The Chinese Conspiracy, a novel by John Mariotti

The Chinese Conspiracy, a novel by John Mariotti

John Mariotti's new novel The Chinese Conspiracy poses a huge question: "What Happens When Nothing Works?"

What if all forms of electronic communications and computer controls were "shut down" at once? This is exactly the frightening prospect posed by John Mariotti's new novel, The Chinese Conspiracy. The U. S. government is temporarily helpless, as panic spreads. Evil forces are using global extortion to exact a frightening toll.

The story starts with the human pain and suffering of a small-town plant closing, and spreads quickly around the world--involving China and Pakistan--where the plot unfolds. Real world situations and current technologies add chilling credibility to The Chinese Conspiracy. Mariotti takes readers from human interest to the global power struggle and back again.Far less deadly than the attacks of 9/11, yet infinitely more disruptive, The Chinese Conspiracy poses the question: "WHAT HAPPENS WHEN NOTHING WORKS?"

In the tradition of Tom Clancy and Vince Flynn thrillers, Mariotti weaves a contemporary story of cyber-terrorism, plant closings and the human reactions that result. The Chinese Conspiracy may keep you up all night--and it will certainly have you reaching for the phone or e-mail to contact loved ones--if anything still works!

"I love stories about conspiracies that could possibly happen and this one weaves a tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat! I went through this book so fast my head was spinning afterwards! It was truly a great read and I will keep this for a long time. I hope to pass this down to someone who would enjoy it as much as me." -- Katherine

"Not since The Manchurian Candidate have I read such a compelling thriller about global conspiracy. But Mariotti goes much further, linking his masterfully fast-paced narrative to the clear and present danger of total Cyber-war. This novel is a call to action that our society must answer now." --Richard S. Levick, President & CEO, Levick Strategic Communications, author of The Communicators: Leadership in the Age of Crisis.

"The Chinese Conspiracy has the intrigue of John Grisham, the spice of Mickey Spillane and the technical aspects of Tom Clancy." --Tom Quinn

"A fascinating book that gives the reader a glimpse into warfare of the future. The outcome of future wars will be determined far in advance of the actual conflict. This is but a preview of things to come." --Paul Broadbent, Former Sr. CIA/Defense Intelligence Program Manager

"America is at war and the latest front is the war on cyber terrorism. ... U.S. computer networks are under constant cyber attacks, by direct assaults by remote sites, by probes by hackers and criminal networks, and by espionage from foreign countries." -- Jon Stout, Aspiration Software LLC

"This chilling new novel links the world's increasing dependency on the Internet to vulnerabilities that can be exploited for evil." --Calvin Myer, Co-founder WorldWide Ltd.

"This is a fascinating and concerning story--nation-state terrorists using known technologies as 'Weapons of Mass Disruption.' I'm concerned that it is actually possible, and hope it can be prevented." --Ed Straw, Vice Admiral, USN Retired

"If you can read only one exciting novel this year, this is the one to read. It is so realistically possible it's scary." --Bo Dietl, Retired NYPD Homicide Detective, & One Tough Cop

The Chinese Conspiracy: The story

A gripping drama set in the lush mountains of West Virginia and halfway around the world in Guangzhou, China. The Chinese Conspiracy describes how known technologies and evil intentions become tools of extortion on a global scale.

Jim Martini returns to his hometown to see why its major employer failed suddenly, nearly destroying the town. He finds more than a failed company. Jim risks his life to expose a conspiracy using stolen US technology to threaten America's future. Many failed attempts have been made in the last decade, but none have the scale and scope of The Chinese Conspiracy.

The US government is busy fighting rogue nations and radical Islamic terrorism around the globe. This leaves it to Jim, his patriotic hometown friends and a small team of Federal agents to deal with the most chilling threat of all-- The Chinese Conspiracy.

What would happen if everything controlled by computers was shut down, all at the same time? Phones, Internet, email, Wall Street trading, Air Travel, traffic controls, GPS, everything down including Governmental and Military communications? Chaos? Crisis? Disaster?

The Chinese Conspiracy brings the reality of cyber-terrorism so close to home you will be reaching for the phone or computer to contact your loved ones--if anything electronic still works!

The Chinese Conspiracy: The Author

John Mariotti is an award winning business author and an internationally recognized executive, consultant, keynote speaker. He has written hundreds of articles and columns and nine non-fiction books. He started his career in the telecommunications industry, and was deeply involved in governmental affairs during parts of his career. He lives in the Columbus, OH area. [Link: More about John--Link to web site bio.]

The Chinese Conspiracy: Where to buy it



Barnes And Noble

Trade Paperback

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Hardcover Book


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The Chinese Conspiracy: The Characters

  • Jim Martini: Clean cut, nice looking, 6-1, 180 lbs, good athlete, excellent scholar, Valedictorian of high school class. Left Briggs to attend Lehigh U. where he received a B. S. in Engineering, then to Wharton (U. of Penn.) for an MBA. ; Married briefly, now divorced. No close relatives nearby. Martini-Ed, Jim's father, worked at Winton, mother Mary worked part-time at a day care center. Both had health problems. Heavy smokers, with a hard working life-style that led to early deaths within a couple years of each other in the early 90's when both were in their mid-late 50's.
  • Joe Ragurski: Rugged and handsome, 6-2, 200 lbs. Great athlete in high school, and a natural leader, but erratic and opinionated. Always like his beer way too much. Didn't go to college after he lost a free ride to State because of a DUI & felony conviction.
  • Anita Santo Ragurski: Thin, blue eyes, long blonde hair and a great figure. The love of Joe's life through high school. Salutatorian of their class. Married Joe right out of high school, had two beautiful kids--Ronnie and Alice. Divorced Joe after 10+ years. After the divorce, Alice left Briggs and never came back.
  • Alice: The older of the two kids, left Briggs to points unknown.
  • Ronnie: younger of Joe and Anita's kids, entered military at age 18, and just returned to Briggs after a 4 year stint in military communications and intelligence.
  • Karen Venn: Married three (or is it four) times, and constantly falling in love--just not staying in love--at least not with the same man. Kampy would have gladly taken her, but she never could even see him. A knock out with great looks, whatever color her hair was that year-but often some shade of blonde.
  • Marty Rients: wife, Ethel, Owner of Rients Construction Co. with brother Calvin since 1977 when they took it over from their father Ezekiel Rients.
  • Billy R. Gray: Bartender at Miller's Pub and school mate of Marty Rients, wife Emily, high school sweetheart and daughter of Charley Miller who started Miller's Pub right after he came back from WWII. ;
  • Clara Thompson, secretary to the law firm of Riegel (George) and Manzo (Anthony)
  • Mark Aft: was a partner in the public accounting company WMC has used for years. Mark is cool, polished, well dressed and a little too slippery. Recent assignments have been with the international division of a global accounting company and he is cockier than ever after his multiple stays in the Orient.
  • Vern Baker, a totally unlikely H.R. V.P., but an acquaintance of Mark's from recent jobs in LA and the Orient. A big overbearing, intimidating, put down artist, who has a nasty streak and a strange sense of humor.
  • Irwin Holter: Congressman from West Virginia and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and old friend of the Jim Martini from college days together.
  • Bruce Doyle, owner of Gunsmiths, and an old friend of Jim's. Rough talking, but a good, honest man.
  • Wei Ying, Chinese Minister of Communications and Computing Technology, and the leading proponent of World Dominance in the New Guard of the Chinese government, and an underground former leader of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.
  • Wu Xuebaio, Senior Assistant to, and the workhorse of the New Guard's plans for World Dominance. A ruthless and unprincipled manipulator who clawed his way to the top at all costs.
  • Li Zhan, Administrative Aide for the leaders of the New Guard, and trusted confidant of her brother, Huang Li. Harbors hatred of the way she is treated and a concern for the direction of her leaders, but is loyal to the death because of her fear.
  • Qin Shaomin, Coordinator of Project Silence, the key leverage point for the New Guard to force the US and much of the developed world to capitulate to its demands.
  • Li Huang, The ambitious young technologist who is the key person in Qin Shaomin's New Guard project team for Project Silence.
  • Hou Duo, An aggressive young Chinese military communications specialist, and well trained in Special Forces work, who was assigned to accompany Li Huang to the US for Project Silence
  • "Jimmy" Tseng, The American liaison with the New Guard assigned to assuring no interference from political or military agencies.
  • "Harry" Tsui, Jimmy Tseng's henchman who does the heavy work and wet work...and anything else
  • Raj Patel, a brilliant Pakistani programmer and scientist, and overall leader of the Team Silence moving to Briggs.
  • Raman "Ram" Najib, a part Pakistani, part Egyptian programming and transmission engineer assigned to Team Silence as its communications leader, brother Nanjah "Nicky" and his thug partner Pasha, known as "Packy"
  • Bob Halter, Special Representative for the National Security Council
  • Rebecca Twain, Special agent, CIA, a petite and cute agent, brown hair, brown eyes.
  • John Wallace, Director, FBI Cyber-protection Unit, a well-built (6-3, 215 lbs.) intelligent, intense and technologically astute black man.
  • Hal Backwith. He is the Deputy Director for Information Security over at NSA. Tall, thin graying with an office-job pallor.

