Kingdom of Lies

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

Eye opening chilling for those of us worried about cyber crime; being hacked elections being interfered with this book will frighten you. We see the crime Crome all sides the hackers and the government teams trying to combat them.I found this a fascinating exposee.#netgalley#st.martins
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A Page turning thriller with a crash course on cyber crime. Gripping  right from the beginning. I found engaging.
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KINGDOM OF LIES by Kate Fazzini deals with "Unnerving Adventures in the World of Cybercrime," such as those we see in the latest news like the hacking at Capital One. Fazzini is the cybersecurity reporter for CNBC and teaches in the applied intelligence program at Georgetown University, having previously worked for The Wall Street Journal and private firms. She says that "this book gave me the flexibility to tell controversial stories." And this text is a memoir of sorts, covering roughly 2013 to 2018 and describing Fazzini's work in connection with cybersecurity, "where sometimes it feels as if everyone ... is allergic to the truth." She does raise some interesting points like the value of a matrix organization versus a top down hierarchy. Unfortunately, she writes in a rather disjointed style, introducing a variety of characters and situations while assuming a basic knowledge that many readers may not have. Less than ten percent of the text is devoted to appendices (including a helpful glossary of cyberterms), a very brief list of sources, and a sparse index. Titles like Kevin Mitnick's Ghost in the Wires or perhaps even Joseph Menn's Cult of the Dead Cow may be easier to follow and offer more background research information for our students.
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This is an interesting dive into cybercrime and it gives the reader accounts of these from both victims and whom we'd call the perpetrators. 
It doesn't offer anything new on the stories shared in the media on cyber crime however the narration draws you in to understand and encounter this world. Thanks Netgalley for the eARC. I also have to give props to whoever designed the cover, it's a good one.
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Kingdom of Lies is an eye-opening look into the shadowy world of cyber hacking. However, much of the story has already been told by other media.

Individual stories of hacking make for compelling reading. The stories are told from both the criminal and victim’s point-of-view. However, they never lead into a real conclusion. Also, while labeled as true stories, so many details were changed that is impossible to know what is true and what is fiction. 

I was so excited to read this book. I love reading about both black and white hat hackers. Perhaps that is the reason this book didn’t work for me. This book didn’t go into enough detail for me. Each of the stories could have been expanded into their own full-blown books with beginnings, middles, and endings. Instead the stories within Kingdom of Lies, and even the entire book, just stopped with no conclusions drawn.

I realize the author is a journalist and so used to the inverted pyramid of most important to least important fact. However, none of the stories were related to some overall lesson or plot point. I read a lot of non-fiction and that is the point of most of it. Kingdom of Lies is just a slice of individual or company’s life. Also, there are many television shows and online articles that would be a better way to get the same information that can be gleaned from this book. Overall, I can’t give Kingdom of Lies more than 2.5 stars rounded up.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for granting my wish for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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The author's writing style jumps all over the place, so I didn't enjoy this as much as I could have.  However, I found the information presented about hacking to be timely and very relevant.
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I went in to this book very hopeful as it is a very interesting subject and one that I know little about. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It is a very well written book that adds the human layer to a book about unseen computer hacking. You always hear about how Russia, North Korea and Iran are virtually state sponsored hacking groups and this book includes that plus much more personal stories about the lives of those involved.  I really enjoyed this book and will look for any future books by this author. The sections on ransomware were the most interesting for me as the hackers at some points got thanked for their work. 
Thank you Netgalley, Kate Fazzini  and St. Martin's Press for the ARC for my honest review.
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KINGDOM OF LIES, by Kate Fazzini, jumps deep into the world of cybersecurity.  Fazzini follows characters not just on the lawful side and the unlawful side, but many who allegiance to right and/or wrong is irrelevant; people who are most concerned with what project stimulates them and pays them enough to life the life they want (which is often far from extravagant).
   Many people whose careers circle around cybercrime are not clearly defined on the good side or the bad side and Fazzini writes this book with that in mind.  The design of the book not only constantly bounces between solving cybercrime and committing cybercrime, but Fazzini at times even turns the table and has the reader pulling for the criminals and condemning the victims, as if they deserve it.  Fazzini keeps allegiances spins around to keep the book entertaining, but also to mirror how people in the cybersecurity/cybercrime business feel everyday.  Fazzini introduces several different groups of people and slowly brings all of there stories together into a climax and resolution that is both complete and satisfying.  Fazzini even makes the cybercrime world seem sexy and inviting; making this reader look into taking a cybersecurity class in the future.
   Entertaining and immensely educational, KINGDOM OF LIES is an eye opener to the industry that is constantly growing and evolving.  By creating fascinating individuals and multiple compelling events layered on top of each other, Fazzini's book kept me engaged from beginning to end.
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2.5 stars, rounded up

