I don't know about you, but Winter is when I get most of my reading done. It's dark and cold, I can get a blanket and sit with a cup of tea beside a window, watching the trees sway in the wind. It's very relaxing. I've put together a list of 10 great books, mostly factual books but there are a few fiction ones in here too. If you're looking for something to read over the Christmas period, here's a list to inspire you. Share it with family and friends if you're looking for a stocking filler!
Sandworm by Andy Greenberg
This is the story of hunting down a Russian Military Intelligence hacking group. They’re the group behind NotPetya, a malware attack against Ukraine in 2017 which caused roughly £10 billion worth of damage around the world. However, attacks against Ukraine started a few years before NotPetya. The Sandworm group carried out attacks against the country’s power grid in 2015 and 2016. Millions of people were plunged into darkness within Ukraine. The malware spread worldwide and caused hundreds of millions of pounds of damage to companies like Maersk, FedEx and Merck. Patients couldn’t get their medicine. Hundreds of ships couldn’t move around the world. It was chaos. In this book, Andy will take you behind the scenes and share the experiences he had with the researchers on the front lines who hunted down the Sandworm group. Get it on Amazon.
The Billion Dollar Spy by David E. Hoffman
This is the story of a lone Soviet engineer's espionage activities to aid the CIA. Over a period of six years, Tolkachev gave CIA officers thousands of photographs of top-secret documents. Contained within these documents were the designs for Soviet ground radars as well as radars used on warplanes which led to the USA's domination of the Iraqi airforce in 1991. The author got his hands on secret documents from the CIA and interviewed many people involved in the operation. As a result, we are lucky to have this rich history of Tolkachev. Get it on Amazon.
The Cuckoo’s Egg by Clifford Stoll
It starts with a system administrator at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finding a 75-cent discrepancy in computer leasing costs. This sends Cliff on the hunt for a mysterious hacker within the university network, armed with the intention of compromising government organisations. It's a gripping quest that explores issues we continue to face today on the Internet and gives wonderful insights into the Unix operating system. Get it on Amazon.
No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald
Glenn Greenwald rose to prominence when Edward Snowdon made his monumental leaks about the NSA’s illegal spy program, PRISM. Throughout this book, Glenn discusses the events surrounding that time, most of which reads like the intense spy-thriller it is. Glenn talks at length about his views on the right to be forgotten and the importance of encryption for the protection of all people. Notably, he states that the NSA could essentially bypass any encryption used at the time. If you’ve read The Billion Dollar Spy (read my review here), you’ll know that is entirely possible. Get it on Amazon.
The Code Book by Simon Singh
I read The Code Book when I was a teenager. I bought it as part of the annual book fair in school. It was an awesome read. I still remember breaking the Vigenere cipher using nothing more than pen and paper! Simon is a math wizard, but this book really makes it extremely fun, educational, and entertaining to learn about cryptography. Something that is so fundamentally important to almost every aspect of our lives today. From online shopping to messaging your family. Encryption is always there. Get it on Amazon.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
This magnificent piece of fiction written by Stieg Larsson follows the story of a troubled young woman who is a gifted hacker. She helps a disgraced journalist investigate the disappearance of a girl from a wealthy family many years ago. There's a series of these books, a graphic novel and a whole bunch of movies. My favourite movie version is the David Fincher one. Starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara and the soundtrack was produced by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (the brains behind the industrial rock band, Nine Inch Nails). Get the book on Amazon.
Threat Vector by Tom Clancy & Mark Greaney
You should know Tom Clancy's name: Rainbow Six, Splinter Cell, Jack Ryan, The Division, The Hunt for Red October. But this book is co-written by Mark Greaney, the guy who wrote The Gray Man starring Ryan Gosling (the book is better than the movie by the way). This book is about China's expansion in the South China Sea and attempt to essential conquer Taiwan. It's also rammed with cyber action. The authors have clearly done their homework and paint a pretty realistic picture about Nation State-level cyber warfare. If you like high-tempo action thrillers, this might be up your street. Get it on Amazon.
Countdown to Zero Day by Kim Zetter
I was given this book for free many moons ago by a company as part of their marketing. They are a cyber security company. A letter accompanied the book that stated "our company was founded by the team that carried out the Stuxnet attack." Which I thought was quite bold. I have a background in Military Intelligence and Stuxnet wasn't that long ago. Some things should be kept secret for a little longer. Kim's book really goes into great detail about what happened during this amazing attack on Iran's nuclear capability. The previous book, Threat Vector, contains fictional Nation-State cyber attacks, but this is the real deal. Get it on Amazon.
Future Crimes by Marc Goodman
Future Crimes is a great book. It reminds me a little bit of the hit TV show, Black Mirror. Equal parts depressing and engrossing. It's a great read for people inside and outside the cybersecurity industry and covers a massive range of topics. Notably, data privacy and how you are the product. The massive amount of money involved in data brokering. And what the future might hold for us all as the Internet of Things grows and evolves. Get it on Amazon.
Click Here to Kill Everybody by Bruce Schneier
Bruce's book is actually quite similar to Future Crimes in that it tells us about the state of the Internet. But where Bruce takes it to the next level is about the potential solutions to some, not all, of these problems. Bruce really sets the stage for what a secure Internet might look like and really explains the issues around anonymity and identity verification. This book is a must-read for cyber security professionals as it will probably reshape and elevate your thinking about the state of the Internet. Get it on Amazon.