Other Briggs characters:

  • Ben Jetters: Union Rep. and Joe's mentor, and counselor. Widowed and lonely since then. A bitter man with a score to settle. Short, stocky, walked with a decided limp from an accident in the plant when he was a young man, shortly after losing his wife Frances. Estranged from son Michael from that time on.
  • Michael Jetters, son of Ben, trying to rebuild contact with Ben, embittered by a dishonorable military discharge, and the entire Briggs debacle, and determined to somehow "get even" with someone? Newly recruited to the Team Silence as a local point man.
  • Bob Bennett Plant Manager for the long, good years, and starting into the bad ones. Solidly built, broad shoulders, an old school. Inflexible, but proud and loyal to the company and the old man.
  • Jim Gagliardi "Gags": Banker and country club president. Slender, still, but thinning hair and sallow complexion makes him look older than his years. An old friend of Jim and Joe's, although a couple years older than. Got Jim and some other consultants involved trying to save the plant, but too late. Just in time to share the grief. Wife: Mary Kay, homecoming queen, cheerleader, blonde, beautiful, and knows it.
  • Bob Kampenfelter (Kampy"): Long time employee of the company. Tried hard to cause change, but his words went unheard, and unheeded. Was the CFO during the good times, and took over operations after. Bob retired early with a heart attack. Too late to save the plant, he had to supervise the shutdown. Never married.
  • W. R. Winton (the old man): The son of the founder, and the man who built Winton Manufacturing Co. into a thriving enterprise.

The Chinese Conspiracy: The Setting

  • Briggs, WV...a factory town of 40,000 people tucked in the mountains of West Virginia.
  • Motel 8, out east of town on US Rt. 29, (Broad Street), not far north of the Interstate
  • WMC Factory, across the old Norfolk & Southern RR tracks on a 100-acre tract parallel to the tracks, between Main Street on the east and Center St. on the west, still only a few blocks from downtown just south and across the tracks.
  • Courthouse Square, downtown in the block formed by Main (E), Center (W), First St. (S), and Second St. (N).
  • McGillicuddy's, across from the courthouse on Center St.
  • Riegel and Manzo law offices, just a short distance west of Center on the north side of 2nd.
  • Miller's Pub, also on Broad St., across from Motel 8 and back toward town a little.
  • Anita's home, in the older part of town, northwest of downtown, a couple long blocks from State Highway 135, which runs south to the interstate cloverleaf.
  • McCaskey's Shell, out at the interchange of the interstate and Broad St.
  • Walmart and the Diner, just past the interstate south and on the west side of town
  • Devil's Knuckle Mountain just on the edge of town, and adjacent to and behind the site of the Winton Mfg. Plant.

Novel Describes Real Threat of Cyber-Terrorist Attack

A cautionary tale, ripped from tomorrow's headlines!

WEAPONS OF MASS DISRUPTION: The Threat Of Cyber-Terrorism

Wiki-Leaks Cables Discuss Vast Hacking by a China That Fears the Web

The New York Times, December 4, 2010

As China ratcheted up the pressure on Google to censor its Internet searches last year, the American Embassy sent a secret cable to Washington detailing why top Chinese leaders had become so obsessed with the Internet search company: they were Googling themselves. The May 18, 2009, cable, titled "Google China Paying Price for Resisting Censorship," quoted a well-placed source as saying that Li Changchun, a member of China's top ruling body, the

Politburo Standing Committee, and the country's senior propaganda official, was taken aback to discover that he could conduct Chinese-language searches on Google's main international Web site. When Mr. Li typed his name into the search engine at, he found "results critical of him."

That cable from American diplomats was one of many made public by WikiLeaks that portray China's leadership as nearly obsessed with the threat posed by the Internet to their grip on power -- and, the reverse, by the opportunities it offered them, through hacking, to obtain secrets stored in computers of its rivals, especially the United States.

Extensive Chinese hacking operations, including one leveled at Google, are a central theme in the cables. The hacking operations began earlier and were aimed at a wider array of American government and military data than generally known, including attacks on computers of American diplomats preparing positions on a climate change treaty.

One cable, dated early this year, quoted a Chinese person with family connections to the elite as saying that Mr. Li himself directed an attack on Google's servers in the United States, though that claim has been called into question. In an interview with The New York Times, the person cited in the cable said that Mr. Li personally led a campaign against Google's operations in China but that to his knowledge had no role in the hacking attack.

The cables catalog the heavy pressure that was placed on Google to comply with local censorship laws, as well as Google's willingness to comply -- up to a point. That coercion began building years before the company finally decided to pull out of China last spring in the wake of the successful hacking attack on its home servers, which yielded Chinese dissidents' e-mail accounts as well as Google's proprietary source code.

The demands on Google went well beyond removing material on subjects like the Dalai Lama or the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Chinese officials also put pressure on the United States government to censor the Google Earth satellite imaging service by lowering the resolution of images of Chinese government facilities, warning that Washington could be held responsible if terrorists used that information to attack Chinese government or military facilities, the cables show. An American diplomat replied that Google was a private company and that he would report the request to Washington but that he had no sense about how the American government would act.

Yet despite the hints of paranoia that appear in some cables, there are also clear signs that Chinese leaders do not consider the Internet an unstoppable force for openness and democracy, as some Americans believe. In fact, this spring, around the time of the Google pullout, China's State Council Information Office delivered a triumphant report to the leadership on its work to regulate traffic online, according to a crucial Chinese contact cited by the State Department in a cable in early 2010, when contacted directly by The New York Times.

The message delivered by the office, the person said, was that "in the past, a lot of officials worried that the Web could not be controlled." "But through the Google incident and other increased controls and surveillance, like real-name registration, they reached a conclusion: the Web is fundamentally controllable," the person said.

That confidence may also reflect what the cables show are repeated and often successful hacking attacks from China on the United States government, private enterprises and Western allies that began by 2002, several years before such intrusions were widely reported in the United States.

At least one previously unreported attack in 2008, code-named Byzantine Candor by American investigators, yielded more than 50 megabytes of e-mail messages and a complete list of user names and passwords from an American government agency, a Nov. 3, 2008, cable revealed for the first time.

