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This revelatory and dramatic history of disinformation traces the rise of secret organized deception operations from the interwar period to contemporary internet troll farms
We live in the age of disinformation—of organized deception. Spy agencies pour vast resources into hacking, leaking, and forging data, often with the goal of weakening the very foundation of liberal democracy: trust in facts. Thomas Rid, a renowned expert on technology and national security, was one of the first to sound the alarm. More than four months before the 2016 election, he warned that Russian military intelligence was “carefully planning and timing a high-stakes political campaign" to disrupt the democratic process. But as crafty as such so-called active measures have become, they are not new.
The story of modern disinformation begins with the post-Russian Revolution clash between communism and capitalism, which would come to define the Cold War. In Active Measures, Rid reveals startling intelligence and security secrets from materials written in more than ten languages across several nations, and from interviews with current and former operatives. He exposes the disturbing yet colorful history of professional, organized lying, revealing for the first time some of the century’s most significant operations—many of them nearly beyond belief. A White Russian ploy backfires and brings down a New York police commissioner; a KGB-engineered, anti-Semitic hate campaign creeps back across the Iron Curtain; the CIA backs a fake publishing empire, run by a former Wehrmacht U-boat commander, that produces Germany’s best jazz magazine. Rid tracks the rise of leaking, and shows how spies began to exploit emerging internet culture many years before WikiLeaks. Finally, he sheds new light on the 2016 election, especially the role of the infamous “troll farm” in St. Petersburg as well as a much more harmful attack that unfolded in the shadows.
Active Measures takes the reader on a guided tour deep into a vast hall of mirrors old and new, pointing to a future of engineered polarization, more active and less measured—but also offering the tools to cut through the deception.
War 2.0: Irregular Warfare in the Information Age argues that two intimately connected grassroots trends―the rise of insurgencies and the rise of the web―are putting modern armies under huge pressure to adapt new forms of counterinsurgency to new forms of social war.
After the U.S. military―transformed into a lean, lethal, computerized force―faltered in Iraq after 2003, a robust insurgency arose. Counterinsurgency became a social form of war―indeed, the U.S. Army calls it "armed social work"―in which the local population was the center of gravity and public opinion at home the critical vulnerability.
War 2.0 traces the contrasting ways in which insurgents and counterinsurgents have adapted irregular conflict to novel media platforms. It examines the public affairs policies of the U.S. land forces, the British Army, and the Israel Defense Forces. Then, it compares the media-related counterinsurgency methods of these conventional armies with the methods devised by their irregular adversaries, showing how such organizations as al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Hezbollah use the web, not merely to advertise their political agenda and influence public opinion, but to mobilize a following and put violent ideas into action.
Cyber War Will Not Take Place cuts through the hype and takes a fresh look at cyber security. Thomas Rid argues that the focus on war and winning distracts from the real challenge of cyberspace: non-violent confrontation that may rival or even replace violence in surprising ways.
The threat consists of three different vectors: espionage, sabotage, and subversion. The author traces the most significant hacks and attacks, exploring the full spectrum of case studies from the shadowy world of computer espionage and weaponised code. With a mix of technical detail and rigorous political analysis, the book explores some key questions: What are cyber weapons? How have they changed the meaning of violence? How likely and how dangerous is crowd-sourced subversive activity? Why has there never been a lethal cyber attack against a country's critical infrastructure? How serious is the threat of "pure" cyber espionage, of exfiltrating data without infiltrating humans first? And who is most vulnerable: which countries, industries, individuals?
"Dazzling.” —Financial Times
As lives offline and online merge even more, it is easy to forget how we got here. Rise of the Machines reclaims the spectacular story of cybernetics, one of the twentieth century’s pivotal ideas.
Springing from the mind of mathematician Norbert Wiener amid the devastation of World War II, the cybernetic vision underpinned a host of seductive myths about the future of machines. Cybernetics triggered blissful cults and military gizmos, the Whole Earth Catalog and the air force’s foray into virtual space, as well as crypto-anarchists fighting for internet freedom.
In Rise of the Machines, Thomas Rid draws on unpublished sources—including interviews with hippies, anarchists, sleuths, and spies—to offer an unparalleled perspective into our anxious embrace of technology.
Die erste Kulturgeschichte der Cyberwelt, die nicht nur die technologische Entwicklung seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg in den Blick nimmt, sondern auch die Phantasien, die die Idee menschlicher Maschinen in der Literatur oder im Kino ausgelöst haben.