A powerful case for strong cybersecurity policy that reduces vulnerabilities while respecting civil rights.

THIS IS HOW THEY TELL ME THE WORLD ENDS

THE CYBERWEAPONS ARMS RACE

A New York Times cybersecurity writer delivers a sobering account of a thoroughly hacked and cyberattacked world.

Perlroth opens with the 2017 attack of Ukraine’s infrastructure on the part of Russian hackers who, employed directly by Vladimir Putin, had only two rules to follow: They couldn’t attack inside Russia, and “when the Kremlin calls in a favor, you do whatever it asks.” Apart from that, they were free to do as they pleased, and they detonated cyberbombs across the neighboring nation, bringing the power grid down, closing supply chains, and crashing computers, phones, and ATMs. As Perlroth writes, they attacked with poorly guarded tools developed by the American intelligence community. In the end, Russia could have done far worse “with the access it had and the American weapons at its disposal.” But there are other players with the same tools, including Iran and China, who have the wherewithal to wreak greater havoc on the infrastructure of a thoroughly unprepared America. Some of Perlroth’s interlocutors are rightfully paranoid while others are open in defying demands to make private information available to government agencies through back doors into those very tools—a recipe for a police state. One old-school hacker whom the author interviewed in Buenos Aires lamented a change of culture. “We were sharing exploits as a game,” he tells her. “Now the next generation is hoarding them for a profit.” Perlroth suggests that these latter-day hackers are capable of great evil against vulnerable nations—the U.S. foremost among the list of prime targets, not least because America is so addicted to technology. “There wasn’t a single area of our lives that wasn’t touched by the web,” writes the author. “We could now control our entire lives, economy, and grid via a remote web control. And we had never paused to think that, along the way, we were creating the world’s largest attack surface.”

A powerful case for strong cybersecurity policy that reduces vulnerabilities while respecting civil rights.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63557-605-4

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

HOW TO PREVENT THE NEXT PANDEMIC

The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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