From the book lists at Adware Report:

All information current as of 03:58:19 Pacific Time, Wednesday, 15 December 2004.

Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyber-Terrorism

   by Dan Verton / Dan Verton

    McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
    19 August, 2003


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Editorial description(s):

The Washington Post, August 10, 2003
The examples Verton unearths are certainly spooky... Genuine cyberterrorism will be as physical as a punch to the gut.

Book Info
Text investigates how cyber-terrorism could occur, what the global and financial implications are, the impact this has on privacy and civil liberties, and how to prepare for and prevent cyber attacks. Includes interviews and commentary from leading government authorities on national security, and from supporters of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

From the Back Cover

The new face of terrorism--cyber-terrorism--is all too clear. Gone are the days when the only victims are those who are unfortunate enough to be standing within striking distance of the blast. Today's terrorists have learned that America's national security depends upon its computer- and network-dependent infrastructure. A strategic attack on those systems would undoubtedly have devastating consequences for the nation and the economy.

Written by former U.S. intelligence officer Dan Verton, Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyber-Terrorism investigates how cyber-terrorism could occur, what the global and financial implications are, the impact this has on privacy and civil liberties, and how to prepare for and prevent cyber attacks. The book is packed with revealing interviews and commentary from leading government authorities on national security, including Tom Ridge, James Gilmore, Richard Clarke, CIA and NSA intelligence officials--and even supporters of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

This compelling work will add much to the national debate on homeland security issues. Verton argues forcefully and convincingly that real-time intelligence sharing is the key to ensuring that the high-tech future of terrorism does not become like black ice stretched across the information superhighway­­alerting us to its presence only after we are spinning out of control.

"Reveals a real threat to Homeland Security that the Feds are not fixing." --Richard A. Clarke, Former Special Advisor to the President for Cyber Security, and the Former National Coordinator for Security & Counterterrorism

"Dan Verton has 'connected the dots' like no one else can. He has written this book in such a way that it is relevant to the masses as well as the security experts. [This is] a 'must-read' as it contains a clear message: there is much to be done on the cyber security front to protect us from 'weapons of mass disruptions.'" --Howard A. Schmidt, Former Chair, President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, and Cyber Security Advisor for the White House

"In Black Ice, Dan Verton has done a masterful job in explaining why cyber security is important for every American." --Roger Cressey, Former Chief of Staff to the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, and former Director for Transnational Threats at the National Security Council

"I've spent the better part of 30 years involved in computer security, cyber-incident investigation, and computer forensics. As I read the material that Dan Verton has compiled here, I'm frightened. And you should be too." --Alan E. Brill, Senior Managing Director of Kroll Worldwide's Technology Services Group, and the former Director of the Information Systems and Information Security Bureau of the New York Department of Investigation

"[This book is] one of near incomparable importance in an uncertain post-September 11th world. Black Ice may be the most important book we read in a long while, because it brings to the immediate attention of the leaders of government and commerce a sense of electric urgency and of the consequences of inaction." --MacDonnell Ulsch, Managing Director of Janus Risk Management, Inc., and a former Trusted Advisor to the United States Secrecy Commission

About the Author

Dan Verton, a former intelligence officer in the U.S. Marine Corps., has made several appearances on national news broadcasts, such as CNN, and has spoken at the Library of Congress and the United Nations as a recognized expert in national cyber-security, defense, and intelligence issues. He is the author of The Hacker Diaries: Confessions of Teenage Hackers and is currently a senior writer on the staff of Computerworld.

Book Description
The first book to define the clear and present danger posed by a cyber-terrorist attack on the U.S. computer- and network-dependent infrastructure. The pages are packed with interviews from members of terrorist groups, including al-Qaida, as well as key insiders involved in planning and executing the U.S. plan for the defense of cyberspace, including Tom Ridge, James Gilmore, CIA and NSA officials--and even al-Qaeda supporters. Internet security expert Dan Verton investigates how cyber-terrorism could occur, what the global and financial implications are, the impact this is having and will continue to have on privacy and civil liberties, and how to prepare and prevent against cyber-terrorism.

