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Worm: The First Digital World War

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  1,077 ratings  ·  213 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
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,130)
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Amar Pai
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?
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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
Will
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
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
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Tony
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
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Stefani
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
Carol
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
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Seán
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
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Mark Sequeira
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
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
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Bill
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.
Phillip
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.
Chuck Jankowski
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
Rick Howard
Full review on my Blog Site: Terebrate
http://bit.ly/1iBrkzE

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
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Curtis Butturff
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
Kana
Summary
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
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Brian Connell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mal Warwick
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
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Paul
This book was simultaneously pandering and condescending, plus 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 wink" as if thos ...more
Lynn Lipinski
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
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Ashley
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
Matthew
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
Marilyn
Dec 03, 2011 Marilyn rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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Jeremiah
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
Birq
I'm a pretty technical guy, having been in the IT industry for a couple decades, so I was expecting that this book would talk down to me a bit. I get it, it has to appeal to the lowest common denominator, and in this case, it is the literate-but-not-computer-expert crowd. It turns out it was written for my mom. Okay, not my actual mother, but the kind of person that is literate but has no more than a vague concept of how computers work, and that there's a difference between a computer, a network ...more
Mike Fox
A fascinating look at the Conficker worm that was a much bigger deal than I was aware of. I remember implementing rules on the firewall where I work to block the Conficker worm which I then Googled and got a brief overview of what it was. I had no idea it had millions of zombies machines and had three different flavors, A, B, and C, each upping the ante by an order of magnitude. Meanwhile, a group of private individuals calling itself the Cabal assembled to combat the worm with no government ass ...more
Trav
This was an eye opening book. Not for the fact that the worms exist, but about the way in which the conficker worm was actually dealt with by officialdom. Bowden's story is one of how the noble hackers almost saved the world where bureaucratic ineptitude failed. Bowden's use of the X-Men analogy seems to refer as much to these guys willingness to help a government that shuns them to an extent, as it relates to the fact that they are "more a Marvel crowd." (96)

If you forget about the technical as
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Jakub Rehor
The story of a hunt for a malevolent hacker is a well-worn genre. The first and best book of this sort was Clifford Stoll's "The Cuckoo's Egg" which came out in the early 1990s. Clifford Stoll was the man who discovered and tracked down one of the first cyber-espionage attacks on the US; his book was fast-paced, well-written, and incredibly well informed about the inner workings of then-novel network called the Internet.

Mark Bowden is not a computer professional and it shows. He writes fluidly a
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Raj
This book sets out to tell the story of the Conficker worm that spread around the Internet in 2008 and 2009. It does this through the eyes of the group of security researchers and professionals that coalesced from around the web to deal with it.

I had a lot of problems with the book. The tone feels patronising throughout, and the author always seems, to me, at least, to be condescending to the "Tribe" of geeks (as he refers to them throughout) who are the main characters in this story, and to the
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Kevin
The book was okay. It brought out the Computer Security professional's dilemma - when the good guys win, nothing happens. This is the story of the Conficker worm, which was probably the most publicized malicious software in history. It was a very complex piece of software, and it brought together some of the elite of the profession to analyze and try and come up with a way to kill it or contain it before a deadline of April 1, 2009. Every time they got close to solving it, a new variant would co ...more
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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
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“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
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