Kingdom of Lies: Unnerving Adventures in the World of Cybercrime By Kate Fazzini

    review Æ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF ↠ Kate Fazzini

    We hear a lot about cybercrime, but very little about the shadowy figures behind it. Who are these people who are lurking in cyberspace, flooding it with malware, crippling websites, holding our data for ransom, taking down giant corporations? Apart from a certain amount of noise about Russian hackers, there's not a lot of information out there.
    Kate Fazzini worked in cybersecurity and now writes about it. The principal lie referred to in her title, she says, is ...that cybersecurity is hard. ... Certainly too difficult for someone who lacks years and years of deep technical training. Her point is that good security starts with common sense and an understanding of people. ...if you know how to deal with people, you can handle internet security. Other lies she cites include the idea that there is a hacker community, that hackers are shadowy puppet masters or that they are all either crusaders for good or practitioners of evil.
    In other words, Fazzini wants us to understand that there's a vast diversity and range of skills and motives among cyber criminals and the people who hunt them down. She introduces us to a few.
    There's the small-town Romanian girl who was recruited to do customer service for a ransomware outfit and was so good at it she brought in millions for her gang. There's the ex-military officer who was brought in to beef up cybersecurity at a New York bank and made it worse by not respecting the expertise of the people under him. There's the Chinese hacker who parlayed his skills into a straight job in cybersecurity in Singapore.
    And more. It's an interesting look at both sides in the continuing tug of war between crooks and watchmen in cyberspace. Kingdom of Lies: Unnerving Adventures in the World of Cybercrime The author of this book is my husband’s niece, Kate Fazzini. Kingdom of Lies opened up the world of hackers, both good and bad, for me. It shows how multi-leveled they are and working independently. Don’t forget to read The Author’s Note in the end. Kingdom of Lies: Unnerving Adventures in the World of Cybercrime Kate Fazzini takes the reader into the shadowy world of white hat and black hat hackers as she looks at the people who work at bank and those who try to hack the banks and precipitates other cyber frauds. The names, locations and companies are changed to protect those who give information which always leads to a little inflation of the story as the author acknowledges. The people she covers are very interesting and you get attached to each group however as some others have acknowledged when you get to the end nothing really comes together and you are left wondering what the point was. There is lots of good information in this book and interesting people but they just never tie together and you are left unsatisfied at the end. Kingdom of Lies: Unnerving Adventures in the World of Cybercrime Somewhat interesting, but very scattered. It felt disjointed; there was no clear connection between all of the various players, and it felt like characters and stories just ended without any real resolution. Read more like a collection of notes about various people than a book. Kingdom of Lies: Unnerving Adventures in the World of Cybercrime Absolutely atrocious writing, with the only redeeming quality being the interesting subject matter. Fazzini tries to take us into the minds of the many characters, but noone is sufficiently fleshed out enough to be a mere caricature of a person. The writing style, which progresses chronologically but geographically schiznophrenic, is incredibly hard to trace any kind of narrative throughout. Kingdom of Lies: Unnerving Adventures in the World of Cybercrime


    From the outset Fazzini tells us these are stories, but the way they overlapped gave me false hope that all would merge and culminate in a comprehensive ending to all the various cybershenanigans: Party Girl Renè Kreutz in Romania evolves into a hacker involved quite heroically with dastardly Sigmar Sig Himelman who is practically related to Cybercrime Researcher Dieter in Helsinki and then there is hacker Bolin Chou in China, and another female heroine Caroline Chan at targeted NOW Bank, Russian hacker Valery Romanov, etc etc.

    The structure of this book unnerved me rather more than the subject matter, to be honest. I'm not sure if it's accurate to tag this Historical Fiction or True Crime or something altogether different, but the characters and the subject matter are compelling as all get-out! I may have been confused by the Prologue followed by the Forward, or being told that I know more about cybersecurity than I think I do, but everything in Kingdom of Lies made for great reading. I love the feminist point of view, pointing out the tremendous value women bring to key roles whether in cyber security or cyber crime. And all the details around election interference and various conspiracy theories. I hope there is a sequel. Kingdom of Lies: Unnerving Adventures in the World of Cybercrime This book is an interesting read from the perspective that I learned a few things, but it is more of an overview of the subject and does not get down into the more detailed aspects of cybercrime that I was expecting from the description. That said, I found this book a quick and enjoyable read. 

    Some of the things I learned were that hackers not consider or refer to themselves as hackers; different countries use different methods to obtain information; some black hats eventually become white hats; you don't necessarily need to be a code nerd to be successful in the business and there are a wide variety of reasons why groups and countries do it.

    Overall, this book is for someone who is not necessarily looking for a great amount of detail on the subject.

