Worm: The First Digital World War

By Mark Bowden

Rating: 2 stars

This book sets out to tell the story of the Conficker worm that spread around the Internet in 2008 and 2009. It does this through the eyes of the group of security researchers and professionals that coalesced from around the web to deal with it.

I had a lot of problems with the book. The tone feels patronising throughout, and the author always seems, to me, at least, to be condescending to the “Tribe” of geeks (as he refers to them throughout) who are the main characters in this story, and to the wider community. There was a degree of padding, which didn’t help either (yet another retelling of the birth of the Internet, for one), and the impression that his understanding of the technology was limited, which led me to distrust what he was telling me. On top of that, there was an awful lot of hyperbole, from the title (first digital world war? Really?) onwards, which felt out of place in a book of this kind.

The later chapters, including the politics within the Conficker Working Group (or ‘Cabal’) and the attempts to get the various branches of government interested in the problem were more interesting, but the central problem of the tone and unreliable narrator spoiled an awful lot.

Oh, and the constant capitalising of “Port 445” throughout was really irritating.

Book details

ISBN: 9781611856064
Publisher: Grove
Year of publication: 2011

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