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We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  2,429 Ratings  ·  299 Reviews
A thrilling, exclusive expose of the hacker collectives Anonymous and LulzSec.

WE ARE ANONYMOUS is the first full account of how a loosely assembled group of hackers scattered across the globe formed a new kind of insurgency, seized headlines, and tortured the feds-and the ultimate betrayal that would eventually bring them down. Parmy Olson goes behind the headlines and in
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2012)
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Jul 11, 2012 Jason rated it really liked it
I'm going to talk about the book, but then I'm going to riff on the subject.

Olson's deft narrative of how Anonymous organized out of the chaotic prankishness of 4chan and eventually--in some ways obviously--fragmented and fell apart is deceptively accomplished. The book runs chronologically, helping us newbies ("newfags" in the language of this community) get a handle on what happened when and where, neatly tracking a linear path from early dickishness on discussion boards to a more organized et
Our story begins on 4chan, a violent, pornographic, iconoclastic pit of the internet which invented the idea of putting grammatically incorrect captions on cat pictures. On /b/, historically the most popular board on the site, forced anonymity brought with it a freedom from social conventions and norms, as a place to vent things that one would not ordinarily say. In this place, communities developed, and with their morbid senses of humor, friendships grew.

One way for /b/ to pass the time was re
Jun 11, 2012 Eris rated it really liked it
The "true crime" section is an interesting read if you know at least a little bit about a)internet culture, b)anonymous/lulzsec and c)hackology. You don't have to be an expert, it's probably better if you aren't (experts may get bored in the explanations). The evolution of the hivemind is an interesting thing to watch, as are the "normal" human protective behaviors that tend to remain in the individuals even when they are immersed in it... at least, in SOME individuals. I'm sure in the future we ...more
Murdo Morrison
May 14, 2012 Murdo Morrison rated it it was amazing
We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency is a book that is compelling and hard to put down. I have been using the Internet since before the emergence of the World Wide Web. Like many others I use social media and enjoy the convenience and connection to information and other resources that the Internet makes possible. Author Parmy Olson details the many harmful things that are also made possible.

The book's main theme focuses on the activitie
Apr 22, 2016 James rated it really liked it
Attended an IT conference today and one of the first speakers talked about the credit card hack on target and how it caused target to shift gears from developing what is cool for the consumer to redefining it's most critical programs to focus on credit card thieves. Wow, this just after finishing the book a couple days early. So how does this relate to this book. Will write that at the end.

First I have to say WOW, a truly enjoyable book and a great history of how Anonymous came to be. It brought
Jan 09, 2015 Stacy rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 12, 2012 Ryandake rated it it was ok
it's like a whole book of he-said, she-said, relayed third-hand by somebody who is not a native speaker of the language.

i get that it's probably really, really difficult to pin down anybody from Anonymous. it's not like you can insist, like a six-year-old on a playground, that they prove it!

and i believe that this author really did do the best due diligence possible, given the subjects and the fact that they take great joy in pranking people.

but by virtue of the medium (the interwebs) and the
Jan 22, 2013 Melody rated it really liked it
Well-written in the face of disinformation, secrets, and outright lies. Double and triple fact checking probably didn't cut much ice here, and Olson did a creditable job of ferreting out what seems to be a coherent narrative. The journalism is solid, the authorial voice very engaging.

I'm deeply sympathetic to hackers, and this book didn't dissuade me one bit. Yeah, they do some harm- it's undeniable. But when they are taking down banks and evil corporations, I'm right up there cheering them on,
Anna Janelle
Aug 15, 2012 Anna Janelle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
If I could give this book six stars, I would - without hesitation. I thoroughly loved and learned so much about the infamous group Anonymous that I am considering doing a research project (an online pathfinder) required for my MSLS on the subject. Author Parmy Olson not only described the gritty details surrounding the more well-known hacks (PayPal, Scientology, Sony and the Westboro Baptist Church) but also provided an in-depth look into the culture and individuals responsible for the action. A ...more
Peter Burnett
Sep 08, 2012 Peter Burnett rated it really liked it
A difficult task writing this, even harder getting it out so quickly, but given the interviews with Jake Davis, and some of the other insights it has to be read if you're interested in this subject. You'd think perhaps a more anarchic and less journalistic stlye (like Jake's own style) may be better suited to this story, which is not about Anonymous, and also not about the Global Cyber Insurgency, but for a general reader, I think it's pretty good.