    I received a free advance readers' edition of this book courtesy the publisher with the understanding that I would post a review on  Goodreads, Amazon and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook and Twitter pages. Kingdom of Lies: Unnerving Adventures in the World of Cybercrime I think my expectations were raised a little by the blurb likening Fazzini to “the Michael Lewis of cybercrime”, and the story never really flows or seems as well-drawn as Mr. Lewis is capable of. But that’s obviously a really unfair bar to compare against. For such a difficult subject matter to report on, the glimpses we do get are illuminating and the essential argument Fazzini is making is compelling. I’m just not sure it adds up to more than the sum of its parts. Kingdom of Lies: Unnerving Adventures in the World of Cybercrime Kingdom of Lies is an unfinished proposal of a book. Kate Fazzini has fashioned her digging into the world of hacking into a story that is at once fascinating and rich, and also disjointed and pointless.

    Fazzini has molded numerous stereotypes into real characters, leading real lives and suffering real frustrations and setbacks. They may even be real people; readers don’t know. She draws her characters really well, so that readers are right there with them. She keeps adding new characters as she goes, right up to the end. It becomes difficult to keep track of them all, and guessing how they fit into the overall scheme of things turns out to be a futile task. Because suddenly and without warning, the book ends. There is no scheme of things. No conflicts get resolved. The good guys don’t catch up to the bad guys, or even give chase. No one suffers any kind of direct penalty because of their hacking actions. The stories don’t ever merge or even connect. Anything or anyone. There are single, isolated characters who don’t connect to anyone at all. They just pop up from times to time. Perhaps the message is that hacking is a disjointed, decentralized enterprise, for both the white hats and the black hats. But we knew that.

    The two longest, deepest stories run separately and never cross. One is the cybersecurity unit of an international bank. It is plagued not merely by hackers, but by internal politics and bureaucracy where no good deed goes unpunished, and a loyal cohesive team disintegrates because of a narcissistic celebrity ex-military who is parachuted in to lead it. The other is a tiny Romanian ransomware shop, which runs its course, makes its millions and disintegrates. No one is ever in any danger. Risks are minimal. The ransomware operation and its players are never connected to the bank.

    Hackers are loners who don’t do well playing with others. This career choice gives them satisfaction and a living. As long as no one trusts anyone else and covers themselves from potential outcomes, everyone gets away with everything. So lies prevail, both as told to others and to themselves.

    Fazzini says she hopes readers will take away a better appreciation of privacy. But the book as a book is at best unsatisfying. Maybe it’s a koan and readers should just let it flow over them and not analyze it. Because trying to put it together as a single book with a story, a backbone, a conclusion and/or a message did not work.

    David Wineberg
    Kingdom of Lies: Unnerving Adventures in the World of Cybercrime 2.5 stars, rounded up

    I’m not a big fan of nonfiction, but the world of hackers is so much in the news nowadays, I was intrigued. The city of Baltimore’s computer system is being held for ransom as I write this.

    I can’t say I cared for Fazzini’s writing style. There’s a lot of jumping around, which makes it hard to keep up, especially at the beginning when a lot of individuals are being introduced.

    Individual stories should be used to explore bigger issues. But here, I really didn’t feel I learned anything meaningful. Senior officials of a company not understanding the issues the workers are facing goes without saying. That they have a propensity to hire too many chiefs and not enough Indians. Duh. Yes, there are nuggets of important info here, but I felt like I had to sift through minutiae to get to them. One of the important points that I wish Fazzini had spent more time exploring is the love/hate relationship between business and government.

    Also, so much has been fictionalized that I didn’t know what to believe. Made up companies really irritated me. She says she wants people to feel empowered by reading this book. But she doesn’t really give us the means to do so.

    In short, too much fluff and not enough meat to this book to allow me to give it many stars.

    My thanks to netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy of this book. Kingdom of Lies: Unnerving Adventures in the World of Cybercrime

    Kingdom of Lies is a brilliant and bold debut, as full of suspense as the best crime thrillers. --Linda Fairstein, New York Times bestselling author of Blood Oath

    In the tradition of Michael Lewis and Tom Wolfe, a fascinating and frightening behind-the-scenes look at the interconnected cultures of hackers, security specialists, and law enforcement

    A 19-year-old Romanian student stumbles into a criminal ransomware ring in her village. Soon she is extorting Silicon Valley billionaires for millions--without knowing the first thing about computers.

    A veteran cybersecurity specialist has built a deep network of top notch hackers in one of the world's largest banks. But then the bank brings in a cadre of ex-military personnel to help.

    A cynical Russian only leaves his tiny New Jersey apartment to hack sports cars at a high performance shop in Newark. But he opens his door to a consultant who needs his help.

    A hotel doorman in China once served in the People's Army, stealing intellectual property from American companies. Now he uses his skills to build up a private side-business selling the data he takes from travelers to Shanghai's commercial center.

    Kingdom of Lies follows the intertwined stories of cybercriminals and ethical hackers as they jump from criminal trend to criminal trend, crisis to crisis. A cybersecurity professional turned journalist, Kate Fazzini illuminates the many lies companies and governments tell us about our security, the lies criminals tell to get ahead, and the lies security leaders tell to make us think they are better at their jobs than they are.

    Like Traffic set in the cybercrime world, Kingdom of Lies is as entertaining as it is eye opening. Kingdom of Lies: Unnerving Adventures in the World of Cybercrime