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America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  212 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Now available in a new edition entitled GLASS HOUSES: Privacy, Secrecy, and Cyber Insecurity in a Transparent World.

A former top-level National Security Agency insider goes behind the headlines to explore America's next great battleground: digital security. An urgent wake-up call that identifies our foes; unveils their methods; and charts the dire consequences for governme
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published September 29th 2011 by Penguin Press
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Nate Huston
Feb 07, 2013 Nate Huston rated it liked it
Like many "cyber books" published in recent years, this book attempts to open the proverbial eyes of the American public to the dangers represented by our increasing reliance on a pervasively insecure medium, the internet. As such, it contains the usual stories about the extensive risks extant among government and commercial entities in the US. To that end, it does a good job of exposing what many in America seem to suspect, if try to forget, that we have a wide open door and not much of a guard ...more
Alex Nagler
Jul 01, 2012 Alex Nagler rated it really liked it
Shelves: technology
This is one of those books where it's clear that the author, former Inspector General for the NSA, is holding back what he knows and watering down what he can share to make a book more readable for the general public. Brenner knows exactly what he's talking about, and in the parts where he can elude to specifics or drill down into matters, the book shines. These are parts like the discussion of the dangers of thumbdrives, a minute by minute retelling of a (assumed to be) Mossad hit that had ever ...more
May 20, 2013 Phillip rated it really liked it
Shelves: computers
A while back I read "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times" By Rawles. I thought it was a good guide for how a person would go about building and managing a survival compound. I didn't see what the author expected to happen that would turn out society upside down. I assumed his expectations originated from eschatology.

I still don't know what Rawles expects. But "America the Vulnerable" describes and warns us of the may ways o
Sep 30, 2014 Edward rated it really liked it
Great book bringing together real events to show how we are not only at risk, but have already been hit with significant events. Some of the details when correlated brought new light into many small news events over the last few years, and demonstrate how badly exposed we really are. It also shows how complacent our government and business managers can be in protecting sensitive data.

This is a must read to help understand things like the Snowden fiasco, Chinese industrial espionage, data breach
Jan 20, 2016 Donald added it
A scare-the-pants-off-you look at America's self-inflicted vulnerbility caused by our dependence on insecure software and computer systems written by a former NSA Inspector General and former National Counterintelligence Executive. If you want to feel scared everytime you go online, read this book. If you prefer to remain blissfully ignorant and continue enjoying your onlune experience - stay away from this book - at least until you suffer some undesirable consequence from your online activities ...more
John Brown
Jan 24, 2012 John Brown rated it it was amazing
A few years ago I received an email from my bank. At least, it looked legit to me. I opened it. It said it needed me to update some parts of my account and provided a link to the bank’s website. I clicked on the link, which took me to my bank’s website. At least, it looked exactly like my bank’s website. I entered my account number, login, and password. I made the requested changes and logged out.

Two days later, somebody in Spain cleared every penny out of my account—thousands of dollars stolen.
Feb 06, 2013 Trav rated it it was ok
Shelves: saass, 667
Brenner writes a book that is designed to kick the American public in the butt to get them to take cyber security seriously. By delivering said kick, it is hoped that this will apply the pressure to the government in order to spur them into the action needed to improve the protection of America's secrets (private, corporate, and national) from those that would seek to use them for nefarious purposes.

To realise this, Brenner does paint a dark, though not unwarranted, picture of the current state
Chris Bauer
Jun 19, 2012 Chris Bauer rated it really liked it
Joel Brenner has plenty of credibility when it comes to this topic. Just read the back of the dust jacket to see his background.

I found the book to be written in a manner ideal for a wide variety of audiences. Too many books of this nature get bogged down in lengthy explanations of how different protocols work, the architecture of Internet and other fairly arcane topics.

Brenner does an admirable job of sticking to the facts and calling it like he sees it. The old adage of "discover your world...
Nov 11, 2011 Socraticgadfly rated it it was amazing
At first, seeing this was written by a national security “insider,” I was leery. Fortunately, I read on. Joel Brenner tells us why we need to be more worried about China, the Russian mafia, and international drug smugglers, among others, conducting cyberespionage and other things.

China stands No. 1, because “war” and “peace” aren’t polar opposites there. Brenner adds that many of these attacks are against private business, not just defense contractors, but financial agencies and also non-defens
Jari Pirhonen
The author is the former senior counsel at the NSA. This book is his attempt to raise awareness of cyber threat. Most of the book is stories and examples of different, mostly well-known incidents. Not very interesting if you have followed the scene, but could be an eye-opener for some readers. The problems USA has in its attempts to prepare itself against cyber threat are discussed at the end of the book. The author also has some recommendations to fix those problems. If you are familiar with "c ...more
Alberto Lucini
Dec 29, 2015 Alberto Lucini rated it really liked it
The kind of book that frustrates you by an inability to act. Insightful in its revaluation of modern threats to our nation and society. Cutting edge at the time of its publishing, a must read for anyone pursing a career in cyber or Homeland security.
Kim Ferraro
Jan 11, 2014 Kim Ferraro rated it really liked it
After reading this book I'm ready to go back to manually writing out checks to pay bills and paying for items with cash instead of credit/debit cards. Too bad I hadn't done that earlier...then my debit card would not have been hacked when shopping at Target. This book also gave me a greater appreciation of the games nation-states play and that things are rarely what they seem...
Apr 13, 2012 Caro rated it it was amazing
Incredibly good book. It's written by the former counterintelligence executive for the NSA and he worked extensively on computer network issues. The book looks at cyber security from many sides. He talks about how the internet has changed culture, how it affects business, politics, intelligence agencies, national security. He gives concrete examples of vulnerabilities in the system and how they can be addressed and does a very good job of explaining how the lack of cyber security in private comp ...more
Mark Pare
May 18, 2014 Mark Pare rated it liked it
Brenner is obviously bright and experienced but the book wanders at times. There is good information that people should know in here but it is hard to see/get to.