A full on warts and all review can be read here:
Karlo Mikhail
Mar 09, 2015 Karlo Mikhail rated it really liked it
Shelves: technology
Less theory and more history. Its just as the subtitle says: "Inside the Hacker World . . .: An impressive work of investigative journalism that pieces together and contextualizes the rise of Anonymous through the story of one of its many core groups.
Feb 28, 2015 Shaymae rated it really liked it
I stumbled upon this book by pure hazard, and I’m very glad I did. It is not my usual read, I’m not quite familiar with the true crime section, internet culture or hacking for that matter, and you don’t have to be an expert on the subject really, because Olson’s writing is a true blessing.

The book runs on chronological order, starting by an introduction to the becoming of 4chan. 4chan gives us a terrifying peek of what the Dark Deep Web is all about. With is forced anonymity policy, the imagebo
Trupti Dorge
Nov 02, 2016 Trupti Dorge rated it really liked it
It’s a digital World.
Everything is online, including our private lives. In the news we hear about cyber attacks, about a site being DDos’d, sometimes our very own twitter and email accounts are hacked. In ‘We are Anonymous‘, we get to read about these very people who operate from behind the anonymity of the internet. In this book we learn how Anonymous, widely seen by the rest of the world as an organized group of hackers was formed, how it emerged from chanology and 4chan and evolved into what
Sep 20, 2012 Marcus rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Parmy Olson has put together the best reporting on Anonymous I have ever seen from a mainstream source. She took the time to really learn about chan culture, hacktivism, trolling, etc. Aside from a few minor mistakes and omissions, her detailed description of the mind-boggling number of memes and jargon surrounding the title group and its origins is accurate yet succinct enough not to overwhelm the uninitiated. It does justice to those very familiar with 4chan and the history of hactivism, but a ...more
Dec 14, 2012 P D rated it really liked it
I couldn't put this down--the whole twisty labyrinth of hacking is a compelling subject, especially considering how distorted the media view of stuff was. I do use the Internet more than the author, which made some of the explanations like 'faggots is a very common word on 4chan' more amusing than anything else (note: have been on 4chan once, never on /b/, can't be fucked). So from that perspective, it went down a star because the narrative is a lot less compelling when Olson has to take a step ...more
Jun 27, 2012 Tyler rated it really liked it
This book reads essentially like a computer thriller. It's a mixture of the real life stories of people involved in Anonymous, written in such a way that you consistently can't wait to see what's on the next page.

I don't know if it's just because I was really interested in Anonymous from the get-go or not, but I loved this. It wasn't drab and dry and boring like some non-fiction tends to be, this moved along at a brisk pace and set up each chapter perfectly. It told its story well, while inform
Feb 08, 2016 Glenda rated it really liked it
"There is no 'love' on the internet." (Virus chatting with Sabu)

Very detailed, comprehensive, and interesting read on Anonymous, LulzSec, and to a lesser extent 4chan and /b/ (originators of many well known internet memes and, a personal fav, lolcats) - their contributions to the internet, and the 6 or so key players involved.

It's an illustration of some of the best skills of social engineering, hacking, and the power of small teams to do big things, particularly when they self-organize around
4chan was created by a 14 year old kid who wanted to talk about anime. I can't believe that it started so innocently. But the fact that the birthplace of trolls was started by a 14 year old makes perfect sense.

I binge read this (and then I changed all my passwords). The narrative is impressive. It's a story about people who spend hours and hours a day on their computers and do little else, but it reads like a mystery. This is another story about fringes and extremes, except that these fringes an
Muhanad Shahat
Jul 16, 2012 Muhanad Shahat rated it it was amazing
This is a Must Read book for anyone interested to know the history of Anonymous, LulzSec and how the underworld of hackers work. I enjoyed the events and the linkage between the stories in the book. The author had put tremendous effort by going through IRC logs (which believe me is not easy), phone interviews, face-to-face interviews and many other forms of communication between the author and the hackers like Sabu, Topiary, Kayla and others. For those who want to go thorough the timeline of eve ...more
Jun 17, 2012 Justin rated it liked it

A good book, and held my attention. However, I think the story would have been much more effective as a 2-3 piece magazine-length story. The arc of the story doesn't really justify the length of the book. Moreover, there are parts of the book that get so detailed they are painful. Regardless, an interesting look at the dark underbelly of the worldwide web. For others interested into the origin of Hacker culture - which isn't really the same thing as what we think of as modern hacker culture - I
Cliff Chew
Apr 28, 2014 Cliff Chew rated it really liked it
"We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect Us." An intriguing peek into the life of the hacker collective that hacked some of the biggest organisations, with the biggest being the FBI in Jan 2012.

