Cybersecurity, cyberwar, cyberterrorism, are all often repeated terms. Few, however, seem to know exactly what they mean. The book, in fact, opens with a senior U.S. Defense Department official referring to such critical issues as "all this cyber stuff." But lest we are too quick to ridicule — it's of course natural to wonder what some of this "cyber stuff" actually is. To demystify the terms, Singer and Friedman answer a series of questions, some as simple as, "How does the Internet actually work?" Some more sinister like, "Shady RATs and Cyberspies: What is Cyberespionage?"
The book argues that cybersecurity affects all of us, from the casual user whose identity can be stolen online to the power plant that can be hacked, removing power from large swathes of cities. Yet both the average netizen and government officials alike have much to learn about the basic concepts of cybersecurity. This confusion is encompassed in the word "cyberattack," which is commonly used to describe everything from Anonymous hacktivists defacing websites to Stuxnet, the cyberweapon that the U.S. and Israel reportedly used to slow down Iranian nuclear centrifuges. "They'll talk about them as if they're all one and the same thing," says Peter W. Singer, in an interview with Mashable, referring to both politicians and even the media. "It's a lot like talking about kids with fireworks, a mugger with a pistol, a terrorist with a bomb, James Bond with his Walther PPK, and a Soviet cruise missile as all the same thing because they use the chemistry of gunpowder. They're not." Cyberattacks, as Singer and Friedman explain in the book, can be put into three main categories: availability attacks, which try to block access to a network or a site (the classic Anonymous-style denial of service attack); confidentiality attacks, in which hackers try to steal data or monitor information inside protected networks; and integrity attacks, where hackers try to sabotage or disrupt physical devices or infrastructure controlled online (Stuxnet is the perfect example).
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