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Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime — from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  2,519 ratings  ·  252 reviews
There is a Threat Lurking Online with the Power to Destroy Your Finances, Steal Your Personal Data, and Endanger Your Life.

In Spam Nation, investigative journalist and cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs unmasks the criminal masterminds driving some of the biggest spam and hacker operations targeting Americans and their bank accounts. Tracing the rise, fall, and alarming resu
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published November 18th 2014 by Sourcebooks (first published September 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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Start your review of Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime — from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door
Scott Baxter
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Fascinating subject, less than stellar execution.

This book illustrates just how difficult it is to write a first book, even if the author has a long career as a writer writing short pieces. Krebs has trouble deciding which things require longer explanation and which can be glossed over. For example, at one point he points out the importance of understanding what IP addresses are, but Krebs would have done well to spend much more time going into detail about what an IP address is, why it is impor
Jan 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Moved to gwern.net. ...more
Jun 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Even though we have good filters on our e-mail programs these days and no longer see all the spam, the author maintains it is a critical problem. Krebs claims the crooks are no longer content with standard commercial fraud, e-mail criminals infect millions of computers worldwide with toxic digital parasites, designed to extort our wealth and steal our personal data.

Krebs states that Russia is the key spam Nation with skilled hackers and corrupt police and is now the global epicenter of cyber cri
Executive Summary: Interesting read, but a bit too much of Mr. Kreb's personal story in places. 3.5 Stars.

Audio book: Christopher Lane does a decent job. He has a passable Russian accent, but for some reason he didn't always use it for the Russian characters. I wouldn't have done this in audio except it was on sale. I wouldn't bother with the audio book otherwise, and you'd be better off borrowing this from the library.

Full Review
I continue to be fascinated by computer crime. This is another
Monica Willyard Moen
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookshare, tech
This book offers a clear, easy to read introduction of spam, the people behind it, and the reason for its rise in prominence.
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
While this book was published in 2014, there’s been plenty of new cybercrime that’s popped up since then. I suggest following Brian Krebs’s blog to keep up to date. Krebs started off as in investigative reporter but left to run his own blog when his articles became too hot to handle for the paper.

The book follows the history of email spam in its heyday. It’s actually been declining in favor of phishing, ransomware, and other scams.

It turns out the vast majority of spam came from Russia from onl
Dec 04, 2014 rated it liked it
To me, the subject matter of this totally hooked me: what is the source of spam sent worldwide? Why is it profitable for them? Why is spam not nearly the problem it used to be? Fortunately, the author provides plenty of answers to those questions. In addition, he recounts a feud that started between two of the most prominent spammers that ended up with both of them kind of destroying each other and causing significant damage to the spamming industry (not that most of us are sad about that). It's ...more
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
A really well structured and informative book into the underground dealings that are always happening but we are not aware off. The coverage was excellent and thought provoking giving you all the information you need even if you are not intimately informed about spam or cyber crime. It is always motivating that after reading a non fiction book like this that I find myself motivated to research more on the topic since it shows just how well the author captured my attention and allowed me to fill ...more
Nov 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, this was pretty good, 3.5 stars, but I'll round up.

I think it fell a bit into the pitfall that some non-fiction writers fall into in terms of following the narrative of such a small number of people; I would have liked to see more about other folks involved in the spam wars (including anti-spammers), but I understand why the book was structured the way it was.

For the most part, Krebs does a good job of not getting bogged down with technical details, but still explaining technical matter
Rick Howard
Executive Summary

In Spam Nation, Brian Krebs covers a key portion of our cyber security and cyber crime history: 2007–2013, that period when we started to learn about the Russian Business Network, bulletproof-hosting providers, fast-flux obfuscation, criminal best business practices, underground cyber crime forums, and strange-sounding botnet names like Conficker, Rustock, Storm, and Waledac. This period just happens to coincide with Krebs’s rise in popularity as one of the leading cyber securit
Richard Miller
I was turned on to this book after reading the author's blog at http://www.krebsonsecurity.com and becoming intrigued to learn about the sources of and reasons for the torrent of spam that we are hit with in our inboxes each and every day. The author is obviously well-versed on this topic, and his story about the competing cybercrime factions made for a compelling story. There is some technical jargon sprinkled throughout this book, but the author made the topic approachable for any reader by pr ...more
Dec 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Very interesting story about two spam kingpins destroying each other. Definitely shows you another side of spam that I don't think most people know or understand. The story was captivating, but the author struggled with sounding egotistical, though I don't think he is, having read his blog for a while now. I think he made a good attempt at making the story exciting. Had he simply retold information, it would have been boring, but he didn't find the right balance between telling an excting story ...more
Vasil Kolev
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, tech
It's a very good and mostly in-depth look into the world of spammers, especially the ones that deal with selling drugs. It concentrates mostly on some Russians, but still paints a petty good picture of most of the business, and the advice in the end seems good enough for beginners and most people.

