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

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  3,021 ratings  ·  323 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 2012)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  3,021 ratings  ·  323 reviews

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Jul 11, 2012 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
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfic, politics
Mr. Robot, this isn't!

Another crucial book for understanding the modern era we live in, a fascinating tale of the hackers much of whom would be more classified as just evil trolls than activist brilliant computer experts (although there are plenty of the latter as well).

The story spans from the beginnings with 4chan, to the loosely organized thing that is Anonymous which is not quite what most people assume. Much of the book is also about LulzSec, which others criticize, but perhaps the best w
Murdo Morrison
May 14, 2012 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
Jun 11, 2012 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
Apr 22, 2016 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
Jul 12, 2012 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 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,
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peter Burnett
Sep 08, 2012 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:
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: next-project
Solid work of journalism. Extraordinary access to the major players of LulzSec. I was reading this for research, expecting to dip in and out but ended up reading it all the way through because if the compelling human interest here. One quibble with the subtitle: "global cyber insurgency" is misleading. The individuals profiled here are all from the U.S. and the U.K.. Excellent and highly recommended.
Karlo Mikhail
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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 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
Donovan van Eetveldt
Feb 03, 2016 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
Trupti Dorge
Nov 02, 2016 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
Anna Janelle
Aug 15, 2012 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
Sep 20, 2012 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 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 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 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 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
Jul 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Quite good. Technical enough without being overly so (or pandering). The author does a good job describing the phenomenon of anonymous without trying to make it into something it isn't/wasn't.

Incidentally, it pretty seriously pisses me off to see how people have been prosecuted so harshly for something as innocuous as typing in a chat room. If a company has shitty security practices (Sony) and hates their customers (Sony) they shouldn't be able to cover up when they're hacked (Sony) and then bl
Jun 17, 2012 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 -
Cliff Chew
Apr 28, 2014 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 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.
Erin Lee
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
Reading this book didn't really alter my perception of "hackers" as maladjusted children.
Appie Verschoor
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
liked it a lot, especially the fact that technical terms are used, internet speak is common and the writer has done their research.
Joe Cassada
Aug 21, 2013 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.
Shane Phillips
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating story.
Rick Howard
Jun 26, 2012 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
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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

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