From the bestselling author of Black Hawk Down, the gripping story of the Conficker worm—the cyberattack that nearly toppled the world.
The Conficker worm infected its first computer in November 2008, and within a month had infiltrated 1.5 million computers in 195 countries. Banks, telecommunications companies, and critical government networks—including British Parliament and the French and German military—became infected almost instantaneously. No one had ever seen anything like it.
By January 2009, the worm lay hidden in at least eight million computers, and the botnet of linked computers it had created was big enough that an attack might crash the world. In this “masterpiece” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), Mark Bowden expertly lays out a spellbinding tale of how hackers, researchers, millionaire Internet entrepreneurs, and computer security experts found themselves drawn into a battle between those determined to exploit the Internet and those committed to protecting it.
Bestselling Black Hawk Down author Bowden follows a group of white-hat computer experts who came together to fight Conficker, malware that surfaced in late 2008 and appeared poised to take over millions of computers running Windows Operating System on April 1, 2009. Bowden shows how "The Cabal" struggled to stay ahead of the Conficker worm as it evolved in the course of four months into ever more threatening incarnations. The author takes readers behind the scenes, showing the security specialists' increasing frenzy, not to mention occasional infighting, as they worked to defeat the worm. Along the way, the author lucidly explains how malware can take over computers as well as how the very openness of the Internet makes it vulnerable to attack. "If no one is ultimately responsible for the Internet, then how do you police and defend it?" he asks. But while Bowden presents the Cabal's efforts to defeat Conficker as an epic good vs. evil battle, the actual stakes are never entirely clear. Even the computer researchers have no way of knowing whether Conficker will set off "Cybarmageddon," or will amount to no more than an elaborate April Fool's joke.