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Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 26, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs (January 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586487485
  • ASIN: B004I1JQNE
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,166,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Richard A. Clarke, Counter-terror chief under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and author of Against All Enemies: Inside America 's War on Terror
Fatal System Error accurately reveals the secretive global cyber cartels and their hidden multi-billion dollar business, proving cybercrime does pay and pays well."

Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; Co-Founder, Berkman Center for Internet & Society and author of The Future of the Internet—And How to Stop It
“Joseph Menn immerses us in the personalities and politics behind today's cybersecurity threats and countermeasures. This balanced, compelling account shows why the future of the Internet depends more on people of good will than on some technological magic bullet."

Vicky Raab, The New Yorker
“[Fatal System Error] kept me riveted to the couch all weekend”

Quentin Hardy, Forbes
“[A] well-reported book on some of the biggest (known) cybercrimes in the past decade… Menn's book could hardly be more timely.”

Network World
“As eye-popping as the book's portrayal of bookies and wise-guy swagger is… the second half of the book is even more mind-blowing.”

BBC Focus Magazine
“The issues raised are hugely important, and failure to deal with criminals behind so much online crime will be an embarrassment to governments worldwide.”

Business Week
“In profiling two eclectic cyber-crime fighters, Menn has crafted a fascinating high-tech whodunit that educates even as it entertains.”

The Guardian
“Menn spins racy tales of true-life cybercrime...The villains glory in handles such as ‘Bra1n’, and the heroes are portrayed respectively as Matthew Broderick from Wargames and Daniel Craig's Bond, but the narrative glitter is sprinkled on top of serious and thorough reporting. Menn concludes: ‘A number of enormously powerful national governments, especially those of Russia and China, have picked the blossoming of the internet age as the time to ally with organised crime.’” 

Richard Stiennon, founder of T-Harvest and former VP of Threat Research at Webroot Software
“Not since Cliff Stoll’s The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage has there been a book that delves as deeply into the workings of criminal hackers. This book will be widely read by law enforcement, policy makers, and IT security professionals. Like Stoll’s book I predict it will inspire a generation of technologists to join the battle against cyber criminals."

Register
“An informative and entertaining look at the roots of the burgeoning cybercrime economy and its links to government, featuring a rogue's gallery of international wrong 'uns…. It's one of the best descriptions of the formation of the underground economy I've read. It deserves to be read by those in the IT security industry, policy formation and with any interest in a hype-free expose of the true face of cybercrime.”

The Guardian
“Menn's book is riveting, as much for the terrifying detail it includes – both about gambling sites and the extent of botnet infection and the feckless lack of high-level international cooperation – especially by George Bush's administration – that allowed their architects to enrich themselves.”

Slashdot
"Fatal System Error is an enjoyable read on par [with] books such as The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage and Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of Kevin Mitnick."

Processor
“Menn’s deconstruction of an especially sophisticated set of attacks, the victim’s countermeasures, and eventual criminal investigation of the web of attackers is a valuable wake-up call for IT pros that should serve to catalyze redoubled efforts to improve cybersecurity.”

Slashdot
Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet
is the wake-up call that those in Washington, and those charged with IT need to wake up to. Unfortunately, it is likely those that truly need to read this book, will press the information security snooze button yet again.

Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2010
“[E]ven an unbiased observer would say that Fatal System Error is a compelling read, despite the fact that it’s nonfiction (or maybe because it’s nonfiction). It’s also a very frightening book.”

Processor, May 7, 2010
“Menn’s deconstruction of an especially sophisticated set of attacks, the victim’s countermeasures, and eventual criminal investigation of the web of attackers is a valuable wake-up call for IT pros that should serve to catalyze redoubled efforts to improve cybersecurity.”

About the Author

Joseph Menn covers cyber-security and other technology issues for the Financial Times, after a decade on the same beat for the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of 2003’s All the Rave: The Rise and Fall of Shawn Fanning’s Napster and a two-time finalist for the Gerald Loeb Award, the top prize in business reporting.

