- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Sourcebooks; Reprint edition (May 1, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1492603236
- ISBN-13: 978-1492603238
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 222 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door Paperback – May 1, 2015
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"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
"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 expose on the current state of organized cyberspammers. " - Kirkus"
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.
Understanding the environment that computer criminals operate in provides valuable perspective for security practitioners. “Know your enemy” valuable advice. It’s negligent to paint criminals in overly broad strokes like Hollywood tropes, envision this- techno music pumping in a dingy basement, littered with empty vodka bottles, and reeking of cigarette butts. Russian hacker? Nyet comrade. The author demystifies criminal operations and makes the figures real people that can be understood.
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.)