Security Weekly

Review of Kingpin Book

Kingpin is the story of Max Vision from his teen years to when he got arrested and sentenced as the top carder in the underground and how he used his hacking skills from good to bad and his constant attempts to do the right thing and kept being pulled back to the world of a black hat. The book covers from his youthful pranks, his forays in to hacking and being one of the top white hats in the industry, while the industry was young and booming during the dot com era. Max made several bad decision do his temper and lack of control, in addition the intellectual addiction that hacking produces, the rush of euphoria that causes the act of one being pitted against another, the challenge of bypassing defenses and being a shadow undetected and powerful inside a system caused him to delve deeper on the wrong side of the law, not to mention the amount of money he was making and his believes that in some part he was doing good and only harming the big companies. He used that energy and passion to become the master of one of the most powerful carder forums out there. The book also covers the early history of the security industry its players, covering the small band of programmers and technologist that started many of the security companies that change the landscape. Max being one of the contributors to the beginnings of projects like Snort the Opens Source IDS and the sharing of knowledge that formed the beginnings of the industry. The book also covers the side of the law enforcement agencies and officers that participated in the cat and mouse game against the different crime organizations. It shows how law enforcement had to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of then Internet and how it changed the rules of the game. Also we see how the paths of many of the prominent figures involved in attacks intermingled in the small community of the carder underground, where many of those that where committing the crimes also at one time or another also worked with law enforcement as informants and helped in operations, voluntarily or under threat of jail. My favorite part is on the hacking techniques used by this brilliant people, how they adapted and hid form law enforcement and the mistakes made that lead to their discovery and arrest. One of the areas of interest is how some of the people involved targeted law enforcement with success to gain information of their operations against them. I do believe that nobody could have brought this story to life in this way than Poulsen did, in great part do to his history as a hacker, knowing what motivates and drives the mentality of one and his experiences as a man on the run from the law. His career as a journalist for wired magazine provided the skills for him to transmit in a way that it is easy to grasp all the technical concepts in the book, taking the reader from scene to scene as played by each of the different players of the story and bring each one of those stories together and showing how the are all intertwined together. 

Carlos Perez

Carlos is currently the Principal Consultant, Team Lead for Research at TrustedSec and well-known for his research on both Metasploit and Windows Powershell. His blog carries the tag line: “Shell Is Only The Beginning”.

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