Synopses & Reviews
From the author of Black Hawk Down
comes the story of the battle between those determined to exploit the internet and those committed to protect itthe ongoing war taking place literally beneath our fingertips.
The Conficker worm infected its first computer in November 2008 and within a month had infiltrated 1.5 million computers in 195 countries. Banks, telecommunications companies, and critical government networks (including the British Parliament and the French and German military) were infected. No one had ever seen anything like it. By January 2009 the worm lay hidden in at least eight million computers and the botnet of linked computers that it had created was big enough that an attack might crash the world. This is the gripping tale of the group of hackers, researches, millionaire Internet entrepreneurs, and computer security experts who united to defend the Internet from the Conficker worm: the story of the first digital world war.
"Bestselling Black Hawk Down author Bowden follows a group of white-hat computer experts who came together to fight Conficker, malware that surfaced in late 2008 and appeared poised to take over millions of computers running Windows Operating System on April 1, 2009. Bowden shows how 'The Cabal' struggled to stay ahead of the Conficker worm as it evolved in the course of four months into ever more threatening incarnations. 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. 'If no one is ultimately responsible for the Internet, then how do you police and defend it?' he asks. But while Bowden presents the Cabal's efforts to defeat Conficker as an epic good vs. evil battle, the actual stakes are never entirely clear. Even the computer researchers have no way of knowing whether Conficker will set off 'Cybarmageddon,' or will amount to no more than an elaborate April Fool's joke." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
What the Experts are Saying about the Conficker Worm:
If youre looking for a digital Pearl Harbor, we now have the Japanese ships steering toward us on the horizon.”Rick Wesson, Support Intelligence, CEO
This thing has proven . . . that it is rock-solid, and that the good guys, and the anti-virus guys and the Microsoft guys cant do sh*t. It is the Holy Grail of a botnet.”Rodney Joffe, Neustar, Security Chief
These [security] problems have been here so long that the only way Ive been able to function at all is by learning to ignore them. Or else I would be in a constant state of panic, unable to think or act constructively. We have been one command away from catastrophe for a long time now.”Paul Vixie, Board of Trustees of the American Registry for Internet Numbers
Its . . . clear that were not as prepared as we should be, as a government or as a country. . . . Just as we failed in the past to invest in our physical infrastructureour roads, our bridges and railsweve failed to invest in the security of our digital infrastructure . . . We saw this in the disorganized response to Conficker. This status quo is no longer acceptablenot when theres so much at stake.”President Barack Obama
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 worlds efforts to neutralize the Conficker worm the flavor of a riveting report from the digital battlefields 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 üntergeek 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 Bowdens warnings with the utmost seriousness because of the growing threats to our wired world.”New York Journal of Books
Mark Bowdens Worm: The Story of the First Digital World War is about the next frontier in war. Bowden, the best-selling author of Black Hawk Down and The Best Game Ever, has delivered a dramatic cyber-crime story that explores the Conficker Computer Worm,” a potentially devastating computer virus that has baffled experts and infected as many as 12 million computers to date. Bowden has gained unprecedented access to the key players in the story and produced what could be his most important story to date.
When the Conficker Computer Worm” was unleashed upon the world in November 2008, cyber-security experts did not know what to make of it. The worm, exploiting the security flaws in Microsoft Windows, grew at an astonishingly rapid rate, infecting millions of computers around the world within weeks. Once the worm infiltrated one system it was able to link it with others to form a single network under illicit outside control known as a botnet.” It was soon capable of overpowering any of the vital computer networks that today control banking, telephones, energy flow, air traffic, health-care informationeven the Internet itself. Was it a platform for criminal profit, or a weapon? Security experts do not know for sure what Confickers purpose is, or even where it came from. Their struggle to control it, a dazzling battle of wits between expert programmers over the future of the Internet, pitted those determined to exploit it against those committed to protect it, and awakened the U.S. Government for the first time to the urgent nature of the threat.
Bowdens book reports this new frontier on terror in a way that has never been done before. Bowden skillfully explores the digital chess match unfolding in the esoteric world of computer security, telling the story from the perspective of both the good-guy hackers known as the Conficker Cabal” working to defeat the worm and the bad guys intent on spreading it. In Worm: The Story of the First Digital World War, Mark Bowden delivers an accessible and fascinating look at the ongoing and largely unreported war taking place literally beneath our fingertips.
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.