Summary of Dawn of the Code War

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  • Controversial
  • Overview
  • Concrete Examples


In this eye-opening examination of the war on cyberthreats, former federal prosecutor John Carlin reports from the front lines. In one unsettling account, he describes an official trip to China when he was a top adviser in Barack Obama’s Justice Department. Carlin returned to his hotel room to find that an intruder had examined his belongings, afterwards learning that someone had sent a near-flawless spear-phishing attempt to his boss, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller. Carlin’s in-depth, firsthand study is a useful wake-up call to anyone who boots up a computer or totes around a smartphone. 

About the Author

Former assistant attorney general for national security John Carlin is a career federal prosecutor who served as chief of staff to then-FBI Director Robert Mueller. Award-winning journalist Garrett M. Graff contributes to Wired and CNN.



Full-Scale Code War

While few in Washington admit it, the United States is fighting a full-scale Code War against foreign adversaries. China, Russia, Iran and North Korea have launched attacks on American internet users. Terrorists and organized criminals use the internet for nefarious ends. So far, the US’s response to the cyberthreat is insufficient. 

Ambitious attacks on the US financial system and political power structure have not raised the urgency level in Washington. The risks are obvious: Americans shop and save online. The internet controls everything from health records to household appliances. Tens of millions of smartphones track every place users have been. Fitbits and other health devices store troves of personal data.

Cyberspace is so all-encompassing that tallying the total tab of cyberthreats is nearly impossible. One credible estimate pegged the damage at $600 billion a year as of early 2018. China has become the world’s second-largest power in part by stealing trade secrets from US companies and the US government. China’s theft of American intellectual property is said to total more than...

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