very important issue.
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