Precisely how these hacking attacks are coordinated is not clear. Many appear to rely on Chinese freelancers and an irregular army of "patriotic hackers" who operate with the support of civilian or military authorities, but not directly under their day-to-day control, the cables and interviews suggest.

But the cables also appear to contain some suppositions by Chinese and Americans passed along by diplomats. For example, the cable dated earlier this year referring to the hacking attack on Google said: "A well-placed contact claims that the Chinese government coordinated the recent intrusions of Google systems. According to our contact, the closely held operations were directed at the Politburo Standing Committee level."

The cable goes on to quote this person as saying that the hacking of Google "had been coordinated out of the State Council Information Office with the oversight" of Mr. Li and another Politburo member, Zhou Yongkang." Mr. Zhou is China's top security official.

But the person cited in the cable said he did not make that claim, and also doubted that Mr. Li directed a hacking attack aimed at securing commercial secrets or dissidents' e-mail accounts -- something considered the purview of security officials. Still, the cables provide a patchwork of detail about cyberattacks that State Department and embassy officials believe originated in China with either the assistance or knowledge of the Chinese military.

For example, in 2008 Chinese intruders based in Shanghai and linked to the People's Liberation Army used a computer document labeled "salary increase -- survey and forecast" as bait as part of the sophisticated intrusion scheme that yielded more than 50 megabytes of electronic mail messages and a complete list of user names and passwords from a United States government agency that was not identified.

The cables indicate that the American government has been fighting a pitched battle with intruders who have been clearly identified as using Chinese-language keyboards and physically located in China. In most cases the intruders took great pains to conceal their identities, but occasionally they let their guard down. In one case described in the documents, investigators tracked one of the intruders who was surfing the Web in Taiwan "for personal use."

In June 2009 during climate change talks between the United States and China, the secretary of state's office sent a secret cable warning about e-mail "spear phishing" attacks directed at five State Department employees in the Division of Ocean Affairs of the Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change.

The messages, which purport to come from a National Journal columnist, had the subject line "China and Climate Change." The e-mail contained a PDF file that was intended to install a malicious software program known as Poison Ivy, which was meant to give an intruder complete control of the victim's computer. That attack failed.

The cables also reveal that a surveillance system dubbed Ghostnet that stole information from the computers used by the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and South Asian governments and was uncovered in 2009 was linked to a second broad series of break-ins into American government computers code-named Byzantine Hades. Government investigators were able to make a "tenuous connection" between those break-ins and the People's Liberation Army.

The documents also reveal that in 2008 German intelligence briefed American officials on similar attacks beginning in 2006 against the German government, including military, economic, science and technology, commercial, diplomatic, and research and development targets. The Germans described the attacks as preceding events like the German government's meetings with the Chinese government.

Even as such attacks were occurring, Google made a corporate decision in 2006, controversial even within the company, to establish a domestic Chinese version of its search engine, called In doing so, it agreed to comply with China's censorship laws. But despite that concession, Chinese officials were never comfortable with Google, the cables and interviews show.

The Chinese claimed that Google Earth, the company's satellite mapping software, offered detailed "images of China's military, nuclear, space, energy and other sensitive government agency installations" that would be an asset to terrorists. A cable sent on Nov. 7, 2006, reported that Liu Jieyi, an assistant minister of foreign affairs, warned the American Embassy in Beijing that there would be "grave consequences" if terrorists exploited the imagery.

A year later, another cable pointed out that Google searches for politically delicate terms would sometimes be automatically redirected to Baidu, the Chinese company that was Google's main competitor in China. Baidu is known for scrubbing its own search engine of results that might be unwelcome to government censors.

Google conducted numerous negotiations with officials in the State Council Information Office and other departments involved in censorship, propaganda and media licensing, the cables show. The May 18, 2009, cable that revealed pressure on the company by Mr. Li, the propaganda chief, said Google had taken some measures "to try and placate the government."

But Chinese officials became alarmed that Google still did less than its Chinese rivals to remove material Chinese officials considered offensive. Such material included information about Chinese dissidents and human rights issues, but also about central and provincial Chinese leaders and their children -- considered an especially taboo topic, interviews with people quoted in the cables reveal.

Mr. Li, after apparently searching for information online on himself and his children, was reported to have stepped up pressure on Google. He also took steps to punish Google commercially, according to the May 18 cable. The propaganda chief ordered three big state-owned Chinese telecommunications companies to stop doing business with Google. Mr. Li also demanded that Google executives remove any link between its sanitized Chinese Web site and its main international one, which he deemed "an illegal site," the cable said.

Google ultimately stopped complying with repeated censorship requests. It withdrew from China earlier this year, citing both the hacking attacks and its unwillingness to continue obeying censorship orders.

James Glanz reported from New York, and John Markoff from San Francisco. Andrew W. Lehren contributed reporting from New York.

Cyber criminals increasing complexity of data attacks

Simon Quicke
November 10, 2010 11:57 AM

Security threats in 2011 will be targeted, sophisticated and have the feel of something more like cyber-terrorism as the criminals get slicker in their attacks.

The warning comes from Websense, which has published its threat report for next year, pointing out that already the trend for blended web attacks has plagued 2010. The web is the increasing route for criminal activity with recent examples of the Stuxnet and Aurora attacks showing the sophisticated nature of the way data is being targeted.

The conclusion of the Websense report, aside from the threats continuing to grow, is that legacy defences are now not longer adequate protection. "The continued rise of organized cyber criminal gangs and the emergence of targeted advanced malware threats are the most concerning trend we've seen," said Dan Hubbard, CTO at Websense.

One of the other trends from this year that will carry on causing damage is the decision by cyber criminals to target social networking sites in their determination to steal data. "With so many intertwined vectors, these threats demand a new approach to security that looks at both inbound and outbound content. To protect against today's blended and sophisticated threats, companies need to plug the space left by a scattershot spraying of point solutions," said David Redmond, vp of business development, product management and marketing at Websense.

How China swallowed 15% of 'Net traffic for 18 minutes

By Nate Anderson | Last updated a day ago Nov. 18, 2010

In a 300+ page report (PDF) today, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission provided the US Congress with a detailed overview of what's been happening in China--including a curious incident in which 15 percent of the world's Internet traffic suddenly passed through Chinese servers on the way to its destination.

Here's how the Commission describes the incident, which took place earlier this year:

For about 18 minutes on April 8, 2010, China Telecom advertised erroneous network traffic routes that instructed US and other foreign Internet traffic to travel through Chinese servers. Other servers around the world quickly adopted these paths, routing all traffic to about 15 percent of the Internet's destinations through servers located in China.

This incident affected traffic to and from US government (".gov'') and military (".mil'') sites, including those for the Senate, the army, the navy, the marine corps, the air force, the office of secretary of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and many others. Certain commercial websites were also affected, such as those for Dell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and IBM.

The culprit here was "IP hijacking," a well-known routing problem in a worldwide system based largely on trust. Routers rely on the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to puzzle out the best route between two IP addresses; when one party advertises incorrect routing information, routers across the globe can be convinced to send traffic on geographically absurd paths.

This happened famously in 2008, when Pakistan blocked YouTube. The block was meant only for internal use, and it relied on new routing information that would send YouTube requests not to the company's servers but into a "black hole."

As we described the situation at the time, "this routing information escaped from Pakistan Telecom to its ISP PCCW in Hong Kong, which propagated the route to the rest of the world. So any packets for YouTube would end up in Pakistan Telecom's black hole instead." The mistake broke YouTube access from across much of the Internet.

The China situation appears to have a similar cause. The mistaken routing information came from IDC China Telecommunications, and it was then picked up by the huge China Telecom. As other routers around the world accepted the new information, they began funneling huge amounts of US traffic through Chinese servers, for 18 minutes.

