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Showing 1-10 of 163 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 207 reviews
on April 18, 2015
After reading the first 10 chapters or so, there was no way I was going to finish reading this book. As a focal point for the book, there's not much to like to the main character, Max Vision. Six months later, I picked up Kingpin one more time and I have to say the book finishes well.

After a thorough introduction to the Max Vision, the book goes on to describe the Cyber Crime world over the course of the early 2000's. The vulnerabilities in newly networked systems enabled a large number of cyber criminals to make a good living on credit card fraud that the banking industry was loathe to bring to the light to the victims of these crimes. The creativity of the FBI after a few bumbling mistakes is also described in detail. In the end, this is an interesting book about cops and robbers in the emerging Internet age.
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on August 19, 2016
This book is a must read for security professionals (cyber security as well as physical security) in order to get a glimpse behind the curtain of the attackers we deal with. It shows the tricks that these criminals use as well as their very real weaknesses, which are often an arrogance and overconfidence. These people are not superhuman but even the more talented ones are looking for others to show them what vulnerabilities can be exploited.

As someone in the profession, this book yields valuable clues into those that made headlines over the years and how they were able to steal credit card and other info. Often when we first learn about an incident there are precious few details that are revealed.

For those generally interested in one aspect of the hacker world this book should be an interesting read without being full of too much technical detail. You get a look at the personalities and backgrounds of those involved on the criminal side and ultimately the lesson is clear, these folks do not lead a glamorous life and eventually many get caught.
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on March 7, 2017
Just wow. This book describes how so many of the identity theft rings and credit card exploits have occurred. These are some very talented engineers - as a decent engineer you'll find yourself wondering if you too would yield to the temptation laid in front of you by the poor security the banks and merchants implement in allegedly protecting our identities and credit. You'll discover whether security or the bottom line is valued by these corporations, and walk away disturbed as you shut the book. A must read for consumers and engineers!
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on December 22, 2014
This book is an absolute thriller from beginning to end and, as a form of informational entertainment, is well worth the price. The narrative is fantastic and Kevin Poulsen describes the events in a way that inspires both intrigue and admonishment.

Delving deeply into the story of black hat hacker, Max Butler, the book takes you turn by turn through the complex and unsurprisingly dog-eat-dog world of the underground carding scene. A place where illegal fortunes are made and lost at the click of a mouse, the swipe of a card, and the rattle of a keyboard. The cat and mouse aspect of Keith Mularski, the FBI agent charged with penetrating the underground criminal element and Max Butler plays out with so much drama and intensity that it would not surprise me if a translation to the big screen is made. Believe me when I say it is extremely hard to put this book down.

The only negative remark I could make is that Mr. Poulsen is somewhat biased in his depiction of Max Butler. There are times when it feels as if he is trying to excuse or explain away Max's criminal actions as if he weren't the kingpin of an elaborate hacking and fraud ring, but instead just a conflicted brilliant mind. Regardless, if you are even remotely interested in the topic then I would highly recommend getting this book.
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on May 12, 2017
Poulsen provides an interesting, mostly well-written glimpse into the world of those who would gladly swipe a credit card number just as a hobo grabbing up someone else's sandwich. Not overly heavy on hacker tech or lingo, Kingpin is accessible to most adults. The shifting loyalties and convenient deceptions among good guys and bad guys alike keeps the intrigue levels pegged, even when the narrative drags from time to time. I would have liked to have explored more about the mentality of breaking the law for the purposes of improving security, but all in all, still a very good read.
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on February 23, 2011
I bought this book yesterday after reading a synopsis about it on Wired; it was absolutely fantastic. The author takes the most important technological and cultural revolution of the last fifty years and pulls away the veneer to reveal a deep criminal underworld. With the colored perspective that only a former hacker could offer, the author delivers both a survey course in the rise and fall of phreaking and hacking communities, as well as a compassionate narrative regarding its willing victims. Although I work in the tech field, I immediately realized that it was in no way a pre-requisite for enjoying this piece. By focusing on characters and setting the author has done a terrific job of communicating the story without entangling the reader in unnecessary technical detail.
Every part disturbing as I hoped it would be, this book showcases how fragile the internet revolution has made sensitive data. I felt like I was reading Le Carre, the double agents, the betrayal, it was everything to remind myself that this is a true story. I have already recommended this to friends.
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on April 29, 2014
Bought this book and couldn't put it down!!! IT folk will really learn of the invariable white line we all walk daily. The knowledge we glean from doing what we do can be used for good or bad. We ALL have that choice to make. For me, I was always mindful maybe fearful of getting caught but yet I did carefully assess the risks of immediate financial gains with the risk of being caught and becoming a prisoner OR take the safer route, maybe not make millions but provide myself a stable income source and be able to live life without worry of incarceration. IT folks have a choice to make and it's one you need to figure out quickly and stick with. I was once told if you should choose the blackened path in IT choose to go it alone and be very mindful of who you work with because when the heat is on your partner's they 99% of the time will roll over and sell everyone out to cop a plea.

