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on 17 January 2011
Richard Clarke has a good understanding of the politics involved in technology and why the implementation of defensive security measures has been slow within the western world, especially within the private sector of the critical infrastructure.

I found Cyber War a very well written book that was easy to read and understand. I am giving it 3 stars because it is more aimed at a political person than a technical one. Even so I would highly recommend it to anyone getting into the computer security or IT business.

The book does not use technical language and explains terms used in the text and in a glossary at the end. It is aimed at the non technical but could be required reading for anyone in the IT industry. There is good insight into the state sponsored attacks which are going on today. The threats faced by every organisation from advanced attackers need to be taken seriously. While this book does not claim to provide the solutions it should help to get the information to the real decision makers and budget holders within Government and large organisations.

The book begins with background on previous cyber attacks like the DDOS of Estonia and talks about how America wants to control cyber space. The end of chapter two narrates a (in my opinion) far fetched scenario in which the critical infrastructure of the USA is taken down. I think this is drawn form his previous experience in writing novels!

The authors broad background and view of international affairs allows him to draw comparisons to nuclear war planning which while I admit were similar were to 'out there' for anyone on the ground to influence. By halfway through the book I started to get pretty bored of the power grid and financial sector. I found that the recommendations given while reasonable were again to broad for anyone on the ground to implement.

In summary this quick read provides overview on the state of cyber space today and what may be done to start changing it for the better. Highly recommended.
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on 15 August 2017
Excellent!
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on 18 December 2010
This is a truly fascinating book for anyone interested in Cyber Warfare. It is clearly written in everyday language and is certainly not a geeks tech manual. Richard Clarke has held senior positions in the Bush, Clinton and Obama governments and speaks from a position of great authority on the subject matter. Whilst this is an American insight into the "new" warfare of the 21st Century, the information and scenarios Clark paints are relevant to all western nations and brings home the startling facts as to how unprepared the west is in face of a major threat.

If you ever wondered why you should secure your home or office PC then read this book!
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on 30 June 2017
Richard Clarke's experience in cybersecurity is virtually unmatched in the recent era. He has no end of experience (and stories) to tell in both commercial and government arenas protecting networks and high visibility systems from attack.Whether you are in the IT industry, or just someone who wants to know about the threats our country faces, Cyber War is a brilliant introduction to the surface layer of what that conflict looks like in the last couple years. As the threat landscape continues to get broader with the introduction of cyber capabilities by more countries - some better controlled and more tightly defined than others - it pays dividends to understand the threat and think about how your life can be impacted.This book offers a series of stories, of descriptions, and a discussion of the evolution of the cyber attack as a tool in the arsenal of criminal enterprise, and - lately - nation states. It is, for the most part, well written and requires basic knowledge of what computers are and how they work to get the most out of the text, but stays at a high enough level that you really do not have to be a "techie" to "get it".One side note, those who are immersed in this world daily will find snatches of Richard Clarke's experience interesting, but overall will find little new in the text if you are indeed in this arena day to day. (It is, after all, an unclassified published discussion "looking back" as it were.) Still worth the buy in my opinion, if only as something to read through and then keep on the virtual shelf for when something is rattling around in your brain and you want to look back through.
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on 23 August 2010
"And now, Mr. Bond, let me explain my diabolical plan to bring your puny civilization to its knees. First, I am going to immobilize the absurdly net centric US military machine. Next, and this is ridiculously simple, I will shut down your entire power grid, telecommunications services and air traffic control. Next I will erase all financial records in your banking system and stock exchanges wiping out the net worth of millions of people. Finally, and this is my favorite part, I will close down Wal-Mart's entire supply chain management system. Ha, ha, ha etc."

As Richard Clarke, former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-Terrorism, and Robert Knake, a scholar in the field of security matters - two authors who clearly know what they are talking about - point out in "Cyber War," this Bond villain fantasy is not so far fetched. Some thirty nations have advanced cyber warfare capabilities, and portions are within plausible reach of criminal and terrorist organizations.

There have already been incidences: Chinese logic bombs have been discovered throughout the US grid; Israel immobilized Syria's advanced, Russian supplied, air defenses in order to clear the way for its surprisingly ill-publicized bombing raid on that country's North Korean sponsored nuclear facility; the US infiltrated sabotaged chips into technology stolen by Russia, resulting in a massive pipeline explosion; Russia, or per the Russian government's version, groups of civilian patriots, shut down Estonia's and later Georgia's internet systems at times of tension between their countries; someone closed down part of Brazil's power system; China (again) paralyzed several large US web players through a "denial of service" bombardment following the accidental US bombing of its Belgrade embassy in 1999; even North Korea has had a respectable stab at it. Numerous reports and tests have highlighted the west's acute vulnerability to cyber attack.

"Cyber War" is exceptionally well informed. It is intelligently written but still an accessible read, leavened by wry insider's sense of humor. The authors' goal is to highlight western vulnerability and inspire the powers that be to do something about it.

