cover image Cyberphobia: Identity, Trust, Security, and the Internet

Cyberphobia: Identity, Trust, Security, and the Internet

Edward Lucas. Bloomsbury, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-1-63286-225-9

Despite the title, there’s nothing irrational about the fears that Economist editor Lucas (The New Cold War) evokes in this deeply disturbing look at how our increasing dependence on an online world has made us vulnerable to attacks from “spies, soldiers, hooligans, pranksters, criminals, or commercial rivals.” Using language that’s easily accessible for non-techies, Lucas traces the roots of the current crisis to the failures of those who designed the Internet to connect academic networks; they never foresaw its exponential expansion to every aspect of modern life, and they neglected to pay close attention to security issues. Even informed readers will benefit from Lucas’s synthesis of chilling incidents—for example, the Gameover Zeus botnet attack that caused more than $100 million in financial losses after infecting more than 500,000 computers between September 2011 and May 2014—as he places them in context. Not content just to summarize the current ways that identity theft and invasions of privacy can tarnish the lives and reputations of ordinary people, Lucas describes how the shift of the Internet from a mode of human communication to “a network for machines to talk to other machines” will create even more serious challenges. His grim warnings will serve as a wake-up call for citizens and their leaders alike. Agent: Zoë Waldie, Rogers, Coleridge and White. (Nov.)