Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Darkening Web by Alexander Klimburg

This book feels like something that I might have been made to read in one of my tutorials, which is probably why I requested it from Netgalley.

The Darkening Web is basically a book that explains the various aspects of cyberspace and why we are all vulnerable. Seriously, if this doesn't make you paranoid and/or give up on privacy on the internet, you probably haven't read this.

This book covers the basics of cyber security, hackers, the US's history and stance on cyber security, cyber attacks by Russia and China (seriously these two countries are insane. I find China scarier but that's probably it's closer to me), and what may happen in the future. Each topic gets about three chapters of its own, with the exception of the first part.

The book does go into the basics of the internet, but I think that if you don't have a basic knowledge of the end-2-end principal (which is basically net neutrality aka all websites are treated equally) or other web fundamentals, you may find it a little hard to keep up. By the way, this is one of the scenarios that may happen:
If the free internet and the cyber-sovereignty factions cannot find a workable detente, then the best we can hope for is the splitting of the global Internet into wholly national Internets, potentially even complete with their own routing and address structure. In truth, we are already halfway there: as research by the Internet pioneer (and senior Google executive) Vin Cerf and others show, the global Internet is already largely split into different identifiable segments.
What this basically means that if we continue on the current path, with the Great Firewall, Russia stepping up its cyber-attacks and much more, we could end up in our own little silos, which is even worse than what is going on now (and it's not very good now either). And this is the not-so-bad scenario (out of the bad scenarios). Worse scenarios could involve the state using the internet to spy on citizens and change their behaviour.

If you don't think that this could happen (or is just a Chinese sci-fi story - read something similar last year), well, in 2015, there was a report saying that the Chinese government is planning to introduce a mandatory social-credit scheme in 2020. But there's only one directive now so hopefully this doesn't come to pass (and the one directive is that this is to 'foster a culture of sincerity' which sounds a lot like 'influencing behaviour' to me).

This could be worse than Stomp.

In conclusion, this is a tough read, made harder by the fact that it's topical and with no real overarching narrative that I could see. It does, however, cover an important issue that applies to all of us on the internet, and for that alone, I'd recommend everyone borrow/buy a copy and read as much as they understand.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.


  1. This may be a bit over my head, but still a worthwhile read. It's scary to think of all that can happen on and because of the internet when you look at worst case scenarios.

    1. Cybersecurity is another topic that I feel like I should know more about but every time I try to learn about it I just get scared :p


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