In 2004, a California computer whiz named Barrett Lyon uncovered the identity of a hacker running major assaults on business websites. Without fully grasping the repercussions, he set on an investigation that led him into the heart of the Russian mob. Cybercrime was evolving. No longer the domain of small-time thieves, it had been discovered by sophisticated gangs. They began by attacking corporate websites but increasingly stole financial data from consumers and defense secrets from governments.
While Barrett investigated the cutting edge of technology crime, the U.S. government struggled to catch up. Britain, however, was a different story. In the late 1990s, the Queen herself had declared safe e-commerce a national security priority. Agents from the London-based National Hi-Tech Crime Unit sought out Barrett and enlisted his help. They also sent detective Andrew Crocker, a Welsh former boxer, to Russia to track down and prosecute the hackers—and to find out who they worked for.
Fatal System Error penetrates both the Russian cyber-mob and the American mafia as the two fight over the Internet’s massive spoils. It takes readers into the murky hacker underground, traveling the globe from San Francisco to Costa Rica, London, and Russia. Using unprecedented access to mob businesses and Russian officials, it shows how top criminals earned protection from the Russian government—and how Barrett Lyon and Andrew Crocker got closer to the titans of the underground economy than any previous outsider. Together, their stories explain why cybercrime is much worse than you thought—and why the Internet might not survive.
Reviews for Fatal System Error : The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who...
"Fatal System Error" is an excellent non-technical introduction to cybercrime and a particular thread of this online activity that took place over the last decade.Anyone who spends any amount of time using the Internet is familiar with the themes Menn covers in this book: e-mail scams, viruses, hacking, identity theft. He tells the story of two individuals - one a technologist, the other a police officer - and their experiences identifying and developing a legal case against a Russian cyber theft ring. Menn also outlines U.S. and other national organized crime involvement and online gambling's contribution to cybercrime."Fatal System Error" is relatively light on technological detail - anyone interested in how botnets work, or better explanations of how the modular viruses emerging in the late 2000's operate, would be better off looking at other texts - but is a straightforward business read. The last two chapters are the best. The penultimate one deals with how the initially commercial cybercriminals are partnering with national governments to provide infrastructure for cyberwarfare, particularly on behalf of Russian and Chinese interests against their geopolitical opponents. The last chapter is a bit of a wrap-up but looks at some additional successes and how some groups are adapting to block the efforts of the cyber criminals and hackers.read more
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I never really had much intrest in how my computer works until a couple of years ago when particularly gross spam started showing up all over a board that I liked to visit. The spam was so persistant and insideous that the board owners finally gave up and just shut it down. Kind of a shame but not really a tragedy in the grand sceme of things and all the users went on with thier lives. After reading this book, I've learned a lot more all in one place about how spam works and just what the senders of it are after, it may appear to be increaded traffic to dubious web sites but it's really a short cut into your PC that they are fishing for and the program that got onto the board I liked most likely came from the PC of a completely innocent and fully unaware user's computer that basicly "coughed" while in session and gave the whole board a nasty cold. I really liked this book for the way that it documented past serious cyber crimes, how cyber criminals are not just Matthew Broderick styled sweet kids playing around to see what they can do but nasty folks with Mob and other "real" criminal organization connections. (Corrupt governments also have much to gain from spamming the bejeezus out of even the smallest web site if they feel the voices there are not in step with government policies. Bear in mind that EVERYTHING is computer based these days, you can not use electricity in your house and say with honesty that you don't use a computer. Even if you don't OWN a computer and never intend to, your bank does, your electric company does and so do, most terrifying of all, air traffic controllers. I am not an alarmist and have no intention of tossing my PC and that is also not the intention of this book, to get everyone so afraid that they stop using computers. I think the point of the book is that we all need to use our computers more, find out how they work so we can protect our friends, family and society as whole as we would by staying in bed and taking cough medicine while sick. Most well functioning memebers of society use the web an at least a weekly basis and most of us have not a clue as to how it works or what could go wrong with it, we're just happy that we can pay our bills, chat about rock bands and watch stupid videos on demand. As long as what we want to use our computer for works fine than we don't really look at it's other functions, and that ignorance can be very dangerous for ourselves, our friends and society as a whole. Using the computer often, keeping up with updates and virus scans can keep us from passing the nastiest viruses on to others. In the case of computer knowledge, we are at a stage where we just don't have the luxury to say "I don't need to know about that." The more this type of ignorance perpetuates, the happier the criminal element is. We all need to dig our heads out of the sand and start learning about the machines that run our lives lest someone else slips in and starts running them for us. Absolutely fascinating book full of international espionage, terrorism and men on the frontier of a new age in crime fighting. This book is not dumbed down but is written well enough that even someone with only basic common knowledge about thier PC, or someone who knows about thier computer but has little intrest in true crime can gain very useful information from it.read more
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