At Large: The Strange Case of the World's Biggest Internet Invasion by Charles C. Mann, David H. Freedman |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
At Large: The Strange Case of the World's Biggest Internet Invasion

At Large: The Strange Case of the World's Biggest Internet Invasion

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by Charles C. Mann, David H. Freedman, Charles C. Mann
     
 

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Hailed as "a chilling portrait" by The Boston Globe and "a crafty thriller" by Newsweek, this astonishing story of an obsessive hacker promises to change the way you look at the Internet forever.


At Large chronicles the massive manhunt that united hard-nosed FBI agents, computer nerds, and uptight security bureaucrats against

Overview


Hailed as "a chilling portrait" by The Boston Globe and "a crafty thriller" by Newsweek, this astonishing story of an obsessive hacker promises to change the way you look at the Internet forever.


At Large chronicles the massive manhunt that united hard-nosed FBI agents, computer nerds, and uptight security bureaucrats against an elusive computer outlaw who broke into highly secured computer systems at banks, universities, federal agencies, and top-secret military weapons-research sites. Here is "a real-life tale of cops vs. hackers, by two technology writers with a flair for turning a complicated crime and investigation into a fast-moving edge-of-your-seat story" (Kirkus Reviews, starred). At Large blows the lid off the frightening vulnerability of the global online network, which leaves not only systems, but also individuals, exposed.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
An obsessive, meticulous pattern of virtual break-ins is plaguing the computers of MIT, NASA and other allegedly secure systems. As it becomes clear that one user is systematically gaining access to the machines, the FBI, as in other similar cases, is inspired to catch the criminal and then to use him or her as an example for future hackers (or "crackers," in derogatory techie lingo). Mann (coauthor, Noah's Choice) and Freedman (editor of Inc. Technology magazine) follow the case as it unfolds, demonstrating that no computer is entirely secure. As the break-ins described here prove ultimately as harmless in intent as they are dangerous in potential, the most intriguing mystery involves the personality of the brain-damaged perpetrator who sends the FBI and computer experts into such a frenzy. The prose here is articulate, the research impressive, and while the narrative never explodes with the excitement of Jonathan Littman's computer crime tales, it should keep even dedicated Web surfers away from their screens and focused on paper pages for a few absorbing hours. First serial to the New Yorker. (July)
Library Journal
Freedman, editor of Inc. Technology magazine, and Mann (Noah's Choice, LJ 2/15/95) have collaborated to produce a rather aimless account of a widespread series of related and mostly unpublicized computer-hacking incidents perpetrated by a cracker (computer hacker) known as "Phantomd." Basing their book on numerous personal interviews with network system administrators and "hundreds of megabytes of computer logs" (yawn), the authors presumably wish to convey some sort of "ominous warning about the Internet's fatal flaws." While network administrators worried about system security issues may find these accounts fascinating, average online mavens will find them dull and plodding. The epilog succumbs to preachiness on the topic of computer and network security. More riveting accounts of computer crime can be found in two books from Jonathan Littman, The Fugitive Game (LJ 1/96) and The Watchman (LJ 2/15/97).Joe Accardi, Northeastern Illinois Univ. Lib., Chicago
Kirkus Reviews
A real-life tale of cops vs. hackers, by two technology writers with a flair for turning a complicated crime and investigation into a fast-moving, edge-of-your-seat story.

Freedman (Brainmakers, 1994) and Mann (coauthor, Noah's Choice, 1995) tell the tale of a reclusive teenage hacker, alternatively dubbed Phantomd and Infomaster, who hopscotches around the Internet, breaking into systems and generally wreaking havoc online; his "absurd, dangerous, monomaniacal course" of trespassing on computer networks causes even his hacker cronies to fear him. With incisive descriptions and prose that's never overburdened by jargon, the authors chronicle the progression of Phantomd's online intrusions from university computers to Intel to top-secret government databases, and the federal investigation that finally nabs him. Unfortunately, the story loses steam at the end, when the FBI inexplicably decides not to have him prosecuted. Still, the book works because of the authors' skill at portraying their characters and building suspense and momentum from online events that are difficult to visualize. The best character, by far, is Phantomd himself, a disabled and massively antisocial youth who is capable of spending days at a time at his computer. As the hacker gets deeper and deeper into trouble, his brother tries futilely to save him, and the book takes on the dimensions of an information-age tragedy. Phantomd's last line, in particular, is heartbreaking, a testament to how the writers deftly recruit the reader's sympathy for the story's antagonist. Finally, the book becomes a portent: The authors make a strong case for the vulnerability of the Internet, describing its "electronic Maginot lines" and their inadequacy in the face of patient young invaders with powerful tools.

With this extraordinary story and its hard-learned lessons, the authors should make more than a few of their readers wary of staking their privacy on the online world.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684824642
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
07/21/1997
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.49(w) x 9.57(h) x 0.99(d)

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