As with many things involving cyberattacks and Internet security, it's hard to know if anything bad happened here. The entire thing could have been a simple mistake. Besides, Internet traffic isn't secure and already passes throughmany servers outside of one's control. Content that is sensitive but still suitable for the public Internet should be encrypted. Still, the Commission points out the many possible problems that such an IP hijack could cause.

Although the Commission has no way to determine what, if anything, Chinese telecommunications firms did to the hijacked data, incidents of this nature could have a number of serious implications.

This level of access could enable surveillance of specific users or sites. It could disrupt a data transaction and prevent a user from establishing a connection with a site. It could even allow a diversion of data to somewhere that the user did not intend (for example, to a "spoofed'' site). Arbor Networks Chief Security Officer Danny McPherson has explained that the volume of affected data here could have been intended to conceal one targeted attack.

What about encryption? Perhaps most disconcertingly, as a result of the diffusion of Internet security certification authorities, control over diverted data could possibly allow a telecommunications firm to compromise the integrity of supposedly secure encrypted sessions. The proliferation of certification authorities means that "untrustworthy" certification authorities are much harder to

police, and there's speculation now that governments are involved in getting access to certificates in order to break encryption.

China has openly sought all sorts of encryption information for years, including the source code for routers, network intrusion systems, and firewalls. Those rules went into effect in May 2010, and they require foreign firms to submit this information to Chinese authorities before the government will purchase any such products. But because the government review panels contain employees of rival Chinese firms, and because providing this information could make a company's worldwide products more susceptible to Chinese hacking or cyberattacks (which would in turn kill sales of said products in most countries), the Commission notes that no foreign firm has yet submitted to the new scheme.

Cyber Attacks Test Pentagon, Allies and Foes

By SIOBHAN GORMAN in Washington and STEPHEN FIDLER in London
The Wall Street Journal
SEPTEMBER 25, 2010

Cyber espionage has surged against governments and companies around the world in the past year, and cyber attacks have become a staple of conflict among states.

U.S. military and civilian networks are probed thousands of times a day, and the systems of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters are attacked at least 100 times a day, according to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO's secretary-general. "It's no exaggeration to say that cyber attacks have become a new form of permanent, low-level warfare," he said.

More than 100 countries are currently trying to break into U.S. networks, defense officials say. China and Russia are home to the greatest concentration of attacks.

The Pentagon's Cyber Command is scheduled to be up and running next month, but much of the rest of the U.S. government is lagging behind, debating the responsibilities of different agencies, cyber-security experts say. The White House is considering whether the Pentagon needs more authority to help fend off cyber attacks within the U.S.

"The Obama administration is very focused on this. The president has designated [cyber security] as a critical national asset," said an Obama administration official, adding that agencies responsible for cyber security have been staffing up, including Homeland Security's development of SWAT teams to respond to cyber attacks on critical infrastructure. "Not only do we have a strategy, but we have moved beyond that to implementation."

NATO's systems are behind the U.S.'s, said one person familiar with U.S. assessments of NATO's systems after a recent trip the deputy defense secretary made there. "The Chinese totally owned them," this person said, adding that NATO hadn't installed many of the basic network security patches, because it had decided some of its computers were too important to ever turn off.

NATO spokesman James Appathurai denied Friday that the alliance's computers were regularly compromised. Apart from a couple of disruptions to its public website, there have been no successful infiltrations of NATO's classified systems, he said.

In the U.K., "we expect to see increased resources for cyber-security operations as part of the upcoming security and defense spending review, and hope to work even more closely with the U.S. on such operations," said Sir Nigel Sheinwald, British ambassador to the U.S., on Friday.

Meanwhile, cyber weapons are being developed at a rapid pace. Many countries--including the U.S., Russia, China, Israel, the U.K., Pakistan, India and North and South Korea--have developed sophisticated cyber weapons that can repeatedly penetrate and have the ability to destroy computer networks, cyber-security specialists say.

Some U.S. intelligence officials and analysts worry that cyber weapons may become the next "loose nukes" problem. "The question is: When will these leak to al Qaeda?" said James Lewis, a cyber-security specialist at the Center for Strategic and International studies who regularly advises the Obama administration. "These are very tightly controlled, but some number of years from now, nonstate actors will have really good stuff."

After Russia's 2007 cyber attacks on Estonia and its 2008 attacks on Georgia during their brief war, U.S. officials concluded that cyber attacks had become a staple of modern warfare.

In the past year, cyber attacks have accompanied a host of geopolitical scuffles. India and Pakistan are attacking each other in cyberspace almost daily, attempting to take down websites with denial-of-service attacks. Among the victims have been Indian police websites, an industry cybersecurity specialist said.

As tensions rise between China and Japan, hackers in both countries have lobbed cyber attacks at each other this month, with Chinese denial of service attacks on Japan's Defense Ministry, as well as its trade ministry and others. Earlier this year, a Kuwaiti hacker attacked a handful of Israeli banks.

The recent computer worm dubbed Stuxnet was the first public example of cyber weapons targeting software for computer-control systems. Most of the systems infected were in Iran, and analysts have speculated that the worm was targeting Iran's Bushehr nuclear facility.

Such weapons could also be used to target software running petroleum refining and production facilities, one industry cyber specialist said.

Stuxnet alarmed officials both in the Pentagon and U.S. industry, because it targeted the core of industrial computer-control systems. "Instead of messing with the nervous system, you're going right to the brain now," one U.S. official said.

Gen. Keith Alexander, the chief of the new U.S. Cyber Command told a congressional panel this week: "What concerns me the most is destructive attacks that are coming, and we're concerned that those are the next things that we will see."

The danger, Gen. Alexander said, is that such attacks can do damage that is difficult to reverse and can't be fixed by blocking Internet traffic, destroying computers and other automated devices connected to the Internet before the government or a company can respond.

"That could cause tremendous damage," he said. "If that were to happen in a war zone, that means our command and control system and other things suffer."

Another danger, he said, is that such an attack could be mounted on the U.S. electrical or banking sector, and the affected company would largely be on its own to defend itself.

The White House is still trying to figure out how the government could aid the response to an attack on the private sector. If there were an attack today, Gen. Alexander said, his Cyber Command does not have the authority to respond to it.

"We need to come up with a more dynamic or active defense," he said. "That is what we are working on right now." The Cyber Command is developing a response model, he said, that Homeland Security and the White House might seek to adapt to the civilian sector.

John Sawers, the head of MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence service, told a private meeting of a U.K. parliamentary panel this year that "the whole question of cyber security is shooting up everybody's agendas," and that it is "a major new challenge to the intelligence community."

Jonathan Evans, his counterpart at MI5, the domestic security service, said, "I don't think we are where we need to be."

NATO also needs to develop the means to identify attacks in the early stages and to better detect the source of any attacks, Mr. Rasmussen said. It has set up a new department to cope with the issue: the Emerging Security Challenges Division.

The growth of the threat is prompting calls for an international agreement to limit cyber attacks.

Nigel Inkster, a former senior MI6 official, now with the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London, said an agreement needed to establish thresholds beyond which a cyber attack would be deemed to constitute an act of aggression.

Jamie Shea, head of policy and planning in Mr. Rasmussen's office, has also called for an agreement to establish an international consensus on limiting and punishing cyber attacks. Through a U.N. working group, the U.S., China, Russia and other countries have taken initial steps to devise ground rules for cyber crime and cyber warfare.

Write to Siobhan Gorman at and Stephen Fidler at

Introducing U.S. Cyber Command

By William J. Lynn III
JUNE 3, 2010

The eye blinks in just over 300 milliseconds. In that time a computer message can travel twice around the world, transmitting a virus or malicious computer code across the Internet to disrupt or destroy crucial military networks.

