Book Review

Spam Nation

By Brian Krebs
Publisher: Sourcebooks
November 2014
256 pages

Reviewed by Ross Oliver, March 31 2015

Spam Nation is not your typical security text. There are no code snippets or technical diagrams. The bulk of the book is almost biographical, describing the life and business ventures of a group of young Russian computer “entrepreneurs” for lack of a better word. However the reader discovers that “entrepreneur” means something completely different in Russia, mired in lawlessness, corruption, and personal vendettas. Krebs shows how these are the people that are both causing and profiting from the deluge of email spam as well as millions of hacked computers.

Krebs also investigates the demand side of Internet prescription drug sales. He interviews hundreds of actual purchasers, and discovers a wide range of reasons ordinary people choose to buy prescription drugs from Internet sellers. But is a market fraught with peril. Drugs may be imposters, or even contain deadly ingredients. Krebs also discovers testing drug contents purchased from Internet suppliers is nearly impossible. None of the big players want to legitimize Internet sales by identifying suppliers of real drugs. So buyers are essentially playing Russian roulette, but with pills.