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Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door by [Krebs, Brian]
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Length: 260 pages Word Wise: Enabled Audible Narration:
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Editorial Reviews


"Spam Nation does a great job of telling an important aspect of the story, and what small things you can do to make a large difference, such that you won't fall victim to these scammers. At just under 250 pages, Spam Nation is a quick read and an important one at that." - Slashdot

"[A] potent new book...Intricate and superbly documented." - Boston Globe

"Brian Krebs, a well-known security expert, dives deep into the history and culture of the underground world where spam gets made-and along the way touches on that community's participation in online criminal enterprises: identity theft, botnet creation, money laundering, data breaches, and much more." - Before It's News

"Those wishing for a reliable tour of the shadowy world of criminal hacking and cyber thievery need look no further than Spam Nation, a new book by Brian Krebs." - Vending Times

"A riveting historical thriller about the Russian bad guys behind spam and malware attacks, how it grew, why so little was accomplished to stop it & ultimately, how of late the tide has been shifting. " - Newstips

"Brian Krebs's blend of investigative reporting and cybersecurity expertise makes for an informative and entertaining read." - ZDNet

"I know this book review is essentially a Brian Krebs love fest. Sorry, I can't help myself. As a security pro, it's my occupation to find flaws, but I can't find one in this book. At a time when courageous journalists around the world are under threat, investigative journalism of this quality and boldness deserves to be rewarded." - InfoWorld

"Spam Nation is an excellent look at the technicalities, ethics, economics, global politics, and business of spam and cybercrime, and it is researched and told with enormous care and verve. " - Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

"A fascinating and somewhat disheartening look why spam is so common...readers of Spam Nation will never look at the spam in their inbox the same way again." - USA Today

"In Spam Nation, journalist Brian Krebs guides readers through the intimidating and technical world of organized cybercrime...Future wars will be waged in part by talented hackers with bot armies at their backs. For now, we have Krebs as a guide, and-thankfully-email filters. " - The Washington Free Beacon

"The book is a strong chronicle of how and why this junk business succeeds..." - Federal Computer Week

"Krebs' guided tour of the cybercriminal underworld is a cautionary tale about menacing cultures of hackers, spammers and duplicitous digital network 'cybercrooks...' an eye-opening, immensely distressing exposé on the current state of organized cyberspammers. " - Kirkus

"Armed with reams of information sent to him by feuding hackers and cybercrooks, Krebs explores just how and why these spammers get away with so much...By exposing our digital weaknesses and following the money, he presents a fascinating and entertaining cautionary tale. Krebs's work is timely, informative, and sadly relevant in our cyber-dependent age." - Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Brian Krebs is an award-winning journalist and founder of the highly acclaimed cybersecurity blog For fourteen years, Krebs was a reporter for the Washington Post, where he authored the acclaimed Security Fix blog. He has been profiled in the New York Times and Bloomberg Businessweek and has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, NPR, Fox, ABC News, in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and more.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1035 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1402295618
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks (November 18, 2014)
  • Publication Date: November 18, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00L5QGBL0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,420 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Wineberg TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Spam is a Russian industry. There are competitors, partnerships, even contests for most responses. Incredibly (to us), spam delivered in Russia actually offers links to spamming services at the bottom of the spam, so that your business too, can benefit. The drug spam industry is financed by American consumers, who want to save money, avoid going to doctors, or even deal prescription drugs to others. The spammers fill a genuine void and satisfy a genuine demand in a twisted healthcare system. This is the story that Brian Krebs reveals, in dramatic, fascinating and fine detail.

The online “pharmacies” contract with fabs in India and China, just like the majors do. Goods are shipped by them directly to the customer. Refunds are easier to obtain than from US firms, because the spammers don’t want their card processors to fine them or cut them off. And better customer service leads to reorders (!). And if they don’t, aggressive outbound telemarketing takes over. They have supply chains, with acquirers of botnets, renters of botnets, pharmacies, affiliate programs and spammers – all getting a cut of the transaction or an upfront fee. So very few get crazy rich. Some had to take legitimate day jobs to make ends meet. Eventually, those legitimate tech jobs became more attractive than the dark ones, so recruiting became a problem. Truly, a parallel universe.

