In This Review

Alarmist and shrill, this is nonetheless a useful book about the dark side of the information age. The author insists that all are vulnerable to electronic snooping and sabotage by individuals, organizations, and governments, and that the public drastically underestimates the extent of this activity. The assertions are overheated and often poorly substantiated, but Schwartau, a prolific cyberjournalist, makes enough telling points to be worth reading. If nothing else, his catalogue of cyberwar incidents (usually striking episodes of computer hacking or minor physical glitches in information systems that have caused large-scale confusion) is a reminder of the widespread dependence on digital communications and information. Like many other writers on this subject, he has less to say about defensive measures that can reduce society's collective vulnerability to information warfare attacks. A vital subject, but one still awaiting rigorous depiction.