To be sure, The USA is generally believed to possess the world's most advanced cyber warfare capability. But, the authors convincingly argue, this is not enough. Other nations - notably China and Russia - have much stronger defensive capability. Furthermore, there is an asymmetry of vulnerability since the US economy, society and military are much more web dependent than those of potential enemies and thus conventional theories of deterrence may not apply. And, if an attack happens, it may be difficult to attribute responsibility, as the laying of false trails is an integral part of this form of warfare.

The authors examine the many obstacles to resolving this: constitutional, political, legal, bureaucratic and special interest as well as technological. Nonetheless, they prescribe a series of actions, both domestic and international, which should be taken urgently to reduce the risks that a cyber war could break out and lead to either untold damage or a dramatic escalation of "kinetic" or real war. It is a message that should be taken seriously. This is a clear and present danger.
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on 31 October 2011
We live in a largely protected world, insulated from the reality of war and the struggles of many nations. What we see is through the filter of a news channel or the opinion of a blogger - rarely do we get a truly accomplished veteran sharing their knowledge of the situation and what we can expect.

Clarke writes well and gets to the point. We are at dire threat from a cyber attack at any given time of day or night. This attack might appear to draw on unimaginable sophistry but, since all code is created by humans, the blame will lie at inelegant effort and greedy corporations.

Why would Microsoft allow the Chinese to have the Windows code? So they could sell it there, of course. Ergo, the Chinese government has the infrastructure of more computers in the world than any other platform. But we have AV software, I hear you say. Is it impossible that the attackers could have coded their 'bombs' to be undiscovered? Because it's happened more than once.

The printer in the office, the electricity switch at the wall, the airplane taking you on holiday - all incredibly vulnerable to the most constricting and lifestyle preventing attack that you could conceive.

Afghanistan and Iraq have kept the gung-ho generals in eye watering budgets for years. Naturally they fight the last war in terms of strategies and tactics - these take blood to revise. They are resistant to cyber units who might protect us against severely debilitating attacks.

Why sacrifice your own men and women when you can press a button and activate devastation with little recourse to your nation? Such could be the dilemma the Chinese are struggling with...
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on 23 June 2015
The author has had a political career which has reached the highest levels of the Pentagon. He is obviously a very driven and intelligent man and his analysis of the new phenomenon that is Cyber War is second to none. The globality of the threat is given a context that is very revealing of the geopolitics which drive the internet. How do nation states handle the use of cyberspace within their own borders and indeed outside their territories? As countries become more and more dependent upon computer technology, the risks faced by cyber attacks become exponentially more severe and critical to the economy and security of a nation. America is perhaps the nation that is most vulnerable, most dependent and most at risk, and Clarke’s high position within the US government system means that he has been placed in the very real environment of deciding upon global cyber was strategy. Some of the facts and figures revealed by the book are truly revelationary. Clarke rates North Korea as being the nation with the most capacity for cyberwar as it focuses on attack strategies and its near negligibilty of dependance at home on computer networks makes it absolutely resistant to any cyber warfare attacks it may experience itself. I was surprised at the levels of internet usage in countries like Estonia and also South Korea, and the stories of actual cyber attacks that were known to have happened and documented made fascinating reading. I didn’t think that the author ever really stretched the technicalities of what is indeed a very technical subject. He kept most of the book within the grasp of any tech novice reader, with a clear focus throughout on geopolitics. It’s a good book and I feel will be interesting to look back upon in 10 or 20 years time, to see if any of his prophecies have proved correct and also to gauge how different future cyberspace is. I’d recommend this book to any end user of the internet as your own reliance and dependance on the worldwide web is at risk from the cyber war phenomenon that is discussed.. https://wezgbooks.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/cyberwar-the-next-threat-to-national-security-what-to-do-about-it-by-richard-a-clarke/
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on 14 December 2011
A great read for anyone interested in understanding the issues facing countries over the next couple of decades in the new "fifth-dimension" of warfare. Chilling insights into current policy and mindsets give way to policy proposals and scenario play. Does get a little repetative at times (but with an important message). Also gives mostly great options for actually solving the problems it identifies, had me all the way to page 276 of 279 when it starts to talk about replacing (parts of or all) the internet with a dumb terminal model.

Great as a non-technical insight and with good points, a must read for any CIO/CTO of any major network, probably less worthwhile to your regular techhie or layman. Does raise some excellent points about defense and seperation, also goes into cyber-crime and electronic industrial espionage too. This would be the one book I'd want every MP to read.

Let's hope someone in government wakes up and listens before they have their noses rubbed in it!
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on 27 November 2012
Absolutely amazing book! It is really easy to read and follow, and at the same time, it provides you with tonnes of useful information and references on cyberwar. I used it as a preliminary research for my postgraduate dissertation- it worked really well!
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on 10 April 2014
CYBER WAR screams the title, in bold. The book itself is far more nuanced. Yes, Clarke and his co-author are writing about cyber war. But really the point they are trying to make is that America (and you can extend that easily to the UK and other developed, networked, Western societies) need to spend less time getting excited developing whizzy cyber weapons and more time protecting the critical national infrastructure at home, particularly the power grid. And they make this point repeatedly and well.

So, despite the populist title and cover, it's worth reading by interested amateurs, computer scientists and students of International Relations alike.
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