I’m not a big fan of nonfiction, but the world of hackers is so much in the news nowadays, I was intrigued.  The city of Baltimore’s computer system is being held for ransom as I write this.  

I can’t say I cared for Fazzini’s writing style.  There’s a lot of jumping around, which makes it hard to keep up, especially at the beginning when a lot of individuals are being introduced.  

Individual stories should be used to explore bigger issues.  But here, I really didn’t feel I learned anything meaningful.  Senior officials of a company not understanding the issues the workers are facing goes without saying. That they have a propensity to hire too many chiefs and not enough Indians.  Duh.   Yes, there are nuggets of important info here, but I felt like I had to sift through minutiae to get to them. One of the important points that I wish Fazzini had spent more time exploring is the love/hate relationship between business and government.  

Also, so much has been fictionalized that I didn’t know what to believe.  Made up companies really irritated me. She says she wants people to feel empowered by reading this book.  But she doesn’t really give us the means to do so.  

 In short, too much fluff and not enough meat to this book to allow me to give it many stars.  

My thanks to netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy of this book.
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Kingdom of Lies will chill you if you aren’t already worried about Russian interference in the US elections, Chinese interference in the banking system, and pretty much anybody looking at your personal data that is on the WWW.  


I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Book Review: Kingdom of Lies: Unnerving Adventures In the World of Cybercrime
Author: Kate Fazzini
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Review Date: May 27, 2019

From the blurb:
“In the tradition of Michael Lewis and Tom Wolfe, a fascinating and frightening behind-the-scenes look at the interconnected cultures of hackers, security specialists, and law enforcement.”

This is a fantastic nonfiction book about the world of cybercrime. Oh my Lord, so much I didn’t know. It is a terrifying world we live in, this shadowy world of cybercrime that ticks along, day and night, all around us, whether we are aware of it or not. 

I was utterly fascinated by this book, and very impressed with the author’s way of making a dark, complex world easier to understand. 

She weaves in and out of various cybercriminals’ and crime fighters’ worlds, in a way that kept my attention, and that also lightened up what could have been a very dense read. This is not a dull explication of the world of cybercrime. By weaving the stories back and forth of various criminals and crime fighters, she made the story interesting and accessible. 

I give this book 5+ stars. Highly, highly recommended. I intend to look for other writing by the author. 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for allowing me an early look at this fascinating book.

This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads, and Amazon.

#netgalley #stmartinspress #thekingdomoflies #katefazzini
#cybercrime #nonfiction
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Former cybersecurity executive and journalist Kate Fazzini is sharing in the Kingdom of Lies everyday stories from the dark world of cybercrime. The complexity of human beings  and the ambiguity of human nature offer both a simple explanation for the latest dramatic development in the field of e-crimes. 

Random people from the remotest areas of the world - from Romania to Siberia, Hong Kong and USA - are entering this world with the boldness and organisation of a business person. There is a plan and a financial target as well as a serious lack of ethics. 

Writing with the simplicity of the journalistic reporting and using a relatively simple vocabulary, Fazzini introduces this world to the reader in the most natural way. The perpetrators of such crimes could be anyone, you can be anytime the victim. The moment you are signing in for opening an email account, you are becoming part of a vast network that at the same time includes the legal and illicit trade. 

The author's experience is an important asset in introducing this world to the reader, from the intricacies of the corporate world to the simplicity of the daily hacker, looking for some opportunity to get some money or just explore some loopholes in the system.

