Black Code: The Battle for the Future of Cyberspace - Review

Published: 2015-06-11
Tagged: readings

I recently read Black Code: The Battle for the Future of Cyberspace by R. J. Deibert and Katie Hafner and I want to recommend it to anyone interested in IT in the broadest sense.

The book offers an up to date satellite's-eye view on this small project called "the Internet". It focuses mainly on security but the context of this topic is set against how the Internet infrastructure, culture, economy, and politics are evolving. Deibert covers things as diverse as the Stuxnet virus, the koobface worm and the people behind it, the changing demographics of the Internet as more and more 2nd and 3rd world users come online, the evolution of cybercrime from witty pranks to underground mafia's, the emergence of hactivism, and much, much more.

The books is well written and despite the serious tone and numerous references it pulls you right in. It's a hefty dose of reality for those of us that associate the Web with a few popular and well designed websites - not everything is sunshine and rainbows. The Web isn't a polished and friendly place now that crime gangs have chewed their way in. Oh, and who can forget intelligence agencies and other state-sponsored actors?

I got the vibe that meatspace has finally caught up to cyberspace, but in a manner similar to a drunk parent come home to hand out ass whoopings. The governments in less-than-free places have been heavy handed in their adoption of information technologies, treating cyberspace as their own backyard where they can bully everyone simply because they have the most money to buy expensive deep packet inspection tools. On one side you've got the above mentioned states trying to push the genie back into the bottle (so what if there's blood along the way?) along with the whole money hungry cybersecurity-industrial complex and on the other side you've got the online gangs that eternally hunger for your credit card, personally identifiable, and all other information to make tax-free money. Then there's wild cards like large corporations, hacktivist groups, and finally, at the very end, the ordinary user-consumers.

This leaves the question: where in this mess do you stand? Which way is this whole circus moving? Will it be a pleasant ride?


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