Book Review: Fatal System Error

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Menn, Joseph. Fatal system error : the hunt for the new crime lords who are bringing down the Internet. Public Affairs, 2010.

Cybercrime is serious business and the internet is more vulnerable than most people realize. A reporter for the Financial Times illustrates this important topic through a true story that reads like a crime thriller, taking the reader worldwide in this hunt for justice.

The story begins with a 25 year old computer nerd from California who is hired by an internet gambling business run out of Costa Rica. An unidentified hacker is crashing the website, causing millions in lost revenues, until protection money is paid. As the story unfolds, the hackers evolve from small time thieves to an organized gang of Russian extortionists. The gambling business reveals itself as controlled by criminals, including the Mob, who are also involved with identity theft and internet fraud.

As the story moves to Moscow, author Menn introduces his second colorful character, a British high-tech agent, and describes a world where top cyber criminals are protected by the Russian government. Prosecution is impossible because the governments in Russia and China are allies of organized crime for political purposes, such as stealing defense secrets of other governments and monitoring political dissidents.

At the end of the book, Menn calls for readers to be more vigilant about security on their own hardware, by using anti-virus software that updates automatically and to guard personal information on social networks.

© Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
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