Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Worm: The First Digital World War” as Want to Read:
Worm: The First Digital World War
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Worm: The First Digital World War

3.49  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,401 Ratings  ·  238 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 it—the 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
Hardcover, 233 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published January 1st 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Worm, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Worm

Steve Jobs by Walter IsaacsonHackers by Steven LevyGhost in the Wires by Kevin D. MitnickThe Cuckoo's Egg by Clifford StollThe Art of Startup Fundraising by Alejandro Cremades
Silicon Valley
34th out of 171 books — 321 voters
The Doolittle Raid by Carroll V. GlinesA Higher Call by Adam MakosThe Unseen War by Benjamin S. LambethOn Combat by Dave GrossmanUndaunted by Tanya Biank
CSAF Reading List - 2014
9th out of 12 books — 1 voter

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,722)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Amar Pai
Aug 09, 2015 Amar Pai rated it did not like it
Conficker is the "first Digital World War?!" Get the f*** out of here. Ugh, I knew I remembered Mark Bowden from somewhere. He wrote Black Hawk Down. Not a bad book but you can't shoehorn every damn phenomenon into the category of "war"! As the saying goes, when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

This book is an utter waste of time. If you're interested in the subject you already know everything in it. Do we really need yet another recounting of the internet's origins, ARPANET etc?
Will Byrnes
There is a war being waged in the world today. Not one of the many you read about in newspapers (or newsfeeds) or the ones you see on your televisions and computer screens. This war is going on while we sleep, eat our breakfasts and go about our business, in our cities and suburbs, in the homes of our major industries, in our home computers. Forget the annoying daily viruses that attack, primarily, Windows systems, spewing unwanted spam; forget the unwanted pop-ups that emanate from the same sou ...more
Oct 03, 2011 Will rated it it was ok
This book was Ok. I decided to read it after hearing him speak on Fresh Air. I felt like he did an Ok job of conveying technical information to a presumably non-technical audience. The author will be the first to admit that he's not a technical person, and unfortunately, I do think this comes across in his writing - you can tell that he spent some time coming to understand the various complicated issues involved, but I think that an author who has a more technical background would be able to use ...more
Lee Penney
Aug 24, 2014 Lee Penney rated it it was ok
The subtitle for this book is: The First Digital World War. That’s overstating it, to be honest. The book focuses on the creation of the world’s largest botnet by a worm called Conficker back in 2008.

At its peak, it was estimated to have infected between 9 and 15 million machines, and even as late as 2011 was still on roughly 1.7 million. That made it the largest botnet recorded. If all of the devices were used to transmit data together, there was a real possibility it would have overwhelmed the
Jun 01, 2015 Paul rated it did not like it
This book was simultaneously pandering and condescending, plus one of the more melodramatic books I've read in a long time. It's aimed squarely (and I think cynically) at "geeks" and "nerds" who apparently know nothing about computers. Despite almost every single example of an "uber nerd" in the book being basically the opposite of a stereotypical basement-dweller, Bowden treats it as if that's a massive surprise as every new character is introduced. He constantly refers to "the glaze" and "the ...more
Oct 04, 2011 Tony rated it liked it
Shelves: science
WORM: The First Digital World War. (2011). Mark Bowden. ***.
The author is a “science” writer, and attempts to let his reader in on the secrets of the computer threat called the “worm.” During his explanations, he describes the “glaze” that often appears on the faces of the non-computer student when a computer techie tries to explain how things inside a computer work. After about fifty pages of this book, I had acquired the “glaze” to such an extent that I had to go wash my face. I got a kick ou
Oct 24, 2011 Stefani rated it liked it
Who could have imagined that the entire Internet almost went poof and no one really knew or cared about it? But it did, and the fact remains that it could still happen today, or tomorrow, or in 100 years from now. This book details the effort to stop and contain the biggest and most potentially destructive computer worm ever to hit the Internet. Dubbed Conficker the worm has infected millions of computers around the world, and it was being fought by a small group of computer programmers who coul ...more
Oct 01, 2011 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
The author does a good job of making a “geek” tale readable and interesting. Some humor and drama kept me involved in the story. Generally, the techy aspects are handled with enough detail to challenge the reader without creating the "glaze".

The characters are very well developed and the reader can relate to their motives and commitment. Even given that there is some exaggeration, the electronic society is fortunate indeed that these men exist. If you are not already diligent about maintaining a
Oct 01, 2011 Seán rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, 2011
Bowen's latest is an extremely readable, quick history of the Conficker "worm" or malware virus and a loose-knit group of technologues who banded together to defeat it. If you're a technology-illiterate skeptic like me (who, on your worst days, borders on Kaczynski-esque delirium), reading Bowen's elucidation of the internet's inherent fragility will not surprise you.

