Book Review: DarkMarket by Misha Glenny
I was recently sent a new book to take a look at entitled “DarkMarket Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You.” by Misha Glenny, the author of McMafia. If you think the internet is all about electronic mail, social networking and online gaming then this book may well open your eyes and make you think again.
A large part of the internet is home to darker, off-the-radar, and underground activities some of which is harmless, some of which is a simple annoyance, some of which is somewhat questionable and some of which is, unfortunately, highly illegal and this last part does seem to be getting worse.
Regular users of electronic mail and the internet have probably already seen the spam based fake communications from bank-like organisations attempting to lure unwary passers by into clicking through links and entering their personal banking details into a website controlled by phishers. Fortunately these days we are becoming pretty wary of these activities however as these phishers send out millions upon millions of these messages there is a chance of just a small percentage falling into the net which could make the phishers a fortune.
DarkMarket takes a peek into this world by digging into the cybercrime forum of the books title. I should point out that DarkMarket is non-fiction; DarkMarket is one reporters study into the inner workings of the darker side of the internet and it has a story to tell. As the book says DarkMarket is based around “roughly 200 hours of interviews” conducted between 2009 and 2011 and court records from trials, including CarderPlanet and DarkMarket, and archives of actual websites involved in the activities. The DarkMarket forums were shut down in 2008 after it was infiltrated by the FBI and much of the activities have since gone deeper underground.
“nobody is ever 100 per cent certain whom they are communicating with on the web.” – DarkMarket.
DarkMarket focuses heavily on the subject of credit card fraud and is a fascinating read especially as you do not have to have a particular understanding of computing or technological terms to follow the book or appreciate the subject matter. The people, or hackers as Glenny calls them, behind many of these crimes may have cool sounding online names such as Matrix001, JilSi, Iceman, and Blade however Glenny describes them as largely psychologically vulnerable male individuals who have difficulty forming relationships offline in the real world.
In November 2011 The Guardian described DarkMarket as “A riveting study of the internet’s global crime networks” whilst The Telegraph said “’Dark Market’ is a fascinating introduction to the shadier side of the internet.”
DarkMarket runs to 296 pages (277 from prologue to epilogue) and is really two books in one. The first part up to page 159 talks about the problem of internet security and builds to reveal the DarkMarket, there is a brief 24 page interlude, followed by book 2 from page 187 which focuses on how DarkMarket was brought down and what happened as a result.
The hardcover version of DarkMarket is currently available for around £9.40 (price checked 19th December 2011) which is a good price as the RRP is £20. Also, there is a paperback version and electronic versions are available so if you have ever wondered what is behind those emails you get, pretending to be from some bank you have never banked with, you should read DarkMarket. Buy Dark Market now from Amazon.