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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » TANGLED WEB: Tales of Digital Crime from the Shadows of Cyberspace » User review

A description of where the real digital action is

  • Sep 25, 2000
Nothing sums up the power of the Internet more than the realization that someone who cannot legally own property can find programs that can be used to cause hundreds of millions of dollars of digital damage. Not since the days of young monarchs has it been possible for a teenager to do such things. However, while tales like this get the most publicity, it is unfortunate that it hides a grim reality. Most attacks of this type do nothing but exploit security holes caused by poor design or sloppy programming.
The fact that crime, deceit and general nastiness have appeared in the computing culture should come as no surprise. Human nature being what it is, the darker side of human experience will follow them into whatever venture that they explore. While the majority of the most public cases of digital crime are described in this book, the most interesting are those that are only hinted at. Given that most information is now stored digitally and most competition between nations is now economic, it is hardly surprising that nations are employing cyberspooks to obtain information about what others are doing. While the descriptions here are only fragmentary, they are enough so that those familiar with computer security will be able to piece together much of what is going on.
However, the real action is most certainly in the areas of industrial espionage. While the bulk of publicity is about amateur hackers and virus writers and pilfered credit card numbers, the amount of industrial espionage that is going on exceeds these simple crimes in dollar values. When the value of an industrial secret can be worth hundreds of millions to billions of dollars the theft of even one no doubt dwarfs the cost of all Internet credit card fraud. The recent case of Oracle operatives divining secrets from the dumpsters at Microsoft is the most obvious and while it has comical aspects, it does point out how ruthless the competition is. I found the descriptions of industrial espionage just as fascinating as the tales of government intelligence gathering. Anyone with information of value that is on a computer should read these tales of what can be done against them.
In conclusion, there is a many front war going on in the area of digital security. The most visible involves viruses and hacker attacks, which are generally carried out by people with lower level skill sets. The real action is taking place among professionals working in the shadows, stealing secrets and covering their tracks. That is the real interesting thing about this book, and the results of their efforts are beginning to affect governments, and can have substantial changes on which countries and companies emerge as the dominant players.

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review by . March 02, 2004
I just finished reading Tangled Web by Richard Power. I thoroughly enjoyed most of it. He presents a very technical, a possibly boring subject in a very realistic and easy-to-read light. Many cyber-crime books either blow the topic way out of proportion and pander to the uneducated and gullible. They would have the same sort of audience that stocked up on supplies in the waning days of 1999 waiting for the Y2K bug to end the world. Powers does not do that. Nor does he play the issue down as some …
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Charles Ashbacher ()
Ranked #78
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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About this book


Part true crime, part call to arms,Tangled Web: Tales of Digital Crime from the Shadows of Cyberspacelooks over the firewall from both sides to examine the brave new crooks and their pursuers. Author Richard Power, editorial director of San Francisco's Computer Security Institute, is simultaneously engaging and shaky--a rare and lovely combination. Between interviews with hackers and security experts, Power plies the reader with numbers that suggest that the world's networks are swarming with money-sucking leeches, most of which are never even noticed, and certainly not caught. If his voice never quite becomes hysterical, it's to preserve his credibility; after all, Power's Institute needs a strong public awareness of cybercrime in order to stay in business.

This is not to say that Tangled Web is inaccurate or strongly biased. The author gives credit, where it is due, to law enforcement agencies and security consultants who have made some genuine progress in preventing crime and apprehending criminals. Fortunately, it's tough, as of yet, to commit violent crimes over a network, but the reader still will find reason to think twice before glossing over security procedures, even at home. Power provides example countermeasures for all desired levels of connection, value, and privacy; and, while some are out of reach of individuals and smaller businesses, others cost only a little time or convenience. As with health insurance, it's better to take care of it beforehand, and Tangled...

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ISBN-10: 078972443X
ISBN-13: 978-0789724434
Author: Richard Power
Publisher: Que Corporation

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