Reader review(s):

Sensationalism and hype written for the lay person.., October 15, 2003
"Internet security expert" Dan Verton is a charlaton. The guy is a journalist not an expert in network security! This book reaks of sensationalism and hype. Don't get me wrong, as far as being an interesting read I would rate it a five out of five stars, it is a very fast and fun book to read. But if you are looking for "real" information on things like cyberwarfare you would be far better off with a book written by a real computer security expert, not a journalist only interested in selling books and making a name for himself. Personally as an alternative I would recommend either "Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World" by Bruce Schneier or for a more technical view check out "Hacking Exposed: Network Security Secrets & Solutions, Fourth Edition" by Stuart McClure, Joel Scambray, George Kurtz. Black Ice is just sensationalist fearmongering at it's worst...

Black Ice falls into a black hole, November 30, 2003
Verton's book is full of hyperbole, repetition, unsupported statements, and contradictions. It is poorly written, poorly organized, and poorly edited. His "research" consists mostly of quoting his own magazine articles (29 times) and the magazine he writes for (16 times). By comparison, he quotes from only three books. Example of hyperbole: In commmenting on a admittedly fictional scenario called Dark Winter, the author claims that, "entire communities and cities could be rendered as helpless as those affected by the Black Death of the 14th century, a bubonic plague that killed one third of Europe's population." Yet, he fails to support that claim with any evidence or even a reference to the report on the exercise.

He repeats the same story about an al Qaeda interview with an Italian journalist in his introduction and again at p. 98. He writes nearly the same sentence about radical terrorists living in the U.S. once in the main text on p. 5 and again in a footnote on the same page. He tells a story about the Ptech company at p. 111 and again at p. 223-25, and uses nearly the identical paragraph in each. Where is the editing to catch these duplications?

Worse yet, his uses the Ptech story to draw two contradictory conclusions. In the first telling, he says that Ptech is an example of al Qaeda using American companies as fronts for terrorist financing. He claims that "evidence was uncovered" to show this connection. Yet, two pages later, he asserts that the FBI has been "unsuccessful in finding any evidence linking Ptech to terrorism financing." Then in the second telling of the Ptech story, he uses it as an example of how the War on Terrorism has turned into a "virtual witch-hunt," using a "scorched-earth strategy" [more hyperbole] that has "left many innocent casualties in its wake." The reader is left confused whether Ptech serves as an example of al Qaeda using American companies as fronts for terrorist financing, or an example of the War on Terrorism spoiling the reputation of innocent American enterprises.

Even his definition of cyber-terrorism is contradicted by his own material. He defines cyber-terrorism as either the use of cyber-tools to destroy critical infrastructure, or traditional terrorism that has a destructive effect on electronic and Internet infrastructure. See Introduction at xx. But in his appendix, he quotes the FBI definition of cyber-terrorism, which is narrower--the use of cyber-tools to shut down or destroy critical national infrastructures.

From his overly broad definition of cyber-terrorism, the author strays into three fictional scenarios of terrorism that seem to be the centerpiece of his book. They are supposed to scare us into thinking that cyber-terrorism can really happen. But if they are fictional, how can they alarm us? And, even as fiction, none of them even fits the FBI's definition of cyber-terrorism. The first, Black Ice, starts with a ice storm, not a cyber-attack. The second, Blue Cascades, was described vaguely as "a cyber system failure ... caused by a prolonged power outage." The third, Dark Winter, was a smallpox outbreak.

Many years ago, a famous fast food restaurant ran an ad that said, "where's the beef?" After reading this book, I have to ask, "where's the cyber-attack?"

How many times can Verton quote himself in his own book?, October 31, 2003
This book is far too melodramatic.

Also, Verton quotes himself left and right. He used the word "I" a few hundred times too many.

He quotes and copies from his articles in magazines.

This book seems to be more of hype for himself than a serious look at things.

Don't read this book, it will only confuse the hell out of you.

A Major Contribution to Homeland Security Scholarship, December 5, 2003
I've read this book cover to cover and I can honestly say that it was worth every penny. Based on some of the reviews I've seen on Amazon, however, it is clear that Verton is the target of either jealous competitors or people with a political axe to grind and who, having lost the debate, have retreated to the politics of personal destruction.

Verton's writing is crisp and clear. The book is intriguing and fun to read. And his research is very well done and exhaustive. Although the fictional scenarios are a little exaggerated, I took them for what they are -- examples of what could be done, not necessarily what will happen. They are an awareness tool, in my opinion, not a factual prediction of what is to come.

What really makes this book strong is the dozens of interviews with high-level officials, all of whom have been or are now directly involved in national security and cyber security. He also digs up some very serious security threats that few people give him credit for. Verton also draws upon his many years as a journalist covering these issues. That was very useful, to have pointers to all of his reporting in one place. No, he doesn't "quote himself" as one reviewer suggests here. He simply provides references to what other experts have said during previous interviews he conducted over the years.

