Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cyber Crime Underground

Kevin Poulsen, Author
Kevin Poulsen, Crown, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-307-58868-5
Reviewed on: 12/20/2010
Release date: 02/01/2011
Paperback - 266 pages - 978-0-307-58869-2
Open Ebook - 198 pages - 978-0-307-58870-8
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In a previous life, Poulsen served five years in prison for hacking. So the Wired senior editor and "Threat Level" blogger knows intimately the terrain he explores in this page-turning tale of the criminal exploits of a hacker of breathtaking ambition, Max Butler, who stole access to 1.8 million credit card accounts. Poulsen understands both the hows of hacking, which he explains clearly, as well as the whys, which include, but also can transcend, mere profit. Accordingly, his understanding of the hacking culture, and his extensive interviews with Butler, translates into a fascinating depiction of a cybercriminal underworld frightening in its complexity and its potential for harm, and a society shockingly vulnerable to cybercrime. The personalities, feuds, double dealing, and scams of the hackers are just one half of this lively story. The other half, told with equal verve, is law enforcement's efforts to find and convict Butler and his accomplices. (Butler is now serving a 13-year sentence and owes $27.5 million in restitution.) Poulsen renders the hacker world with such virtual reality that readers will have difficulty logging off until the very end. (Feb.)
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