This Machine Kills Secrets
How WikiLeakers, Cypherpunks, and Hacktivists Aim to Free the World's Information
By Andy Greenberg
(Dutton Adult, Hardcover, 9780525953203, 384pp.)
Publication Date: September 13, 2012
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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.
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.
“Greenberg masterfully portrays a new reality. Radical transparency for firms and governments is not just a decision but a technological fact of life.”
—Don Tapscott, bestselling author of The Naked Corporation and, most recently, Macrowikinomics
“A must-read for those seeking to understand the decades-long struggle between openness and secrecy, anonymity and attribution—and why that might be the most important struggle of the modern era. Meticulously researched, Greenberg provides first-hand accounts of the eccentric pioneers who are coding around censorship, repression, and even traditional law. He also captures the relentless distributed nature of the movement that’s powering it all.”
—Daniel Suarez, New York Times bestselling author of Daemon and Kill Decision
“Andy Greenberg shows us why cryptography has to be the marrow of the Internet. People who have no technical knowledge along with those who live and breathe bytes will gain a new vision of an invisible army of characters….This book will be one of the most important books of the decade.”
—Birgitta Jonsdottir, Member of the Icelandic Parliament and Chairperson of the International Modern Media Institution
“This is the story of a revolution in societal transparency. It’s an expose of the characters who have put secrets in peril. For those that seek transparency, it’s riveting tale. For those who must keep secrets, be warned: This book holds up a mirror to your worst fears.”
—Hugh Thompson, founder and CEO of People Security, Adjunct Professor, Computer Science, Columbia University
“Greenberg’s vivid storytelling makes the forces that culminated in Wikileaks — the people, the politics, and especially the technology — come alive.”
—Bruce Schneier, author of Liars and Outliers and Applied Cryptography
“Andy Greenberg tells a vivid story that weaves together compelling characters and powerful technology that could change politics more profoundly than any technology since the printing press. By the time I was finished, I was both inspired and terrified.”
—David Bacon, IBM, Watson Research Center
“Points to a future in which few corporate and government secrets are safe. This is the book you must read to understand the WikiLeaks phenomenon and the growing struggle over the most sensitive institutional secrets.”
— Stephen Solomon, Director of the Business and Economic Reporting Program, New York University Carter School of Journalism
"Computer hackers haven’t been made into heroes like this since Stieg Larsson created Lisbeth Salander—and luckily Greenberg shares a bit of Larsson’s flair for suspense, too." — SLATE
Greenberg delves eloquently into the magicians of the all-powerful technology that shatters the confidentiality of any and all state secrets while tapping into issues of personal privacy. — PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY
While lawmakers and law enforcers struggle with the philosophy and practicality of these issues, the people Greenberg profiles have made up their minds, and they are a few steps ahead. If you’re wondering who they are and why they feel so strongly, look no further than this book. — NEW SCIENTIST
“…fascinating and well-researched.” –WALL STREET JOURNAL
“Forbes magazine journalist Andy Greenberg takes readers on a terrific and revealing — if considerably unsettling — investigation into the shadowy war rooms behind our computer screens.” –CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER
"A globe trotting exploration into the heart of the contentious world of brilliant, eccentric and erratic game changers who have taken the tools at hand and turned them into powerful weapons that can — and have in some cases — altered the course of history…Greenberg went looking for a story and nailed it." — PAPER MAGAZINE
"A series of moving and deeply complex portraits… In all, Greenberg has created a seriously riveting read." — CAPITAL NEW YORK
Gripping…For all the technical detail (which Greenberg excels at explaining), this book is still about human feats and failings, idealism, trust and betrayal. — IRISH TIMES