: New: Book Report: Cult of the Dead Cow (Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World)

Nowadays we talk about the Centers for Disease Control a bunch but back in the Aughts, when we said the cDC, we probably meant the Cult of the Dead Cow. This was a group of hackers. Some of them were good at breaking computer security. Some of them were good at PR. Thanks to that combination, they got into the news fairly often. This book, Cult of the Dead Cow (by Menn) tells their story.

It's an interesting read. How could a bunch of kids growing up talking on BBS systems grow up into folks who convinced Microsoft to finally get serious about fixing its then-atrocious security? Kids who studied phreaking so they could steal long-distance phone time… those kids up into nerds who could find holes in modern-day computers. Kids who wrote rambly screeds in BBS textfiles turned into nerds who could explain a hackerish point of view.

Not all of their stories made it into the news; thus, I learned from this book. E.g., I learned that part of the reason I was so surprised to learn about China's "50-cent army" successfully snitching out dissent online—someone in the cDc, hoping to draw attention to China's authoriatarian tendencies, had spun a yarn about a (fictional) Chinese hacking group. I fell for that yarn back in the day; and didn't find out that it was a yarn until I read this book.

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