In a previous life, Poulsen served five years in prison for hacking. So the Wired senior editor and "Threat Level" blogger knows intimately the terrain he explores in this page-turning tale of the criminal exploits of a hacker of breathtaking ambition, Max Butler, who stole access to 1.8 million credit card accounts. Poulsen understands both the hows of hacking, which he explains clearly, as well as the whys, which include, but also can transcend, mere profit. Accordingly, his understanding of the hacking culture, and his extensive interviews with Butler, translates into a fascinating depiction of a cybercriminal underworld frightening in its complexity and its potential for harm, and a society shockingly vulnerable to cybercrime. The personalities, feuds, double dealing, and scams of the hackers are just one half of this lively story. The other half, told with equal verve, is law enforcement's efforts to find and convict Butler and his accomplices. (Butler is now serving a 13-year sentence and owes .5 million in restitution.) Poulsen renders the hacker world with such virtual reality that readers will have difficulty logging off until the very end. (Feb.)
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"[A] brisk and entertaining tale."--The New York Times
"Even though he has done jail time for his cyber crimes and credit card hacking, it’s hard not to like Max "Max Vision" Butler....
The capers of this misfit genius, and the FBI’s attempts to infiltrate credit card hacking rings, combine to make this a fast, fun read."--Newark Star-Ledger
“Hello, Hollywood, Kevin Poulsen has a tale for you. Deftly told.”—San Francisco Chronicle
"What will make this book endure is Poulsen's elegant elucidation of how the hacking world evolved from its pimply, ideological beginnings into a global criminal enterprise"--Atlantic
“Poulsen renders the hacker world with such virtual reality that readers will have difficulty logging off until the very end.”—Publishers Weekly
“The lead figures of KINGPIN are brilliant, crooked geeks and the sleazy women who love to help them steal. Their mortal enemies are a cyber-savvy swarm of undercover cops. Kevin Poulsen gets so close to these paranoid, shadowy people that you can smell the sweat on the keyboards and hear the handcuffs clack shut. No other book can match this intimate, expert portrait of a truly modern criminal underworld.”--Bruce Sterling, Hugo Award-winning novelist and futurist
“An exciting crime thriller, a compelling psychological study, and one of the most accurate stories of hacker culture that I’ve ever read…Poulsen deftly explains the technology behind these ultramodern computer crimes and shows how they’re committed.”--Annalee Newitz, Editor in Chief of io9.com
“With the tense drama and future shock of a William Gibson novel, Kevin Poulsen spins a scary-true tale of the dark-side hacker underground and its most adept sorcerer.”--Steven Levy, author of Hackers
"The most thorough portrait to date of a top modern U.S. cyber criminal and an engaging tale of cops against robbers against other robbers. No one writes with more authority than Kevin Poulsen about how hackers actually go about their business."--Joseph Menn, author of All the Rave
and Fatal System Error
“Building on the best of the police procedural tradition, Kevin Poulsen lays out in clear language the technologies and methods employed by the criminals and crime fighters alike, all the while crafting a sympathetic character study of the conflicted gray hat, Max Vision, at the heart of it all.”--Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard professor and author of The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It
“A superb, insider tour of the dark Internet that lies below "the whitewashed, commercialized" world of the Web. Kevin Poulsen is one of the very few people who understands the territory: the scammers, the scammers of the scammers, and the law enforcement officers trying to catch them. KINGPIN describes a parallel business world, including "the underground's first hostile takeover," where characters who call themselves names like DarkCyd and Matrix and Ghost23 battle for control of digital scams. It is a fascinating, scary ride.”--Ellen Ullman, author of Close to the Machine
and The Bug