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Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door Hardcover – November 18, 2014
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"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
"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
About the Author
Brian Krebs is an award-winning journalist, founder of the highly acclaimed cybersecurity blog KrebsonSecurity.com, and author of the New York Times bestseller, Spam Nation. For 14 years, Krebs was a reporter for The Washington Post, where he authored the acclaimed Security Fix blog. He has appeared on 60 Minutes, CBS This Morning, CNN, NPR, Fox, ABC News, and in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, and more, and has been profiled in the New York Times and Bloomberg's BusinessWeek.
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Spam Nation focuses on Pharma spam and the related illegal sales. It's difficult to empathize with the author's perspective that this is a major problem. As is described in the book, many of the medications purchased illegally are the exact same medications sold in the US and perhaps made at the same factory as legitimately purchased products. There are obviously concerns regarding prescription abuse and that the illicit products advertised in spam could be fake or dangerous but war on pharma spam leads down the same road as the failed war on drugs. So long as Americans have prescription drug problems, the factories in developing nations that make the legitimate product will be tempted to (illegally) sell directly; there's too much financial incentive otherwise.
Spam is the byproduct of sellers trying to trying to reach buyers. Spam exists because people choose to accept the risks for a lower cost (buyer) or higher profits (seller). For most others Spam is an irritation similar to panhandling. It's unpleasant and there are some risks involved, but it's inevitable and not overly interesting. Because of these problems, I didn't enjoy Spam Nation and can't recommend it. If readers want approachable and current insight on spam and similar infosec topics, they should just go to Kreb's blog.
This gives the story told in the book a certain granularity by extracting sub stories from the bigger picture. It’s written more like an extended piece by an investigative journalist, and less like the work that a historian or enthusiast might tell.
Where the book does become a bit broader is in its definition of Spam, to include fraud & phising, and the stories the writer tells of peoples experience with online pharmaceuticals (an aside from the rest of the content in which he seemed to be much more personally involved). I always liked these stores, and found them to be the captivating part of the book.
For the right audience, this is a great book. One who wants to hear about Krebs’ struggles and ongoing investigation would be very satisfied (and it’s wroth noting that he is a very authoritative source on the subject. His blog is routinely cited by the media and his involvement in the topic extends past the publish date of this book).
However, for a passive observer that wants a bit of a broader history, told more like a story, and a more summarized version of personal conversations, events, etc this book doesn’t quite hit the mark.
It's not as technical as I had hoped. There are more personality clashes and first-person accounts of the author's feelings and legwork than pcap files and source code.
Also, the lack of an index, descriptive rather than flavorful chapter names, and chapter indicators rather than title indicator on the pages make this difficult to study rather than read as a straight-through narrative. (This applies to my hardcover Sourcebooks first edition, first printing.)