How once-harmless Internet advertising developed into the dangerously intrusive inbox enemy it is today.
Former Washington Post reporter and current Web security analyst Krebs addresses the threat of email spam as much more than simply an online nuisance; rather, it’s the byproduct of fully functioning “virtual pirate coves of the Internet” trafficking illegal goods and services to unsuspecting users. His nuanced detective work uncovered corrupt business practices at rogue pharmaceutical sites (an industry which a large portion of email spam promotes). Digging deeper, he discovered a global conspiracy targeting just about anyone with an email address. Krebs’ guided tour of the cybercriminal underworld is a cautionary tale about menacing cultures of hackers, spammers and duplicitous digital network “cybercrooks”—e.g., shifty Russian e-commerce mogul Pavel Vrublevsky, whom the author surprised with a perilous, impromptu in-person meeting at his home in Moscow. Krebs’ background in cybersleuthing (he broke the story on the late-2013 Target credit-card database breach) is maximally utilized in chapters covering how “bulletproof hosting networks” and their integrated, parasitic “botnets” disseminate spam across scores of email addresses while frenetic anti-spam groups deploy ingenious counteroffensive tactics. The author analyzes how and why spammers become lucrative by tracing e-payment brokers directly to the illegal online pharmacy websites they contract with and expanding outward to the covert spamming networks like the notorious Russian Business Network and other underground factions based in the former Soviet states. Krebs admits it was his vigilante investigations into these types of criminals that sabotaged his 14-year tenure with the Post. For lay readers, an effectively revealing closing chapter offers tips on how anyone can safeguard their personal online information from hacker infiltration.
An eye-opening, immensely distressing exposé on the current state of organized cyberspammers.