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DarkMarket: CyberThieves, CyberCops and You Hardcover – 15 Sep 2011
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DarkMarket tells you things you will have difficulty believing. This extraordinarily powerful book explores the shadowy world of modern crime, how it knows no borders and how impossible it is to combat. DarkMarket...is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the world we live in (Roberto Saviano, Author Of Gomorrah)
In DarkMarket, Misha Glenny does a superlative job of putting faces to the criminals and cops... This is a game of cat and mouse, subterfuge and sting, a protracted battle between cyberthieves and cybercops, and Glenny masterfully weaves the tale together (Davin O'Dwyer Irish Times)
Be scared. Be very scared... Glenny's journey through the undergrowth of cybercrime is a dark read... Glenny presents a host of extraordinary characters as he tells the story of the past 20 years of online crime... This is a gripping tale, brilliantly researched (John Kampfner Sunday Times)
Glenny is skilful at taking a world that might seem impenetrable and esoteric and making it human... Very readable... Glenny has had impressive access to the shadiest sides of the internet... The story Glenny tells is fascinating (Matt Warman Sunday Telegraph)
Misha Glenny...tackles the rise and fall of DarkMarket and its key players with gusto... Glenny knows how to make this baffling world of DDos attacks, botnets and bulletproof hosting into compulsive, thriller-paced reading (Metro)
THE crime book of our times, from the author of the bestselling McMafiaSee all Product description
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That said the book is informative and entertaining. I would have it to have been a bit more "techie" and preferably with information on how to minimise the risk of being hacked. In that respect, Glenny's only advice is to cover the keyboard as you enter your PIN; hardly insightful.
I think the most frustrating aspect of this book is that the author only ever feels one step ahead of the reader in terms of knowledge. There's nothing necessarily wrong with someone approaching a topic they initially know nothing about; on the contrary, when written with wit and intelligence, an author thrown into the deep end of an entirely new world can be incredibly entertaining - Jon Ronson springs to mind - however, this doesn't come anywhere near that standard.
When explaining concepts, it feels like he only vaguely understood the meaning of crackers and hackers a few minutes before putting pen to paper; he seems completely out of his depth. I know it's supposed to be a book about a man, through investigative journalism, discovering and exploring the dark underworld of cybercrime, but it feels like maybe someone who has a lot more background in this field should be writing it.
I know he has written books like this in the past, but his previous experience does not come across; it constantly feels like I'm reading the thoughts of someone who spent 20 minutes on wikipedia finding out the technical aspects of the topic, and then spent the rest of his time interviewing random people on the internet for info - which the author himself admits almost certainly will be largely exaggerated accounts - on the people who carried out these crimes. Much of this personal information I found myself doubting how he came to know as well, as some of it is so minor yet precise I seriously can't imagine anyone recalling it 10-20 years later.
On the whole, the author certainly has a gift for making you turn the page - albeit without being particularly well-written, a la Dan Brown - but it's a deeply unfulfilling book, and this is from someone who didn't really know anything about these things beforehand; for anyone who knew about hackers and crackers it must have been even worse - almost cringe-worthy - like having an A-level physics student explaining to Stephen Hawking about the nature of time.
I'm surprised at the level of positive praise for this, I would seriously consider buying another book on what could have been an interesting area.
I,too,have read both books and there is actually very little crossover between them. Poulson's book is basically a story that takes place on the west coast of America, whereas Glenny ranges from there to Turkey via Ukraine,Britain,Germany and elsewhere.
I do agree on one thing, that for those interested in the technology, Poulsen's is a more detailed book (albeit a little too detailed for me). But for those who want to know how cybercrime actually relates to ordinary peoples' lives and about the psychology of hackers and criminals on the web , I would say Dark Market wins out for sure.
As regards the specific case of DarkMarket ,which I followed in 'Wired' magazine, both bring what looks to me like real inside knowledge but much of Glenny's stuff has never really been written about before (at least I've never come across it before)- for example about how international law enforcement agencies do or don't co-operate, plus I found the stuff about Germany and Turkey really eye-opening.
But most of all, I couldn't put it down- I read it in two sessions because I couldn't help myself.
This book is clearly meant to be a thriller, 'based on a true story' but closer to a Hollywood film's version of true events than a piece of factual journalism.
Do not get me wrong here, I'm not objecting to the author glossing over technical detail, that I would have no issue with. What this book does is go out of its way to include technical discussion that simply makes no sense. It's pretty clear that the author is cobbling together sentences from interviews with someone who is already trying to dumb down the topic.
As for the treatment of the villains in this story it seems that so much as sitting at a computer makes you a social recluse (the author even goes so far as to imply one suffers from aspergers, after sentences earlier describing what sounds like a normal kid). We even have our old friend 'video games cause violence' popping up now and again.
If you are interested in computers and computer security this is definitely not a book for you.
I've given the book 3 stars, as a thriller it is not terrible; if I liked thrillers and it was about rogue physicists I may well have enjoyed it (as I know nothing about physics). But I did not like the book and I think if you are technically minded you will not like it either.
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