Saturday, January 20, 2018

Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War By: Fred Kaplan

This book was recommended by a fellow member of an InfoSec group I am a member of.  The book is a great historical account of the NSA and many offshoot divisions that came before and after. The book does have a few inconsistencies which I will list here:

1. Packet Sniffer - In chapter 1, he talks about a packet sniffer that is used to find directories and files.  This however is not the case necessarily.  Can it identify calls to directories and see files in motion, yes, but not in the context, he was writing IMHO.

2. He also mentions hacking into thousands of computers when speaking of a DoS attack.  Maybe if he was talking about a DDoS where they hacked into 1000s of computer to install LOIC or something, but again, not in the context he was using it. 

Dark Territory delves into the infancy of the Cyber Security world as we know it today and puts it square on the shoulders of former President Ronald Reagan.  Reagan had watched a screening of War Games staring Matthew Broderick.  In the film, a young computer whiz kid accidentally connects into a top secret super-computer which has complete control over the U.S. nuclear arsenal. It challenges him to a game between America and Russia, and he innocently starts the countdown to World War 3.
Reagan assembled his people and asked if this movie was plausible.  They gave him a definitive "YES".  This started the era of Cyber Security that we still find ourselves in.

The book covers the history of many of the tools and technologies we still use today such as red teaming, IDS, IPS, APT etc.  The book does gloss over a lot of technologies and issues that have occurred, but the overall the book covers the subject well and is worth the read.

From a political perspective, he Kaplan does not blame one side or the other in the US' lack of awareness and protection. It is interesting to read about the era before we were all aware of vulnerabilities and insecure practices.  I kept asking myself "What the hell were we thinking?"

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1476763259
ISBN-13: 978-1476763255

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla. Biography of a Genius By: Marc J. Seifer

Tesla was an amazing inventor.  Anyone who has followed him knows that he was an incredible inventor and although he applied for patents of his inventions, he lacked the business acumen to hold those responsible for infringing on his patents accountable.

This book rife with details about Tesla's life. Communications to and from Tesla are carefully quoted in this book; sometimes ad nauseam.  The author makes some assumptions regarding Tesla's mental state.  Say what you will about Tesla, but he is directly responsible for many of the marvels in science that paved the way for what we enjoy today:

Alternating Current (AC) - He competed with Thomas Edison that eventually took AC from Tesla.


Radio - Although Marconi was initially credited, and to some degree, still today with inventing the radio, it was Tesla that invented it and the decision was later upheld in a court of law.

Electric Motor - And yes, Elon Musk's company is name after Tesla and the electric motor.

“I don't care that they stole my idea . . I care that they don't have any of their own”
― Nikola Tesla

“Of all things, I liked books best.”
― Nikola Tesla

Paperback: 576 pages
Publisher: Citadel; Reprint edition (August 30, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0806539968
ISBN-13: 978-0806539966

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS By: Joby Warrick

I read this book on the recommendation of Bill Gates.  No, I do not know him personally but he did a review of the books he read in 2016.  I decided to give it a try.  I try to stay away from terrorist books, however this book sounded interesting.  The book is about 90% about Zarqawi while the other 10% is about ISIS proper.  I learned quite a bit about ISIS, Zarqawi, Bin Laden and how the torching of Muath al-Kaseasbeh; the Jordanian pilot resonated in a negative way among other Muslims.

The book is not partisan in nature which is good because in my opinion, ISIS is what they are today, literally because of the US during either political parties in the US.  Sadly, we have been unable to quell the situation in the Middle East.  My party does not win yet it is the party I believe can actually stop this situation (IMHO of course).

The book is well written, engaging and difficult to put down.  You will come away with a good understanding of what took place in the Middle East to lead us to where we are today.  It reminds me of what Jefferson (TJ) said, "But, as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go." - Jefferson to John Holmes, April 22, 1820

Joby Warrick (The Author)



Corpses of Zarqawi 

Jordanian Pilot - Muath al-Kaseasbeh being murdered 

Nick Berg beheading

The video of Nick Berg was probably the most disturbing thing I had ever witnessed theretofore.  It was definitely the end of incense for us in the US.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (September 29, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385538227
ISBN-13: 978-0385538220
ASIN: 0385538219