Top 10 Books on Cybercrime | Books

A generation ago, cybercrime was as esoteric a topic to write about as quantum mechanics or fluctuations in the derivatives market. It is now a central feature of many novels.

Whether it’s criminal gangs stealing sensitive data to sell on the dark web, or people catching cats on Facebook, or daily text messages asking us to click a link to claim a prize or verify a payment, we are under continuous attack. . Pension scams, identity theft, all those strangers following our kids on TikTok, wherever we go, someone is trying to turn the technology we rely on against us.

This new reality is at the heart of my novel. Box. After Ed Truman’s daughter Ally throws a milkshake at the leader of the popular new incel movement Men Together, she becomes a target for his followers. She is harassed, doxed (whereby private information is posted online to intimidate), and finally disappears. Ed teams up with her daughter’s friend Phoenix, a teenage hacker, to find her, but they quickly find themselves on the run from her and off the grid.

The microchip dominates many things in our life; the same is true for crime. From online bullying to multi-billion dollar bank fraud, it’s mostly done by computer these days. These are some of my favorite books about this change in the zeitgeist.

1. The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security by Kevin Mitnick
It is a maxim in cybersecurity that the weakest point of a computer network is the human being. Whether it’s about phishing emails or a phone call “from the bank” saying they’re calling about a fraudulent transaction, Kevin Mitnick wrote the book on exploiting that vulnerability. He has written many books on hacking, in particular his fascinating memoir Ghost in the Wires, but my favorite remains this handy guide to social engineering. Think you can’t be tricked into handing over crucial information? Read this and think again.

two. People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd
In the space of a decade, social media bullying has become ubiquitous in psychological thrillers, but few have done it as well as Ellery Lloyd, the pen name of married writing team Collette Lyons and Paul Vlitos. People Like Her tells the story of InstaMum celebrity Emmy and her failed novelist’s husband, who hates her newfound fame. Throw in a cybernetic predator, sparkling writing and a breathless race to the finish and you have a fantastic digital thriller.

3. Jeffery Deaver’s Blue Nothing
The doyen of crime fiction, Deaver, was writing about hackers and online scammers before most people had a home computer. Set in 1999 and featuring dial-up modems and floppy disks, it features two hackers, one an evil psychopath who lures his victims to their deaths, the other released from prison to aid the investigation, in a relentless, bloodstained game. . mouse chase. It’s dated, but it was ahead of its time, and few are better at keeping you hooked than Deaver.

Four. Imposter Syndrome by Kathy Wang
If, like me, you read The Circle by Dave Eggers and thought “great book, but where’s the story?” then imposter syndrome is for you. When Alice, a keyboard drone at the giant tech company Tangerine, detects unusual activity on the company’s servers, the resulting conspiracy rises to the top. Part espionage mystery, part espionage thriller, part Silicon Valley satire on the role of minority women in the developer community, few new novels feel as fresh and topical as this one.

Still from Zero Days, Alex Gibney's documentary about Stuxnet.
State-sanctioned subterfuge… still from Zero Days, Alex Gibney’s documentary on Stuxnet. Photograph: AP

5. Countdown to Day Zero: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon by Kim Zetter
With so many cybercriminals trying to fleece us with text messages to pay for excess postage, it’s easy to forget that the technology is also being used for malicious acts nationwide. As of 2010, centrifuges at Iran’s uranium enrichment plant continued to fail. The reason? A new type of virus called Stuxnet developed by the US and Israel that caused them to spin too fast and crash. This is a fascinating story about state-sanctioned sabotage, presenting the techno-babble of machine code in simple terms that any reader can enjoy.

6. Manipulated: Inside the Cyber ​​War to Hijack Elections and Distort the Truth by Theresa Payton
How do you police something you don’t know is a crime? Once upon a time the only way to rig an election was to steal enough votes from the recently deceased. You can now drip influence directly into people’s eyeballs without them noticing. AI viruses, fake videos, and cyber troll farms mark the battlefield in a war that most people, including those who protect us, have no idea is going on. Can it be stopped before our political systems collapse?

7. Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother
Doctorow is famous for his digital activism, his role as editor of the influential zine Boing Boing, and his post-cyberpunk novels. At the center of this canon is his Little Brother trilogy and Marcus, a cunning 17-year-old who, with his team, creates a private “mesh network” to defend against a dystopian surveillance state. He cue a stay with the Department of Homeland Security. All but one of them are released. As the country slides into totalitarian martial law, how can they prove that his friend is still in custody?

8. Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress
I haven’t read Dan Brown since I left The Da Vinci Code midway through, but the late ’90s Digital Fortress blew me away. Starring kickass cryptographer Susan Fletcher, in a time when most female leads were scared, dumb, or both, it’s a race-against-the-clock puzzler to save the National Security Agency held captive by a mysterious and malicious code.

9. dark market: How hackers became the new mob by Misha Glenny
Spend half an hour on the dark web and you’ll never look at the internet the same way again. Anything you want to buy (drugs, weapons, stolen passports) can be delivered to your door in days. Do you need a hacker? A hit man? It’s easy to find an .onion site that meets your needs. This is where your data ends up after it has been stolen in a ransomware attack. After reading this, you’ll think twice about entering your name and address online.

10 Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
What better way to round out a Top 10 Cyber ​​Crime Top 10 than with this subversive novel from South African genre destroyer Lauren Beukes. Set in an alternate Johannesburg where animal familiars team up with criminals to brand them, it tells the story of Zinzi, a lost-and-found psychic and 419 con man (think emails from alleged princes) who gets swept up in a murder mystery with wide resonance.

The Box by Dan Malakin is published by Profile Books. To help the Guardian and the Observer, order your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Shipping charges may apply.

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