I agree with the top experts who have endorsed this book. It is one of the best descriptions of the cyber-terrorist threat ever published. And it is written by one of the best. Don't pay attention to the reviewers here who have an axe to grind. They are simply bashing good, hard work with outright lies and distortions.

Fun to read and enlightening, September 24, 2003
Cyberterrorism, does it exist? A weapons-grade hype or a nightmare from the near future, which we are all soon to face? This fascinating book seeks to answer the above question by collecting and evaluating many stories during author's "6 year research" trying to piece the puzzle together.

Undoubtfully, the book is written by a journalist, thus it sometimes feels sensationalistic, "newspaperish" and fluffy. Some things (such as the "doomsday" scenario from chapter 1 and "al-Qaeda certified hackers") are "lighter" than others, but all are well-written and fun to read. At times, it feels that the author seeks to replace proving things by quoting many potentially unreliable sources talking about the thing. Thus "such and such ex-government guy said cyberterrorism is real" subtly mutates into "cyberterrorism is real!" Similarly, if a PC was discovered in some hideout or it becomes known that terrorists surfed the web, suddenly the specter of cyber-terror rises high, although the facts themselves can be interpreted in a less ominous manner.

Another subject covered extensively in the book is whether al-Qaeda is really going in the direction of cyberterror. I find the case built by the author somewhat convincing, but not completely compelling. However, if truck bombs against data storage facilities and IT infrastructure as well as EMP weapons are added to the fray (as suggested in the book), suddenly cyberattacks are not about hacking anymore and the damage potential rises dramatically.

As for the conclusion, one of the main points I realized after reading the book is that everything is modern society is so a) interdependent and b) dependent upon computers that a push applied in a certain place from within the "cyber-world" does stand a chance of wrecking something in a "real world". Thus, while cyberterrorism might remain a myth, possibilities of doing damage to physical infrastructure by purely virtual actions will grow and multiply - a scary thought indeed.

Anton Chuvakin, Ph.D., GCIA, GCIH is a Senior Security Analyst with a major information security company. His areas of infosec expertise include intrusion detection, UNIX security, forensics, honeypots, etc. In his spare time, he maintains his security portal

Media Hype - Cashing In, December 30, 2003
Full of hype, lack of research and poor writing. His chapter on wireless security for example has many technical errors. He makes a note that wireless SSIDs are password which is not true. SSID were never designed to be passwords and have no security value whatsoever. I can only imagine that other claims in the book are also poorly researched.

Anyone who witnessed 9/11 knows that its success was attributed to the shear physical and human desctruction and the impact the video of the imploding towers played again and again on tv. I find it hard to believe that the country would be be as terrified if we couldn't access our ATM account. I'll buy the arguement that terrorists could use information warefare to enhance an attack but given limited resources, I'd rather have the money spent on where the real risks lie.

It sounds like a Tom Clancy novel, yet it is real, September 19, 2003
Dan has an amazing gift as a journalist and also to explain technical material in an approachable manner. I've read or been briefed on a lot of this material at one time or another, but to have it in one place, well laid out, with example after example, really helped me focus on just how vulnerable our country and my organization is. The "shock" value of this material is high, but he took no shortcuts in making his case. Buy the book, read the book, then grab your organization's disaster recovery and business continuity plans and get out your red pen. I promise you will be inspired to improve those plans.

If I had a criticism of the book it would be the ending, it is a bit too much gloom and doom. So, I propose the following alternate ending:

Each of us has the ability and the responsibility to make our environment a bit more resistant to attack. The actions we can take range from reviewing our web pages to make sure we are not giving too much information away to simply running Windows update. Don't let a week go by without doing something, anything, to strengthen your defenses.

Terrific, high-quality investigative journalism, May 4, 2004
Without a doubt a book of monumental importance to the nation during this time of war and increased threat from terrorism. I recommend this book to anybody who is interested in homeland security and how terrorism may be changing and evolving its strategy against the U.S.

Well-written, full of intrigue and first-hand interviews with top security officials from both the Clinton and Bush administrations. Verton had unfettered access to those directly involved in the Sept. 11 response, including Richard Clarke.

You will not find another book on this subject that is this well researched and written. And because Verton is a journalist, he wrote this book so that you don't have to be a computer expert to understand the issues.

