We Are Anonymous is a thrilling, exclusive expose of the hacker collectives Anonymous and LulzSec.
In late 2010, thousands of hacktivists joined a mass digital assault by Anonymous on the websites of VISA, MasterCard, and PayPal to protest their treatment of WikiLeaks. Splinter groups then infiltrated the networks of totalitarian governments in Libya and Tunisia, and an elite team of six people calling themselves LulzSec attacked the FBI, CIA, and Sony. They were flippant and taunting, grabbed headlines, and amassed more than a quarter of a million Twitter followers. The computer security world - and world at large - realized quickly that Anonymous and its splinter groups are something to treat with dead seriousness.
Through the stories of three key members, We Are Anonymous offers a gripping, adrenaline-fueled narrative in the style of The Accidental Billionaires, drawing upon hundreds of conversations with the members themselves, including exclusive interviews. By coming to know them - their childhoods, families, and personal demons - we come to know the human side of their virtual exploits, and why they're so passionate about disrupting the Internet's frontiers.
©2012 Parmy Olson (P)2012 Hacette Audio
I was blown away by how exciting the author made this story. It's a fascinating look into the underground hacker culture and a wake up call to anyone who hasn't paid much attention to computer security in the past. You'll learn about the basic methods hackers use, including technical hacks and social engineering.
The story was very approachable, Parmy Olson does a good job explaining everything tech related in a fair amount of detail without making the embarrassing mistakes that many journalists make when reporting on technology. (I'm hardly all-knowing in this area, but I'm a programmer and pretty tech savvy, so I probably would have caught any obvious flaws)
The narrator does a wonderful job adding life to the dialogue and uses different voices for each character when reading chat logs and interview quotes. I almost felt like I was listening to a Stieg Larsson book. If you're at all interested in hackers or how a couple kids from different sides of the planet can take down the websites of massive corporations, get this book!
Parmy Olson provides an incredibly close up and detailed view into these very specific hacker groups. She illuminates the personalities, strategies, tactics and targets involved. Solid narration too.
The narration of this book is just atrocious.
Faking accents in a nonfiction book is unnecessary and the correct pronunciation of words like "Linux" and other terms relating to technology and the internet should be a requirement for narrating books like this.
Especially when you have a book where most of the audience knows the correct wording of phrases and pronunciation of these terms.
So all in all: compelling content let down by irritating narration.
Just finished listening to this audio book. I found it a well written, fast paced and exciting read. While I haven't been involved in this specific area in my career, this book helped me connect the dots about much that has happened in the news over the past few years.
Those of you here in this group that are deeply entrenched in this space may be well informed. If you are new to this area, this book is an excellent and gripping primer on what is relevant about hacking and the many breaches published over the past few years.
I very much recommend this as an excellent listen!
If you are no hacker, but would like to feel a bit of the excitement and speed of how this whole world works, I suggest listening to it at 3X speed...
I am currently a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
I believe the content of this book should be graded on a curve: how does one adequately capture the development of an organization that defines itself by its lack of organization? How does one make sense of a so-called "hacktavist" group that does not have a specific political agenda? Lastly, how does one try to capture the meaning of a cyber movement that is still in its infancy?
Despite these issues, author Parmy Olson does an adequate job of giving a coherent account Anonymous, LulzSec and related cyber groups. She focuses on a few central key figures like "Sebu", "Topiary" and "Kayla" and tries to show how these figures reflect different sides of Anonymous. For example, Sebu represents the political-minded hacktavist side, Topiary represents the "lulz" side and Kayla the hard-core hacker side. I think this strategy was effective since it gives the reader the sense that while Anonymous, LulzSec, etc are frequently talked about as a single entity within the media the motivations of the people who identify with these group vary wildly.
I have two criticisms of this audiobook. The first regards the content. I thought the author at times went off into unnecessary tangents, introducing periphery figures that didn't add much to the book, or quoted chat logs for longer than was needed. My second criticism regards the narration. I don't know who's idea it was to have the narrator use different accents for each speaker because they were annoying and even distracting at certain points (Barret Brown's Texas accent immediately comes to mind). If I had to it over again, I would have bought a paper or e-book version rather than get the audiobook.
