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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worm
This is a really excellent book. It is very well written. The subject matter - an attack on the internet through cyberspace - is difficult for the IT illiterate like me, but very complicated IT concepts are explained simply and clearly. Bowden uses very good similes to illustrate difficult concepts - which works well. I think it is a huge triumph for Bowden that I...
Published on 3 Mar 2012 by Anita Tovell

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit too much XMen
I picked this book up on the Kindle daily deal because a) I am a bit geeky and b) it sounded like an interesting foray into the world of cyber crime.
As the blurb went "This dramatic cybercrime story travels from the Ukraine to the United States (and all parts in between) to explore the next frontier in terrorism"
Well, it doesn't really travel anywhere except a...
Published on 27 Mar 2012 by Steerpike


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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worm, 3 Mar 2012
By 
Anita Tovell (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a really excellent book. It is very well written. The subject matter - an attack on the internet through cyberspace - is difficult for the IT illiterate like me, but very complicated IT concepts are explained simply and clearly. Bowden uses very good similes to illustrate difficult concepts - which works well. I think it is a huge triumph for Bowden that I understood all the concepts. I learnt a great deal about the internet and how it can be attacked. To someone who is not involved in the computer world the insight into what IT gurus do and what the cyberspace threats could be is fascinating.The story itself is absorbing. The book is a real page turner, and it is difficult to remember that this is a fact not fiction. I read the book in an afternoon. It is only 270 pages long - but well worth the money. One of the joys of the book are the little back stories about people and systems.

I sometimes would have liked photos of those concerned - but even the main movers and shakers in the book rarely met in person, and are probably known as towering figures in the internet security world without many people knowing what they look like.

The only problem I have with Worm is that at the end a huge question remains unanswered - but that is the nature of fact as apposed to fiction - the story is still unfolding. If, as I have, you have read "Steve Jobs" and "Into The Plex " you will enjoy this book. All three books tail off towards the end - because they are ongoing history. Worm however leaves some very disquieting thoughts......

Worm is a really informative good read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit too much XMen, 27 Mar 2012
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I picked this book up on the Kindle daily deal because a) I am a bit geeky and b) it sounded like an interesting foray into the world of cyber crime.
As the blurb went "This dramatic cybercrime story travels from the Ukraine to the United States (and all parts in between) to explore the next frontier in terrorism"
Well, it doesn't really travel anywhere except a few office blocks in IT companies in the US but Ukranian keyboards do get a mention and a virtual finger is pointed now and then to foreign powers.

It's not a bad book - but I'm not sure what it's meant to be.
It reads more like a very staid journalist reporting on fairly esoteric events in the online world. As a geek myself I found a lot of the technical explanations unnecessary and taking up far too much of the book. On the flip side I'm not sure if for the non-technical they were equally superfluous (but for a different reason).
The story of the Conficker worm is interesting but could be told in half the time. Maybe even a quarter.

The characters are so thinly drawn that I could never recall who was who, let alone picture them in my mind, but in many ways the cast list were just "cardboard programmers" there to bounce the technical details off.
The constant reference to X-Men was grating and, to me, belittled the individuals involved.
A bunch of highly technical people, trying to fight back against a very real online threat, really deserved a bit more respect than being drawn as puerile comic book heroes. It's the very perception of nerdiness that meant nobody listened to them in the first place.

Despite all of this, the book has some fascinating moments - particularly in relation to the reactions of the US authorities.
I'm not referring to the rather clumsy pot shots at the Federal bodies but the moment when one of the 'Cabal' accurately explains the Government view of the risk. It's a moment of clarity when the reader is suddenly taken out of the technical circle and is invited to see the events from a different perspective. As a section it stands in contrast to the rest of the novels slavish belief in the rightness of the 'white hats' (the good guys).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight reading, 13 Jun 2012
By 
Mr. G. Carroll (LDN | HKG | SZX) - See all my reviews
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Mark Bowden is better known for his other non-fiction (non-technology) books Black Hawk Down and Killing Pablo. He has a background as a journalist and has contributed to The Atlantic magazine. I was curious to know how a non-tech journalist would handle a story as complex as the Conficker botnet as some of the subtleties of technology are lost on people from outside the field.

In terms of timing Worm couldn't have come out at a better time, Stuxnet autopsies were shedding light on the complexity of the software used to cripple Iran's nuclear programme and at the time of my reading the book the details of FLAME started to permeate out into the public view.

Bowden did a good job getting to grips with the personalities that he chose to follow around Conficker and the hapless nature of the US government in facing the potential threat posed by Conficker; but I don't think that he got under the skin of hacker culture or the technology.

Because of this aspects of the characters become cartoon-like and the technology in an overly superficial way that is more Marvel than Discovery Channel. And since no one knows who really built Conficker or what it was really designed to do it feels like one of them TV series that gets cut by the network half-way through first run with the script writers desperately trying to tidy away loose ends.

I found the book a welcome break from the academic books that seem to be my life at the moment, but somewhat wanting in terms of substance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!! A MUST READ FOR ANYONE USING THE INTERNET, 23 Mar 2012
By 
Carol 'avid little bookworm' (LEEDS, Yorkshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This book caught my eye recently on Kindle Daily Deal. As someone probably considered very computer illiterate (as opposed to slightly computer illiterate) I decided it was time I improved my knowledge of the internet and how it works.

