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A former National Counterintelligence Executive for the NSA writes that the United States is right now being infiltrated by online spies, thieves and virtual warriors.
While that may sound dire—and it is—Brenner's tone throughout is less alarming than resolute. His main point is that leaders in both the private and public sectors, who have known about these threats for years, need to finally get serious about defending the nation's secrets, wealth and electronic infrastructure. The author's background as a former anti-trust prosecutor is on impressive display as he mounts his case with meticulous attention to detail. He begins with the fact that private information is now open for inspection, but waning of personal privacy is only a hint of the insecurity the digital age has brought about. Malware from infected e-mail attachments, websites, thumb drives or even silicon chips can commandeer our computers for nefarious purposes an ocean away while we sleep. They can also open portals into corporate or government systems, allowing foreign agents to swipe their secrets or potentially take control of anything they operate over the Internet, including regional electricity grids and other essential infrastructure. Brenner notes that China has, since the early 1980s, been preparing for a new kind of warfare, aimed specifically at the U.S., that can be waged entirely via electronic signals. In one provocative chapter titled "June 2017," the author plausibly outlines the events of a hypothetical "war" between the U.S. and China for control of the Asian Pacific, culminating in a private demonstration to the president and his national-security team of China's ability to shut down the nation's electrical grid at will. "With the exception of successful attacks on our electricity grid," writes the author, "virtually every aspect of this fictional scenario has already happened."The final chapter offers multiple steps we can take to radically improve national cyber-security.
A sobering, sober-minded manifesto.
Posted February 19, 2014
Joel Brenner's ''Glass Houses'' is an in-depth look into the world of domestic security. There is no one better to tell the stories of U.S intelligence issues and secrecy. Brenner is the former senior counsel at the National Security Agency where he was in charge of keeping U.S. intelligence safe from foreign spies. The first chapter tells of a time when Chinese intelligence spies were able to hack into the United States intelligence computers and stole so much information that it was unknown. The problem here was that nobody had encrypted the information so it could not be tracked; the information was lost. From this story on, Brenner's accounts of his days back in the NSA are interesting to read about as citizens rarely get to see what goes on behind the scenes of the NSA. This book is incredibly helpful to read in today’s world as so much news is going on with Snowden and all the NSA phone tapping. The book focuses on how secrecy and privacy are very hard to find when technology is advancing so quickly. It is important to keep citizens safe as the NSA continues to argue; however, Brenner does make a point that it is the job of citizens to keep themselves safe, not the government’s job.
I really enjoyed the detail Brenner was able to go into with some of the stories he told as usually anything that has to do with intelligence is “top secret” and only a privileged few can know details. Brenner tries to keep the writing lively, but the book covers a very serious topic and can sometimes be dry. I only had a few times when the reading was slow. Other than that it was gripping and I wanted to know more. This book is for anybody who likes history and learning about United States secrets as this book gives you both.