Dawn of the Code War: America’s Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat by John P. Carlin

Do you bank online?
Do you use social media?
Do you have a smartphone?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are vulnerable to cyber attack.  As much as we depend on technology in our lives, it’s important to think about the implications of these choices we are making as individuals, and as citizens of nations. Many further questions arise as we start to ponder the subject more: What precautions do we take to protect ourselves? Who is in charge of protecting the institutions we trust our information with? How do entities such as corporations and governments protect consumers and citizens, especially when they themselves are made up of tech-dependent individuals? Former Assistant Attorney General, and Chief of Staff and Head Council for Robert Mueller, John P. Carlin uses his extensive experience to write a riveting book about the international cyber war the United States is engaged in every day.

Carlin uses the organization of a good prosecutor to step-by-step explain the origins of the hacker. From the pranksters and the rebels, to the thieves and the terrorists, the evolution of these individuals is outlined for the reader. What began as a personal challenge for computer-savvy teens in the early 80s has turned into state-sponsored missions to steal military and corporate secrets. After a thorough overview in the first chapter, he focuses on some key cases that have shaped the war over the last ten years. He details the reasons why Russia, Korea, Iran, and China pose the biggest threats to our businesses, infrastructure, and military secrets, and uses cases such as the attacks on Sony, The Sands Casino, and the 2016 elections as evidence.

I especially enjoyed the personal sections Carlin included about his experience working in the Hoover building. The insider look. Yet, at times I wanted more of this type of writing, and less of the fact-for-fact details. This is my preference and I’m sure others will see the strength of all the particulars of the cases.

Overall, Dawn of the Code War is an honest, clear-eyed description of the issues of cybersecurity in our nation and world. With tech continually ruling our everyday lives, Carlin gives us some essential questions to think about. He references several times how amazing it is that so many fictional plots have now become reality. This book is great for true crime fans looking to educate themselves on the current state of our war in cyberspace, a war that has no boundaries.

4 out of 5 stars

Releases on October 16th.

Thank you to NetGalley, Public Affairs, and John P. Carlin for the advanced copy for review.

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