Friday, December 4, 2015

Lights Out by Ted Koppel

A cyber attack is a real possibility and the U.S. is not prepared.

Koppel reports on the assessment of those in the military and intelligence communities, as well as academic, industrial, and civic authorities. Our electric grid is extremely vulnerable, he reports. I'd read novels about an EMP attack and, while such an attack would be serious, a cyber attack is a more serious threat.

I appreciated his explanation of the mechanics of the power grid and why it is vulnerable to attack. It was hard to read about how the government and civic organizations are unprepared for such an attack. The Department of Homeland Security seems to be ignoring the warnings of security experts.

Koppel also looks at survival techniques. He notes that people have been left to themselves as there has been no instruction from the government. He describes the “prepper” movement and commercial survival kits. His interviews of people determined to be self-sufficient were very interesting and enlightening. I was surprised at the vast preparedness of the Mormon Church. The LDS disaster preparations are, Koppel describes, “a model of what can be done.” (185)

For we Americans, the solution is a difficult issue. We want to maintain our privacy. Koppel notes however, “If we insist too adamantly on protecting privacy, we will sacrifice both free enterprise and security.” (230)

I recommend this book to those who want to know the full scope of the threat to our infrastructure. Koppel has done a great job of laying out possible scenarios, the government's inadequate preparation for such a disaster, and what some individuals and organizations have done in preparation. This book reminded me all over again of how vulnerable we are to a cyber or EMP attack. It's not a technical book as Koppel has added many interviews and personal reports that increases its sense of reality and its general readability.

Food for thought: “...for the first time in the history of warfare, small groups, even individuals, can undermine the critical infrastructure of a state.” (223)

You can find out more about the book and read an excerpt here.
You can watch short videos of Koppel on the subject here.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Ted Koppel was anchor and managing editor of ABC Nightly News from 1980 to 2005. Overall, Koppel spent forty-two years at ABC News. He has won every significant television award, some, numerous times. Since 2005 he has served as managing editor of the Discovery Channel, as a news analyst for BBC America, as a special correspondent for Rock Center, and commentator and nonfiction book critic at NPR.

Crown, 288 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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