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Worm: The First Digital World War Hardcover – 20 Oct 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 20 Oct 2011
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 245 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press (20 Oct. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802119832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802119834
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,246,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Worm" is worth attention. Government officials up to and including President Obama have taken notice of Conficker and begun to address some of the issues it raised. "Bloomberg" When Mark Bowden writes, smart readers pay attention. . . . Bowden is a deserved brand name a superb reporter and compelling narrative writer, whether his subject is war in a forlorn land ("Black Hawk Down," set in Somalia) or a variety of others in seven other books (Killing Pablo," "Guests of the Ayatollah," etc.). And now we have the current masterpiece, "Worm." "The Philadelphia Inquirer" The author takes readers behind the scenes, showing the security specialists increasing frenzy, not to mention occasional infighting, as they worked to defeat the worm. Along the way, the author lucidly explains how malware can take over computers as well as how the very openness of the Internet makes it vulnerable to attack. "Publishers Weekly" From the author of Black Hawk Down," a different sort of blood-and-thunder heroism narrative, out on the frontiers of cybercrime. . . . A brief, punchy reminder of our high-tech vulnerabilities. "Kirkus Reviews" Bowden . . . gives this account of the computer world s efforts to neutralize the Conficker worm the flavor of a riveting report from the digital battlefield s front lines. . . . A nerve-wracking but first-rate inside peek into the world of cybercrime and its vigilant adversaries. "Booklist" [T]he thumbs of every 30-something untergeek will still Tweet in ecstasy at seeing technical terms like NCP/IP, Port 445, and MS08-067 spread across the pages of a mainstream book. But the rest of us should take Mark Bowden s warnings with the utmost seriousness because of the growing threats to our wired world. "New York Journal of Books""

About the Author

Mark Bowden is the author of seven books, including "Black Hawk Down," "The Best Game Ever," "Killing Pablo," and "Guests of the Ayatollah." He reported at "The Philadelphia Inquirer" for twenty years and now writes for " Vanity Fair," "The Atlantic," and other magazines. He lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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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