My Latest Book Review – Number 20

20)  The Fifth Domain – Richard Clarke and Robert Knake

The focus of this book is security in cyberspace. The title of the book itself is the term the Pentagon uses to describe war in cyberspace. Of course the other four domains are land, sea, air, and space.

The authors discuss in detail the potential for nation-states or criminals to destroy or severely alter the very foundation of our 21st century civilization through cyber attacks. They describe several cases where attacks have already been carried out to disrupt civil society, steal intellectual property, and/or hold corporate data hostage for ransom. They also say that Russia and China currently have the capability to shut down much of our power grid, oil and gas pipelines, and water systems if they choose.

The authors make it clear that we know how to defend from such attacks but are not taking the threat seriously enough. They also make the case that the responsibility for security lies mostly with the private sector and not with the federal government; the government’s role should be to prosecute criminals and act against nation-states for abuses when they do occur. The authors say that the intrusion into business operations and individual privacy that the government would need to successfully prevent cyber attacks would be totally unacceptable to Americans.

Though written by different authors with different professional experience and focus, Fifth Domain in many ways is a companion volume to The Shadow War by Jim Schiotto which I wrote about earlier. Both deal with the potential for adversaries to wreak havoc in our whole society including our ability to defend ourselves against determined attack from nation-state actors or well organized criminal cartels.

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