Military computers, just like your home computer, are subject to viruses and malware that can adversely affect their operation. Military networks are also vulnerable to intrusion and theft, but not only by identify thieves and credit card scammers.

More than 100 intelligence agencies and foreign militaries are actively trying to penetrate our systems, and weapons-system blueprints are among the documents that have been compromised. Many countries are also developing offensive cyber capabilities.

Cyberwarfare is especially attractive to our adversaries because the low cost of computing devices means you do not have to build an expensive weapons system, like a stealth fighter, to pose a significant threat. A dozen talented programmers could, if they find a vulnerability to exploit, cripple an entire information system.

To prevent this from happening, the Defense Department is establishing the U.S. Cyber Command. It's mission is critical. The command and control of our forces, as well as our weapons and surveillance systems, depend upon secure and reliable networks to function. Protecting this digital infrastructure is an enormous task: Our military runs 15,000 networks and uses more than seven million computer devices. It takes 90,000 people and billions of dollars to maintain our global communications backbone.

Establishing Cyber Command is just the latest in a series of steps the Pentagon has taken to protect our military networks through layered and robust cyber defenses. We have instituted strict standards to ensure that our firewalls are properly configured and antivirus software up-to-date. We have reduced the number of ports through which commercial Internet traffic enters and leaves military networks, and we have installed highly sophisticated defense systems that detect and repair network breaches in real time.

But we cannot rely solely on a Maginot line of firewalls. It is not sufficient to react to intrusions after they occur. Waiting even milliseconds is too long.

The National Security Agency has therefore pioneered systems that use our monitoring of foreign communications to detect intrusions before they reach our networks and to counter them with automated defenses once they arrive. These active defenses now protect all defense and intelligence networks in the .mil domain.

Thanks to these active defenses, our networks are significantly more secure than they were just two years ago. Yet the cyber threat is so pervasive and pernicious that we must mount a broader and more permanent institutional response.

Until recently, the military's cyber effort was run by a loose confederation of joint task forces spread too far and too wide, geographically and institutionally, to be effective. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recognized that the scale of the cyber enterprise had outgrown the military's existing structures. What is needed is a dedicated command to oversee cyber operations.

U.S. Cyber Command will be led by a four-star general and be part of the military's Strategic Command. It will bring together a half dozen military organizations that each play a role in cyber operations. A single chain of command will run from the head of Cyber Command to units around the world.

When this country was founded, enemy ships crossed the oceans in days. By World War II, aircraft crossed in hours. During the Cold War, missiles could do it in minutes. Now, cyber attacks can strike in less than the blink of an eye. In the face of this threat, the U.S. military must be ready to defend our country at network speed. Mr. Lynn is the deputy secretary of defense.

Now Is the Time to Prepare for Cyberwar
Hackers can already steal from our networks. They could paralyze them too.

April 2, 2010

'If the nation went to war today in a cyberwar, we would lose. We're the most vulnerable. We're the most connected. We have the most to lose." Former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell delivered that bracing statement at a recent Senate hearing on cybersecurity.

The information networks that nearly every American relies on are under constant attack by sophisticated cyber adversaries. These adversaries target our identities, our money, our businesses, our intellectual property, and our national security secrets. They often succeed. What's more, they have the potential to disrupt or disable vital information networks, which could cause catastrophic economic loss and social havoc. We are not prepared.

President Barack Obama is right to call cyberspace a "strategic national asset." The challenge is that 85% of these assets are owned by private companies and individuals. The government cannot protect cyberspace alone--and neither can the private sector. Therefore, we need proactive collaboration.

As members of both the Senate Commerce and Intelligence committees, we know our national security and our economic security is at risk. We have proposed legislation, the Cybersecurity Act of 2010, that will create a partnership between the government and private companies to protect our information networks before, during and after a crisis. Our bill will do the following:

  • Create the position of national cybersecurity adviser to coordinate government efforts and collaborate with private businesses. The person who fills this position would be confirmed by the Senate and answer directly to the president.
  • Launch a new public awareness campaign to make basic cybersecurity principles and civil liberty protections as familiar as Smokey the Bear's advice for preventing forest fires.
  • Support significant new cybersecurity research and development and triple the federal Scholarship-For-Service program to 1,000 students. This program recruits individuals to study cybersecurity at American universities and then enter public service.
  • Create a market-driven process that encourages businesses to adopt good cybersecurity practices and innovate other ways to protect our security. Companies that excel at this will be publicly recognized by the government, and companies that fall short in two consecutive independent audits will be required to implement a remediation plan.
  • Encourage government agencies and private businesses to work together to protect our civil liberties, intellectual property rights, and classified information. Our bill provides for unprecedented information sharing, including giving cleared private sector executives access to classified threat information.
  • Require the president and private companies to develop and rehearse detailed cyber-emergency response plans in order to clarify roles, responsibilities and authorities in a time of crisis. In a cybersecurity emergency, such as a terrorist attack or a major natural disaster, our country must be prepared to respond without delay.

Our proposal does not take private management responsibility away from private networks. To the contrary, it empowers the owners and operators of critical networks to meet cybersecurity challenges.

Divided fiefdoms in our intelligence community handicapped our ability to thwart the terrorists attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Bureaucratic confusion left our nation unable to properly respond to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. And this past Christmas, a failure to connect the dots nearly allowed a terrorist attack to take place aboard a U.S. airliner outside of Detroit.

We cannot allow similar weaknesses to expose our nation to serious cyber threats. But neither the government nor the private sector can protect our privacy and national security alone. This is a job for our entire country, and this year must be the turning point. We must build a strong public-private partnership for cybersecurity in the 21st century.

Mr. Rockefeller, a Democrat, is a U.S. senator from West Virginia. Ms. Snowe, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Maine

...IS THIS ANOTHER UNHEEDED WARNING, LIKE THE ONES BEFORE 9/11?..."Our society is increasingly relying on new information technologies and the Internet to conduct business, manage industrial activities, engage in personal communications, and perform scientific research. While these technologies allow for enormous gains in efficiency, productivity, and communications, they also create new vulnerabilities to those who would do us harm. The same interconnectivity that allows us to transmit information around the globe at the click of a mouse or push of a button also creates unprecedented opportunities for criminals, terrorists, and hostile foreign nation-states who might seek to steal money or proprietary data, invade private records, conduct industrial espionage, cause a vital infrastructure to cease operations, or engage in Information Warfare." --Ron Dick, former Director of the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Program

NOW THAT THE ELECTIONS ARE OVER, people are once again focusing on war (Afghanistan) and rogue nations (Iran, North Korea, et. al.) and "weapons of mass destruction," but there's another, related story of a similar danger that gets far less attention than it deserves: Cyber-Terrorism. Those with the power to attack the Internet and our communications infrastructure possess dangerous Weapons of Mass Disruption that threaten us all. "The same interconnectivity that allows us to transmit information around the globe at the click of a mouse or push of a button also creates unprecedented opportunities for criminals, terrorists, and hostile foreign nation-states," warned Dick.

In the past decade the story after story broke, and was "buried" because of attacks on the Defense Department, the Army and the Pentagon dating as far back as 2002 and right up to the present. "We are our own worst enemy," said the then, Air Force Major General John Bradley, deputy commander of the Pentagon's Joint Task Force on Computer Network Operations. "The Defense Department is more vulnerable than anyone in the world." (As reported by the UPI). And today, it still is--perhaps worse than ever.