At the end of the reading day - the books reads easily in a sitting - you can be either afraid and paranoically skeptical about the human nature (but for that you don't need necessarily a book, just some basic everydaylife observation) and the Internet in general, or just rationally aware about the risks of the cyber world and consequently the criminal implications. 

Although from the technical point of view, the book is documented and has a pertaining speciality background, I've found some local descriptions and details not necessarily accurate. For instance, it's doubtful there is an Arnika Valley village in Romania, 200-km away from Bucharest where you can have Starbucks and pay with Bitcoins (it's highly doubtful that you can pay with such currency at all in this country). Also, arc doesn't mean spring in Romania. (The book is expected to be published in June and I've been offered a complimentary ARC, therefore it might be time to make corrections if necessary). 

If you are looking for getting some basic knowledge about cybercrime Kingdom of Lies is the recommended lecture but if you are looking for some sophisticated revelations about the complexity of the underground criminal network operating on the Internet, maybe you should search for another reference.
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Kingdom of Lies is an unfinished proposal of a book. Kate Fazzini has fashioned her digging into the world of hacking into a story that is at once fascinating and rich, and also disjointed and pointless.

Fazzini has molded numerous stereotypes into real characters, leading real lives and suffering real frustrations and setbacks. They may even be real people; readers don’t know. She draws her characters really well, so that readers are right there with them. She keeps adding new characters as she goes, right up to the end. It becomes difficult to keep track of them all, and guessing how they fit into the overall scheme of things turns out to be a futile task. Because suddenly and without warning, the book ends. There is no scheme of things. No conflicts get resolved. The good guys don’t catch up to the bad guys, or even give chase. No one suffers any kind of direct penalty because of their hacking actions. The stories don’t ever merge or even connect.  Anything or anyone. There are single, isolated characters who don’t connect to anyone at all. They just pop up from times to time. Perhaps the message is that hacking is a disjointed, decentralized enterprise, for both the white hats and the black hats. But we knew that.

The two longest, deepest stories run separately and never cross. One is the cybersecurity unit of an international bank. It is plagued not merely by hackers, but by internal politics and bureaucracy where no good deed goes unpunished, and a loyal cohesive team disintegrates because of a narcissistic celebrity ex-military who is parachuted in to lead it.  The other is a tiny Romanian ransomware shop, which runs its course, makes its millions and disintegrates. No one is ever in any danger. Risks are minimal. The ransomware operation and its players are never connected to the bank.

Hackers are loners who don’t do well playing with others. This career choice gives them satisfaction and a living. As long as no one trusts anyone else and covers themselves from potential outcomes, everyone gets away with everything. So lies prevail, both as told to others and to themselves.

Fazzini says she hopes readers will take away a better appreciation of privacy. But the book as a book is at best unsatisfying. Maybe it’s a koan and readers should just let it flow over them and not analyze it. Because trying to put it together as a single book with a story, a backbone, a conclusion and/or a message did not work.

David Wineberg
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From the outset Fazzini tells us these are stories, but the way they overlapped gave me false hope that all would merge and culminate in a comprehensive ending to all the various cybershenanigans: Party Girl Renè Kreutz in Romania evolves into a hacker involved quite heroically with dastardly Sigmar "Sig" Himelman who is practically related to Cybercrime Researcher Dieter in Helsinki and then there is hacker Bolin Chou in China, and another female heroine Caroline Chan at targeted NOW Bank, Russian hacker Valery Romanov, etc etc. 

The structure of this book unnerved me rather more than the subject matter, to be honest. I'm not sure if it's accurate to tag this Historical Fiction or True Crime or something altogether different, but the characters and the subject matter are compelling as all get-out! I may have been confused by the Prologue followed by the Forward, or being told that I know more about cybersecurity than I think I do, but everything in Kingdom of Lies made for great reading. I love the feminist point of view, pointing out the tremendous value women bring to key roles whether in cyber security or cyber crime. And all the details around election interference and various conspiracy theories. I hope there is a sequel.
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