- Paperback: 287 pages
- Publisher: PublicAffairs (October 26, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1586489070
- ISBN-13: 978-1586489076
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 72 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #723,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who Are Bringing Down the Internet Paperback – October 26, 2010
"The Other Woman" by Sandie Jones
“The Other Woman is an absorbing thriller with a great twist. A perfect beach read.” ― Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of "The Great Alone" Pre-order today
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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.”
“In profiling two eclectic cyber-crime fighters, Menn has crafted a fascinating high-tech whodunit that educates even as it entertains.”
“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.’”
“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.”
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.”
“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."
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."
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.”
“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.”
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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)
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. However, I think for the "layman" or someone who doesn't work with technology and/or cyber-security, this book will be a really good look into a world that you don't ordinarily see, replete with real heroes, real villains, and real consequences to real people. Most people will understand some of the consequences from the flood of spam that they're used to getting; for the unlucky few, identity theft will bring the stories even closer to home. Even if you're fortunate enough to have never experienced any of those consequences yourself, you may have recently heard of the attacks on Google and several other companies. The war taking place in cyberspace is all too real, and while I would hope that most people never have to be involved, the opposite is likely the case. It is escalating, and there need to be more stories like the ones in this book if we ever hope to win.
If you are interested in the evolution of cyber crime, Fatal System Error is a good first reference. The author, Joseph Menn, is able to capture the early years as the cyber criminal community was just beginning to productize its cyber business, to professionalize it so that it ran more like a business. He tells the story through two early cyber security practitioners: a very young Barrett Lyon—a cyber security services businessman who built one of the first denial of service protection companies called Prolexic Technologies—and Andy Cocker—at the time, an agent for the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit. Lyon gets sucked into protecting organized crime operations that dabbled in offshore gambling and pornography, and Cocker used old-fashioned police work to arrest some of the early cyber criminals when the FBI seemed completely impotent at the prospect. Menn also manages to sprinkle in a discussion of some of the most significant cyber security milestones between 1995 and 2009, such as the emergence of the Russian Business Network and the identification of the Chinese Network Crack Program Hacker group. Fatal System Error is a vital historical reference for the cyber security community regarding the evolution of cyber crime. It is worthy of being a part of the cyber security canon, and you should have read it by now.