REVIEW: "Mafiaboy", Michael Calce/Craig Silverman

Discussion in 'Computer Security' started by Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Trevor, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. BKMAFIBY.RVW 20081020

    "Mafiaboy", Michael Calce/Craig Silverman, 2008, 978-0-670-06748-0,
    %A Michael Calce
    %A Craig Silverman
    %C 10 Alcorn Ave, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario, M4V 3B2
    %D 2008
    %G 978-0-670-06748-0
    %I Penguin/Signet/Roc
    %O C$34.00 416-925-2249 Fax: 416-925-0068
    %O Audience n- Tech 1 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
    %P 288 p.
    %T "Mafiaboy: how i cracked the internet and why it's still broke"

    Yet Another L33t Wannabe Tell-All. Yet another story of broken home
    (I almost wish somebody who lives with both parents would do some
    serious net vandalism so we could dispense with the stereotype **),
    social misfit, problem-with-authority, play-with-things-you-don't-
    understand-and-make-a-mess book.

    The jacket tells us that Mafiaboy has kept silence for eight years,
    and only now will we get the real story. Well, an awful lot of this
    book is on the public record already. So much of it comes from "The
    Hacker Diaries" (cf. BKHCKDRY.RVW) that Dan Verton might be starting
    to think about the boundaries of fair use. (The technical material is
    similar to Verton's level of understanding: certain items from the
    time are identifiable as presented, but others are questionable.)
    When we get down to the inside scoop it's quite a disappointment:
    apparently Mafiaboy doesn't really know that much about what went on
    around him. (An entire chapter seems to be dedicated to this point.)

    The jacket claims that Calce now only uses his powers for good, and
    the introduction says that he is sharing his experience in order to
    help us secure the online world. It goes on to say that this tome is
    not intended to excuse Calce's actions. Indeed, the text notes
    several times that his actions were wrong, and that he was stupid,
    boastful, and ignorant. This is in between the passages where he
    claims that he really was quite technically l33t (since he programmed
    in C, instead of Pascal like his plebian friends), had amazing
    contacts (about whom he can tell us nothing) and status (obtained by
    being a nuisance to everyone he encountered), is actually a great and
    very moral guy (since he could have done more damage), has been
    wrongfully persecuted and slandered (since he really didn't do
    anything wrong, just proved that systems which should have been secure
    weren't), and has been treated shamefully by law enforcement and the

    In terms of helping the reader to secure Internet use, the second part
    of the book warns that bad things can happen to people who use the
    Internet. The second last chapter of the work spends ten pages giving
    us banal, pedestrian, and simplistic advice on things we can do to
    protect ourselves. There really isn't enough detail in it to do much
    good to anyone.

    If you want the story of Mafiaboy all in one place (albeit slightly
    disjointed), with a few personal and self-serving comments, this is
    your book.

    ** Oh, yeah, sorry, Bob Morris, Jr. Coming up on his 20th
    anniversary, aren't we? Neat timing for another blackhat book ...

    copyright Robert M. Slade, 2008 BKMAFIBY.RVW 20081020


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    Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Trevor, Dec 8, 2008
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