benrothke writes Cyberwarfare is a controversial topic. At the 2014 Infosec World Conference, Marcus Ranum gave a talk on Cyberwar: Putting Civilian Infrastructure on the Front Lines, Again. Whether it was the topic or just Marcus being Marcus, about a third of the participants left within the first 15 minutes. They should have stayed, as Ranum, agree with him or not, provided some riveting insights on the topic. In Introduction to Cyber-Warfare: A Multidisciplinary Approach, authors Paulo Shakarian, Jana Shakarian and Andrew Ruef provide an excellent overview of the topic. The book takes a holistic, or as they call it multidisciplinary, approach. It looks at the information security aspect of cyberwarfare, as well the military, sociological and other aspects. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.The book is divided into 3 parts and 13 densely packed and extremely well-researched and footnoted chapters. The book provides numerous case studies of the largest cyberwarfare events to date. Issues around China and their use of cyberwarfare constitute a part of the book. Chapter 7 details the Chinese cyber strategy and shows how the Chinese cyber doctrine and mindset is radically different from that of those in the west.
|Introduction to Cyber-Warfare: A Multidisciplinary Approach|
|author||Paulo Shakarian, Jana Shakarian and Andrew Ruef|
|summary||Outstanding overview and guide to cyberwarfare|
The book compares the board games of chess (a Western game) and Go (a Chinese game) and how the outcomes and strategies of the games are manifest in each doctrine.
The chapter also shows how the Chinese government outlawed hacking, while at the same time the military identified the best and most talented hackers in China, and integrated them into Chinese security firms, consulting organizations, academia and the military.
One of the more fascinating case studies details the cyber war against the corporate world from China. The book provides a number of examples and details the methodologies they used, in addition to providing evidence of how the Chinese were involved.
For an adversary, one of the means of getting information is via social networks. This is often used in parallel by those launching some sort of cyberwarfare attack. LinkedIn is one of the favorite tools for such an effort. The authors write of the dangers of transitive trust; where user A trusts user B, and user B trusts user C. Via a transitive trust, user A will then trust user C based simply on the fact that user B does. This was most manifest in the Robin Sage exercise. This was where Thomas Ryan created a fictitious information security professional names Robin Sage. He used her fake identity and profile to make friends with others in the information security world, both commercial, federal and military and he was able to fool even seasoned security professionals. Joan Goodchild wrote a good overview of the experiment here.
In chapter 10, the book details how Iraqi insurgents viewed Predator drones video feeds. Woody Allen said that eighty percent of success is just showing up. In this case, all the insurgents had to do was download the feed, as it was being transmitted unencrypted. Very little cyberwarfare required.
When the drone was being designed, the designers used security by obscurity in their decision not to encrypt the video feed. They felt that since the Predator video feeds were being transmitted on frequencies that were not publicly known, no access control, encryption or other security mechanisms would be needed.
The downside is that once the precise frequency was determined by the insurgency, in the case of the Predator drone, the Ku-band, the use of the SkyGrabber satellite internet downloader made it possible for them to effortless view the video feeds.
The only negative about the book is a minor one. It has over 100 pictures and illustrations. Each one states: for the color version of this figure, the reader is referred to the online version of the book. Having that after every picture is a bit annoying. Also, the book never says where you can find the online version.
How good is this book? The reality is that this book should indeed be read by everyone in Washington, as they are making decisions on the topic, without truly understanding it.
For most readers, this will be the book that tells them everyone they need to know that their congressman should know. Most people will never be involved with any sort of warfare, and most corporate information security professional will not get involved with cyberwarfare. Nonetheless, Introduction to Cyber-Warfare: A Multidisciplinary Approach is a fascinating read about a most important subject.
Reviewed by Ben Rothke
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