le 15 octobre 2013
As our lives and interactions are increasingly based in and around the online world, a whole different level of security and safety concerns opens up. We have been living with the threat of computer viruses and identity theft for quite some time, but in recent years the sophistication and the reach of “cyber” threats has increased dramatically. It is not hard to imagine that at some point a malicious government with the right kind of know-how, or a very resourceful and malicious non-governmental organization might launch a devastating online attack that can cripple or seriously damage much of the important infrastructure in the US and the rest of the developed world. In fact, as many of the recent newspaper headlines can testify, NSA and many other high-level security agencies take this kind of threat very, very seriously.
In CyberStorm Mathew Mather makes a very detailed and gripping thought-experiment in which he imagines what would really happen if a very devastating computer attack were in fact to happen. He weaves a gripping and persuasive narrative around a group of families living in Manhattan. (For some reason all the worst disasters in fiction always hit Manhattan.) The story follows day-by-day events and paints a very painful picture of the deterioration of all civilized behavior and norms of conduct in the face of such a devastating catastrophe. Some parts of the book have a feel of an episode of The Walking Dead, a scene from The Road, or any number of other post-apocalyptic movies or novels. Nonetheless, CyberStorm is very unique in terms of its subject matter, especially of the details concerning the workings of the technological infrastructure on which we depend.
The only big issue that I have with this book is that the last part felt pretty rushed, and the ending was rather abrupt. I got the sense that the author was getting a bit tired of writing, and wanted to hurry up and finish it all up. Granted, some parts were a bit too drawn out, but a more balanced rewriting could have cut a few scenes or developments from the first part of the book, and replaced them with more detail in the latter parts.
This is overall a solid thriller that can feel a bit too disconcerting at times. In my book that is a good thing.