Book review: ‘@WAR: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex,” by Shane Harris

In The News Piece in Washington Post
Dec. 26, 2014

Shane Harris' book @WAR was reviewed in the Washington Post.

North Korea’s alleged hack attack against the Sony Corporation is a spectacular escalation in the conduct of global cyberwarfare. As Shane Harris says in his timely new work of contemporary history, @War, the momentum for a cyber confrontation has been growing inexorably in recent years. The United States and its adversaries have been assiduously building their cyber-arsenals for the past decade and today can engage in a range of operations across the spectrum of spying, surveillance and sabotage, as well as in offensive and defensive military action. In 2013, according to Harris, U.S. Cyber Command consisted of 900 people; the Defense Department plans to grow that cyber-force to 6,000 by the end of 2016. As Harris notes, “The Internet has become a battlefield.”
The book’s title and thematic ambition come from President Dwight Eisenhower’s dramatic warning, as he left office in 1961, that the United States was threatened by a dangerous matrix of power, a “military-industrial complex” that could swallow American society. Harris writes that today a similar risk exists in the convergence of the aggressive capabilities and programs of the National Security Agency and the gigantic data warehouse controlled by America’s Internet giants. A portion of those government surveillance programs facilitated by the U.S. technology industry was exposed in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. “In its zeal to protect cyberspace,” Harris argues, “the government, in partnership with corporations, is making it more vulnerable.”