The Hacked World Order | Adam Segal

Summary of: The Hacked World Order: How Nations Fight, Trade, Maneuver, and Manipulate in the Digital Age
By: Adam Segal


Welcome to the world of cyberwarfare, where nations use digital advancements to battle and manipulate each other. In ‘The Hacked World Order,’ author Adam Segal explores the motivations and actions of countries such as the US, China, Russia, Israel, and Germany as they engage one another in the digital realm. As you dive into this book summary, you’ll learn about the groundbreaking Stuxnet attack, examples of spear-phishing attacks, and the implications of the ongoing militarization of cyberspace. As defense tactics evolve, so does the age of warfare; Segal provides you with a comprehensive understanding of the workings and impact of cyberwarfare on international relations, trade, and technological advancements.

The New Cyberspace Battle

The book delves into the new era of cyberwar, which became public knowledge after the US leaked details about the Stuxnet attack. The Stuxnet worm was a brilliant piece of malware that infiltrated Iran’s nuclear program through laptops and thumb drives. It caused Iranian centrifuges to speed up, slow down, and eventually fail while providing Iranian monitors with “false feedback.” The book also sheds light on the fears and desires of various states, including the US, Russia, China, Germany, Brazil, and Israel, that are shaping the future of cyberspace.

Stuxnet and the Emergence of Cyberwarfare

In 2010, the Stuxnet virus attacked Iran’s nuclear program, setting a precedent for cyberwarfare targeting physical systems. The US government responded by increasing its hacking capabilities and establishing a Cyber Command. Meanwhile, Chinese hackers have targeted businesses and government agencies around the world, stealing valuable secrets and spying on sensitive meetings. The threat of a devastating “cyber Pearl Harbor” looms as the world enters a new era of global cyber conflict.

Cybersecurity and Business Espionage

Hackers wages war on Businesses and Government Agencies

With the increasing use of technology and internet-based services, cybersecurity has become a pressing issue for many businesses and government agencies. In this book, the author examines the growing trend of social engineering attacks by Chinese hackers. These attacks are often carried out through spear-phishing, which involves sending an email that appears to be from a familiar source, but leads to a malware activation when opened. This method has become popular with hackers due to its high success rate and low cost.

One of the most significant concerns is the faith military services put on technology and technological advancements. These services are the backbone of any country’s national defense, and the integration of advanced technologies to improve fortifications and weaponry gives each side an edge. Among several examples the book covers, the story of Su Bin is noteworthy. Su Bin was indicted for stealing hundreds of thousands of classified documents related to the C-17 plane, worth several billions of dollars, using the spear-phishing technique. He was able to steal this data by investing a meager amount in hiring hackers.

In addition, the book highlights the lack of cooperation among governments to combat this cyber theft. There are no set rules or guidelines for how governments should deal with cybersecurity and related issues. As a result, military agencies have started developing powerful cyber weapons without giving proper consideration to the consequences of such weapons. The author notes that the United Nations has been called upon to oversee the internet to control this growing threat.

The book also covers Edward Snowden’s data leaks, which were published in The New York Times and Bloomberg, revealing the news about American Officials gathering the metadata from millions of Americans’ phone calls. Snowden’s leaks created a diplomatic ripple effect for the US, which continues to this day. The author also covers China’s efforts to exert control over the internet with their Great Firewall, blocking websites, and launching DDoS attacks.

In conclusion, the book highlights the growing threat posed by cyber-attacks and the increasing trend of government-sponsored cyber espionage. While governments continue to pursue their quests for technological supremacy, businesses must be vigilant and take precautions against this growing threat to protect themselves and their data.

Cyberwarfare: A New Era of National Security

Cyberwarfare has revolutionized the traditional metrics of national security and the way we perceive conventional military engagement. Unlike nuclear weapons or traditional arms, it is difficult to track cyberwarriors. False flag attacks make it challenging to determine the real source of the attack. The conflict also blurs the lines between the public and private sector, with nation-states fighting on private turf. Moreover, China sees cyberspace as the primary battlefield, which has led to ideological struggles with the West. The true cost of cyberwar is difficult to measure, as evidenced by the Syrian Electronic Army’s hijack of the Associated Press’s Twitter account, causing US stocks to lose over $100 billion in value. The book reminds us that the global economy is now interconnected, and nation-states are heavily reliant on private companies for their national security.

The Shifting Balance of Power in Cyberspace

Twitter played a prominent role in the 2012 Gaza conflict, earning the moniker of the “first Twitter war” due to the high number of tweets posted by spokesmen for Israel and Hamas. Social media mostly played to a supportive base on either side, doing little to sway neutral observers. Twitter also became a critical tool for journalists during the conflict. While the US dominates the internet, the future of cyberspace seems less American and less exceptionalist as hundreds of millions of people in regions such as China and Latin America connect to the internet, gradually shifting the power balance. The US is currently under scrutiny for its dominance in the tech sector, with the European Commission launching an antitrust investigation into Google, and France criticizing the dominance of the four tech giants—Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. Chinese technical expertise and control of domestic internet gives them an edge in cyberattacks with a low tolerance for anonymity online.

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