A Notable Book on the Geopolitical Implications of Cyberwarfare
"The Hacked World Order: How Nations Fight, Trade, Maneuver And Manipulate In The Digital Age" may become as important as Bruce Sterling's "The Hacker Crackdown" in chronicling the history of online hacking. It may be more important in the sense that this is the first major book I have seen that looks critically at the geopolitical implications of organized online hacking by intelligence agencies, military - and paramilitary - organizations and terrorists. In plain English, it explores the usage of online hacking as a means of waging war via nonlethal means, but ultimately, resulting in creating ample mayhem and mischief on a scale approaching traditional, quite lethal, warfare. It does not delve deeply into the creation of online digital weapons like the notorious Stuxnet virus, the subject of journalist Kim Zetter's exceptional "Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon". Instead, it describes, in gripping detail, how Iran responded to the online threats posed by Stuxnet and similar viruses, by using reserve engineering of relevant software, and quickly becoming, in its own right, a major regional cyberpower, capable of crippling the online infrastructure of its Middle Eastern neighbors. While Segal shows that there's been reluctance between the United States and Russia to engage in substantial online cyberwarfare, he does not the increasing importance and interest expressed by the Chinese, as well as the rogue states he believes have become important cyberpowers in their own right; Iran and North Korea. Such reluctance, however, hasn't deterred the United States and Russia from including cyberweaponry as increasingly important aspects of their military arsenal, and Segal does discuss at great length, American efforts in deterring cyberattacks as well as furthering their importance in the cyberweaponry arms race. With regards to Russia, he shows how cyberwarfare played important roles in its 2008 invasion of part of the Republic of Georgia and in the ongoing conflict between Kremlin-backed rebels in Eastern Ukraine with Ukrainian military forces. He also cites important recent events that may be milestones in the history of cyberwarfare, like the Twitter war in Gaza between the Israeli Defense Force and the Hamas "government" of the Gaza Strip, seeking to win the hearts of minds of people across the globe via social media. On a far more sobering note, Segal concludes, by noting the decline of the "Digital Pax Americana" since the "Year Zero" (2012), pointing to the rise of cyberpowers like those cited earlier that seek to use cyberwarfare to further their military, economic and geopolitical objectives. "The Hacked World Order" may be the most important book on contemporary foreign relations published this year, and one worthy of an exceptionally broad audience, from politicians to those in the public vaguely aware of cyberwarfare.