Review: @War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex

@War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex
@War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex by Shane Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Rating 4/5

This was a very interesting read. With the world embroiled in the drama of a new presidency and the recent election with accusations of Russian hackers influencing the election, this looked like a good topic to “read up” on. I plopped 3 books into my shopping cart (@War, CyberSpies, and Dark Territory) all of which were well reviewed and started with @War.

I’m going to keep this review pretty general: it was engaging and well written in an entertaining style. It primarily covers the U.S. military use of surveillance and hacking techniques starting with 9/11 and the war in Iraq. It follows a rough timeline from the Bush administration through the Obama administration and details several prominent military and political figures involved in policy and implementation of techniques. There is ample discussion of corporate security and involvement with the government and how this plays into the overall threat situation of which the average citizen mostly oblivious.

While I found this book to be quite interesting, and there are discussions of several individuals in the book (including Snowden and his effect on policy), the focus is very squarely on the use of our cyber forces in the recent past as well as the ongoing incursions and threats coming primarily from China and Russia. There is little detail regarding operations in the last 10 years, for understandable reasons, as this is a topic that is being held tightly under wraps for the most part by the government.

I have a very libertarian political view and I felt the author did a good job of keeping the political tone of the book extremely neutral, which is a rarity these days, especially considering he was pretty in depth with political appointees in both the Bush and Obama administrations. Kudos for that!

The book mostly whet my appetite for more information. It was a little surprising to read all that has been going on (essentially a cyber war between the U.S. and China and all major U.S. & multi-national corporations). Of course the only way this hits the news is when the media’s candidate gets hacked, revealing many unscrupulous deeds. Why they haven’t picked up on the depth and breadth of hacking and started calling more attention to this in general isn’t all that hard to figure out, but it’s still disappointing.

Take home: However safe and secure you feel like your online presence is, you’re most likely much less secure than you think. Also, you can be certain that the U.S. government is recording essentially everything we all do online. Yes, everything. This makes me want to look a lot harder at encryption strategies for my home network and personal computing systems. You’ll definitely want to pick this up if the topic intrigues you. But avoid it if you’re already overwhelmed with all the “threats” that are out there and would remain in a blissful state of ignorance. Either way, take your passwords and PC security more seriously!

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