The Darkening Web

Title:                      The Darkening Web

Author:                 Alexander Klimburg

Klimburg, Alexander (2017). The Darkening Web: The War for Cyberspace. New York: Penguin Press

LCCN:    2017008579



  • “No single invention of the last half century has changed the way we live now as much as the Internet. Alexander Klimburg was a member of the generation for whom it was a utopian ideal turned reality: a place where ideas, information, and knowledge could be shared and new freedoms found and enjoyed. Two decades later, the future isn’t so bright any more: increasingly, the Internet is used as a weapon and a means of domination by states eager to exploit or curtail global connectivity in order to further their national interests. Klimburg is a leading voice in the conversation on the implications of this dangerous shift, and in The Darkening Web, he explains why we underestimate the consequences of states’ ambitions to project power in cyberspace at our peril: Not only have hacking and cyber operations fundamentally changed the nature of political conflict–ensnaring states in a struggle to maintain a precarious peace that could rapidly collapse into all-out war–but the rise of covert influencing and information warfare has enabled these same global powers to create and disseminate their own distorted versions of reality in which anything is possible. At stake are not only our personal data or the electrical grid, but the Internet as we know it today–and with it the very existence of open and democratic societies. Blending anecdote with argument, Klimburg brings us face-to-face with the range of threats the struggle for cyberspace presents, from an apocalyptic scenario of debilitated civilian infrastructure to a 1984-like erosion of privacy and freedom of expression. Focusing on different approaches to cyber-conflict in the US, Russia and China, he reveals the extent to which the battle for control of the Internet is as complex and perilous as the one surrounding nuclear weapons during the Cold War–and quite possibly as dangerous for humanity as a whole. Authoritative, thought-provoking, and compellingly argued, The Darkening Web makes clear that the debate about the different aspirations for cyberspace is nothing short of a war over our global values”– Provided by publisher.


  • The body of cyber — Mind over matter — Everyone can be a god — Ruling the domain — Pin-striped cyber — No one but us — Attack to excess — Strategic innuendo — Russia’s invisible war — Of siloviki and cyber crime — Pwnage diplomacy — The Chinese cyber dream — Manning the great firewall — Handling the barbarians — Parsing cyber power — The great cyber game — An end-to-end world — Conclusion — Epilogue.


Date Posted:      April 20, 2017

Reviewed in The Intelligencer[1]

In the beginning, the Internet seemed an unqualified good: a way to share information, increase pro-ductivity, and experience new freedoms and diversions. Klimburg was a member of those idealists. Two decades later, all of us face the reality that our invention has evolved into an unprecedented weapon and means of domination. It is the main stage for global confrontation for this century.

In this new arena of conflict, brilliant individuals and informal networks have the capacity to bring ostensibly stable societies to their knees—but also save them from destruction—and nations are reconceiving information as the ultimate weapon and configuring their defenses accordingly.

Klimburg presents the urgent reality that we are vastly underestimating the far-reaching consequences of states’ aspirations to project power in cyberspace…a development as complex and troubling as the advent of nuclear weapons during the Cold War—and quite possibly as dangerous for humanity as a whole.

[1] Reviewed in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (22, 3, Winter 2016-17, p. 134).

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