Joel Brenner, author of America the Vulnerable, on tour October 2011

Posted By on September 1, 2011

About America the Vulnerable

• Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: The Penguin Press (September 29, 2011)

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 government, business, and individuals.

As a top-level National Security Agency insider in the days after 9/11, Joel Brenner witnessed up close the battleground on which our adversaries are now attacking us: cyberspace.  In America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare, he draws on his years at the top of our counterintelligence system to offer a timely and chilling appraisal of the future face of war – battles waged on our databases with dangerous repercussions for government, business, and all of us.

While we may be familiar with WikiLeaks and Internet identity theft, most Americans are not yet fully aware of the extent of today’s cyber espionage and its dangerous repercussions.  A new generation of spies who operate remotely from China, the Middle East, Russia, and France have disabled our power plants, stolen our latest submarine technology, purloined millions of credit card numbers, invaded the innermost ring of the Pentagon, placed counterfeit computer chips in our fighter aircraft, stolen a new radar system the Navy spent billions to develop; and used thumb drives to download battle plans from laptops in Iraq. It’s no wonder the U.S. government recently decided to treat certain instances of cyber espionage as acts of war.  But as Brenner explains in America the Vulnerable, there is still more to be done to effectively address this threat.

As Brenner elucidates, three supposedly disparate spheres – personal, corporate, and governmental – are facing the same problem: insecure networks that are making privacy and secrecy nearly impossible at every level.  Our ideal of a “free internet” and our relentless pursuit of transparency are a big part of the problem, according to Brenner.  So is the fact that the very networks where individuals shop, government agencies hold their data and corporations store their secrets are interconnected and porous.  We have failed to collectively make the changes necessary to ensure that the growing threats of piracy, cyber war and corporate theft are effectively addressed.

As Brenner explains, we must impose the same level of law and order online that already exists on our streets and establish agreements to govern global internet traffic just the way every other form of international commerce and communication is already governed.  A clarion call to effectively address our insecure networks, America the Vulnerable offers an unsettling and revelatory appraisal of the new faces of war and espionage—virtual battles with dangerous implications for government, business and all of us.

About Joel Brenner

Joel Brenner is a former senior counsel at the National Security Agency, where he advised on legal and policy issues relating to network security.  Previously, he served as the national counterintelligence executive in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the NSA’s inspector general.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison (B.A.), the London School of Economics (Ph.D.) and Harvard Law School (J.D.).  Brenner currently practices law in Washington, D.C., specializing in cyber-security and related issues.

Joel’s Tour Stops

Saturday, October 1st: In Homeland Security

Monday, October 17th: Andy ITGuy – Information Security Blog

Thursday, October 20th: Noisy Room

Monday, October 24th:

TBD: Border Lines

TBD: Security Week


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