Digital War

Reports from the frontlines of a new kind of battle.

Worm: The First Digital World War

By Mark Bowden

The Conficker computer “worm” has infected at least 12 million computers in some 200 countries, heralding a new frontier in hostile engagement. Having already captured the havoc of a very different kind of combat in his bestseller Black Hawk Down, Bowden here chronicles the release of this diabolically complex bundle of malware in late 2008, the influence its replication continues to have on the online world, and the failed attempts of baffled experts to eradicate it. You’ll gaze upon your antivirus software with newfound appreciation.

America the Vulnerable

By Joel Brenner

No data file is safe! At least according to Joel Brenner, who ought to know, having spent years working for the National Security Agency at an executive level. While there, he saw firsthand how America’s foes are attacking the country digitally. Now he’s spilling the beans on past incidents that have occurred (China’s theft of a radar system cost the navy billions of dollars), as well as prescribing methods that the U.S. government and ordinary citizens can employ for protection. One thing that’s clear — the fiber-optic networks that crisscross the globe will be the avenues for a new century of espionage.

Digital War: A View from the Front Line

Edited by Robert L. Bateman

Much like the rest of us, the U.S. armed forces have learned about the downside of digital interconnectivity through painful experience. Offering extensive interviews with some of America’s best military minds, Bateman shows how the growing technological dependency of our troops is helping and hindering efforts on the battlefield. From simulation software that takes training to the extreme to smart armor that monitors battlefield conditions and troop vital signs, the soldier of tomorrow is plugged in, powered up — and newly vulnerable in unexpected ways.


By Neal Stephenson

Codes and code-breakers dominate Stephenson’s intricate and mesmerizing dual narratives of a man who is helping the U.S. protect its secrets from Germany in World War II and his grandson, who is building a “data haven” in Southeast Asia that will protect encrypted information from any country. Both must thwart their opponents’ best efforts to penetrate the firewalls and cyphers that guard their secrets. Turning from science fiction to a thriller of the contemporary world,  Stephenson brings his intoxication with ideas to life and makes a convincing case for the emerging power of the digital gatekeeper.

Ghost in the Wires

By Kevin Mitnick

For Kevin Mitnick, hacking wasn’t about material gain. Rather he lived for the thrill of the caper itself, infiltrating the data centers of companies including Nokia, Motorola, and Sun Microsystems. This memoir recounts (and explains, for those of us who don’t spend our days programming) his most daring feats, as well as a life lived on the lam.  Mitnick remained one step ahead of the Feds — until excessive bragging brought about his downfall. All the pleasures of a great con man’s story are on display here, but with a high-tech twist that presages the cat-and-mouse games of countless computer crimes to come.