By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton
The ultimate threat of our time may well be cyber security. If I were recommending an area for students to go into, this would be it. You will see this area of expertise expand massively over the next ten years. Wars and battles will take place as much or more in cyberspace as they do on the physical battlefield.
When I got the chance to read America the Vulnerable by Joel Brenner, I jumped on it. And this book is captivating from the first page. Having worked my whole life in computers and other fields, I found Brenner’s depth of knowledge and insight fascinating. Immediately following the horrors of 9/11, Joel Brenner became America’s Inspector General of the National Security Agency and then he proceeded to become the head of Counterintelligence for the Director of National Intelligence. When it comes to espionage, crime and warfare, Brenner is a player and he knows his game inside and out.
Brenner has seen our enemies encroach on our soft underbelly – our infrastructure. China, the Middle East, Russia and others from around the globe have already attacked us on multiple fronts in cyberspace: military, power grids, banks and finance… They have been busy little infiltrators and hard at work to bring America to her knees using cyberspace as one of their primary weapons. Every business and individual, not just the military, are at risk in America. Many systems are being attacked and infiltrated and we don’t even know it. Identity theft is growing exponentially every year.
Our military has had viruses attack our drones and infect our communication systems. We have put so much on the Internet, that the things that keep us alive and living a high standard of living are extremely vulnerable to attack. Wikileaks is one of many examples of how vital information can be leaked that can cost not just billions in dollars, but lives and security. The Web is the perfect incubator for spies and espionage. It is spook central.
In my line of work, I deal with databases all the time. Trust me, no matter how encrypted, if someone wants to get into your info., they’ll get there if they try long and hard enough. But for most, it’s a cake walk. Easy as pie to slip into a database and snoop, steal and/or infiltrate. Cyber security is the place to be and Brenner takes you on a tour of his world inside the new threat matrix of digital espionage, crime and warfare. An awesome book and an incredible read. If you want to know what we face from our enemies, read it and learn how to fight the digital fight of our lifetime. I loved reading this book – could not put it down!
Joel Brenner is a former senior counsel at the National Security Agency, where he advised on legal and policy issues relating to network security. Previously, he served as the national counterintelligence executive in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the NSA’s inspector general. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison (B.A.), the London School of Economics (Ph.D.) and Harvard Law School (J.D.). Brenner currently practices law in Washington, D.C., specializing in cyber-security and related issues.