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Publisher's Summary

In this disquieting cyber thriller, Joseph Menn takes readers into the murky hacker underground, traveling the globe from San Francisco to Costa Rica and London to Russia. His guides are California surfer and computer whiz Barrett Lyon and a fearless British high-tech agent. Through these heroes, Menn shows the evolution of cyber-crime from small-time thieving to sophisticated, organized gangs, who began by attacking corporate websites but increasingly steal financial data from consumers and defense secrets from governments. Using unprecedented access to Mob businesses and Russian officials, the book reveals how top criminals earned protection from the Russian government.

Fatal System Error penetrates both the Russian cyber-mob and La Cosa Nostra as the two fight over the Internet's massive spoils. The cloak-and-dagger adventure shows why cyber-crime is much worse than you thought and why the Internet might not survive.

©2010 Joseph Menn (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Christian Rummel maintains an upbeat tone, in contrast to the depressing information he delivers. His cheery and enthusiastic attitude makes the mountain of facts more palatable." (AudioFile)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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  • Story

A Great Book

If you think the Internet is secure in any way, shape or form you should probably read this book (non-fiction). This is not about the old school hacking talents of Cap'n Crunch (John Draper), Phiber Optik (Mark Abene), or Condor (Kevin Mitnick) but a syndicated group of virus writers who have gone professional. It is a world wide epidemic of extortion and identity theft, primarily based in Russia and neighboring city states. The US Government has ranked it the largest and most important criminal activity surpassing the drug trade. A few folks have been put in prison but most remain at large and active.

It starts with the history of DDOS extortion attacks (distributed denial-of-service) against gambling and fortune 500 companies i.e. pay us x dollars or we will bring down your website at a critical time - right before the super bowl, a new product launch etc., and migrates to massive online identity and credit card theft. The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.

The links between organized crime and governments, specifically the FSB (the successor of the KGB) and their protection of the hacker networks is outlined in detail.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Roy
  • Beaumont, TX, United States
  • 10-20-10

True Electronic Crime

Audible has a number of excellent books reporting on international criminal activity - drugs, clothing knock-offs, illegal immigation. This book just happens to deal with true crime and the global cyber cartels. This book will appeal to law enforcement personnel, persons interested in criminal justice, and just about anyone who has a concern about cyber crime. It is a well written, informative, and (dare I say) entertaining approach to the problem. The gravity and pervasiveness of the problem will disturb anyone who has not been following such developments. People seeking detailed analysis might be disappointed. Individuals who just want an "inside" account of how things work and what the state of the criminal art looks like will be well rewarded. The reading of Christian Rummel is very good.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Best cyber information

This is best book I heard so far for Cyber underground activity.
We are at great risk , we internet users and are at mercy of some criminals.

Bartlett and Andy , you are real heroes.

Great work by Joseph Menn.Great audio quality and great content.
I heard this in one sitting.
Highly recommend if some body wants to do a reality check on Internet.
Not technical and very layman style.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Not good enough

What disappointed you about Fatal System Error?

It was difficult for me to follow the story in audio. Actually, didn't complete the udiobook to the end. Many names, places to follow in audio. Maybe it's different in a written book for u to read.

What could Joseph Menn have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

For audio, it's better to have less characters (names, places). To easy follow.

What aspect of Christian Rummel’s performance would you have changed?

The audio was ok.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Just couldn't follow the story, so it was (for me) confusing. I listen to books while driving, so maybe that's why difficult to follow. If u read doing other activities where u can concentrate more on the story maybe u'll find it ok.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • michael
  • HAVERHILL, MA, United States
  • 02-13-12

Hard to keep up with story.

Any additional comments?

I wanted to like it. But, the author bounces around so much, that you start to lose interest about a hour into it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Philippa
  • Powder Springs, GA, United States
  • 08-16-11

Booming Buzz Words - Little Story Line

I was very disappointed from this audiobook. The author uses every buzz word of the cyber world, but the story line seemed to lack a plot. Once I was done with the book, I was unsatisfied because I was still waiting to find the point of the story. It appeared to me that the author wanted to make a quick buck by just throwing all cyber buzz words into a text file and padding it with names, places, and verbs to "make" it a story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Anyone Would Enjoy This

You don't have to be a computer geek to enjoy this book. It's a cool story that is relevant to everyone because of the broad reach of the internet in our daily lives.

The technical side of it is very light, and helps the non-tech savvy to understand a little more about what is going on when they hear about viruses and such in the news, and the storyline itself is good so everyone should enjoy the read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Steven
  • PHILADELPHIA, PA, United States
  • 02-19-10

Good Book - But Could be More Focused

The 1st half of the book is focused on Barrett Lyon, and his travails running a cyber security firm. Unfortunately, his partners who were involved with internet gambling, were mob connected.

The book never really explains why Lyon snitched on his partners rather than simply cutting ties to them.

The book would have been better if Barrett Lyon was only a peripheral part of the book, as much of his story didn't have that much to do with cyber crime, but was simply a result of Lyon choosing business partners that he didn't know much about before he got involved with them.

It seems that the author just strung 2 stories together and then marketed the book as one that is purely about cyber crime.

This is an extremely important issue, but the book is somewhat unfocused.



3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

get history on ddos defense

Nice book, tells history on DDOS defense and the people who were behind it. Also shows how bad government is and how not so smart they are.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

interesting read, poorly edited.

narrator was solid. Writing was less so, many story lines not weaved together well.