BUT, AS JOHN MARIOTTI HAS BEEN WARNING, THE HARROWING PROSPECT OF CHINESE HACKERS RANGING AROUND IN PENTAGON COMPUTERS IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG. If terrorists managed to disrupt or destroy the Internet and jam or shut down worldwide electronic communications, worldwide business would screech to halt and America's (and the world's) economy would go into a tailspin. Every plane or jet would have a "terrorist" on board if terrorists or foreign agents managed to compromise the vast, computer-driven air-traffic control system. The world's transportation systems and financial markets could be brought to a standstill. Shipping, billing, manufacturing, communication, would all shut down. Instant messages, cell-phone calls, and email would be lost in the collapse of cyberspace. Corporations and private citizens alike would be affected. Indeed, weapons that attack cyberspace and worldwide communications are "Weapons of Mass Disruption" that could compromise the economic and physical well being of the entire planet.

MANY VOICES HAVE SPOKEN OUT ABOUT THE GROWING THREAT OF CYBER-TERRORISM, BUT THEY ARE LIKE THE VOICES THAT SPOKE OUT ABOUT PLANE HIJACKINGS BEFORE SEPTEMBER 11, AND THE RENEWED TERRORIST THREATS SINCE THEN. They are doomed to be ignored in the absence of the giant "wake-up call" described in The Chinese Conspiracy. Only a crisis or a calamity will focus the world's attention on the looming danger. John Mariotti, an award winning business author with a background in engineering and telecommunications, has studied the threat posed to the United States and the world by cyber-terrorists.

In an effort to focus attention on this growing threat, and to rally the government to deal with it more effectively, John Mariotti has written The Chinese Conspiracy, in which he interweaves real-world situations with technological possibilities that trigger a global turmoil of epic proportions. Ripped from tomorrow's headlines, Mariotti's book is a cautionary tale and a wake-up call. The book may be presented in the guise of "fiction," but the chilling warning it sets forth is all too real. Former NYPD Detective Bo Dietl calls it "so realistically possible, it's scary."

"We couldn't wage a war without the Internet." --Major General Bradley, Deputy Commander of the Pentagon's Joint Task Force on Computer Network Operations

In his new techno-thriller, The Chinese Conspiracy, Mariotti masterfully weaves a tale of cyber-terrorism, tragic plant closings and planetary upheaval as familiar technologies and evil intentions combine as tools of terror and extortion on a global scale. Real-life, current events are a vital element of the novel, making The Silence read like an investigative exposŽ.

The story of a town's devastation by a plant closing is the origin of the story. Lax IT security, greedy capitalists, and arrogant, complacent US organizations aid the power-hungry Chinese revolutionaries. Government authorities are as helpless as the general population against The Chinese Conspiracy.

The premise of The Chinese Conspiracy was also borne out in interviews with Richard Clarke, formerly chairman of the president's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, and more recently author of CyberWar. When asked about threats, he spoke about the nature and potential of the threat to the nation's critical infrastructure from breaches in cyber-security:

"There's a spectrum of threats out there, some of which we experience every day... from [individuals] who simply vandalize Web pages to those who conduct nuisance denial-of-service attacks, ...and criminals who conduct fraud and industrial espionage online. On the high end, however, you face people who potentially could conduct attacks to...stop things from working. ... it's potentially nation-states or terrorist groups. These attacks could be conducted in isolation or in conjunction with a physical attack. ... because those groups would seek to disrupt the national economy." --Richard Clarke

Says Mariotti, "The government, as usual, is moving too slowly and is vulnerable to an attack like the one described in The Chinese Conspiracy. The recent growth of wireless/cell phone and 'always on' broadband connections via cable modems increases the risk. I hope my novel will be an enjoyable read, and will also alert the people of the US who use email and chat groups of the need to protect their systems. It is the vulnerability of Microsoft's PC dominance on millions of personal computers to viruses and worms that cyber-terrorists will capitalize on."

"Protecting cyberspace requires guarding both physical and virtual assets. The Internet is different from every other kind of critical infrastructure we want to protect.... You can keep bad guys off the property if you're protecting a building, but you can't keep people off the Internet. The biggest danger is terrorist hackers coordinating a cyber attack with an attack against a physical target.... Imagine if hackers had taken down the air traffic control system [at the same time as the Sept 11 attack]." --Clyde Wayne Crews, Cato Institute

New Novel Describes Chilling Threat, Realistic Setting

Panic would spread across the U. S. like wildfire if the events described in John Mariotti's new novel The Chinese Conspiracy were to actually happen. Imagine the reaction of the public and government officials if all electronic communications were "silenced" at one time--and this "silence" was controlled by a foreign power with evil intentions.

In the tradition of Tom Clancy techno-thrillers, Mariotti weaves a contemporary tale of cyber-terrorism, plant closings and the human reactions. The Chinese Conspiracy describes how known technologies and evil intentions can be used as tools of terror and extortion on a global scale. Current and recent past events are parts of the novel, making it read like a cross between a fictional story and an investigative expose'.

The devastation of small towns by plant closings forms the basis for the story. Lax info-tech security, greedy capitalists, and arrogant, complacent US organizations aid the power-hungry Chinese revolutionaries. Government authorities are as helpless as the general population in the face of The Chinese Conspiracy. The human-interest element grounds it in a reality that makes its premise all the more frightening.

John Mariotti, an accomplished non-fiction author, uses his first novel to interweave real-world situations with technological possibilities that would trigger global turmoil of epic proportions. The Chinese Conspiracy may not keep you up all night--but it will certainly have you reaching for the phone or e-mail to contact loved ones--if anything still works!


One of this year's most exciting new novels reflects recent headlines that the Pentagon has been under cyber attack from a foreign nation. Its timing could not be much better.
If I could, I would want everyone in the White House, the Congress, the Pentagon, and the business community to read The Chinese Conspiracy by John Mariotti ($22.95, iUniverse, softcover). It is a thrilling novel of cyber war whose author has established himself as a successful writer of nine non-fiction books, as well as a contributor to blogs on the Forbes and American Express websites. The story begins with a scenario of America's vital communications and elements of its infrastructure system, including the Pentagon, shut down by an unknown cyber enemy. Imagine the chaos if all the traffic lights in New York turned green at the same time?
Mariotti uses his extensive knowledge of commerce and computer technology to envision an America in which no one can talk via their cell phones or access the Internet. It is one in which millions of computers have been invaded by a "worm" that controls their use. This may, in fact, be the way a future war will be fought, but for now this novel offers a globe-spanning story that will remind you of novels by Tom Clancy. If you read just one thriller this year, make sure it is this one.
The best place to purchase this novel is via
This will appear in the forthcoming August edition of my monthly report on new books,

Alan Caruba, Editor

I don't know about you but everyday I turn on my computer and it becomes my life for several hours. I have mail to answer, orders to fill, reviews to write, and the list goes on. I know at times when my server is not working correctly and I cannot get on I become agitated as my world seems to be off-centered. Although all of that information is not a good thing, it is a truth, nevertheless. Now imagine what would happen if the internet did not come back on, if your cell phone or house phone, for that matter did not work. What if the television was off and the radio did not play no matter what you did? Scary thought isn't it?
In this outstanding book by John Mariotti we are taken on a journey where that is exactly what is being planned. As a Chinese Minister decides to see just what would happen if a cyber attack were to take place the race is on as our hero, Jim Martini, stumbles upon the plot while visiting his hometown, and races to stop it. What a rush!
This is an outstanding book in so many ways. The storyline could be tomorrow's headlines and it could happen across the nation of in just a small section. The characters were very well defined, giving you that 'I've known you all my life' feel to 'wow, what a creep. who are you?' In other words both good and bad, mixing them with just the right flow within the story as each character played his or her part. It flowed at a good pace, keeping my attention and keeping the thrill effect right to the end. A very good read, well written. It was not only entertaining but left me with much to think about. Recommended.