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Customer Reviews

Great read for anyone interested in computer security.
Marvin C.
What I got was a fascinating book with two main stories told from the perspectives of the good guys.
Thomas J. Quinlan
I enjoyed this book thoroughly because of my interest in the subject matter.
ben p

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Richard Stiennon on February 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Joseph Menn has cracked open the inside workings of cyber crime bosses with his book Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet . I packed the book with me this past week as I retired to a rustic cabin in Northern Michigan. Menn's book made for enthralling reading by light of a butane camp lantern. In addition to telling the story of Barrett Lyon, entrepreneur and cyber crime fighter who founded Prolexic, BitGravity and 3Crowd, Menn follows through to recount the dark world of Russian crime figures as explored by Andy Crocker, on assignment from the UK National High Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU). Andy finally convicts three DDoS extortionists in Russian who are serving sentences of eight years hard labor.
I met Barrett in 2004 when he was still immersed in getting Prolexic off the ground. I was at Gartner and looking for something new to get involved in. Barrett's network defenses against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks was the most exciting thing I had encountered. Barrett thought I was joking when I asked him if I could send him my resume. I was completely serious until I met his business partner Mickey Flynn in a hotel bar in Chicago. Mickey ran BetCRIS, one of the key sports book making and online gaming organizations in Costa Rica. For once in my career my spidey sense served me well. Mickey seemed like a great guy but it was the first time I had ever met anyone accompanied by two big body guards wearing sports coats and obviously packing. As Barrett's adventure unfolded I saw bits and pieces of it but I had no idea just how deeply entrenched Barrett had become in the workings of an international crime ring, one that had its own problems with cyber criminals in Russia. Thanks to Joseph Menn I now know the story.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mal Warwick on February 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're already worried about computer crime and identity theft, you'll be wracked with fear if you read this troubling new account of the subject by a Los Angeles Times reporter specializing in Internet security. Joseph Menn's "Fatal System Error" is aptly subtitled "The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who Are Bringing Down the Internet." By focusing on two heroes of the underpowered movement to combat Internet crime, Menn brings this complex and terrifying reality into high relief. The book is largely devoted to the efforts of Barrett Lyon, a California surfer self-taught to become one of the world's leading Internet security experts, and Andy Crocker, a courageous British policeman, and their collaborative work to identify the criminals responsible for the now all-too-familiar viruses, worms, Trojans, and denial-of-service attacks that have infiltrated millions of computers and disabled thousands of Web sites.

It's disturbing enough to learn that criminals siphoned off [...] trillion from computer fraud in 2009 alone, and to know that a huge proportion of that money went into the pockets of the American mafia and the Russian mob. Even more disquieting, though, is to learn about how both the Russian and Chinese governments are protecting Internet criminals because they have enlisted them in building offensive cyberwar weapons. What we all learned recently about Chinese hackers' attacks on Google and other U.S. companies invested in China is just a hint of the breadth and depth of that government's efforts to gain ascendancy over the West by building the capacity to bring down our economies in the event of a future conflict.

(From Mal Warwick's Blog on Books)
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By R. Logan on February 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Working in the computer security industry we see these type of criminal acts on a daily basis. However, what we see is a microcosm of what Mr. Menn writes about in this great work. Tying all the ends together into a readable format that is literally a international crime thriller brings to light the vast dangers to our financial data and it's uses.

I'd recommend this book for ANYONE that uses the internet.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Quinlan on February 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When Mikko Hyponnen (of F-Secure fame) posted about this book on Twitter, I immediately pre-ordered the book. I got it two days later. (I was only one-day advanced on the pre-order, it seems.) I wasn't quite sure what to expect exactly, only I knew it had to do with cyber-security, so I was intrigued.

What I got was a fascinating book with two main stories told from the perspectives of the good guys. The first was a story of how a young dyslexic man struggled against the odds to become one of the best people around at defeating Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDOS) attacks. His story, which spans at least two continents and his unwitting participation with some of the internet's shadier characters, is a fascinating one. That story comprises part one of the book, and ties into part two quite neatly. Part two is the story of a British detective and his exploits in foreign countries (particularly Russia) in his efforts to find and eventually catch several of the same cyber-criminals from part one. While it has the tempo of a fictional "cyber-thriller", this book is non-fiction and is based on the very thorough work of Joseph Menn, a reporter for the Financial Times (previously of the LA Times). The overall theme is that of the war that is taking place using the world's computers and networks as a battleground. Despite the chronicled successes outlined in these two stories, it's a war that's very quickly being lost.

I've been working in the cyber-security industry for a while now, so I'm not entirely unfamiliar with some of the more sinister aspects of what happens on the internet.
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