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Book Review: Fatal System Error

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Author Joseph Menn has masterfully created an intense page turner about cybercrime.  If you are at all interested in crime novels, cybercrime, cybersecurity, or Russian organized crime, this is a must read. 

This book is written mostly from the white hat and law enforcement perspective. It is a refreshing viewpoint.  It is a frustrating view point. You get to cheer for the good guys in this book. It reads like a novel and it reads fast.  I would have read it all in one day if I had the time. I had to spread it across two days.  I could only think about getting back to the book while I was elsewhere.

I don’t want to spoil the plot-line for you, so I will not delve deeper than a topical recap.  What I took away from this non-fiction novel was that cybercrime much larger, deeper, and wide-spread than I ever knew.  Furthermore, online poker is a front for Russian and Italian organized crime, among other criminal enterprises. There is huge money in online gambling and spam. Furthermore, Russia is basically a state run criminal enterprise. These are scary and eye-opening topics.

Mr. Menn’s book may read like a cyber-thriller, but it is a well documented and fascinating piece of journalism. I love the extensive notes in the back. While this book is from 2010, it is as relevant today as it was then. This book further solidifies the fact there is a cyber war going on between countries, between business, and even between individuals.  The average user is minimally impacted for now. However, the big money cyber crime generates will elicit larger and evermore expansive enterprises.  The cyber world will only get more dangerous and so will the real world impact.

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