You may be surprised, however, by how readily you catch on to the usually opaque matter of network administration and such digi-ho
Mark Sequeira
Dec 06, 2011 Mark Sequeira rated it really liked it
This book is made better by Mark Bowden's writing style. Author of Blackhawk Down he keeps the binary code and TCP/IP, etc. to understandable amounts to avoid that glassy stare...still, this is a book about Nerds and geeks, even super-smart geeks. And be glad we have them. This book details their fight against one of the worst computer viruses to date, the Conflicker Worm. I won't ruin the story for you by telling you how it ends but computers worldwide are still infected and could still be take ...more
Christy King
Feb 06, 2014 Christy King rated it really liked it
Wonderful story of how the evolution of the Internet came to have space for the best and the worst in all of us.
I can't decide if non-technical people should read this...will scare people I think unnecessarily? The metaphor might be this: Just because you've never driven a car doesn't mean you shouldn't be afraid to use them, walk around them and live with them. Yes, cars can kill you and cause massive amounts of havoc when people don't follow rules, but that doesn't mean we should live in fear
Oct 29, 2013 Bill rated it really liked it
I'm not tech-savvy in the slightest. I can open word and Firefox on my old laptop, but that's about as far as my knowledge extends. I also don't read non-fiction very often, so when reading a book like this one I'm not sure what I'm supposed to keep an eye out for, what to question or where to direct my criticism.

That all being said, I found this book extraordinarily interesting and engaging. It gave me a look into a world I know little to nothing about and captured my imagination.
Jan 21, 2015 Reed rated it really liked it
I thought this book was very interesting, especially considering what the consequences to the world economy would have been had history turned out differently. I think the book does a good job of drawing attention to the fragility of the Internet and the need for everyone who uses it to pay more attention to computer security issues. That being said, I think the subtitle is a little spectacular and perhaps implies that the incident involved open cyber warfare between many parties, which is a lit ...more
May 17, 2013 Phillip rated it liked it
Shelves: computers
A solid piece of journalism. As far reaching as the event described was even the author is aware of its appearance of having come to nothing. The result is an anticlimactic story. Yet, it was a significant event which has done permanent damage and the implications are frightening. Read this if you are interested in computers and want a view of the people protecting the internet.
Sal Coraccio
Dec 21, 2015 Sal Coraccio rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pentesting
Enjoyed the hell out of this book. It is a documentary of the Conficker worm specifically, and the history of digital warfare in the internet age in general.

The story unfolds with detail and drama and humor; drawing the reader in despite the technical nature of the material. The tale is accessible to anyone.

One of the rewarding aspects of this book is that it contains material not available anywhere else, or at least material that is scattered enough not to be found in the usual repositories (Wi
May 09, 2015 Kendra rated it really liked it
You probably have to be part-geek to truly appreciate this book, but I found it fascinating. It's about the largest computer worm so far in history and how it came to be. These people (who are still unknown) are crazy-smart and there are few that are as crazy-smart in the world to match it. It's extremely powerful, has huge potential and most people don't even know it. Plus, even though it made headlines in 2009, it's still very much relevant. I wouldn't doubt it if some of the recent cybercrime ...more
Alex Jones
Jun 03, 2015 Alex Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was really interesting and very hard to put down. It details the story of the 'Conficker' worm - a digital worm that infected (and still infects) millions of computers around the world and the group which tried (and mostly succeeded) to stop it. I often find that nonfiction can drag and keeping going can be a slog at points, but not so with this book. It has a quick pace and is filled with plenty of interesting bits of information that meant I struggled to stop reading it. Technically it wa ...more
Theo Cage
Sep 01, 2015 Theo Cage rated it really liked it
I think many of the reviewers of "War: The First Digital World War" are forgetting this is a HISTORY book, not a TECHNICAL MANUAL. If I was reading a history of Naval battles, I wouldn't need to have built a Dreadnought by hand or know all the details around square-rigging. I would be more more interested in strategy, the people involved, and the day-to-day drama.

This is exactly what the book delivers.

Bowden writes an engaging story from an insider's perspective. He also warns us of the dangers
Chuck Jankowski
Jan 23, 2014 Chuck Jankowski rated it really liked it
This book was a well written and easily understandable account of the fight against the conficker computer worm. Mark Bowden did an excellent job of introducing us to the players in the Conficker Working Group, defining them by personality and motive, and setting apart individuals worthy of being known for their genius and work, who could easily be packaged into a label like "a bunch of computer guys." Bowden's writing added suspense to a matter who's gravity could be understood only by a few in ...more
Eric Kolb
This book had a challenging premise. Focusing on the team responding to the Confickr worm - a threat that always had enormous potential to do great harm, but one that never mobilized - Bowden had the challenge of making all of the remote research folks were doing seem heroic. Unfortunately, I think the treatment falls far short of the mark: since many of the responders in the Cabal never met with one another face-to-face, a lot of the book focuses on unraveling the stream of mailing list message ...more
Rick Howard
Apr 05, 2015 Rick Howard rated it really liked it
Full review on my Blog Site: Terebrate

Executive Summary

Written by the author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern Warfare, Mark Bowden, Worm: The First Digital World War is the story of how the cyber security community came together to do battle with what seemed at the time to be the largest and most significant cyber threat to date: the Conficker worm. It was the time of the Estonian and Georgian distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, and the Conficker botnet was g
Curtis Butturff
Nov 28, 2011 Curtis Butturff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although I suspect he's best known as the author of Black Hawk Down, Bowden does an apt job in translating events transpiring over the past few years most folks just aren't aware of other than the occasional big news story about an email virus or something. What he's writing about here while it can propagated that way is more properly focused on the specific of the computer worm as opposed to virus. Malware so to speak. It's gotten to be such a common term thanks to advertising from security fir ...more
I received this book as a Christmas gift from my boyfriend's mother. I thought that was very sweet and the timing is perfect, since I'm covering more historical security threats in my classes this year.

