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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 3 March 2012
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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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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on 27 March 2012
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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VINE VOICEon 13 June 2012
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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on 17 May 2012
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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on 18 February 2014
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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on 31 May 2015
I thought this was a novel so was disappointed with ending, however I think I learnt a lot about malware and feel the teaching of very technical subjects was extremely well done so thank you Mark Bowden. Will get Black Hawk Down now.
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on 29 January 2013
Well, not really. Verey technical and political book, but the record of events just trails off, withiut any good conclusion on what might happen.

Explanations were technical and without background - a better explanation of what 'Ports' are in simplistic tearsm would have helped and a chapter devoted to this and other basics would help anyone without computer knowledge understand the problems better.

Was a bit slow and was hard work to finish.
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on 6 July 2012
This was a very well written and absorbing book. I do find this area to be quite interesting but I have little technical knowledge.
I felt the author did a great job of explaining technical matters and showing just why this stuff is so important.

This really is a work of superior journalism.
I did think that it maybe petered out a little towards the end.

Overall I enjoyed reading this and even learnt a few things.
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on 19 March 2012
One of my favourite authors, Mark Bowden, delivers another well researched work in 'Worm'. I am computer savvy, having worked in the industry, so I did have some advantage. Thus, I would say for non-techies, it could be heavy going at times. And yet, despite the high tech 'virtual' world of the Internet Bowden describes with its infections and flaws, the most intriguing aspect of the story are the characters. Known as The Cabal, they assign themselves, more or less on a voluntary basis, to deal with the proliferation of the Conficker virus. There is some juicy handbagging and in-fighting to get stuck into and more than enough politics to keep the reader intrigued.

If you're into computers, then it's a must read, if not, then still worth a look.
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