At last, the first full account of the cypherpunks who aim to free the world’s institutional secrets, by Forbes journalist Andy Greenberg who has traced their shadowy history from the cryptography revolution of the 1970s to Wikileaks founding hacker Julian Assange, Anonymous, and beyond.
WikiLeaks brought to light a new form of whistleblowing, using powerful cryptographic code to hide leakers’ identities while they spill the private data of government agencies and corporations. But that technology has been evolving for decades in the hands of hackers and radical activists, from the libertarian enclaves of Northern California to Berlin to the Balkans. And the secret-killing machine continues to evolve beyond WikiLeaks, as a movement of hacktivists aims to obliterate the world’s institutional secrecy.
This is the story of the code and the characters—idealists, anarchists, extremists—who are transforming the next generation’s notion of what activism can be.
With unrivaled access to such major players as Julian Assange, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, and WikiLeaks’ shadowy engineer known as the Architect, never before interviewed, reporter Andy Greenberg unveils the world of politically-motivated hackers—who they are and how they operate.
About Andy Greenberg
ANDY GREENBERG is a staff writer for Forbes magazine, focusing on technology, information security and digital civil liberties. His Forbes story on WikiLeaks and the future of information leaks in late 2010 was the first magazine cover story to feature Julian Assange. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, filmmaker Malika Zouhali-Worrall.
In late 2010, Forbes technology reporter Greenberg sat down with the notorious Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. The resulting interview has been viewed nearly 1 million times on the Forbes website and served as a launching pad for Greenberg’s debut book. While the author scatters details of Assange and WikiLeaks throughout the book, Greenberg has larger aims: to catalogue “a revolutionary protest movement bent not on stealing information, but on building a tool that inexorably coaxes it out, a technology that slips inside of institutions and levels their defenses like a Trojan horse of cryptographic software and silicon.” With this in mind, the author examines the lives and work of numerous cryptographers, hackers and whistleblowers—some well-known (e.g., Daniel Ellsberg, who first leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971) and some considerably less so (Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Icelandic activist and member of parliament who is behind a push for greater freedom of information there). However, the book bounces between these often-unrelated biographies so frequently that readers get only a vague sense of each person’s character. A chapter on the hacker group Anonymous, for example, is based in large part on information from a defunct website and is especially hazy; readers will likely find better information in the recently published We Are Anonymous, by Parmy Olson, who, unlike Greenberg, actually interviewed Anonymous members. Overall, the book’s biggest flaw is that its scope is simply too wide. Greenberg valiantly attempts to cover the big picture of information leaks around the globe, but due to the overwhelming cast of characters—as well as some rather dull descriptions of how online cryptography works—the book never fully coalesces. – Kirkus Reviews
And the Firewalls Came Tumbling Down - ‘This Machine Kills Secrets,’ by Andy Greenberg
The New York Times Book Review – October 12, 2012 (Excerpt)
There’s much to like about “This Machine Kills Secrets,” Andy Greenberg’s well-reported history of WikiLeaks and the many projects it has inspired, but one unintentionally hilarious quotation stands out in particular. “You can’t run this like a zoo where everyone can go and watch,” is how Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Julian Assange’s former lieutenant, defends his decision not to release the source code of OpenLeaks, his own challenger to WikiLeaks. Sunlight might be the best disinfectant, but even the most ardent advocates of transparency reach for the sunblock once it gets too bright.
Greenberg, a writer for Forbes, has produced an exhaustive prequel to the never-ending WikiLeaks saga. Unlike some recent books on the subject, this one adopts a decidedly historical perspective and situates the ideas behind WikiLeaks in the heady debates about computing, privacy and civil liberties that have dominated many an online conversation in the last three decades. And, as if this challenge were not grand enough, Greenberg also tries to explain the highly complex technologies that have made a project like WikiLeaks possible, introducing such hidden gems of geek cuisine as “salt hashing” and “onion routing.” By and large, he succeeds, and the resulting dish is delicious and not at all too technical. (In the interests of transparency, let me add that Greenberg once interviewed me for Forbes, and he uses some of those quotations in the book.) [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith. - 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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