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

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