Ebook Review: The Hacktivist by R. J. Webster

First off, do not miss out on picking up your free copy of Disrupted Worlds until 11/11.
When R. J. Webster wrote to me about the Hactivist I was captured by the fact that he has expertise in information security and this is a hot topic. It always has been a hot topic, but the amount of information and the flow of information has increased massively. At one time I felt like I knew a little bit about computers, I even built one and it actually worked. The trouble is that in those days a modem was something you physically plugged your handset into. The first times that I used the internet it was a relatively boring experience with the rate of data transfer glacial and the number of sites very limited, it really was an academic data sharing tool where time was not really of the essence. There came a time where I stopped keeping up with the pace of development and now I am a happy user of computers only. I do not need to understand them, or do I?

Published 5th March 2012

From the dust cover: ” Young, passionate and radicalized after exposure to the poverty in Haiti, Jack becomes a hacker for a cause. He learns about botnets, rootkits, crimeware creation kits, anti-forensics and cryptography. He eventually tries to leverage it to help the poor. If the money trail leads to charities, how can he ever be caught?

The Hacktivist is the story of the evolution of a hacker but it is also a primer on information security topics. It provides a high level description of the techniques used to hack our computers and the tools we can use to protect ourselves and our internet financial transactions. After reading this book, one should have a good understanding of what it really means to use a credit card on the Internet.

Ten percent of the proceeds from this book will go to Partners in Health to help the poor in Haiti.

My Ebook review: this is an education wrapped inside a human story or more actually several layers of human story. Immediately that makes The Hacktivist an Ebook that I would enjoy. The author quite neatly interjects factual information about the workings of the internet into a meaningful story in a clever and entertaining manner.
The human storylines are also well written. Our antihero finds himself at a crossroads in his life and has knowledge, skills and too much time on his hands. His path towards hacking is a slippery slope of self justification and curiosity driven foolhardiness. Intertwined in this story is a link to the devastation in Haiti which is used also as a clear example of the massive gulf in living standards across the globe, indeed also across relatively short distances.
Jack is a slightly naïve antihero. His journey from upright citizen to downright criminal is too easy because he never really considers himself to be doing anything wrong until the point he realizes that indeed he has gone too far. Even then, does he really understand the consequences of the pebble he dropped in the pond?
The authorities have a very hard time of it. The results of the hacking form a notable pattern but how to link it back to an individual? This was in itself an education and a very interesting piece of the story. Importantly, the use of the authorities in the story added a layer of interest that lifted the story to the point of being a bit of a thriller at times. Would our antihero end up in the long arms of the law, or would he escape and make amends? To answer that question you will need to read the Ebook, which I certainly recommend.
The author added a couple of highly interesting vignettes on the day in the life of a computer virus. It was chilling reading, as was much of the information about internet based fraud and crime. In that sense the educational part of the story really hits home. We all need to understand just a little bit more about internet security and what makes hacker’s lives too easy. We do not need to understand the lock on the door but we do need to understand that some locks give false security and some doors are not made more secure by a better lock.

Did I enjoy it: absolutely, this is an education wrapped inside a thriller wrapped inside a humanitarian story. You should read this Ebook to learn about how to better protect yourself on the internet and you should read this Ebook because it is a thrilling page turner.

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