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Behold a Pale Farce: Cyberwar, Threat Inflation, & the Malware Industrial Complex [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Bill Blunden , Violet Cheung

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17. April 2014

This book presents a data-driven message that exposes the cyberwar media campaign being directed by the Pentagon and its patronage networks. By demonstrating that the American public is being coerced by a threat that has been blown out of proportion—much like the run-up to the Gulf War or the global war on terror—this book discusses how the notion of cyberwar instills a crisis mentality that discourages formal risk assessment, making the public anxious and hence susceptible to ill-conceived solutions. With content that challenges conventional notions regarding cyber security, Behold a Pale Farce covers topics—including cybercrime; modern espionage; mass-surveillance systems; and the threats facing infrastructure targets such as the Federal Reserve, the stock exchange, and telecommunications—in a way that provides objective analysis rather than advocacy. This book is a must-read for anyone concerned with the recent emergence of Orwellian tools of mass interception that have developed under the guise of national security.


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"Bill Blunden and Violet Cheung have produced something of a first on the subject, a comprehensive book on it that isn't like all previous works on the matter. The genre of cyberwar books can be explained in less than half a dozen words [...] Blunden and Cheung's is the one to read. Unlike the rest of our so-called 'books' on cyberwar (take this best-selling example), Behold a Pale Farce [...], won't badly date if another Edward Snowden comes along. It is a true chronicle, a slice, of our technological history." —George Smith, Sitrep,"

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Bill Blunden is an independent investigator whose current areas of inquiry include information security, antiforensics, and institutional analysis. He is the author of several books, including Offshoring IT: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and The Rootkit Arsenal. Violet Cheung is a professor of psychology at the University of San Francisco. Her research addresses self-control, aggression, and war. They both live in San Francisco.

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Buchdeckel | Copyright | Inhaltsverzeichnis | Auszug | Stichwortverzeichnis
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.2 von 5 Sternen  4 Rezensionen
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Fear, Money, Power, and Information Security 21. Mai 2014
Von W. Banker - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Bill Blunden and Violet Cheung have written a timely and important book documenting (extensively footnoted throughout) the convergence of interests surrounding the notion of "cybergeddon" or as former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta put it, a possible "Cyber Pearl Harbor". Like the military industrial complex that Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of over 50 years ago, the Information Era has brought forth it's own actors who have a political and economic incentive towards threat inflation. Bill calls this the "malware industrial complex".

Cyberwarfare is a term which we have been repeatedly exposed to in the MSM, if not bludgeoned with, over the past six years. Both from politicians, and various actors who have an economic or political incentive to participate actively in "threat inflation". The net effect of these voices has been to foment a crisis mentality, and as Bill aptly documents and describes, to drive spending and budgets beyond the bounds of what otherwise could be achieved through rational fact based public discourse. As anyone within the Information Security industry will tell you, an attack vector normally has to have an actor(s) with a motive constituting a threat, a vulnerability or in this context a whole series of vulnerabilities within a set of systems, a number of exploits to take advantage of the aforementioned vulnerabilities, then impacts or outcomes that happen from exercising the exploits, and finally and most importantly meaningful consequences. This last point cannot be overstated. We hear all the time about thousands of attacks being launched against this or that, but they amount to little more than stones thrown against a massive iron gate...they are nuisances and nothing more.

When it comes to critical infrastructure you can trot out a whole list of vulnerabilities that have been documented within various ICS/SCADA components. Theoretically this represents potential exploits. But it is a lot harder to turn a potential exploit into a meaningful consequence than the number of documented vulnerabilities suggests. And this explains in large part (leaving aside actor motives for the moment) why there is nearly a complete absence of publicized attacks which have had meaningful consequences (other than being a nuisance to information security officials responsible for protecting said infrastructure). Bill points just this fact out, again and again. The hype over the threat has not translated into consequences that we can see and measure. And even some previously listed "cyber attacks" have been found to be not be cyber attacks at all, but failures of equipment due to environmental or operating conditions unrelated to information security breaches.

So in the absence of documented events constituting validation of all the fear and threat inflation we have had over the past six years what is one to make of it? Bill points out that we have seen this show before. We have seen various actors, both private and governmental inflate the threat in order to drive spending or public policy in excess of what could be critically justified if one adhered to a proper risk analysis framework which measured the actual threats and vulnerabilities against various outcomes. Threat inflation within information security and the economic incentives to engage in it, goes back at least to the dreaded Y2K bug where we were told that planes would drop from the sky as soon as computer clocks rolled over to the year 2000. The media sells fear, and various actors line up to provide the cure.

Bill does not say that there are no real threats. He goes on to point out that there are plenty of economic and espionage threats within cyberspace; they are real, growing, and cause significant (documented with $$) consequences. What he does do is separate the actual as well as reasonably probable threats from the hype of cyber doom.

If you are interested in the merging of economics, politics, propaganda, and information security you will find this book valuable if for no other reason than the extensive citations which will allow you to walk back the author's arguments as to why we are here, how we got here, and as the old latin phrase denotes "cui bono?"...or "who benefits?" from this existing state of affairs.

Well written, accessible, and fact filled.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Amazing 3. Juni 2014
Von Brian Cunningham - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
Heard the author speak on this book on the radio and was very impressed. Very grounded and scholarly presentation, and the facts are disturbing. THe US has been gutted by corporations and is in a bleak situation. Cybergeddon is one of many measures this new war has been waged.
4.0 von 5 Sternen this book provides a good view on the current situation and coming trends 5. Juli 2014
Von Vitaly Nagornykh - Veröffentlicht auf
While it will have nothing really new for people who follow security/cryptography newsletters, this book provides a good view on the current situation and coming trends, even moreso for non-US citizen.

I`ll dock one point for quite frequent typos and weirdly constructed sentences. Oh, and having references listed right after the chapter they`re in might feel like a good idea for an academic paper, but not paperbook. Especially if said references are http links.
1 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Replaces one propaganda with another 6. Juli 2014
Von scribble - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
The preface starts strong, outlining the history of propaganda and seems to foreshadow what you hope will follow in the meat of the book. I wanted the book to be about the techniques used by the infosec industry to advocate their FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt). Instead, the preface concludes with referring to Snowden as a hero, and that is the real foreshadowing for the book. The book is strongly left-wing, and focuses on trying to advocate that the NSA is naughty. I've called out the book as left-wing, specifically because it tries to use the term "right-wing" as a derogatory term.

If you can get past it's unfortunate political bent, it does do a good job of retelling the history of cyber events. At a technical level, Blunden knows his stuff. The book does an excellent job of citing where it's information comes from, as each chapter concludes with pages of references. The book does accomplish the goal of exposing how we are not in a "cyberwar", and we have not had any cyber events that were on scale with any sort of natural disasters or other crime.

Conclusion: You'll get a good technical cyber history lesson (or refresher) from this book, but unfortunately it's too strongly biased.
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