For someone with limited computer background, this book totally swept me away. But be warned that this book may get your very paranoid about your Internet usage. Now, every time when my Internet breaks or slows down, I wonder if its a zombie bot being deployed by a ha
May 29, 2012 Weston rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
Over all, this was a good book. The technical details were sketchy at times, but I will only knock it 1 star for that, due to the story telling ability of the author. It was neat getting some additional details on a story that I followed pretty closely when it was unfolding.
Joe Cassada
Aug 21, 2013 Joe Cassada rated it really liked it
Fascinating. Couldn't put it down before page 200. Not only are the events described in an enjoyable, story-like fashion, the book as a whole is a good crash-course in cyber-security.
Erin Lee
Feb 10, 2013 Erin Lee rated it it was ok
Reading this book didn't really alter my perception of "hackers" as maladjusted children.
Shane Phillips
Mar 18, 2016 Shane Phillips rated it it was amazing
A fascinating story.
Rick Howard
Jun 26, 2012 Rick Howard rated it really liked it
Link to my Blog Site for the full review:

Executive Summary:

This book is a must read for all cyber security professionals. It does not cover the entire Anonymous movement, but by focusing on the evolution of the Anonymous Franchise and the rise and fall of the LulzSec hacking group, Ms. Olson captures the essence of the hacktivist culture and what motivates its supporters. If you seek to understand the Hacktivist movement, this book is a primer.


The Anonymous Franch
Jenny Thompson
Dec 11, 2016 Jenny Thompson rated it really liked it
Olson tells part of the story of Anonymous by focusing on the exploits of a few people who split off from the collective to create their own group - LulzSec. Olson describes these people (particularly Jake Evans/Topiary) with incredible detail as examines their backgrounds, motivations, and actions. I found Olson's book particularly interesting as it is a story written by a woman with a great capacity for empathy about people who have little or none. Olson also highlights the vastly different le ...more
Donovan van Eetveldt
Feb 03, 2016 Donovan van Eetveldt rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016

A good book to read after Hacker Hoaxer Whistleblower Spy, by Gabriella Coleman, or if you really enjoyed the We are legion documentary. Poorly written. Good coverage of Lulzsec.

The book is mainly about the 6 core members of LulzSec, and is the narrative is driven by the story of Jake Davis - aka Topiary, who became the mouthpiece of Lulzsec.

If you want to know what Anonymous is, or how it began, then this book should suffice as a good starting point. Beginning with
Paul Dunphy
Jan 24, 2017 Paul Dunphy rated it really liked it
A highly readable account of the significant events that triggered intense media interest in the loosely-tied group known as 'anonymous' and the sub-group known as 'LulzSec'.

The writing is compelling and really is fascinating to hear about the 4chan culture and the development of the protagonists carrying out some of the attacks that were big news at the time.

I had some good lolz reading about their lulz.
Rohan Monteiro
Mar 15, 2017 Rohan Monteiro rated it it was amazing
There's something very compelling about this book. In large part it was the story of 3 main hackers within Anonymous and later Lulzec , their rise to prominence and eventually their downfall.

Even though you know some of their actions are causing harm, you find yourself cheering them on and feel an inexplicable sadness in the end.

An interview with Topiary in 2013 served as a nice epilogue to thee book and put a face to my fav character.
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Parmy Olson is a journalist for Forbes magazine known for her work on the hacktivist movement Anonymous. She describes herself as covering 'agitators and innovators in mobile.' Early in her career with Forbes magzzine, she wrote a series of articles about the subprime mortgage crisis. Parmy also served as the London bureau chief for Forbes from 2008–12 before transitioning to the magazine's San Fr ...more
More about Parmy Olson...

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“She never typed her real name into her netbook in case it got key-logged, had no physical hard drive, and would boot up from a tiny microSD card that she could quickly swallow if the police ever came to her door.” 2 likes
“My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for.” 1 likes
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