The parts on why people buy from spammers were really interesting, which point to why most of the big pharma companies don't really want to investigate them, as it mostly seems that they sell the same s
Isa K.
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Brian Krebs's favorite word is miscreant. >.>

An interesting, richly detailed account of the cyber crime ecosystem. I must admit I was slightly bemused by the fact that the author doesn't know that Livejournal was an American company sold to a Russian one, not the other way around (at one point he says that Russian Livejournal bought Six Apart and I was like ORLY? Also remember when having a MovableType install as a blogger was like buying a BMW? *sigh*) ... but this is just olds on the internet
Rick Radinsky
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Interesting behind the scenes at the largest spam operators until recently. The intrigue between the competing companies led to their downfall. The money involved led to the organizations coordinating the spam to fight and prove the consequence of Mutually Assured Destruction. Anyone interested in the global effects of what most of us consider nothing more than an annoyance should give this a read.
Jeanne Boyarsky
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: technology
Brian Krebs has spent much time and money looking into both spam and security. I've learned a lot reading his blog so I picked up his book. Aside from epilogue on how to protect yourself, this isn't an actionable book. It's about what happened. Still interesting though to see what he went through and learned. I'm glad he has a "who's who" at the beginning was helpful to keep track of all the names. ...more
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great story. It feels like great detective tv show, but about hackers and spammers.
Brain Krebs did an incredible work. This book it 'untold' story of global web.
Wesley Fryer
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door” by Brian Krebs (@briankrebs) is an eye opening dive into the world of Internet spam, pharmaceutical drugs sold online, cyberattacks, malware, the dark web, and corruption within the Russian justice system. It should be required reading (or listening) for anyone working in or interested in the field of information technology today.

Do you know someone who has had their email account hacked? A few years
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Interesting view on the people who worked with spam emails. Slightly outdated advice at the end, as it was published in 2014, but still worthwhile to listen to the epilog. Most people know, or SHOULD know that advice by now, but it is still important to follow. 2 factor login is much more common nowadays than then.
Specifically for the audible version: big parts were spoken with a to my ears Russian accent, a nice touch to indicate the words of the Russian people involved.
Jan 21, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: take-these
A pretty satisfying read: from a tech standpoint, most books that 'dabble' in tech are littered with mistakes. Krebs knows his subject and explains it well. His prose isn't magical - sometimes the scene-setting and phrasing will lack grace, but it's never bad enough to overpower the well-constructed plotline and good background research. ...more
Steven Schrader
Jun 01, 2022 rated it liked it
Interesting, if somewhat dated account of the Russian hacking industry circa 2010. The business models described in the book were fairly complicated and the many unfamiliar Russian names made it even more difficult for me to follow. I probably should have created some charts to follow the tale.

The author is a former Washington Post reporter who managed to get in the middle of a "war" between two of the top Russian cybercriminals of that time. He received tons of leaked communications and had acc
Cristina Ana
Sep 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting read, but too biographical for a supposedly technical non-fiction book. Still, I learned a great deal from it.
I love 'Mr. Robot''s Elliot - he is right in everything he thinks, and wrong in everything he does! ‘Mr. Robot’ (U.S. TV series) tells the story of disillusioned hackers trying to change the injustices of the world - one hack at a time - and getting played by criminals unknowingly. Part of the problem is how much of us is on the internet - i.e. ID, banking / medical records, personal photographs, family, friends, likes and dislikes - the more in control we think we are, the more vulnerable we ac ...more
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I borrowed this book, as an eBook, from the local library. I had only 14 days to read it. and I did so.

I've often wondered just how profitable it is to spam people. I mean, if it wasn't profitable people wouldn't be doing it. The vast majority of us despise spam and we go to great lengths to avoid it. We set up elaborate spam filters on our email, or we pointedly choose email providers that will do that for us.

As with so many things, the different components of it are outsourced to different gro
Jan 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.25 of 5

You probably wouldn't be reading this blog, or this review as posted on-line, if you didn't know what 'spam' is, or if you only thought it was a canned meat-like food. And if you know what spam is, you probably find it annoying -- a clutter filling your email in-box -- but not necessarily dangerous. You would be wrong.

Brian Krebs, the cybersecurity expert who first reported the infamous security breach at Target®, is a j
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
WARNING: Parental guidance should be observed because of the adult subject matter. It is R rated.

For those who in IT Security (as I am) or curious about spam industry and history this is an excellent book. The narrator does an A+ job and even talks in Russian and New York accents when recounting discussions. You will get a chuckle at times at the absurdity of various conversations Krebs had with cyber criminals.

I think in one sense the cyber criminals come off as humanized and everyday citizens
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cybercrime
This book is focused on the evolution, decline, re-emergence and ongoing transformation of loosely-connected Russian cybercrime networks (called Partnerka) whose business is stealing from average citizens around the world.

The Partnerka harvests millions of email addresses (with a special focus on the US) and spams them relentlessly through armies of botnets (networks of infected computers) in an attempt to sell everything from unregulated drugs to illegally copied software to child porn. The Pa
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Krebs' account of the Pharma Wars saga -- a spate of infighting between two major online pharmacy affiliate networks -- is important, as he is one of the few people in the West who has a meaningful handle on the struggle, and can speak directly from the documentary evidence leaked as part of the conflict, as well as rare personal access (It was bizarre to read of spamlord Vrublevsky's regular, personal phonecalls to Krebs).

Unfortunately, Krebs does not dazzle on the page, with a few clunky habi
Mike Smith
Jul 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Spam Nation is a thoroughly researched investigation of the heyday of online pharmacies (in the late 2000s) and the unsolicited e-mail, known as "spam", that is used to sell pills to people around the world. Spam involves a complex ecosystem of hackers, programmers, and businessmen. Hackers take over personal computers and then use them to send out billions of e-mail messages advertising medicines, fake anti-virus software, sexual enhancement aids, and other products. Programmers write the web s ...more
George Davidson
One of the greats by renowned author and investigative journalist Brian Krebs. Pulls the covers on the email SPAM industry and looks at it not just from the perspective of criminals and law enforcement, but on consumers who are buying their products.

Unfortunately the spam will go on and even though some of the actors in the book have been taken down, plenty more where that comes from.
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