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A Summer Reading List for the Digitally (or Cyber) Inclined

by Adam Segal
Cyber Net Politics CFR Summer Reading The best way to read a book about surveillance is on the beach, disconnected from the world. (Flickr user Mark Strozier).

Summer is a great time to catch up on that massive list of books and articles you have been meaning to read but never quite got around to. Fortunately, Net Politics is here to remind you which books about digital and cyber issues you should read first. Reading a non-fiction book about tech issues along with your protective tinfoil hat will make you the envy of everyone on the beach.

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Cyber Conflict After Stuxnet

by Adam Segal
CFR Cyber Net Politics Crossing the Rubicon Julius Caesar and the Crossing of the Rubicon by Francesco Granacci (1469-1543). (Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum).

The Cyber Conflict Studies Association (CCSA) recently published Cyber Conflict After Stuxnet: Essays from the Other Bank of the Rubicon. Stuxnet, of course, was the name given to the malware that was designed to damage the centrifuges at Natanz and thus slow down Iran’s nuclear program. The ability of digital code to produce physical effect had long been predicted and had been produced under controlled circumstances.With Stuxnet, it had happened “in the wild.” The Rubicon in the subtitle is a reference to a quote from General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and CIA, on the new era of international relations and national security that was emerging after the attack became publicly known: Read more »

Book Review: Red Team by Micah Zenko

by Adam Segal
CFR Cyber Net Politics Red Team Red Team. (Ivan Villegas/Council on Foreign Relations).

As the details of the hacking of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) became public in 2014 and 2015, the refrain from the press, Congress, and the general public was: how could this happen? How could hackers, probably from China, have stolen what one former official called, “crown jewels material … a gold mine for a foreign intelligence service”—the personal data of 18 million individuals, including the sensitive information on federal employees? After reading Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy, the excellent new book by my colleague Micah Zenko, you are likely to ask, why doesn’t it happen more often, and is there anything to be done to make sure it does not happen again?

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Net Politics Book Review: Countdown to Zero Day

by Adam Segal
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, 350 km (217 miles) south of Tehran, on April 8, 2008. (Iranian Presidential official website/Courtesy Reuters) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, 350 km (217 miles) south of Tehran, on April 8, 2008. (Iranian Presidential official website/Courtesy Reuters)

The first public announcement of what became known as Stuxnet, the malware designed to slow Iran’s nuclear program, could have easily disappeared into the ether. VirusBlokAda, a little-known cybersecurity firm in Belarus, first noticed the new vulnerability and posted an announcement on their website and an online English-language security forum. After some early news reports about the code and moves to patch the initial vulnerability by Microsoft, it would have been natural for everyone involved to move on the next malware threat. No one had any reason to know what Stuxnet would become.

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Net Politics Book Review: @War

by Adam Segal
U.S. National Security Agency Director General Keith Alexander testifies at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, on September 26, 2013. (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. National Security Agency Director General Keith Alexander testifies at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, on September 26, 2013. (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters)

Three days before he was to leave office, President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered his farewell address warning of the rise of the military-industry complex. Eisenhower described the “conjunction” of a large military establishment and arms industry unparalleled in American history and saw that its “total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government.” In his new book, @War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex, journalist Shane Harris argues that the surveillance state and the defense contractors, tech giants, financial institutions, and telecommunication companies are forming a new alliance that will likewise shape cyberspace and American life.

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