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Approaching Zero

Data Crime and the Computer Underworld

By (author) Bryan Clough, Paul Mungo
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Faber & Faber, London, United Kingdom
Published: 31st Jul 1992
Dimensions: w 153mm h 234mm
ISBN-10: 057116546X
ISBN-13: 9780571165469
Barcode No: 9780571165469
"Data crime" is the technological scourge of the 1990s: eight million of the world's 50 million PCs will be infected with computer viruses by 1993; teenage hackers using home computers have already broken into the "secure" computer systems at the Pentagon, NASA, and NATO; computer fraud is estimated to cost US and UK banks and companies two billion pounds every year - and 85% of computer fraud isn't even reported. As our society becomes increasingly dependent on computers, so we become ever more vulnerable to the misuse of technology, whether for fraud, subversion, the theft of sensitive information or sinister military and espionage operations. This book looks at all aspects of data crime worldwide. It investigates the origins of viruses, and tells the stories Of the malicious Eastern European virus writers - including "the Dark Avenger", whose destructive programs broke through House of Commons' security in October 1990.

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Kirkus US
Disjointed survey of computer crime that sensationalizes some aspects while - seemingly whenever another journalist has been there first - downplaying others. Lacking both the focus and genuine perspective of Bruce Sterling's The Hacker Crackdown (p. 1049) and the imagination and scientific vision of Steven Levy's Artificial Life (p. 517) - each of which covered a big chunk of what's discussed here - Mungo (a free-lance journalist) and Clough (an accountant specializing in international computer security) offer instead a melange of tabloid journalism, oft-repeated rumors, and vague hints of cataclysm to come ("In Bangkok, for example, one programmer set up his computer to produce six hundred viruses an hour, each guaranteed undetectable..."). There's information here of real interest: Accounts of hacking in England and virus-writing in Bulgaria will be new to most American readers, and the obscure early history of "phreaking" - stealing service from Ma Bell - should be required reading in the information age. But the authors' palpable disdain for almost everyone they write about leaves an unpleasant aftertaste, and the broad liberties they take to flesh out and hype their stories make for a flabby narrative (in relating the AT&T service failure of 1990, whose cause is long known to have been a software glitch, they cite anonymous sources suggesting a hacker attack, and ominously intone that "there is absolutely no proof it was a computer bomb..."). Some new information of interest to computer buffs, but much old news, too, that's been better told by others. (Kirkus Reviews)