This book covers the Conficker Worm, an extremely powerful malware/worm that was discovered in 2008 but has yet to be destroyed. The group of security professionals who combat it, still do not know who came up with this worm or it's full potential. This is why it's a high priority.
It was
Brian Connell
Aug 08, 2012 Brian Connell rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mal Warwick
Oct 05, 2011 Mal Warwick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The True Story of How Hackers Almost Brought Down the Internet -- and Still Could

It’s out there. Waiting. Chances are, you’ve never heard of it. Nobody knows who controls it, or why. No one knows what it will do. But its destructive capacity is terrifying.

Welcome to the world of cyberwar! And, no, this is NOT science fiction.

“It” is the Conficker Worm, an arcane name (an insider’s joke) for the most powerful “malware” — malicious software — yet encountered on the Internet. First detected in Nove
Lynn Lipinski
May 30, 2013 Lynn Lipinski rated it really liked it
So, can Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, make TCP/IP and the domain name system exciting? The answer is yes and no.

The 2008 Conficker worm infected millions of computers to create a "botnet" of zombie desktops and laptops awaiting a command. A small band of Internet geeks united in an unprecedented world wide effort to combat it, and Bowden does do a good job of structuring their story so that you want to keep turning the pages (or in my case, changing the audio bo
Nov 30, 2011 Ashley rated it liked it
I received a copy of this book thanks to goodread's first reads. In Worm, Mark Bowden attempts to take the computer illiterate (myself included) deep into the inner-workings of the web. More specifically, he tries to illustrate just how delicate the internet that we all rely so heavily on actually is. The book tells the story of the Conficker (NOT confLicker thank-you-very-much) worm that silently invaded millions of computers with the power and potential to crash virtually every, and any site o ...more
Apr 17, 2012 Matthew rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book. It is a riveting account of the Conficker worm...and everyone should read it. If you are like me, and think you have a basic conception of the nature of computer malware (worms, trojans, and viruses), you will find this an absolutely eye-opening account of the way theses things actually work, and the even more astounding collection of characters, organizations, and collaborative efforts trying to address these threats. I admit to completely being unaware of the level o ...more
Dec 03, 2011 Marilyn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone who owns or uses a computer
Shelves: first-reads
THE WORM, The First Digital World War
By Mark Bowden

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press, New York
Copyright: 2011 BY Mark Bowden
ISBN: 13:978-0-8021-1983-4

Do not walk! Run to purchase this must read book! Yes, I did say, run to purchase this must read book…it is a must for anyone who owns or uses a computer at home or at work.

The Worm, The First Digital World War is exciting, thought provoking, scary, and so well written that this non-fiction book reads like fiction…like science fiction. Mr. Bowden
Oct 06, 2011 Jeremiah rated it liked it
Bowden's new book focuses on a group of computer experts who try to defeat the Conficker worm, it's creators, and a botnet estimated at 8 million infected computers. The book had me reminiscing about my youth, when I used my Kaypro 8088 to telnet into local university MUDs. If you understood anything in the last sentence you'll probably enjoy reading Worm. If your knowledge of computers is lacking you may want to stay away, you'll become paranoid when the book reiterates what you should already ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 90 91 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Cyberwar: The Next Threat to National Security & What to Do About It
  • Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet
  • On the Edge: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore
  • Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT
  • AMERICA THE VULNERABLE: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare
  • Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground
  • The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World's Greatest Encyclopedia
  • Stealing the Network: How to Own a Continent
  • Stealing the Network: How to Own an Identity
  • Stealing the Network: How to Own a Shadow (Stealing the Network) (Stealing the Network)
  • Inside Intel: Andy Grove and the Rise of the World's Most Powerful Chip Company
  • Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age
  • Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century
  • The Man Who Invented the Computer: The Biography of John Atanasoff, Digital Pioneer
  • Counter Hack Reloaded: A Step-By-Step Guide to Computer Attacks and Effective Defenses
  • Unauthorised Access: Physical Penetration Testing for IT Security Teams
  • We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency
  • Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power

Goodreads is hiring!

If you like books and love to build cool products, we may be looking for you.
Learn more »
Mark Robert Bowden (born July 17, 1951) is an American writer who is currently a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, and a 1973 graduate of Loyola College in Maryland, Bowden was a staff writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer from 1979-2003, and has won numerous awards. He has written for Men's Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, Sports Illustrated, and Rolling Stone over the ...more
More about Mark Bowden...

Share This Book

“These problems have been here so long that the only way I’ve been able to function at all is by learning to ignore them. Else I would be in a constant state of panic, unable to think or act constructively.” 14 likes
More quotes…