Worm: The First Digital World War tells the story of the Conficker worm, a potentially devastating piece of malware that has baffled experts and infected more than twelve million computers worldwide. When Conficker was unleashed in November 2008, cybersecurity experts did not know what to make of it. Exploiting security flaws in Microsoft Windows, it grew at an astonishingly rapid rate, infecting millions of computers around the world within weeks. Once the worm infiltrated one system it was able to link it with others to form a single network under illicit outside control known as a “botnet.” This botnet was soon capable of overpowering any of the vital computer networks that control banking, telephones, energy flow, air traffic, health-care information — even the Internet itself. Was it a platform for criminal profit or a weapon controlled by a foreign power or dissident organization?
Surprisingly, the U.S. government was only vaguely aware of the threat that Conficker posed, and the task of mounting resistance to the worm fell to a disparate but gifted group of geeks, Internet entrepreneurs, and computer programmers. But when Conficker’s controllers became aware that their creation was encountering resistance, they began refining the worm’s code to make it more difficult to trace and more powerful, testing the Cabal lock’s unity and resolve. Will the Cabal lock down the worm before it is too late? Game on.
©2011 Mark Bowden (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
I thought this might be too technical for me but I love messing around with my computer so took the plunge. It's the best unsolved "whodunnit" ever. I could NOT put the book down. Talk about gripping your seat and holding your breath...and to think that 'thing' is still out there ready to pounce.
The story is great, and the narration is perfect. I even chuckled from time to time. This will appeal to people at all levels of technical expertise and all age groups. I am 75 years old and loved it.
Explains such an obscure and esoteric subject as internet security in a way that is more digestible to laymen. Similar to Clifford Stoll's The Cuckoo's Egg, but more sophisticated.
The narrator's voice is pleasantly paternal, has a tone that follows the writer's intention well.
This book was alright. It kept my attention but I think that may only be because I'm a security nerd. The narration was good. I would be selective about who I recommend it to.
Well written and at times gripping account of a team of good-guy techies trying to defend the internet from a fast spreading virus whose dangers are unknown.
I am listening to a series of books on computer viruses/malware and I read in a review that this book was a good primer on the subject. I agree. Informative and enjoyable listen.
Solid, classy narration by Christopher Lane.
Next up for me, Countdown to Zero Day, then Kingpin. Yay for techie books!
I work in the security industry and did not find this to be a compelling or easy to enjoy book - having email threads read (word for word) as part of a story is just painful; especially when it's a back and forth bickering between hot-headed nerds - on the upside; some of the work the "cabal" did was interesting
A fascinating story, but pretty daunting in terms of the technology and terms. If you aren't an IT expert (like me) there's a good chance you'll drown in the details.
As a fan of Mark Bowden's work, particularly Black Hawk Down, I was looking forward to his tackling of a subject as technical as computer viruses. As a professional software engineer myself, I think he did an excellent job of conveying technical descriptions very accurately while ensuring accessibility to a non-tech audience. Many of his analogies reminded me of similar chestnuts from my own College education, almost as if Bowden was himself very much an industry insider.
Having said that, I'm struggling to understand why Bowden chose the Conficker worm as his subject, as it was not exactly the finest hour of either the "black hats" (hackers) or the "white hats" (anti-virus community), nor was it even close to a "digital world war". It's more the story of floundering efforts on both sides, neither ever really getting on top of the other, which Bowden attempts to link with the similar fate of modern wars to degenerate into stalemates and "exit strategies", as if that is the only outcome we could hope for, an argument which, although insightful, I didn't find ultimately convincing.
There were a lot of mis-steps on both sides of the worm, and unfortunately there was not all that much "genius" on display when it mattered, despite all the self-glorifying hype from both the black hat and white hat communities. If these white hats are really the guys "securing the Internet", they need to spend less time casting themselves as a Cabal of X-Men and more time, well, securing the Internet. If buying up a gazillion domain names on their own credit cards was the best they could come up with to combat Conficker (hardly a breakthrough of technical wizadry), then I'm afraid they fall rather short of "genius" or X-Men. Their personal quarrels on chat-lists, many recounted in full by Bowden, are particularly uninspiring outbursts of immaturity from apparently brilliant software professionals.
Maybe Bowden just loves the story of good guys plunged into chaos (somewhat of their own making) to see how they deal with the fall-out. That might explain his choosing of the Conficker worm as his subject. Unfortunately, as a subject, it is a rather dull one. Bowden writes well, but the story ultimately just isn't a very interesting one. If you are non-tech, you will learn a great deal about Internet technology from this book, but don't expect an exciting "digital world war" to be exposed, despite what the title claims.
The narration was good, and the writing was good. It just wasn't the best story, overall.
fascinating insider take on what it was like to fight very sophisticated criminal group as they attempted to build and control a massive bot net. well done by author, superb performance!
Good book. Not great but still glade I listened to it. If you are interested in worms and other internet malware, well worth the listen.
In general the step by step / day by day development of the Conficker wrom.
It's up in the top ten.
The back ground information on how computer networks work, Was of interest and how little even people in the know, don't know.
I sometimes found it very hard to stop as I wanted to hear more, but I needed to think about what I had just heard.
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