After reading the synopsis and another good review I thought this book, which indeed reads like a novel, though of course is based on fact, would be a good place to start. I wasn't disappointed. It kept me hooked from day one, a real page turner. Not a particularly long book, but it did take me a few days to finish, as at first, I went back over passages/events that weren't familiar or clear to me. I do stress that this was purely down to my lack of computer knowledge. I soon decided to just read, and this proved more enjoyable. Having now finished though, and having enjoyed the book so much, I do intend to go back and read it again just to cement some of the knowledge.

The synopsis is a good description, this is my experience and enjoyment of the book. The Internet, and how it links into our every day lives through business, commerce, socialising and other applications, something most of us use everyday and take for granted. Never again!, read the book and decide if you will. Highly, recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's OK, 17 May 2012
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Having lost 3 or 4 weeks of my life to Conficker outbreaks on corporate and government sites (no I can't say where) it was inevitable that I was going to by this book when I saw it on the Kindle for today only page.

It's not a bad book and for non technical folks it's a decent read, the aspirations to geek chic with the X Men references could have been skipped though.

It also does show how unprepared government and corporate IT depts where that this worm hit so hard.
One aspect which was totally ignored was that products from major antivirus vendors simply did not recognise the original Conficker as late as Febuary 2009. This required a new antivirus solution to be rolled out for many customers, then again I guess these companies would have sued

Anyway this book shows the lessons that need to be learned by government, large corporations and companys of all sizes
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wide ranging and enjoyable, 17 April 2012
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I found Worm a readable overview of how the internet works and the pressures it is under from us and them, a not too technical description of how computers and systems can be compromised, and what the good guys are trying to do about it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Worms it's way into your thoughts, 17 Jun 2014
By 
Mark Ramsay (Livingston, West Lothian, Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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A very detailed and extraordinary story, it does demonstrate that future battles will not just be fought with explosive weapons, but computers. Fascination, well-told and just a bit terrifying.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating story, well told, 20 Feb 2014
By 
Mr. M. P. Lewin "M Lewin" (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
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This is an excellent account of the advent of the Conficker worm and the guys who went to such great efforts to keep it contained. Have they been successful? Only time will tell.
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2.0 out of 5 stars a good article, a spinned book, 18 Feb 2014
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I bought this book inspired by the great read of mark bowdens classic BHD.

unfortunatly this book is far from a good book. Mr Bowden still manages to make a decent start, but the book falls rapidly into a boring recount of ..well, nothing!

the problem here is that the story itslef has no outcome, because nothing really ever happened. Yes, the potential for digital doomsday may have be there, but as the story itself explains, its inconclusive. To write a book about this episode of digital crime takes the author to spin and spin and spin all the minor details of his research because there is no story to follow up. So the opening is good, explaining the main characters that worked on the detection and containment. Also some facts about the internet architecture are interesting, and you can see the author doing his homework.

but once the detection is described, and the potential explained..... the story runs out of gas. As from then on nothing ever happened - either by inability or fear the intrusion was never exploited- the book goes into endless lengths reproducing sent emails, meetings or minor facts that are only relevant to the process of documentation, but that never should have made it into the book in such a literal way. Mr Bowdens writting ability avoids total disaster, but clearly struggles to keep interest to the story and falls back again and again to the finger waving warnings of tecnological disaster.

If the virus had produced a real problem, this would have made a much better story, but as it didnt once the scenario is set, there is nothing much more to give the reader. My belief is that this could have made a great magazine article, but makes a poor book, and thus it spins itself into boredom.

one last objection I have is the need to make superheroes -xmen quotes- of the bunch of technitians , scientists or entreperneurs that contributed to the containment team. I am disapointed the author needs this nanny tutored view of society, as if the rest of its members couldnt do anything for themselves. graveyards are full of " indispensable" people, and society has the resilience built in the millions of its anonimous citizens, not in a bunch of freaks. Even If the digital world missed the internet for a day or two, dont be surprised its not such a big deal ( a similar experience happened after 9/11 to no bigger harm). I find this need of overinflated vigilantes childish and irrelevant for the complexity of modern society.

a poor book altoguether, with some interesting facts for the digital tech minded fans to impress a friend. not much meat to it once the plot is layed out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars gripping real-life computer crime story, 16 Oct 2013
By 
Marie-Therese (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
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This is a behind-the-scenes account of a dramatic race to beat a vicious and global "worm", or particularly nasty type of computer virus. The writer is primarily a journalist, not a scientist or "computer geek", and he has succeeded brilliantly in grasping and then clarifying the issues, and a minimum of the jargon, without "writing down" to his readers. The book is in the style of a popular American novel or crime story (easy reading, and UK readers will readily acclimatise if necessary) and manages to capture some of the urgency and human drama at the cutting edge of a highly specialized world. As it is an account of real events it occasionally lacks some elements of the suspense and drive one would expect in a fictional drama, but the immediacy of the importance that internet crime has to all of us makes up for that. I would recommend this to anyone who has the slightest interest in how the internet works or in the rarified world of the "geek" as well as to those who can already empathize with the people involved - I found the story a real page-turner, and learnt quite a bit about paying attention to what my computer is up to along the way.
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