Monday, July 18, 2016

CyberSpies by Gordon Corera

Back in the “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” days, the spy game was about hidden messages and microdots that spies carried across borders at personal peril, hoping not to be intercepted at airports. Today spies sit in offices or at various Starbucks, staring at computer screens. They hack into sensitive servers, download files in seconds, and then send them on wild electronic routes across the global internet. Or they put spyware on computers and wait for the info to be emailed back to them. In CYBERSPIES by Gordon Corera, the history of spycraft is examined, with particular attention given to Russia, the UK, and China, but also the NSA and characters like Edward Snowden. It’s not just military secrets that are targeted. Cyber big business crime is viral, as global technology in the U.S. and elsewhere is targeted for attack. Narrator Gildart Jackson has a deep English voice with a commanding yet pleasant tone to it, perfect for listening in the car or on an iPhone or iPod where there might be background noise. You will learn many things you may not have gleaned even by reading the NY Times, and certainly not by watching network news. Such as the personality of the NSA director, how the Cold War evolution of spycraft has gone from hundreds of millions to hundreds of billions in cost in a new arms (technology) race, and how the Chinese have become the biggest users of the internet with the most spies (including state-friendly tech companies working 24/7 to acquire both business and military advantage via espionage.) Many countries, particularly non-democratic ones, limit the internet, blocking out entire sectors of news and information, even as they hack dissidents or regime critics. So besides being a means for people to obtain information, the internet is also a tool to suppress citizens and to attack neighbors. Reminds me of the Star Trek episode in which two civilizations war with each other via computer, and those “hit” electronically must report to disintegration stations. The consequences of spying and information theft likewise includes victims. Spock would have found the audiobook “fascinating,” before a raised eyebrow indicated that humans never seem to learn from war as the Vulcans did. (The audiobook is available on CD, Mp3-CD, and download, or digital rental for $6.95.) 

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