Shirley Johnson/Senior Reviewer
MidWest Book Review

John Mariotti's latest thriller, "The Chinese Conspiracy," is a piece of fiction, but it could be so true in our current society! How real terrorism and cyber-terrorism is today causes fear to build while reading this book as this story could very well take place.
Jim returns home to his hometown in West Virginia and finds more going on than he bargained for. He finds himself in the midst of a conspiracy involving a Chinese revolutionary group taking over a company and the town through spyware and cyber threats. Jim merely returned to find out why a company is closing and what has happened to the busy, bustling town of Briggs that he remembers so vastly. Jim never imagined he would find out all that he did. Mariotti drives home the point that this could happen anywhere and at anytime. The trouble of dealing with cyber-crimes is that it could be any one person or group and could be based at any one place or several locations throughout the world. Mariotti states, "There is no way to counter-attack if you cannot find who attacked you, or how, or where they are."
This is an eye-opening read for what could very well be taking place someplace now or in the near future. The book is easy to read and follow even if you are not that familiar with the cyber world. Mariotti has created a great thrilling read filled with suspense, romance and sadly some very realistic events for today's society.

"Horns honking, the crunch of metal on metal and the screams of the injured created a cacaphony of chaos.
All over Manhattan similar scenes were evident, because somehow all the traffic lights in the bulk of Manhattan had switched to green at one time." ~ vii Prologue, The Chinese Conspiracy.
And this is the prologue of a book about a conspiracy to control computers all over the world to gain ultimate power using viruses, worms, trojans and more. Makes for an exciting read!

At about 11AM on a certain day, all the traffic lights in New York City turn green. While cars are crashing into each other outside, the ticker and monitors inside the New York Stock Exchange go blank. Similar events are happening in different areas of the country including Vegas casinos and FBI headquarters in Washington DC.
Jim Martini gets two calls from his second cousin Pat who is a priest at a church in Briggs, West Virginia saying that something is wrong in their hometown. Pat is about to leave for a 3 month long retreat at the Vatican and is concerned about what shape he will find the town in when he returns. On the second call Father Pat explains to Jim that the major employer in the town -- WMC -- has filed bankruptcy and the town is slowly becoming a ghost town because of people leaving town after loosing their jobs. He again begs Jim to come take a look at things and he agrees.
Something very secretive and rotten is going on in China.
This is the framework of The Chinese Conspiracy by John Mariotti. The book starts off strong and never stops. This is a techno thriller with action that spans two continents. There are over 100 short chapters in the book which should provide the reader a convenient place to stop reading. With a suspenseful end to each chapter, the reader is drawn to the next. This was a very difficult book to put down. John Mariotti's easy to read writing style combined with excellent plot, colorful characters, and realistic technology make The Chinese Conspiracy a book that lovers of action thrillers will really enjoy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I was given a copy of this book by the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

by James Hutchings
of The Book Reivew

June is a published (both e-book and book format) author: Disturbed by God: A Journey of Spiritual Discovery and soon-to-be-published Soulistry - Artistry of the Soul: Creative Ways to Nurture your Spirituality. She delights in facilitating retreats and workshops, speaking at conferences, teaching and blogging. She has had a variety of careers - radio and television personality; educator; chaplain; writer; spiritual director; retreat leader; ordained minister; book and magazine editor.
Everything author John Mariotti puts forth in his second novel points to the chilling possibility of global cyber-terrorism. Worm viruses began infiltrating computers around 2000, but the tale Mariotti weaves takes cyber-terrorism the next step. And it's frightening.
He creates a scenario where communication systems throughout the world are silenced: no cell phones; no internet; no land lines; no fax machines, no email. Cars/emergency vehicles/busses/trucks crash into one another, 911 lines are down, traffic signals only operate on green and ... worse.
The story begins innocently enough when Jim Martini, concerned that the town's major employer has failed suddenly and unexpectedly, returns to his home town of Briggs, West Virginia. In trying to learn what happened, he accidentally stumbles into a major international conspiracy - computer viruses, hacking, malware, cyber-technology are being used by a Chinese revolutionary group with the help of disgruntled Pakistanis in an attempt to take control of the United States and overthrow the Chinese government.
The good characters (a former girlfriend, her son, and an old high school buddy who now is a US Senator) are really good. The bad guys (immoral, sexually deviant, power-and-money-hungry) are really bad. No regard for the sanctity of human life, they are willing to commit murder, spy and betray anyone to achieve their goal.
The book's subtitle What Happens When Nothing Works echoes throughout the chapters of the book. What would happen in today's world if everything controlled by computers -- phones, internet, Wall Street trading, air travel, traffic controls, GPS, even the most secure governmental and military communications -- shut down, without warning, all at once, everywhere in the world? When pondering the date of the ultimate attack on the United States, one of the evil characters in the book remarks "The exact date is not important. Whatever date we choose, we will show them that 21st century power lies not in destruction, but in technology. Soon we will show them the power of 'the silence.' Mariotti's sub-title and the reference to 'the silence' are eerie and become a prophetic clarion wake-up call for today's world leaders to make their nations cyber-secure. Now!
At the outset, the author's use of William James' stream-of-consciousness (interior monologue) writing as a stylistic approach ("Little did I know how impossible that was to become.") was intriguing. But, the italicized phrases and sentences soon became intrusive and at times condescending to the reader's intelligence. However, setting that personal frustration aside, this is a fast-moving thriller reminiscent of the tradition of Tom Clancy and John Grisham novels filled with sub-plots of intrigue, betrayal and oh yes, of course, a touch of romance.
Deeply involved in governmental affairs, author Mariotti started his career in the telecommunications industry. These experiences held him in good stead as he developed his plot. If you want a book that invites you to consider what the war-of-the-future might be like or how technology can be manipulated on a global scale, this is the book for you. It's an easy read with very short chapters - ideal for long airline flights, summer vacations, and a read-by-candlelight when the power goes out in a winter storm -- and a chilling thought-provoker.

June Maffin
of Book Pleasures

John, what a masterpiece! A real wake up call for those around the world. You put much thought in to this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have posted my review on, b&,,,, and Facebook. I sure hope you get some major distribution and sell one heck of a lot of copies. My review is posted below. Remember me in the future if you write another.

Many thanks, Cy Hilterman
Cherry Tree, PA.