The drug spam segment is in clear decline:

1) The Achilles Heel of the spammers is that they are not totally vertical. They can collect e-mail addresses, they can create botnets, they can accept and fulfill orders. But they can’t process payment. So credit card companies and Microsoft have gone after banks, card processors and transfer agents, making business impossible for the drug spammers.
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Format: Kindle Edition
SPAM NATION is a detailed chronicle of the spam and illegal pharmaceutical online scammers that plague the internet. The author explains that a large proportion of the pharma spam originates from really just a few individuals in Russia. The author includes a very useful "Who's Who" in the cyberworld section, right at the beginning of this book. It explains who the main players are in the span and pharma schemes.

Much of the book discusses the competing criminal networks in Russia, and how these gangs try to thwart each other. Sometimes they expose their competitors private information to the authorities, hoping the police will take down the opposition. Eventually, many of these criminals would end up being arrested and many will have to serve at least a few years in prison.

The author spends a lot of time explaining the schemes of "botnets," which are networks of rogue computers controlled by the bot masters. The criminals use these to steal information, send out billions of spam, or even hijack the computer and hold it for ransom until the owner pays a fine. The botnet armies can be extremely powerful and damaging to the public. There was some online chats that were leaked, showing how the criminals actually use these botnet armies: "They were using their armies to bludgeon someone or something offline that threatened to kill their criminal operations. Very often, rival spammers would turn their digital armaments on one another."

For me, the most interesting part of SPAM NATION were the chapters describing the financial processing--that is, how the criminals manage to charge your credit card. A set of researchers--some associated with Cal Berkeley, set up test credit card accounts, which they used to buy some counterfeit pharmaceuticals.
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TLDR - fascinating topic by a very knowledgeable author, but not well executed or well written.

I am a regular reader of, and will continue to be. I really enjoy Kreb's insight into cybercrime, and the revelations about technology and society that come with it. My appreciation for his blog made me excited to read his book, but unfortunately it came up short. There were many interesting facts, but it was as if he didn't have a clear vision of what he was synthesizing them for. The tone of the writing was very inconsistent. Sometimes it reads like a pulp spy novel, sometimes a memoir, sometimes an academic paper. Events that don't seem very dramatic are dramatized at length, and other fascinating tidbits are mentioned but not followed up. This confusion about intent and audience makes for a very jarring read. Sometimes technical terms are insufficiently defined. Other terms are unnecessarily defined and explained many times in the book. The structure of the book doesn't suit the topic. He frequently refers the reader to other parts of the book, yet it isn't apparent why the information is in the other part of the book rather than where he mentions it by reference.
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This book illustrates just how difficult it is to write a first book, even if the author has a long career as a writer writing short pieces. Krebs has trouble deciding which things require longer explanation and which can be glossed over. For example, at one point he points out the importance of understanding what IP addresses are, but Krebs would have done well to spend much more time going into detail about what an IP address is, why it is important to understand their meaning, how they can be spoofed, and how much time security researchers spend trying to discover the true IP address of a server. I also thought that Krebs would have done well to greatly expand his final chapter in which he describes what one as an individual computer user can do to be safer.

There are other, less important problems, that marred the book. These include:

* trouble using metadiscourse to signal things coming in future chapters or to refer to earlier chapters. Krebs is less than elegant here.

* trouble referring to himself consistently and elegantly.

* trouble referring to published literature. Krebs seems to never be quite sure if his audience is a technical computer science security community or a more general audience.

* related to the last point, I found Krebs endnotes annoying and, at least in my opinion, the book would have been better if Krebs had integrated them into the main text. Part of my problem may have been related to reading the text in ebook format, although it was not that difficult to toggle between footnotes and main text on my kindle paperwhite.

Despite these issues, I did enjoy the book. Krebs is well positioned to inform the world of casual computer issues about a critically important subject. I , for the most part, did enjoy the book.
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