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The Hacker and the State

Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics

Ben Buchanan



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Harvard Uni.Press Academi
15 March 2020

One of the finest books on information security published so far in this century?easily accessible, tightly argued, superbly well-sourced, intimidatingly perceptive.? ?

Thomas Rid, author of Active Measures ?

The best examination I have read of how increasingly dramatic developments in cyberspace are defining the ???new normal' of geopolitics in the digital age. Buchanan?captures the dynamics of all of this truly brilliantly.? ?

General David Petraeus, former Director of the CIA and Commander of Coalition Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan Few national-security threats are as potent?or as nebulous?as cyber attacks. Ben Buchanan reveals how hackers are transforming spycraft and statecraft, catching us all in the crossfire, whether we know it or not.

Ever since WarGames, we have been bracing for the cyberwar to come, conjuring images of exploding power plants and mass panic. But while cyber attacks are now disturbingly common, they don't look anything like we thought they would.

Packed with insider information based on interviews, declassified files, and forensic analysis of company reports, The Hacker and the State sets aside fantasies of cyber-annihilation to explore the real geopolitical competition of the digital age. Tracing the conflict of wills and interests among modern nations, Ben Buchanan reveals little-known details of how China, Russia, North Korea, Britain, and the United States hack one another in a relentless struggle for dominance. His analysis moves deftly from underseas cable taps to underground nuclear sabotage, from blackouts and data breaches to billion-dollar heists and election interference.

Buchanan brings to life this continuous cycle of espionage and deception, attack and counterattack, destabilization and retaliation. He explains why cyber attacks are far less destructive than we anticipated, far more pervasive, and much harder to prevent. With little fanfare and far less scrutiny, they impact our banks, our tech and health systems, our democracy, and every aspect of our lives. Quietly, insidiously, they have reshaped our national-security priorities and transformed spycraft and statecraft. The contest for geopolitical advantage has moved into cyberspace. The United States and its allies can no longer dominate the way they once did. The nation that hacks best will triumph.
By:   Ben Buchanan
Imprint:   Harvard Uni.Press Academi
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 210mm,  Width: 140mm, 
ISBN:   9780674987555
ISBN 10:   0674987551
Pages:   384
Publication Date:   15 March 2020
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Ben Buchanan teaches at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and is a former fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He is the author of The Cybersecurity Dilemma and a regular contributor to the websites Lawfare and War on the Rocks.

Reviews for The Hacker and the State: Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics

Buchanan is well-placed to detail the history and evolution of this new and oft- misunderstood form of warfare...This book argues that states must learn to read the signaling implied by a cyber-attack, in the same way that they would a military exercise along their border. -- Lewis Tallon * Encyclopedia Geopolitica * Provides a reliable summary and deep analysis of a novel force bound to shape world affairs. -- Walter Clemens * New York Journal of Books * A great read, packed with insider information and great stories. But the book also makes an important argument about how cyberattacks are transforming the geopolitical playing field, changing our defense priorities and forcing us to rewrite our national security policies. -- Bruce Schneier, author of <i>Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World</i> Highly intelligent, important, and timely. Buchanan's chronology of cases, from early espionage to devastating operations like NotPetya, makes for a great read. -- Joseph Nye, author of <i>Do Morals Matter?</i> The Hacker and the State fundamentally changes the way we think about cyber operations from 'war' to something of significant import that is not war-what Buchanan refers to as 'real geopolitical competition.' He writes in a highly accessible manner, with in-depth stories that will engage the non-specialist. -- Richard Harknett, former Scholar-in-Residence at United States Cyber Command More than any other book, The Hacker and the State shows how and why governments hack one another. Having lived and worked in this shadowy world for many years, I came to appreciate its fascinating nuances, fierce competition, and strategic significance. If you read this book, you will, too. Buchanan shares digital spy stories and distills geopolitical insights that you just won't find anywhere else. Remarkably, he has made his detailed insight accessible to a non-technical audience without any loss of fidelity in the underlying narrative. -- Former senior intelligence officer, UK government A substantial and measured history of cyberattacks in recent decades...Despite the growing ubiquity of cyberattacks, Buchanan also highlights their limits as a means of coercion or as a way of sending a message. -- Lawrence D. Freedman * Foreign Affairs * If you believe that cyber attacks are now critical to understand today's International Relations, stop doing everything you are doing and start reading Ben Buchanan's new book...Makes clear how we need to pay attention to the distinctiveness of cyber attacks and the strategic logics behind them...An incredibly informed examination of the cyber attacks that have taken place in recent decades. -- Antonio Calcara * E-International Relations * Demonstrates how this field has evolved from espionage operations and a field dominated by the United States to cyber-attacks that have broader implications for economies and societies...An excellent primer for understanding how cyber operations have become an indelible part of global relations and ably demonstrates how hacking has 'earned its place in the playbook of statecraft.' -- Angus Parker * Geographical * With an academic's eye, Buchanan compares and contrasts the emerging tactics [of digital competition] with the traditional ways of military conflict, nuclear competition, and espionage to make some sense of the new age. The book dissects how governments use cyberattacks to fundamentally 'change the state of play.' -- Patrick Howell O'Neill * MIT Technology Review * This is a gripping book about today's cyber threat landscape. Through riveting stories of move and counter-move among global adversaries, Buchanan explains why we are in a constant state of cyber conflict-where the stakes couldn't be higher. From China's attacks on our companies to Russia's attacks on our elections, The Hacker and the State is indispensable reading for anyone who cares about our security, our prosperity, and our democracy. -- Lisa Monaco, former White House Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor and Deputy National Security Advisor The Hacker and the State is one of the finest books on information security published so far in this century-easily accessible, tightly argued, superbly well-sourced, intimidatingly perceptive. -- Thomas Rid, author of <i>Active Measures</i> A helpful reminder...of the sheer diligence and seriousness of purpose exhibited by the Russians in their mission...Information warfare is designed to bamboozle, but its digital variant can be especially baffling to the nonspecialist. -- Jonathan Freedland * New York Review of Books * This is a great book and the best examination I have read of how increasingly dramatic developments in cyberspace are defining the 'new normal' of geopolitics in the digital age. No book I've read does a better job of describing what has transpired in recent years as state and non-state actors have developed ever more diabolically powerful and clever cyber capabilities. Ben Buchanan makes it clear that the future lies not just in Asia, but also in cyberspace, and he captures the dynamics of all of this truly brilliantly. -- General David Petraeus, former Director of the CIA and Commander of Coalition Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan This is a must-read book. Factual and perceptive, it reveals important truths about cyberthreats and the role they play in international relations. -- Vint Cerf, Internet pioneer

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