Worth a read.
Feb 21, 2014 Paul rated it liked it
Good eye opener to how vulnerable our cyber systems are.
Brooke Eikmeier
Feb 11, 2014 Brooke Eikmeier rated it it was amazing
Must. Read.
Ray Null
Sep 01, 2013 Ray Null rated it really liked it
This book scared the crap out of me. It is only a matter if time before another 9/11 happens but this time it won't be planes flying into buildings, instead it will be state sponsored super hackers coordinating to take down critical infrastructure across the US. Imagine no power, no water, no cell service, no Internet ...then imagine that happening across the US, all at the same time. If you think that is an impossible scenario then read this book and tell me you still think that way.
Some very interessting points to think about. I definitely recommend reading this book if you are interested in current challenges to national security. It is very inspiring and offers many new aspects to think about. I have though only given it four stars as I do not agree with all conclusions and also do find that some aspects of the book are not presented objectively. But nevertheless, if reading with a critical mind, this is a great introduction into current cyber challenges.
Sep 10, 2013 Brandon rated it it was ok
Listened to the audio book. The reader sucked. Made it all choppy, every sentence seemed like a new paragraph. Although I'm not sure it was all the readers fault as it seemed like the book repeated itself a lot. It was interesting enough and effectively made a case for how screwed this country is in terms of how we treat our technology. I am glad I read it, but I'm interested in the subject. I would recommend this book if you have a special interest in cyber security.
Jul 25, 2013 Natalie rated it really liked it
I gave this book 4 stars not because I liked it, but because I think it's a VERY important book and well-written. I almost didn't have the "stomach" to finish it. Read it ONLY if you use a computer, a smart phone, a credit card, a debit card, do any type of business online, use electricity, or have been to a doctor in the last 30 years, etc. I think it's a must-read for every American!
Oct 13, 2011 Kent rated it it was amazing
This is very, very good. It's an unsettling look into a world where most only have a marginal understanding. This ties together things you know well with realities that few imagine. It weaves a web of technology, cyber-crime, cyber-espionage, cyber-war, contemporary spycraft, corporate security and counterintelligence. You will never look at a thumb drive the same way again.
Bill Nall
Aug 05, 2014 Bill Nall rated it it was amazing
As an IT professional, I was fascinated by the various social engineering methods used to conduct "digital" espionage. It was not all phishing schemes and network attacks. The book does a great job of showing you the specific nature of various threats and underscores the need for an educated and aware user base to prevent your systems from being compromised.
Jan 02, 2012 Cheri rated it really liked it
Shelves: topical
Now this will make you paranoid. Written for the layman, Brenner doesn't go into the science or heavily into computer programming, but still presents a solid case for increasing security in commercial and governmental computer systems. Might be a little heavy into the doom and gloom, but generally a lucid and fair minded argument.
Michael Frederick
Dec 31, 2012 Michael Frederick rated it really liked it
A fascinating, eye opening look into the cyber crime and threats to our national security, commerce, energy grid, etc. Proved insight into the various organizations ( and governments ) that are behind the attacks and their motivations. This is the way of the future and could be how future terror attacks/wars are fought.
Marc Hoppers
Sep 14, 2013 Marc Hoppers rated it really liked it
Great summary of the ever-broadening cyber threats to both corporate and state entities. Lots if this has made it to the newspapers in recent years, but his analysis ties discrete events together in a scary way. Buy it for your congressional representatives and anyone you know who leads a business.
Dec 01, 2012 Gary rated it it was amazing
If you are looking for a good overview on the current computer security threats that are out there and where they are coming from, this book is a good choice. The author has a background in military and government work that sets him apart from many others in this space.
Todd Smeed
Apr 04, 2014 Todd Smeed rated it really liked it
I highly recommend this book, Brenner does an excellent of educating readers of all levels, whether it's some technical aspect of security or government policies and politics. working in the IT security industry this is a perfect illustration of what keeps me up at night...
Apr 19, 2013 Wayne rated it liked it
Shelves: general
I chose to read this book to gain a better understanding of the state of affairs with regard to potential cyberwarfare. The author dilligently details the sorry state of security of many of the systems that our economy and security depend on.
Feb 24, 2012 Sheldon rated it really liked it
Shelves: documentary
Good read. Most of the events mentioned are pretty well documented elsewhere but the author does a good job of pulling them together and painting the picture of dangerous cyber world. The scenarios he provides are all realistic.
Jan 15, 2012 Ilya rated it it was amazing
Great beginner book to explain risks American companies and government face from other nation states. A little too much FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) but there are no half star ratings. Highly recommend to non-techie types.
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