A Vulnerable System : The History of Information Security in the Computer Age

A Vulnerable System : The History of Information Security in the Computer Age


As threats to the security of information pervade the fabric of everyday life, A Vulnerable System describes how, even as the demand for information security increases, the needs of society are not being met. The result is that the confidentiality of our personal data, the integrity of our elections, and the stability of foreign relations between countries are increasingly at risk.

Andrew J. Stewart convincingly shows that emergency software patches and new security products cannot provide the solution to threats such as computer hacking, viruses, software vulnerabilities, and electronic spying. Profound underlying structural problems must first be understood, confronted, and then addressed.

A Vulnerable System delivers a long view of the history of information security, beginning with the creation of the first digital computers during the Cold War. From the key institutions of the so-called military industrial complex in the 1950s to Silicon Valley start-ups in the 2020s, the relentless pursuit of new technologies has come at great cost. The absence of knowledge regarding the history of information security has caused the lessons of the past to be forsaken for the novelty of the present, and has led us to be collectively unable to meet the needs of the current day. From the very beginning of the information age, claims of secure systems have been crushed by practical reality.

The myriad risks to technology, Stewart reveals, cannot be addressed without first understanding how we arrived at this moment. A Vulnerable System is an enlightening and sobering history of a topic that affects crucial aspects of our lives.

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