The Darkening Web: The War for Cyberspace

August 25th 2017 - 10:16

About the Book

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.

The book was presented at HCSS by Alexander Klimburg on September 26. More information can be found here.

Order the book on AmazonBol, and Penguin Random House.


"A chilling but well-informed and readable tour of cyber interdependence. Anyone interested in our growing global vulnerabilities should read this book." — Joseph S. Nye, Jr., author of The Future of Power

"A compelling and authoritative book that will shape the conversation about the intersection of the Internet and foreign policy." — Bruce Schneier, author of Data and Goliath

"A dark but riveting account of how competition between nations threatens the future of the Internet. Klimburg provides a broad overview of the technical and political underpinnings of the Internet and reveals how many of them are being eroded by short-sightedness and national pride. A must-read." — Jeff Moss, founder of Black Hat and DEF CON conferences

"Alexander Klimburg, an Austrian-American academic, gives "Internet Dreamers" a "Wake Up Call". — Wolfgang Kleinwächter, former Director on the ICANN Board and Special Ambassador to NETMundial in CircleID

"With its unparalleled reach and targeting, Klimburg argues, the Internet has exacerbated the risks of information warfare." — Tamsin Shaw in The New York Review of Books

The Darkening Web provides a sweeping yet nuanced overview of how we got to where we are online, with ample backstory… A thoughtful framework for assessing developments in this fast-moving area…Ultimately, Klimburg concludes, the battle for a free Internet ‘is nothing less than the struggle for the heart of modern democratic society.’”—Nature

Updating the picture is Alexander Klimburg's quietly horrifying new book The Darkening Web: The War for Cyberspace, which opens with a brutally sobering declaration about the kind and extent of damage that cyber warfare could inflict...With gut-clenching efficiency, Klimburg imagines plenty..."—Christian Science Monitor

“An excellent primer on cyberwarfare. . . . A chilling portrait of the emergence of cyberspace as a domain for political conflict.”Publishers Weekly

“Exhaustively researched. . . . A complex, fascinating book. . . . Indispensable reading for anyone keen to understand what lies ahead as cyberspace displaces conventional battlefields as the preferred venue for resolving conflict.”—The Toronto Star

“Klimburg delivers an urgent warning that civil libertarians and cybernauts alike will want to heed.”—Kirkus

"Klimburg provides an extraordinarily informative and accessible examination of the threats to physical infrastructure, privacy and the free flow of information posed by the struggle for control of cyberspace... 'The Darkening Web' shines a spotlight on a vitally important and little understood threat."—Tusla World

"Seven months into the Trump administration, which is actively working to unravel the freedom of the internet and aiding the spread of disinformation from the Oval Office itself, The Darkening Web feels less like a work of advocacy, more like a cry for help. If only we had known, perhaps we could have staged an intervention." — The New Scientist

"Alexander Klimburg thinks we are not nearly as worried as we should be about internet-borne mayhem in our increasingly interconnected world. His timing couldn’t be better." — The Wall Street Journal





Carnegie Council

Atlantic Council Event - Cyber Risk Monday: The Darkening Web

Dr. Alexander Klimburg is currently the Director of the Cyber Policy and Resilience Program at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies and the Director of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace Initiative and Secretariat. He is also a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and an Associate Fellow at the Austrian Institute of European and Security Policy.