"Cyber Mercenaries: The State, Hackers, and Power" by Tim Maurer is a...
Ever hear of STUXNET? If you haven’t, you should read up on it—this ultra-high-tech computer worm is one of the most sophisticated cyber weapons ever discovered. It’s theorized that it was designed by the U.S. government in conjunction with Israel to target and digitally sabotage the Iranian nuclear program. The code was delivered to a single computer via an infected USB flash drive, and then proliferated itself across the network, accomplishing its mission in secrecy. It was even programmed to erase itself to avoid detection.
This may all sound like some exaggerated Hollywood sci-fi film, but sometimes truth is even stranger than fiction. We’re barely scratching the surface of this new form of warfare—cyber warfare—and there remains enormous potential for destruction. If government agents were able to infiltrate secure computer systems in Iranian uranium enrichment facilities using STUXNET, it’s entirely possible for a terrorist group to do the same, and potentially trigger a world war.
If you’re interested in learning more about STUXNET and cyber warfare, check out “Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon”. It’s a new book by cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter, and shows how, in her words, “a digital attack can have the same destructive capability as a megaton bomb”. If you’re on the fence, check out Foxtrot Alpha’s review of the book here.
An excerpt from the review:
“We are not talking about a new battlefield, but almost a whole new dimension of combat when it comes to cyber warfare. It is such a fast developing, dangerous, accessible and exotic form of warfare that we need people capable of totally thinking outside of traditional military contexts in order to defend against it and/or have offensive supremacy within its realm… Like nuclear weapons, we are naive or even in denial of just how big of a game-changer cyber warfare is, and a cyber arms race is already fully underway.”