Spam Nation


Krebs has become a celebrity in the security community, one of the few well-known names that have made it into the mainstream media. So I was expecting this to be a detailed walk through the how and why of spam.┬áThat’s not what I got though.

The author started out as a journalist, and it’s this part that leads here. There’s barely a mention of tech and how the spam networks were assembled, instead we get endless lists of people and an organisational overview. In fact, the whole book reads like an extended column piece. It could, and probably should, have been released as a longform article.

There are some interesting chapters, like looking at the reasons people buy things at the prompting of spam emails. They are pretty varied, but they distill down to the same reasons people pirated media in the days of Napster: cost and because they couldn’t find a legitimate source.

He spends a lot of time introducing us to a myriad of (predominantly) Russians, but doesn’t do much more than report their boasting an in-fighting — there’s no detail on how or why. The same goes about the chapter on how many of these networks were attacked, which was largely financial rather than technical.

There’s not much to dislike, but equally little to engage you either. It’s a reporter’s summary of a bunch of evidence and notes that he’s accumulated — largely by being given them rather than discovering anything — as if he didn’t want it to go to waste. Even for those interested in the subject it’s pretty dull.

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Reviewed: 25th February 2018