cover image Crack99: The Takedown of a $100 Million Chinese Software Pirate

Crack99: The Takedown of a $100 Million Chinese Software Pirate

David Locke Hall. Norton, $26.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-393249-54-5

Former federal prosecutor Hall offers a disturbing look at the world of digital piracy, recounting his successful investigation of a Chinese hacker, Xiang Li. Through his Crack99 website, Li offered stolen software worth more than a $100 million for sale at bargain basement prices, including advanced technologies important to the U.S. military. Hall walks the reader through the case from its start in 2009, when a private company alerted the feds to Li’s sale of sensitive applications to track satellites and missiles, to the hacker’s guilty plea and sentencing in 2013. He offers some insights into the criminal justice system, including the effects of an indictment-based performance metric on politically appointed regional U.S. attorneys. Hall’s prose, which is occasionally baroque (“We should have seen it coming, given the propinquity between vengeance and the keen sting of love’s loss”) and often cavalier, is a distraction from an otherwise informative account of the threat of online crime to national security. (Oct.)