Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who Are Bringing Down the Internet
By Joseph Menn
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.
Joseph covers cyber-business and digital technology for the Los Angeles Times. He lives in San Francisco.
Richard A. Clarke, Counter-terror chief under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and author of "Against All Enemies: Inside America 's War on Terror
"""Fatal System Error" accurately reveals the secretive global cyber cartels and their hidden multi-billion dollar business, proving cybercrime does pay and pays well."Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; Co-Founder, Berkman Center for Internet & Society and author of "The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It""Joseph Menn immerses us in the personalities and politics behind today's cybersecurity threats and countermeasures. This balanced, compelling account shows why the future of the Internet depends more on people of good will than on some technological magic bullet."
Vicky Raab, "The New Yorker"
"["Fatal System Error"] kept me riveted to the couch all weekend"
Quentin Hardy, "Forbes"
"[A] well-reported book on some of the biggest (known) cybercrimes in the past decade... Menn's book could hardly be more timely."
"As eye-popping as the book's portrayal of bookies and wise-guy swagger is... the second half of the book is even more mind-blowing."
"BBC Focus Magazine"
"The issues raised are hugely important, and failure to deal with criminals behind so much online crime will be an embarrassment to governments worldwide."
"In profiling two eclectic cyber-crime fighters, Menn has crafted a fascinating high-tech whodunit that educates even as it entertains."
"Menn spins racy tales of true-life cybercrime...The villains glory in handles such as 'Bra1n', and the heroes are portrayed respectively as Matthew Broderick from Wargames and Daniel Craig's Bond, but the narrative glitter is sprinkled on top of serious and thorough reporting. Menn concludes: 'A number of enormously powerful national governments, especially those of Russia and China, have picked the blossoming of the i
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