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REVIEW: "Hackerteen volume one: Internet Blackout", Marcelo Marques

 
 
Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Trevor
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      11-10-2008
BKHKTNIB.RVW 20081005

"Hackerteen volume one: Internet Blackout", Marcelo Marques, 2008,
978-0-596-51647-5, U$19.99/C$19.99
%A Marcelo Marques
%C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472
%D 2008
%G 978-0-596-51647-5
%I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
%O U$19.99/C$19.99 800-998-9938 fax: 707-829-0104 http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)
%O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...bsladesinterne
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/...bsladesinte-21
%O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASI...bsladesin03-20
%O Audience n- Tech 1 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P 101 p.
%S Hackerteen
%T "Hackerteen volume one: Internet Blackout"

This is a comic book. (Oh, sorry, "graphic novel.") It's light (in
terms both of weight and attention demand), and can be read quickly
while you are waiting to board an airplane. It is also a kind of
pamphlet on computer and Internet security and dangers.

Unfortunately, the dangers, aside from social engineering, aren't
spelled out too clearly. In fact, the story arc makes it seem as if
the technically competent are in the most danger.

A number of issues are addressed, but only peripherally. There is
repeated mention of electronic voting or balloting, although the
specific problems are not mentioned. The fact that DNS (the Domain
Name Service) can be attacked in order to create problems on the
Internet is a major factor in the plot (eventually), but, again, the
details and difficulties are left out.

The characters are fairly thin. We have a young hacker, on the path
to social isolation, who gets into a situation (with a semi-religious,
semi-martial arts orientation) that allows him to expand his skills
and use them in a more productive fashion: all well and good. We have
a shadowy leader, who, despite the implication that he is a good guy,
could be any shadowy leader for anything. We have a nebulous and
disjointed set of attackers, who nevertheless seem to be able to pull
off not only individual penetrations and data thefts, but a major
global conspiracy to boot. (We also have a cute technopeasant who,
without any training whatsoever, seems to be able to figure out how to
use a Linux system, but can't protect it.) We also seem to have
spyware that works across platforms.

We have various URL footnotes to explain references in the story.
There is an associated Website (http://www.hackerteen.com), but even
at the site the various references can't be found easily: you have to
type in the URLs individually to find the background material. If
there is any. Some is extensive, some is non-existent, some is not
exactly on topic. (A fair amount is in Portuguese.) A reference to
ethical hacking takes you (eventually) to Plato's cave, which is great
for philosophy majors, but doesn't serve as a terrific introduction to
ethics.

The book ends rather abruptly. I imagine this is supposed to be a
cliff-hanger and make us want to buy the next comic (sorry: "graphic
novel") in the series.

I'm all for computer and Internet security awareness, particularly for
kids. I'm not sure that this is a useful tool in that regard.
Certainly it is aimed at an older audience than Winn Schwartau
addressed in "Internet and Computer Ethics for Kids" (cf.
BKINCMEK.RVW), but the necessary content just doesn't seem to be
there.

copyright Robert M. Slade, 2008 BKHKTNIB.RVW 20081005

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