Imagine you are either at work or at home doing some intensive research on the Internet that might be very personal to you or sensitive information for your employer and all at once your computer goes blank? You pick up your cell phone and there is nothing but a hissing sound coming from it. You turn on the radio or television set to see if something was wrong in your area only to find there is no reception there either. You talk to someone in your office or a neighbor if you are home, and discover they are having the same problems. In today s world of instant communications we have a difficult time comprehending that such things could occur. You think that our government has many sufficient experts constantly working on all of the fore mentioned means of communicating so this must be a quirk of nature. You climb into your vehicle and search the area nearby only to find the same circumstances. You become involved in an accident because all the traffic lights were green on each street. By now you are concerned about what and who is causing such major problems when all of a sudden, as fast as all electronics ceased working they came back to life.
In "The Chinese Conspiracy" John Mariotti brings this situation to life, not only involving the United States but many other locations throughout the world. We are introduced to Jim Martini who had been born and raised in Briggs, West Virginia but had moved from the area for other business interests. He remembered Briggs as a bustling little town that was supported by a large plant, Winton Manufacturing Company, that had since, all of a sudden closed leaving most of the town out of work, turning Briggs into a silent lesser town with work extremely hard to find. When Martini learned that his old haunts had declined so far, he decided to return to see what could have occurred that made that large plant close so abruptly. What he uncovered opened a huge can of worms.
Some in China wanted to cleanse the old government from office and take over the nation by trying to prove the incompetence of the present rulers. Briggs was the location that was selected for a huge part of their takeover through electronic controlling and through that, ransom world governments with threats of the use of the killing of electronics. Some workers were placed in Briggs to get the locals used to foreigners being around so as not to surprise anyone. Martini discovered the strange way the manufacturing plant had been closed and demolished, and despite threats, beatings, and attempts on his life as well as his previous friends he had reconnected with in Briggs, became more involved instead of wary of those against him and the town. Many friends he knew from high school days that still lived there remembered him well, some good memories, and some still holding grudges. He even connected with a girl that had a crush on him, had married, and now was divorced. He became closer with Anita and her son, Ronnie, and they became connected personally and for investigation too. Ronnie had become quite a communications expert during his years in the army, which proved very helpful.
The story includes several local and federal law enforcement agencies that worked closely with Martini and Ronnie. The importance of Briggs could be the same at any small area in the world where terrorists or, as in this case, a group wanting to take over the world through communications. The use of worms as viruses, Trojan horse, Spyware/malware, virus in many forms, Phishing, and many variations of all of these were used in some of the attempts to disrupt the world in this book. As the author explains at the end of his book, these events could occur anywhere, anytime, and in many ways. The fictionalized book only tells his ideas of how bad things could be if such things succeeded. You will enjoy this book. Thanks John Mariotti for trying to awaken us up to how such a future world could unfold in front of all of us.

Review written by Cy Hilterman of a book supplied by the author
February 17, 2011

John Mariotti is an accomplished corporate executive and has written hundreds of business articles and numerous books. I think The Chinese Conspiracy is excellent and very thought provoking.
In Briggs, WV something weird has been going on for the last few months. Nothing works in the middle of the night. Cell phones just hum, television and internet don't work, and then several hours later they start working again. Jim Martini was from Briggs and had heard from several people that something wasn't right about how Wilton Manufacturing closed. Everything was going just fine and then they just closed the shop down. Jim promised to look into it. He goes back to Briggs and is shocked by the town; the only thing that is prospering is the bars. Martini was known as the Mule in high school, so he was a little bit stubborn. When Martini started digging around Wilton Manufacturing he knew something was wrong but couldn't figure out what it was. He continued to hear about electronics not working. He gets some friends in high places involved and finds that Wilton Manufacturing is being used as a control center for Chinese terrorists, who are silencing the whole world.
This is a book about a conspiracy by the Chinese to silence the world and blackmail the United States. At times it seems a bit far fetched but when you think about what could happen it scares the hell out of you.

Reviewed by Julie Moderson
Bestsellers World

One of the primary situations now being used as the basis for thrillers is a cyber attack against the electronic infrastructure of the United States. The reason for this is obvious, for that is by far the most likely threat that the western world faces. A deliberate nuclear exchange between the superpowers was never that great a threat as mutual assured destruction meant that there could be no winner. However, one side could harden their electronic infrastructure and launch a cyber attack with sufficient deniability to prevent retaliation. A recent incident where nearly all internet traffic was briefly routed through Chinese servers was explained off as a programming accident by the Chinese but it could easily have been a test run of a powerful weapon that could be used against an electronic infrastructure.
The premise of this book is that a rising faction in the People's Republic of China (PRC) wishes to take power in that nation, throwing out what they refer to as the old men. Their plans are even more grandiose in that they have infected an enormous number of computers in the world with malicious software that will bring down almost all communications in the west. They have purchased allies in the United States to aid them and have carried out a few brief trials to see if it will work. Their plan is to use that capability to blackmail the U. S. into acceding to their demands.
Jim Martini grew up in Briggs, West Virginia and after he left for college has not been back to a town that has changed for the worst. A local company that used to employ 2,000 people suddenly closed the doors, ushering in a local economic depression. Jim is experienced in international business and is puzzled as to how it could have happened so quickly. The Chinese conspirators and their allies in America are using the empty plant in Briggs as the base for their disruptions so this puts Jim in direct conflict with their plans.
The narrative and the action bounces back and forth between China, Briggs and Washington as the befuddled American officials have no idea how to fight back against the disruptions. Jim proves that he is more than just an MBA stuffed in a shirt as he does a credible job as an operative fighting for his country. One of the best aspects is that he is not portrayed as an instant superman; he makes errors due to inexperience. Jim also rekindles his relationships with the people he left in Briggs, both on the positive and negative sides.
The battle for world supremacy takes place on many levels and in many locations. There is betrayal, lust for power, duplicity, romance and a great deal of plausibility. As someone that has worked in computer security, I can state that attacking a country's electronic infrastructure is the most likely way that major conflicts will play out in the future. For if you are heavily outgunned, the best tactic is to make sure the guns of the opposition don't work. It is also difficult to justify bombing another country in retaliation if all they did is turn out your lights and you cannot conclusively prove that they did it. Plausibility is often the best component of a great story, which this is.

Amazon Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars Great and plausible thriller, January 23, 2011
By Charles Ashbacher "("

"I love stories about conspiracies that could possibly happen and this one weaves a tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat! I went through this book so fast my head was spinning afterwards! It was truly a great read and I will keep this for a long time. I hope to pass this down to someone who would enjoy it as much as me."

Review by Katherine

"John Mariotti, in his gripping book, THE CHINESE CONSPIRACY, shifts the world's attention from weapons of mass destruction to weapons of mass disruption---viruses, spyware and other malware. While "cyber-terror" arguably is more humane than lethal weaponry, its ultimate effect on humanity is almost as crippling."
"Within the backdrop of a global internet, vulnerable to viruses---for which there is no known antidote, Mariotti spins a fascinating "cyber-thriller" in which a rogue Chinese minister of information launches a short-lived cyber attack across the "fruited plain" to demonstrate his ability to shut down all computer networks---even those considered most secure."
"For the technologically challenged, this book is definitely not all "cyber-jabber." Mariotti creates a fast-paced, highly entertaining plot within a plot in which a small West Virginia town is nearly bankrupted by the Chinese "cyber-thieves." Only the heroics of a returning native save the town while simultaneously salvaging a long lost romance."
"How the disparate agencies of the United States responsible for countering "cyber-terrorism" finally came together to limit the damage is a fascinating plot line in itself. To ensure that mass disruption will not return, Mariotti creates a "cyber-savvy" POTUS who establishes a long-needed "National Center for Cyber Security." THE CHINESE CONSPIRACY is an especially good read for all those interested in the evolving challenges of national security."

Andrew A. Giordano
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

"A real problem cloaked in an interesting story to bring it home."
"I found the book interesting and compelling, but it drove home the serious nature of the computer virus threat to our nation."

--N. Canavan

"I was intrigued by the question on the front of this book, 'What happens when nothing works?' I asked this question of my students last year and they really didn't think it was possible for something like this to happen. Then again they were only 8th graders. I found the information I gleaned from this realistic yet fictional book to be quite scary and disturbing. Relations with China over recent years have been strained. Many of the American jobs were outsourced to China. Although this was a fictitious story of how a government tired of their government decides to take over by shutting down world wide networks. The fact that they had cells in the United States was terrifying. Since 9/11 we've seen more and more terrorist cells popping up in the U.S. I personally never considered cyber-terrorism. I've heard of the viruses etc. And to think that for me the though of identity theft over the Internet was scary. People like me who are not real tech savvy will find this book to be an eye-opener. I sat on the edge of my seat wondering how far these people would get before they were stopped or if they would be stopped. I enjoyed this book. I have a friend who will love this book and I will be passing it on to him. I highly recommend this book."

Posted by Sandra Stiles.

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