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.
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.
Security Number One
Thought I knew most of what was going on since I ran an IT div in DC, but was not aware of this worm.
No bank account is safe
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!
This book is very boring.
This book has not turned me off of other books in this genre.
I wish I could get my credit back. I did not, I could not finish this book...
I loved "The Coukoo's Egg" years ago and used it in security work for years & then this saga is a great view of the continuing challenges of the "connected age"!! Very useful for anyone who likes the Internet.
Audible obsessed lifelong learner.
Worm is the story of the evolution of Worms and Viruses from glory seeking pranks to world threatening weapons of mass destruction and the white hats that have fought the good fight to keep them at bay. The white hats struggle to help the government entities to walk up to the threat and understand how real the total devastation could be. The story is not a happy story with a nice wrapped up ending since the confiker worm was never squashed and the ominous realization for the reader was that we will never know how this story will end until it could be to late.
While this book was educational, it was very boooorrrinnnng. The author believed that he should explain the workings of a computer in order to describe the cornficker infection. After hearing about mano v mano and the foibles of various players, I decided that he had an axe to grind and set the "listen" to fast forward. I've read Bowden books in the past, but this one was baaaaad.
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