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Saturday, August 26, 2023

Fancy Bear Goes Phishing: The Dark History of the Information Age, in Five Extraordinary HacksFancy Bear Goes Phishing: The Dark History of the Information Age, in Five Extraordinary Hacks by Scott J. Shapiro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For a book on the history of hacking, there are many worse options. This one may not go into even a fraction of the greatest exploits, but it DOES go damn deep into five examples. Indeed, the quality is right up there with the best investigative journalism, with the great caveat that it must also ACCURATELY and INTERESTINGLY describe the computer science and the terms.

Most books like this either assume you know your shit already or is dumbed down to the point of wondering who it was written for or just reads like an emotional thunderstorm of fear and paranoia.

This one sticks to a great, comprehensive UNDERSTANDING of both the means and ways of hacking AND the players involved. I really appreciated that. I mean, you can't bring up social engineering without also giving a great deal of credit to human psychology or the forces that are at play within actual hacker communities.

Self-aggrandizement is commonplace in the hacker community, often taking tons more credit than is warranted, or denying (sometimes accurately) intent to cause mischief, or it is for juvenile bragging rights, or it is a means for the oppressed and poor to strike back.

Normal media and government response to real hackers is generally weird or alarmist or just plain incomprehensible. And don't get me started with software companies more focused on dominating the market than protecting their product or their users who get slammed.

Misinformation is everywhere. Often that same misinformation is perpetuated by paid hackers. But in the end? They're still real people living in a real world and this book doesn't try to apologize for them or make them out to be anything more than exactly what they are. It's not a book trying to persuade anyone of anything.

Indeed, it is wonderfully detailed and researched. It may not capture everything, but these five explorations get the chef's kiss. I think this book hits that sweet spot for newbs, leets and normals.

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