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Behold a Pale Farce: Cyberwar, Threat Inflation, & the Malware Industrial Complex (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 17. April 2014


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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, globalsecurity.org"

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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6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Fear, Money, Power, and Information Security 21. Mai 2014
Von W. Banker - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
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.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Amazing 3. Juni 2014
Von Brian Cunningham - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
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.
6 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Replaces one propaganda with another 6. Juli 2014
Von scribble - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
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.
Heavily biased, broken logic for conclusions. A thesis that fails to find support, and uses contradictory sources. 15. Januar 2015
Von Danny Boy - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
The author, Bill Blunden, seems to love hyperbole; both in describing the opposition, and in his own descriptions.

The book in a nutshell begins with claims of an imaginary threat; a boogeyman created by an oppressive US government to keep the population paralyzed in fear. As 'evidence' the author cherry picks short sentences that involve "Cyber Armageddon" and a "Cyber Pearl Harbor" that are being claimed by the evil US government...then offers real life examples of hacking that did hundreds of millions in damages, but that seems to not be of relevance.

The overall logic is that yes, bank robberies happen, yes many are stopped by security forces, but we shouldn't worry about security in the cyber field. This attitude is prevalent in spite of showing real world events (highly complex cyber attacks written in the Chinese language that have source code only found in select Chinese software systems are "circumstantial evidence" that prove nothing for example), and more interestingly the author believes it's impossible to cause significant damage...it's interesting that with the vast amounts of research performed, he didn't bring up the CIA sabotaging a Russian oil pipeline with firmware in the 1980s, or Israel taking the entire Syrian air defense system off line a few years back.

Bill Blunden likes to downplay the potential for damage by ignoring events like these, and focusing on smaller events and even then belittling hundreds of millions of damages as not being relevant...and randomly launches into distractions about how the real enemy is corporations, banks, US military contractors, and the US government itself. The fact that the US is the dominant player in the IT field today is used as justification to ignore all others...it's like claiming "there's no chance of war because the US has more nukes than Russia" as using that as his logical justification for his conclusions.

On the technical side, as other reviewers here have mentioned, the book clearly was not edited and it's hard to believe it's been submitted to multiple publishers..."wed" instead of "we'd"..."feett" instead of "feet," putting words in the mouths of his cited sources (Obama mentioning Chinese hacking potential = "exclusively Chinese" though that was never said in the quote, citing statistics of 80% then the very next line saying "See? 90%!"), irregular use of acronyms (LANS, then RATs.. Why capitalize one S for plural and lower case for the next usage?). These are all small things on their own, but rapidly add up to a massive lack of attention to detail, which would make the reader question the author's abilities.

As for the positives, the author did do a lot of research and cited MANY sources, and is a worthwhile read simply to get a decent (if incomplete) history of cyber warfare and historical incidents. If the blatant bias of "Giant evil US corporate government controlling the world and is the US is the only bad country in the intelligence/espionage world" can be filtered out, there is some useful info to be found in the book.

However, the grandiose claims made by the summary are hardly supported, and often the very information cited contradicts the author's stated opinion, as though he is at war with himself.

Then again, as an "independent investigator whose current areas of inquiry touch on information security, anti-forensics, and institutional analysis" the author is self-admittedly not exactly an expert in this field, it seems to be more of a hobby or conspiracy theory that occupies his time, and the book was hastily written merely to fund that.
Good content but needs a better editor. 4. Oktober 2014
Von Trust No One - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
First the problems:

-bias does show through
-poor proofreading and editing (hard to believe this was at multiple publishers)
-low quality printing, especially given the relatively high price for a paperback.

Second the good points:

- documented by extensive footnotes at end of each section.
- dry but not pain(t)fully so
- demonstrates clearly the problems with attribution
- demonstrates clearly that there are many players (including US govt) in this game
- explains many of the recently used techniques related to malware insertion/usage

On the whole, a whorthwhile read. Eventhough the author's bias shows through on a number of occasions, their points are backed up with facts unlike other books which also have a clear bias. Given the less than great production value, recommend picking up a used copy.
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