Parmy Olson does an excellent job of wading into the shady world of anon and lulzsec - there are plenty of flaws, however, it is definitely worth the time and far better than I anticipated.
The narrator, Abby Craden, on the other hand, is awful. She finishes every sentence with an affected, snide lilt and she mispronounces words on a regular basis. The worst distraction, however, are the array of dreadful accents she employs to differentiate the characters. It just about ruins the story.
I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in learning about the origins and actual character of the group that goes by the name Anonymous and only really knows about the group through media about their 'hacktivism.' I knew almost nothing about methods of hacking or cyber attacks but am technically savvy enough to not need an excruciatingly simplistic explanation in order to grasp the necessary concepts. This book strikes the right balance. I understood everything without being either confused or bored. The story focuses mainly on the personal stories of several individuals, focusing a lot of attention on a few who got involved with 'Anonymous' and then formed a similar group and were eventually caught. The method works well because it illustrates the lack of cohesiveness in what the entity called Anonymous really is. The book makes it clear that 'Anonymous' is not an organized group with a singular vision but rather a name that can be claimed by anyone loosely affiliated when he or she wants to- which can work in its favor or against it. It also demonstrates the flip side of the social activism: the essential nastiness and lack of basic human empathy of many individuals in the group. It was also very interesting to see inside the methods used to target individuals or organisms who (sometimes randomly) fall within the cross-hairs of the technically knowledgeable. My first impulse upon finishing the books was to change all of my passwords and carefully think about anything I post anywhere on the internet: a lesson that we could all probably use.
The human element behind this group. Most of these people almost looked at this as a game. Not realizing quite the mess they were in. Also, interesting seeing how easily some were turned. Gives you insight into how little you can truly trust other people, especially on the internet.
Also it's interesting learning about the fact that much of this was caused by social engineering as much as it was by skilled hackers. Meaning that people often were easily fooled and tricked into doing things by these people. Also, it gives you a bit of insight into what you should and should not do with passwords pertaining to the internet.
I loved it. Some others didn't enjoy her style but I really liked her dark almost ominous voice. I truly felt it was fitting for the content. The accents may have been a little off but whatever.
Hard to say without giving away spoilers. But when people started getting arrested and when one person was so easily turned. Kind of takes away your faith in the resolve of others to keep your secrets when pressed. Also when one person is discovered it comes as a bit of a surprise. Makes you wonder if you can truly have Anonymity on the Internet. It seems when pressed anyone can find your secrets alarmingly easily.
Written for people that have little to no knowledge of hacking so it's completely accessible to any layman who has a basic understanding of the internet. Helps you to understand things to do and not do on the internet to protect yourself. Gives some insight into the motivations of this group of people and it's successes and failures. Where they went wrong etc. Overall I felt engaged and was happy to gain insight into this secret world. Listened to this one whenever I could.
Anyone who didn't try to use ridiculous accents. The character who is supposed to be Scottish got a Liverpool accent. The guy from the Lower East side of Manhattan (of Puerto Rican heritage) got a strange mix of Eastern European and Latin accents. It was painful to listen to.
I was interested in reading about Anonymous because it's a subject that we need to understand in the modern, internet dependent world. What I realized early on is that the majority of these "cyber hacks" (I won't glorify them by calling them "terrorists") are a bunch of anti-socials with physical defects that force them to spend the majority of their time in their rooms with their computers because they can't "make it" out in society. Anonymous and movements like theirs are literally culminated in online chat rooms. I was sort of hoping to find that they were a group of geniuses who had honorable goals, and used their technical knowledge to change the world. But alas, they are no more than ultra geeks with nothing better to do, and are looking for some kicks in between playing online video games.
Max Fisher of Rushmore Academy
If it were fiction, nobody would believe it. What an amazing story, flawlessly told, about a period that will be prominently featured when the history of the internet is finally written.
I had to continually remind myself that the author wasn't a participant in this story, because it's told with such compelling vividness it's hard to imagine the facts being gathered any other way.
If you took any interest in the devastation wrought by LulzSec and Anonymous, you will find this book very difficult to put down.
My only criticism deals with the (otherwise exceptionally good) narrator's insistence on attempting the accents of the players in this story. That sort of thing always bugs me. But not enough to keep me from giving the work five stars and emphatically recommending it.
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