from Net Politics and Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program

A Summer Reading List for the Digitally (or Cyber) Inclined

Cyber Net Politics CFR Summer Reading
Cyber Net Politics CFR Summer Reading

July 19, 2016

Cyber Net Politics CFR Summer Reading
Cyber Net Politics CFR Summer Reading
Blog Post
Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

Summer is a great time to catch up on that massive list of books and articles you have been meaning to read but never quite got around to. Fortunately, Net Politics is here to remind you which books about digital and cyber issues you should read first. Reading a non-fiction book about tech issues along with your protective tinfoil hat will make you the envy of everyone on the beach.

Cyber War Will Not Take Place, by Thomas Rid

There are many in the academic community that think talk of cyberwar is overhyped. Rid may be one of the most prominent of these thinkers and provides one of the most cogent arguments as to what cyberwar actually is, why it will not happen, and the limitations of cyber tools in warfare. Essential reading for those looking to debunk the arguments of your pundit friend, who annoyingly believes that cyberwar is a thing.

Countdown to Zero Day, by Kim Zetter

Stuxnet is arguably the most written about malware in all of history, and in the eyes of many, was an event where the United States crossed the Rubicon. Zetter, who covers all things cybersecurity at WIRED, provides one of the best accounts of Stuxnet’s discovery, its capabilities, and the implications for U.S. security and foreign policy.

Consent of the Networked, by Rebecca MacKinnon

The early days of the internet were filled with utopian ideals, namely that the state had no sovereignty over cyberspace. Those days are long behind us as governments seek to shape online discourse and exert their jurisdiction over the digital world. Despite their best efforts, MacKinnon argues that governments and governance structures are ill equipped to deal with the challenges that the online world creates, such as public discussions occurring on private platforms or facilitating surveillance.

Fierce domain: Conflict in Cyberspace 1986-2012, by Jason Healey

The increased news coverage of cyber incidents, particularly on behalf of cyber collectives such as Anonymous or state-sponsored actors, may give a casual observer that cyberattacks are a relatively recent phenomenon. Healey unpacks the history of cyber-based conflict, and provides a detailed account of the major cyber incidents over the last thirty years and the policy changes that occurred as a result. Essential reading for those looking to see the forest from the trees.

Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance, by Julia Angwin

Ever wanted to know what it’s like to maintain your privacy online and avoid being tracked? Angwin does her best to disconnect. She buys a burner phone, tries to encrypt everything, and quits Google. She quickly realises the massive challenges associated with what she calls the surveillance dragnet created by the state through data collection and surveillance laws and private companies.

Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World, by Timothy Garton Ash

The internet is one of the best free speech platforms ever created, and the most important since the creation of the printing press. It has also attracted significant scrutiny as a platform that can spread hateful and illiberal ideas, drawing the ire of governments looking to enforce their interpretation of the limits of free speech. Garton Ash argues in classic liberal fashion that bad speech should be countered with more speech, and proposes ten principles to foster civilized disagreement to avoid harsher society- or government-enforced limits on speech.

Hacked World Order: How Nations Fight, Trade, Maneuver, and Manipulate in the Digital Age, by yours truly

I wrote it, it’s great and you should buy it. Need I say more?


And for those looking to be extra wonkish this summer, there are two reference manuals that are always great to keep close. The first is the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare, the result of a three year effort to examine how existing legal norms apply to state activity in cyberspace. The second is an Introduction to Internet Governance, which provides a primer on the politics of internet governance issue you could possibly imagine, from technical protocols that keep the internet humming to intellectual property protection.

Happy reading!