Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyber-Terrorism

Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyber-Terrorism

Dan Verton’s Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyber-Terrorism is a recent publication that provides a concise and in-depth analysis of the threat posed to the American nation with regard to cyber-terrorism. The author focuses on illuminating the susceptibility of computer networks and infrastructure with regard to this latest form of terrorism. The book contains eleven chapters that follow a hierarchical presentation of the discussion, with the initial chapter appraising the argument as to whether cyber-terrorism exists or not. Plot development is enhanced through the subsequent chapters as Verton illustrates the various techniques in which cyber-terrorism is launched, the international and economic repercussions arising from the same, and the effect of cyber-terrorism on individual and social liberties. The author offers a remarkable account of the motives behind cyber-terrorism in the US as advanced by renowned terrorist factions like the al-Qaeda. The theme addressed in Verton’s publication centers on the broad discussion of hazards attached to technological advancements in today’s society. Cyber-terrorists tend to create malicious technological programs for their fanatic activities and the ability to launch the programs online accords them a level of ambiguity that makes physical tracking an issue.

Verton bases his discussion on the appraisal of the US network systems and a simulation of the result that would be realized once a high magnitude cyber-terrorism is launched against the infrastructure. A number of leading questions are applied within each chapter for a comprehensive analysis before any conclusion can be made with regard to the main research question that seeks responses as to whether the US defense systems provide considerable immunity against cyber-terrorism. Reader awareness and familiarity with the problem’s magnitude is achieved in the first two chapters through a simulation based on a real scenario used in the destruction of a network infrastructure that connected five nations for the purpose of economic progression. The scenario dubbed as the Black Ice acts as the basis of the publication. The author uses supporting data acquired from federal state exercises conducted within the project Eligible Receiver to assess the menace of cyber terrorism in the US. Terrorist factions and criminal gangs are identified as the main perpetrators of cyber crime with a low number of fifty individuals bearing the capability of causing a total annihilation of US network systems.

These statistics were computed by the Emergency Response and Research Institute and highly applied for the discussion in the third and fourth chapters. Fresh insight is offered in the discussion by an analysis of a terrorist group, the al-Qaeda and the cyber techniques used to ensure the success of the 2001 September attacks on the US. Verton attributes the success to the faction’s involvement with software manufacturers and specialists that have advanced its cyber terrorism activities. A notable weakness in the US security system against cyber terrorism is discussed in the sixth chapter. The author notes that the American nation reveals its technical structure advancements to the online community where cyber terrorists easily source the information and definitely create a counter system for the same rendering all security efforts as obsolete. In the seventh and eighth chapters, Verton revisits the September 11 attacks for a deeper analysis of the terrorism contributors. The last three chapters are an appraisal of the current policies and strategies adopted by the federal government as preventive mechanisms. Information from the Gilmore Commission and the US Department of Justice are used in this section.

The synchrony of the data gathered in chapter basis aids the author in supporting his claims and perspectives concerning the research question. Consequently, the reliance of the book on secondary resources like the government projects, reports and other research materials evidence the application of literature review as a primary methodology in the publication. The credibility accorded to the materials allows the author in the creation of a strong and informed argument within the book. Additionally, reviewed articles and projects were chosen according to their relevance in the topic of discussion and the research question to reduce data redundancy. To complement the secondary sources, the author also applies primary information sources conducted through interviews to key informants, researchers and professionals in the subject of cyber-terrorism. Noted interviews conducted in the study were federal officials like Richard Clark (counterterrorism controller), Roger Cressey and Howard Schmidt (President’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Board), Ron Dick (Federal Bureau of Investigations), James Gilmore (Governor of Virginia), Vince Cannistrano, Ruth David and Larry Johnson (Central Intelligence Agency), and Brenton Greene (National Communication Systems).

Additionally, Ed Badolato and Dr. Paula Scalingi (US Department of Energy), and Joe Weiss (Real-time systems consultant) were also quite instrumental in data collection. Al-Qaeda adherents also form part of the interviewees. Information compilation follows the standard research format this incorporates the introduction of the topic and the creation of research questions used to offer direction and scope of the investigation. Upon problem definition, an analysis of former data materials is afforded in literature review. Literature review majorly reports on past events and to balance this, primary resources are used to capture recent information or developments that enhance the perspective of the study. Results and proposals are given in the last chapters in form of the conclusion for the author’s final assertion regarding the position in the issue of cyber-terrorism. The incorporation of various research materials in the publication overcomes the challenge of personal bias majorly noted in single authored publications. Application of former research materials has to present reports on the realized results of the investigation and thereby incorporating various standpoints in the work.

The author’s bias is reduced considerably by the views of the cited materials and the professional interviews conducted. However, the book suffers from a redundant section in the discussion caused by information replication in the text. This form of error is attributed to the editorial panel for poor editing skills that have enhanced the apparent nature in which the book was written in. Consequently, information synchrony is affected since the reader is able to note the various sections that the book was written in due to lack of information flow. Poor editing has weekend the book in terms of readability as it infuses an element of boredom in the text, limiting the number of individuals that are bale to overcome this problem. Besides the repetitive nature, the book offers strong and informative positions with regard to cyber terrorism in the US. Verton offers the conclusion that effectual cyber terrorism requires a superior monitoring technique that incorporated both macro and micro-institutions that may be involved in the online community posing a usable route for cyber terrorism. This would include the scrutiny of individual and private cyber accounts for enhanced combating strategies.

From a subjective point of view, Verton’s conclusive remarks are agreeable as it is supported by the PATRIOT Act that sought to enhance the prevention against cyber-terrorism by permitting local authorities into personal electronic documents in a bid to trace cases of terrorism before they advance to high levels. The nature of amendments ensures that the public’s opinion is unanimously presented in the revision as the constitution is created and governed by the people for personal rights exercises. The Act is therefore a reflection of the standpoint in which American citizens have taken for effectual war against cyber crimes as noted through the 2001 attacks. Common sense dictates that the higher the number of cyber documents analyzed, the lower the success rates accorded to crimes. Ensuring a peaceful nation for the American citizen as noted by the author has to cost some sacrifice if the war against cyber-terrorism has to be successful.











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