The inside story of how America's enemies launched a cyber war against us-and how we've learned to fight back
With each passing year, the internet-linked attacks on America's interests have grown in both frequency and severity. Overmatched by our military, countries like North Korea, China, Iran, and Russia have found us vulnerable in cyberspace. The "Code War" is upon us.
In this dramatic book, former Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin takes readers to the front lines of a global but little-understood fight as the Justice Department and the FBI chases down hackers, online terrorist recruiters, and spies. Today, as our entire economy goes digital, from banking to manufacturing to transportation, the potential targets for our enemies multiply. This firsthand account is both a remarkable untold story and a warning of dangers yet to come.
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About the Author
John P. Carlin is the former Assistant Attorney General for National Security under Barack Obama, where he worked to protect the country against international and domestic terrorism, espionage, cyber, and other national security threats. A career federal prosecutor and graduate of Harvard Law School, John has spent much of the last decade working at the center of the nation's response to the rise of terrorism and cyber threats, including serving as National Coordinator of the Justice Department's Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) program, as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, and as chief of staff to then-FBI Director Robert Mueller. Today, Carlin is the global chair of the risk and crisis management practice for the law firm Morrison & Foerster. He is also chair of the Aspen Institute's Cybersecurity & Technology Program and a sought-after industry speaker on cyber issues as well as a CNBC contributor on cybersecurity and national security issues.
Garrett M. Graff is an award-winning journalist who has spent nearly a decade covering national security. He also serves as executive director of the Aspen Institute's Cybersecurity & Technology Program. A regular writer for WIRED, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and a former editor of both Washingtonian and POLITICO Magazine, he has an extensive background in journalism and in technology. His oral history of Air Force One during 9/11 is under development as a movie by MGM and his April 2017 WIRED cover story about the FBI's hunt for an infamous Russian hacker has also been optioned for television. His most recent book is Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself-While the Rest of Us Die.
Table of Contents
Foreword TeaMpOisoN 1
Introduction The Code War 31
Chapter 1 The Rise of the Hackers 65
Chapter 2 Comment Crew 129
Chapter 3 Operation Aurora 171
Chapter 4 Qassam Cyber Fighters 211
Chapter 5 APTI 241
Chapter 6 Slavik 279
Chapter 7 The Guardians of Peace 307
Chapter 8 Black Vine 343
Chapter 9 Fake News 371
Epilogue Winning the Code War 391
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Dawn of the Code War by John P. Carlin is a fascinating look at cybercrime written by a former Assistant Attorney General for National Security. The book delves mainly into attacks from China and Russia, but talks also about cyber threats from other countries such as North Korea and Iran. China is one of the main countries that is discussed by Carlin in the book. Carlin writes “China believes it can keep up with other countries by utilizing a multitude of information engineers and citizens with laptops instead of just soldiers” (Carlin, pg. 149). That quotation comes from a United States Military theorist, but Carlin seems to agree by providing details of how China has really only used cybercrime to attack in the recent years. Carlin also mentions how Russia and all of Eastern Europe have become more of a threat for a few reasons. The main reason that he thinks there is an issue is due to the strong emphasis on technology and science in school, along with a scarce amount of opportunities for talented Russian Engineers. As someone who is relatively new to learning about all aspects of Cybersecurity and events that have taken place, I found this book to be really fascinating. For me, learning from someone that was constantly working around all the events that occurred is eye-opening. Some authors may say that if there is a downfall of this book, it is that there may not be enough details given for those that are really familiar with all the incidents and situations that are referenced. Carlin may not be able to say all that he wanted about the cases that he dealt with due to confidentiality with his job, and I imagine that would be frustrating for those that are very familiar with cybercrime and want to delve into more detail.
For the millions of Americans who choose to stay informed about the happenings of cybersecurity in our rapidly-evolving technological landscape, most of the information they receive about the topic is filtered through the news media rather than straight from government officials or the industry experts themselves. John P. Carlin’s 2018 book "Dawn of the Code War" provides a unique account of how the United States government has fundamentally transformed its view of cyber from merely a product of the times to one of the most powerful weapons of war. Carlin asserts that the United States has entered the “code war”, one that parallels the Cold War as a non-traditional conflict but nevertheless as a multidimensional period of tension that may ultimately decide the fate that protects the tenets of democracy and justice with which Western civilization has held most dear. A significant conclusion drawn from Mr. Carlin’s account is that global superpowers can no longer be comfortable with the idea that they can assume invincibility against attacks from nation-states perceived not to pose any viable threat. In the code war, no country is too strong or too weak. This was demonstrated to the great peril of government and private industry – and by extension, the American ideal of the right to free expression – with the 2014 cyberattack directed towards Sony Pictures. As it turns out, the might of North Korea in the modern era had never been challenged seriously, even with the growing threat of its nuclear capabilities, until the self-described “Guardians of Peace” held hostage the communication systems of a major American motion picture company. Moreover, all this was the price paid for the release of an irreverent buddy comedy. While the film found a last-minute avenue for release, it also marked a turning point in the way the United States has since dealt with such incidents; as Carlin said in Chapter 7, “[the government] launched a new classified cyber center, and the White House had issued a new executive order [to deal with issues of this nature and scale].” If the code war is to be won, America cannot simply assume the role of a spectator and expect inconsequential outcomes from any state or individual actor. If Mr. Carlin intended to call attention to a problem which has only compounded due to a lethal combination of indifference and time, then he was, without a doubt, successful. The public at large may not have embraced the term “code war” as of yet, but it has at least started to come to grips with the harsh reality of cyber as a threat as much as it is used as a tool. In a world in which good people have devoted themselves to decades- or centuries-long pursuits of peace, the emergence of cyberspace as a new battlefield (and no less, one that has directly threatened the principles upon which civilized society has thrived) has posed an unwelcome challenge. Cyberattacks, like methods of traditional warfare, assume many forms, but so far, none have presented themselves as tests in which the righteous have willingly chosen to surrender. The code war cannot be won with a mindset that downplays its significance, one that relegates its impact to a position less than that of the threats that are more easily detectable or simpler to overcome. As Carlin closes so succinctly: “Winning the Code War first requires recognizing that [it] has already begun.”