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The Internet Police: How Crime Went Online, and the Cops Followed Paperback – August 18, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-0393349450 ISBN-10: 0393349454 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (August 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393349454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393349450
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A thought-provoking primer on the state of cybercrime.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Anderson takes readers into the Wild West of the digital world.” (Publishers Weekly)

“As soon as the Internet turned mainstream, a new breed of criminal appeared. The police, who were trained on Agatha Christie novels, took about a decade to catch up. This entertaining and informative book tells their story.” (Bruce Schneier, author of Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust Society Needs to Thrive)

About the Author

Nate Anderson is a senior editor at Ars Technica. His work has been published in The Economist and Foreign Policy. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.

More About the Author

Nate is the deputy editor at Ars Technica, where he writes about technology law and policy. His work has also been published in outlets like The Economist and Foreign Policy. His first computer was an Atari 600XL with a tape drive and so little memory that it could be filled just by typing in programs from magazines.

Customer Reviews

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See all 13 customer reviews
Very well written and researched.
Matt Knight
There were some interesting facts, but overall it read too much like a textbook.
Bruce Miller
I was privileged to read a pre-release edition of this book.
J. Caneday

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By J. Caneday on August 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I was privileged to read a pre-release edition of this book. My review is, of course, based on this edition, and the final work may vary from it.

Anderson does a great job of chronicling how criminals have begun using the internet, how the police followed them, and how the internet has changed as a result of both.

The book deals primarily with fraud, extortion, child porn, spam, and piracy. One of the most interesting tales from the book is of how voyeurs are able to gain control of a user's computer and webcam, and often get pictures or video of the naked user and then use the material to extort further material from them. This is a novel, and frightening use of the internet, which I'd not heard of before.

Anderson tells the stories of many people through the book and their roles in online crime--whether criminal, victim, cop, judge, lawmaker, etc. As he tells the stories, he asks the question, "How can we maintain a police presence on the internet without loosing anarchy, while still catching the crooks, without succumbing to totalitarianism?"

This question, though not explicitly asked until toward the end of the book, is constantly in mind throughout the book. In fact, the entire book is really attempting to find a proper balance between "productive chaos" and police powers online. One of the most interesting things in the book is the revelation that many of the most vital tools that criminals use online was in fact created by the US Navy. The tool, "TOR" (The Onion Router), actually requires others to use it--for good or ill, in order for the tool to have a legitimate use by the Navy, and other intelligence agencies. Without others using it, nations would immediately recognize the presence of government or the military at work.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on August 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The Internet has three features making it especially difficult to control in any centralized way: 1)Having relatively few gatekeepers (ISPs) means the Internet is not well-suited for centralized surveillance and law enforcement. 2)Attempts to control Internet content requires dealing with many countries and legal environments. 3)The Internet was built without any mean of validating identity; this is further complicated by the possibility of digital payments via anonymous services, and forwarding servers deliberately configured to mask the original source of a message.

Investigators learn something each time they shut down a site - unfortunately for them, so do the criminals. Police in multiple nations are often involved - especially in cases involving child pornography. Fortunately for investigators, child pornography is one of the few online activities condemned everywhere. The 'bad news' for some (eg. film pirates) is that once Internet providers implement technology to block child pornography, it's much easier for courts to also order them to block access to film piracy sources as well. Online poker sites, some YouTube links, Wikipedia entries, fringe religions, and euthanasia sites have also been blocked - throwing free-speech die-hards into fits.

The 'Privacy on the Computer' chapter reports on hackers seeding peer-to-peer file-sharing networks like LimeWire with malware titled as popular-sounding song titles. When downloaded and opened, the recipient computers come under external control. This control cold include key-loggers, as well as software that could turn on any webcams and microphones built into the infected computers. For those less sophisticated, tool kits make it simple to infect 'slave' computers with remote access tool (RAT), with only modest technical skill.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pauline King on December 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was very well written - not getting bogged down in techno-speak. It was interesting starting with the first page and I hated to put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Larson on September 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I rated this 5* because I found it very interesting, describing how the various authorities (police, FBI, TSA, ...) deal with very broad (national and international) criminal activity, and the obstacles they must overcome. One justification for the rating is that I finished reading it, which often doesn't happen with books I download from Amazon because they sound like something I should read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By NagaChaitanya Vellanki on August 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book starts off with the internet's openness debate and later talks about privacy, crime and law enforcement's take on internet crime. Overall its a interesting read.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The book covers a variety of landmark cybercrime cases over the past decade: child pornography, music and other forms of piracy, fraud, spam, plus a few others. If you're in the tech / security fields, chances are you won't anything new -- the book simply catalogues the cases and highlights how our existing institutions have struggle to keep up with the times.

For those interested in a more in-depth discussion on the legal aspects of internet and cross-border governance, you may want to check out "Who controls the internet?" by Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
(Full disclosure: Nate frequently edits my work at Ars Technica, where I'm Senior Business Editor.)

Nate provides one of the clearest and more comprehensive roundup of some of the major cases involving the Internet over the last decade. He deftly and inherently understand how they matter to our society writ large. I will happily add this to my canon of my favorite tech books.
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