I'm proud to say that I am a legitimate IT and Security professional. I uphold the laws, ethics and responsibilities expected of me. I can also say that had I ever chosen to breach those laws and ethical boundaries, I know one thing, I'd tell the government to go straight to hell, because I'd take the pinch and never rat out someone. Do the crime, take the time... Don't ever sell someone out. To me, it just signifies weakness and being a wussy!!!!!
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on February 9, 2017
I try to avoid watching scary movies even when they are fictional. This book gave me the necessary creeps. I wish this whole story was fiction. For example, this passage will haunt me forever: "...Max could see what was on the computer’s screen as though standing right in front of it. Since he worked at night, the display on the dormant PC was usually dark, so he’d nudge his mouse to clear the screen saver. If there was anyone in the room, it might have been a little spooky: Remember that time your computer monitor flipped on for no reason, and the cursor twitched? It might have been Max Vision taking a quick look at your screen." Remember to wear your galoshes if you catch my drift?
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on May 9, 2015
The book was an interesting and quick read, but honestly I felt almost no sympathy for Max. I realize that there exists persons who have no impulse controls, but reading a book about one is incredibly frustrating. At almost every pivotal moment in his life where he made a decision that led him further into a life of crime, I found myself saying "no, don't do it" or "why" out loud.
The book was an interesting look into the methods of cybercriminals and the lengths investigators go to in trying to protect people. It will definately make you think twice about swiping any of your cards anywhere - we've gotten so far to the point of the convenience of using debit/credit cards, that we now need to step back and maybe rethink paying with cash or check instead.
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on February 8, 2014
See the Full review at my blog site: Terebrate

Kingpin tells the story of the rise and fall of a hacker legend: Max Butler. Butler is most famous for his epic, hostile hacking takeover in August 2006 of four of the criminal underground’s prominent credit card forums. He is also tangentially associated with the TJX data breach of 2007. His downfall resulted from the famous FBI undercover sting operation called Operation Firewall where agent Keith Mularski was able to infiltrate one of the four forums Butler had hacked: DarkMarket. But Butler’s transition from pure white-hat hacker into something gray—sometimes a white hat, sometimes a black hat—is a treatise on the cyber criminal world. The author of Kingpin, Kevin Poulsen, imbues the story with lush descriptions of how Butler hacked his way around the Internet and pulls the curtain back on how the cyber criminal world functions. In much the same way that Cuckoo's Egg reads like a spy novel, Kingpin reads like a crime novel. Cyber security professionals might know the highlights of this cyber criminal underworld, but Poulsen is able to provide a lot of detail about how this world functions that is understood by mostly only the cyber criminals themselves and the law enforcement officials who stalk them. Because of that, Kingpin is cyber-security-canon worthy, and you should have read this by now.
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