@War: The Rise of Cyber Warfare – Shane Harris

“The separation between the cyber and the physical worlds was disappearing. Cyberbullying was just bullying, and cyberwar was just war – the true age of cyber began when we started removing it as a descriptor.” ― Matthew Mather

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In April 2009 Chinese military hackers intercepted the Pentagon’s cyber security systems and gained access to huge amounts of information on the US Defense Department’s costliest weapons programme ever, plans for the United States military’s most sophisticated fighter jet yet – the $327 billion Joint Strike Fighter Project. Known as the F-35, the jet was the most complex military weapons system ever devised, planned to ensure US’ continued domination of the airways for many years to come. But when the hackers struck terabytes of top-secret design information was compromised, and the US immediately lost the upper hand.

Welcome to the world of cyber warfare.

The spies had come without warning. They plied their craft silently, stealing secrets from the world’s most powerful military. They were at work months before anyone noticed their presence. And when American officials finally detected the thieves, they saw it was too late. The damage was done.

The world is changing – and it has never been more apparent. Now, the majority of transactions, be they monetary of otherwise, take place online, bringing forth a new realm which needs to be governed and protected. In the US, military protection is no longer limited to land, sea, air and space, but now cover a whole new fifth domain – cyberspace.

In this timely new release author Shane Harris provides a complete and comprehensive history of the rise of modern warfare in the US – a world where wars no longer take place just on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan and soldiers are no longer limited to those brave souls risking their lives on the frontline. The United States no longer needs to protect just its physical assets, but a wealth of data stored online, and in government and military networks. The country’s military now employs teams of professional hackers capable of launching sophisticated computer virus attacks against enemy targets.

The ability of hackers to intercept communications and steal information is just the beginning – with the majority of civil infrastructure present online, nuclear plants, hospitals, banks and airports are all at risk. Now, cyber-attacks come in all forms, and carry the potential to grind the US economy to a halt, and endanger civilian lives – hackers can take down aeroplanes, shut down power plants and cause serious malfunctions in natural gas pipelines. It’s time to open our eyes to the fact that, with the rise of cyber warfare, the next 9/11 could well be a cyber-attack.

In @War Harris presents a gripping and exceptionally topical investigation into the rise of cyber warfare. The reader is thrown onto the frontlines of this new cyber war, as Harris explains the relevance of new cyber-security regimes, not just for global giants like the US, but for all those who spend their days connected to the Internet.

This review was first posted on WordPress for E&T magazine

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