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Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground [Hardcover]

Kevin Poulsen
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
Price: 14.83 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

22 Feb 2011
Former hacker Kevin Poulsen has, over the past decade, built a reputation as one of the top investigative reporters on the cybercrime beat. In Kingpin, he pours his unmatched access and expertise into book form for the first time, delivering a gripping cat-and-mouse narrative—and an unprecedented view into the twenty-first century’s signature form of organized crime.
 
The word spread through the hacking underground like some unstoppable new virus: Someone—some brilliant, audacious crook—had just staged a hostile takeover of an online criminal network that siphoned billions of dollars from the US economy.
 
The FBI rushed to launch an ambitious undercover operation aimed at tracking down this new kingpin; other agencies around the world deployed dozens of moles and double agents. Together, the cybercops lured numerous unsuspecting hackers into their clutches. . . . Yet at every turn, their main quarry displayed an uncanny ability to sniff out their snitches and see through their plots.
 
The culprit they sought was the most unlikely of criminals: a brilliant programmer with a hippie ethic and a supervillain’s double identity. As prominent “white-hat” hacker Max “Vision” Butler, he was a celebrity throughout the programming world, even serving as a consultant to the FBI. But as the black-hat “Iceman,” he found in the world of data theft an irresistible opportunity to test his outsized abilities. He infiltrated thousands of computers around the country, sucking down millions of credit card numbers at will. He effortlessly hacked his fellow hackers, stealing their ill-gotten gains from under their noses. Together with a smooth-talking con artist, he ran a massive real-world crime ring.
 
And for years, he did it all with seeming impunity, even as countless rivals ran afoul of police.
 
Yet as he watched the fraudsters around him squabble, their ranks riddled with infiltrators, their methods inefficient, he began to see in their dysfunction the ultimate challenge: He would stage his coup and fix what was broken, run things as they should be run—even if it meant painting a bull’s-eye on his forehead.
 
Through the story of this criminal’s remarkable rise, and of law enforcement’s quest to track him down, Kingpin lays bare the workings of a silent crime wave still affecting millions of Americans. In these pages, we are ushered into vast online-fraud supermarkets stocked with credit card numbers, counterfeit checks, hacked bank accounts, dead drops, and fake passports. We learn the workings of the numerous hacks—browser exploits, phishing attacks, Trojan horses, and much more—these fraudsters use to ply their trade, and trace the complex routes by which they turn stolen data into millions of dollars. And thanks to Poulsen’s remarkable access to both cops and criminals, we step inside the quiet, desperate arms race that law enforcement continues to fight with these scammers today. 
 
Ultimately, Kingpin is a journey into an underworld of startling scope and power, one in which ordinary American teenagers work hand in hand with murderous Russian mobsters and where a simple Wi-Fi connection can unleash a torrent of gold worth millions.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY) (22 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307588688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307588685
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.9 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 376,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down 9 Mar 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this title on my Kindle, after reading an extract in Wired magazine.

This book makes hacking thrilling. What I liked was that the author doesn't skip over the technical details of how the hacks work. You zoom right in, and discover how the attacks are accomplished.

For example, reading Kingpin was the first time I actually understood what a SQL injection attack is. If you're interested in technology, or hacking, I highly recommend you read this book - I loved it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-written and fascinating book 4 April 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I think that this is a book written without a target audience in mind, just because Poulson felt it needed to be written. If you are already knowledgeable about black hat hacking, you will know a lot of this already. If you are an ordinary computer user, then a lot of the jargon might go over your head.

But it doesn't matter. Poulson writes so engagingly and clearly that, even if some of it is arcane, he can get across the thrill of the chase and into the minds of these amazingly strange and clever people. I had just finished the Millennium trilogy and really didn't believe that the heroine, Salander, could carry out the hacking that she did. Now I know that she could, and how.

The detailed accounts of how the security of banks, national security and retailers were penetrated and data and card details stolen make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. These are organisations that we deal with and give our cards to, such as restaurants and clothes shops. Poulson explains how a combination of software faults, and human laziness and carelessness, make data theft possible. He describes how, to start with, these thefts were covered up and customers told that they were to blame.

I finished up with a mix of feelings. I could not help admire the hackers as they attacked institutions and each other. At times the story had the complexity of a mix of John le Carre and CSI. But then I reminded myself that when my bank calls me to cancel a card, it is people like these who caused it.

As I put the book down I thought that some of the software described is running on my own computers. So guess what? I put an order in for the most advanced version of the free internet security software that I use. No, they probably aren't interested in me, but who knows? I now have a lot of respect for the hackers' skills.

All-in-all a well-written and fascinating book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable, but could do with more meat... 8 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great story, fairly well told, if you find the subject interesting.
Only 2 complaints: this would have been more interesting if it had more content and perhaps links out to safely hosted content for those wishing to dig further and I have to say that this deficiency makes it a little on the pricey side. Found the story fascinating though.
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4.0 out of 5 stars great details.. 13 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very we'll researched and informative. Certainly recommended for any one studying card fraud practices. Also relevant for a normal user looking for a secure browsing experience.
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5.0 out of 5 stars COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN 6 Oct 2013
By Alexei
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Amazing book.
Thrilling from beginning to end. Think I learnt something too about good security behaviour. Easy reading throughout even technical bits.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Tight, well written and interesting 28 Aug 2013
By Ross P
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The writing is of a high standard and comes across as a lean and fluently-described dispassionate version of events. The author is impartial, knowledgeable and well-informed and he delivers an easy-to-read, intriguing tale of hi-tech cat-and-mouse.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book 30 July 2013
By shizzle
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book over the course of about a month and a half. It was really intriguing and dealt with how a man's passion for light-hearted electronic mischief was both a gift and a curse for him. It had some pretty good revelations and a good sense of time passing through the years.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and researched 29 April 2013
By Mark
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book explains how one hacker hacked an online black market selling stolen credit card details, fake IDs the lot. How he was tracked down and caught. It's a more focussed version of Misha Glennys Dark Market, which offers a broader view of the whole story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Weak Book
You can read this book in a few hours, however, the content and the way they went about their work was pathetic to say the least.
Published 15 months ago by Soulreaper
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read
This is a real page turner and I zipped through it. It reads more like fiction than fact and this adds to the draw as the story pulls you in. Read more
Published 17 months ago by D. Yates
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Gives such detail into the mind of Max Butler, from his early exploits all the way to his current incarceration. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Jgraham95
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
An absolutely fantastic insight into the other world. It is amazing how Kevin gets the scoop on these events he is a trusted and well respected member of all communities. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Bird is the Word
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it
This is such a well written, interesting, enthralling read, i am left very keen to read a lot more from Poulsen. Read more
Published 19 months ago by D. J. PITT
4.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this book
If you have any interest in crime books, technology books, IT security or hacking (black or white) then you will enjoy reading this book. Read more
Published 20 months ago by W. B. Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written, interesting, and a bit scary
I really enjoyed this book. As a software developer with experience building websites that accept card payments, I found this book very interesting. Read more
Published 22 months ago by David Rand
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