Buy this book. You will not be disappointed.

Page Turner That Kept Me Reading, May 4, 2004
This guy is among the best tech journalists out there and this book is proof. Nobody has documented the cyber-terrorist threat like this. And from the negative comments I've seen here on Amazon it is clear that those people didn't read the book or care to acknowledge the compelling nature of the argument.

If you're blind to the future, you won't be interested in reading this book or giving it any credit, and that's probably par for the course for you.

But if you are an independent thinker who understands the nature of the terrorist threat, you will want to read this book and you will undoubtedly benefit and learn something from it.

Fast-Paced, Thrilling & Informative, December 14, 2003
Black Ice reads like a Clancy or Dan Brown novel, but it is a well-researched, factual book about one of the biggest issues facing national security in the information age. I deeply enjoyed every minute of reading this book. So far, no other writer comes close to keeping my attention the way Dan Verton did in Black Ice.

Hype or Fact., November 23, 2003
I found Black Ice to provide a broader veiw of a problem I have seen for the past two years. I monitor intrusion detections databases, and have seen the growing number of probes, worms and virusus that open back doors to our computers. I can verify that many of the threats are real. The information on Al Qaeda training was new to me but credable. No this does not give a lot of technical detail. If you want that look for books like SQL Server security by Chip Andrews, David Litchfield, and Bill Grindlay, or set up a snort box and capture packets coming to your DSL or cable modem. What this book does is raise the awareness of readers to a hidden threat that is right under our nose.

One of the most important issues of the 21st century, October 16, 2003
The sad fact is that even after Sept 11, 2001, the technology-dependent Western world is sleepwalking towards another disaster. The blackout of October 14, 2003 is a shining example of just how great an impact an act of cyberterrorism can have. Granted it does not seem that the blackout was malicious, but it seems that the systems that control these vital lifelines of our modern society are increasingly being connected to public networks (i.e. the Internet) without good regard for the impact this can have. Dan Verton goes into a good level of detail for the non-technical reader about how vulnerable we really are - in every critical industry from power, water, energy, to banking and telecommunications. He also discusses another issue that goes largely ignored - the telecommunications industry is very vulnerable to a physical attack. An oft-neglected lesson of Sept. 11 is that the physical damage of that terror act took out an important chunk of our telecommunications that serves the finance industry - the point being that telecomms are vulnerable to physical attacks, and that this could produce a ripple effect throughout almost every facet of modern life. These are serious issues laid out in the course of this book that need to be discussed in the wider public discourse, but unfortunately the very extent of the disaster that could potentially occur is just too politically embarassing for the people that are charged with keeping us safe. If you are interested in public policy or technology, or just want to be an informed citezen - read this book.

Packed with revealing interviews and commentary, October 8, 2003
In Black Ice: The Invisible Threat Of Cyber-Terrorism by Dan Verton investigates how cyber-terrorism could occur, what the global and financial implications are, the impact this has on privacy and civil liberties, and why disrupting the cyber infrastructure of the U.S. is of interest to international terrorist organizations, such as al-Qaeda. Black Ice is packed with revealing interviews and commentary from leading government authorities on national security, including Tom Ridge, James Gilmore, Richard Clarke, CIA and NSA intelligence officials - and even supporters of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Mandatory Reading, September 19, 2003
This is a tough book to describe -- in content, it resembles a compilation of all of Verton's newsstories but presenting them all together as a connected narrative gives one a better overview of how serious things are out there.

I was left with two conflicting impressions after finishing the book -- anger at the lack of preparedness and ignored intelligence that allowed September 11th to happen and a deep sense of humility when contemplating the complexity of defending a free society against such attacks in the future.

This book should be required reading for anyone that seeks the appelation of "a thinking American."

A MUST READ! IT, Telecommunications, Managers........., September 8, 2003
MUST READ!! Should be mandatory reading for ALL IT Managers and anyone involved in System design, Disaster Recovery Planning, Company Operations, or anyone involved in making decisions. This book should sound the alarm to everyone who reads it. I found the book to be well written, very entertaining, and factual.
The detailed events and status of the IT and Telecommunications surrounding 9/11 were all to real. This book should cause all who read this to reevaluate their own environments and their interdependcies on other infrastructures.

A Real Eye-Opener, September 9, 2003
Without a doubt the best mainstream book on this topic to date. Everybody should read this and then ask the Department of Homeland Security what they're doing to prevent the vulnerabilities that Verton has discovered from being used against us.

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