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Worm: The First Digital World War

Mark Bowden
Atlantic Monthly Press
ISBN 978-0-8021-1983-4
September 2011

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Abstract

Mark Bowden’s Worm: The Story of the First Digital World War is about the next frontier in terrorism. Bowden, the best-selling author of Black Hawk Down, has delivered a dramatic cybercrime story that explores the Conficker computer worm, a potentially devastating computer virus that has baffled experts and infected as many as twelve million computers to date.

When the Conficker computer worm was unleashed on the world in November 2008, cybersecurity experts did not know what to make of it. The worm, exploiting the security flaws in Microsoft Windows, grew at an astonishingly rapid rate, infecting millions of computers around the world within weeks. Once the worm infiltrated one system it was able to link that system with others to form a single network under illicit outside control—a situation known as a “botnet.” This botnet was soon capable of overpowering any of the vital computer networks that today control banking, telephone service, energy flow, air traffic, health-care information—even the Internet itself. Was it a platform for criminal profit, or a weapon? Security experts do not know for sure what Conficker’s purpose is, or even where it came from.

Bowden’s book reports this new frontier on terror in a way that has never been done. He skillfully explores the dazzling battle of wits between expert programmers over the future of the Internet—a battle that has pitted those determined to exploit the Internet against those committed to protect it, and awakened the U.S. government for the first time to the urgent nature of the threat. In Worm: The Story of the First Digital World War, Mark Bowden delivers an accessible and fascinating look at the ongoing and largely unreported war taking place literally beneath our fingertips.

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