With a catchy title of Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War, (Simon & Schuster ISBN 9781476763255), this new book by Pulitzer Prize winning author Fred Kaplan looked to be a winner. Not that it’s not a good book; but for anyone who’s been involved with information security and cyberwarfare, most of the stories are already known and have long been covered.


The book gets it title based on an observation by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He observed in 2011 that the US had lost sight of the extraordinary story that was going on in the Middle East on the challenges faced by the United States and coalition forces. Gates noted that “we are in dark territory”. Kaplan uses dark territory as a metaphor throughout the book to describe the often clueless approach the US Government has taken to cybersecurity.

Many of the stories that Kaplan details are well known. From the Eligible Receiver red team exercises in 1997, to Stuxnet, the Sony breach and more. What Kaplan has done is interview many of the participants in the events and fill in many of the finer details.

The book does provide a good history of the development of cybersecurity and the threat of cyberwar. Kaplan was able to interview a number of the key players involved and is able to provider an interesting firsthand account of many of the key events in the history of information security.

For readers of Wired, TechCrunch and similar material, much of the material in the book will not be of news to them, nor will they glean much of any secret history. But for those new to the topic, Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War will be an interesting read.