Jacob Helberg has written a timely, erudite and illuminating work that deepens our understanding of the geopolitical landscape, new social upheavals, and the cyber climate. Helberg’s steady, urgent tone captures the tensions and micro-aggressions between global powers amidst ambiguous rules, machinations, and struggles for superiority.

A compulsively readable text, Jacob Helberg opens with a stark scene at Google, where he describes a broad-reaching, doomsday-like cyber security scenario. Helberg then forays into vexing questions, such as ‘were nation-state backed actors using the Google platform to pursue their own goals?’ And, ‘might the internet itself be transformed into a weapon of war?’

Helberg masterfully excavates historical tropes, scripts invisible to our collective consciousness, and the smoldering embers of concealed international exchanges.

Unlike other literature in the genre, The Wires of War is not a tell-all account, but rather a powerful narrative and a rich commentary on nuanced issues that few are aware of.

Author Jacob Helberg styles himself as a foot soldier on the frontlines of a new conflagration. In addressing his own work, Helberg writes, “It’s a look at the future that we might face if we don’t act.”

Contemporary cyber war

Business executives perceive cyber warfare as one of the most dangerous threats to their company or organization. Experts around the world have conceded that a cyber war may be in-progress. Jacob Helberg presents the grey war as an oppressive force simmering “just below the threshold” of formal, traditional, army-camouflage-style conflicts.

He encourages policy makers to develop stronger frameworks that facilitate more cogent and forceful responses to today’s amorphous cyber aggressions and aggressors. As Jacob Helberg tells it, nation-state backed efforts “reach into the hearts” of democratic societies, with the intention of destabilizing and disrupting.

Helberg reminds readers that the ultimate aim of cyber aggressions, a cyber cold war, or an actual cyber war likely would not relate to which country boasts greater military strength or more physical territory. Rather, they would center around ownership over the channels through which billions of people receive and respond to information – from the internet cables to the data itself.

Winners and losers

“The skirmishes of the coming years will be fought to defend network security, to protect intellectual property, gain influence over information, and control critical infrastructure,” says Helberg. He goes on to describes how the spoils of war will potentially include control over economies, infrastructure, privacy, culture, innovation and beyond.

What the future holds

Jacob Helberg shares his belief that hackers remain “poised to do much more [damage]” as time goes on. He describes leaks of false stories, disinformation, and blackmail.

“The frontend battle is only getting started,” and it represents a distressing reality.

The Wires of War – About the author:

Jacob Helberg joined Google as the global lead for news policy in 2016 and fought to quash disinformation and foreign interference in the ensuing US elections. He currently serves as an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). According to Jacob Helberg himself, he has always been drawn to the United States due to its reputation as a magnet for unbridled optimism, ideals and ideas.

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