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Book Review: Cyber Warfare 24

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
raceBannon writes "The authors, Steve Winterfield and Jason Andress, cover everything you will want to consider when thinking about how to use cyberspace to conduct warfare operations. The primary concepts have been bouncing around US military circles for over a decade but they have never been collected into one tome before. Clarke and Knake's book, Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do about It, discusses how weak the US network defenses are and offers suggestions about how to improve. Carr's book, Inside CyberWarfare: Mapping the Cyber Underworld, presents threat examples and nation state capabilities. Libicki's book, Cyberdeterrence and Cyberwar, attacks cyberwar from a policy viewpoint and does not really address operational considerations. Stiennon's book, Surviving Cyberwar, is a good place to start if you are new to the subject and is almost a prerequisite for this book." Read on for the rest of raceBannon's review.
Cyber Warfare: Techniques, Tactics and Tools for Security Practitioners
author Jason Andress and Steve Winterfield
pages 289
publisher Syngress
rating 10
reviewer raceBannon
ISBN 1597496375
summary A consolidation of the current thinking around the topic of cyber warfare.
Although the content has been around for a while, it is striking how little the main concepts have changed. In a world where new innovations completely alter the popular culture every eighteen months, the idea that Cyber Warfare's operational principals remain static year after year is counter-intuitive. After reading through the various issues within though, you begin to understand the glacial pace. These difficult concepts spawn intractable problems and the authors do a good job of explaining them.

I do have a slight issue with the subtitle though: "Techniques, Tactics and Tools for the Security Practitioners." The way I read this book, the general purpose (GP) Security Practitioner will not find this book very useful except as background information. Aside from the chapters on Logical Weapons, Social Networking and Computer Network Defense, most of the material has to do with how a nation state, mostly the US, prepares to fight in cyber space. There is overlap for the GP security practitioner, but this material is covered in more detail in other books.

The book is illustrated. Some of the graphics are right out of military manuals and have that PowerPoint Ranger look about them. Some are screenshots of the various tools presented. Others are pictures of different equipment. One graphic stood out for me in the Cyberspace Challenges chapter (14). The graphic in question is a neat Venn Diagram that encapsulates all of the Cyber Warfare issues mentioned in the book, categorizes the complexity of each issue and shows where they overlap in terms of Policy, Processes, Organization, Tech, People and Skills. My only ding on the diagram is that in the same chapter, the authors discuss how much each issue might cost to overcome. It would have been very easy to represent that information on the Venn diagram and make it more complete.

One last observation about the graphics that I really liked is the author's use of "Tip" and "Note" boxes throughout the book. Scattered throughout the chapters are grayed-out text boxes that talk about some technology or procedure that is related to the chapter information but not directly. For example, in the Social Engineering chapter (7), the authors placed a "Note" describing the various Phishing forms. You do not need the information to understand the chapter but having it nearby provides the reader with a nice example to solidify the main arguments. The book is full of these examples.

The first three chapters are my favorites. Winterfield and Andress do agood job of wrapping their heads around such entangled concepts as the definition of cyber warfare, the look of a cyber battle space and an international view of current doctrine It is fascinating.

In the middle of the book, the authors take on the task of describing the Computer Network Operations (CNO) Spectrum; a spectrum that ranges from the very passive form of Computer Network Defense (CND) through the more active forms of Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) and Computer Network Attack (CNA). It is indeed a spectrum too because the delineation between where CND, CNE and CNA start and stop is not always clean and precise. There is overlap. And somewhere along that same spectrum is where law enforcement organizations and counter-intelligence groups operate. You can get lost fairly quickly without a guide and the authors provide that function admirably. The only thing missing from these chapters is a nice diagram that encapsulates the concept.

Along the way the reader gets a nice primer on the legal issues surrounding Cyber Warfare, the ethics that apply, what it takes to be a cyber warrior and a small glimpse over the horizon about what the future of Cyber Warfare might bring. In the end, Winterfield and Andress get high marksfor encapsulating this complex material into an easy-to-understand manual; a foundational document that most military cyber warriors should have at their fingertips and a book that should reside on the shelf of anybody interested in the topic.

Full Disclosure: One of the authors, Steve Winterfield, used to work for me when he and I were both in the US Army wrestling with all of these ideas right after 9/11. I ran the Army Computer Emergency Response Team (ACERT) and Steve ran the Army's Southern Regional CERT (RCERT South). He and I have been friends ever since and he even quoted me in one of the back chapters.

You can purchase Cyber Warfare: Techniques, Tactics and Tools for Security Practitioners from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Book Review: Cyber Warfare

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