The Fifth Domain: Defending Our Country, Our Companies, and Ourselves in the Age of Cyber Threats

Richard A. Clarke and Robert K. Knake. Penguin Press, $30 (352p) ISBN 978-0-525-56196-5

Clarke and Knake, both cybersecurity consultants and former National Security Council staffers, follow up their 2010 Cyber War with this sobering but hopeful exploration of defenses against the weaponization of the internet. They discuss various hacking menaces to the computer networks that undergird modern life, from credit card fraud to Russian, Iranian, and North Korean military incursions threatening graver damage: ransomware attacks that can put hospitals, drug factories, and shipping firms out of commission; subversion of voting systems that could cause election-day chaos; and commandeering utility computer systems that could destroy electric grids and gas pipelines. The risks are dire but manageable, say the authors, who focus their account on cybersecurity measures at private firms that are waging a complex battle to prevent penetrations, slow and contain hacks, and recover quickly from breaches. (The authors also provide security tips for individuals, including the seldom-heeded “do not use the same password on more than one site.”) Clarke and Knake, drawing on interviews with experts, explain cybersecurity’s intricacies in a lucid, engaging manner that avoids the alarmism that often surrounds the subject. The result is a fine survey that will interest policy makers, executives, and ordinary readers alike. [em]Agent: Andrew Wylie, the Wylie Group. (July) [/em]