View Full Version : REVIEW: "Mafiaboy", Michael Calce/Craig Silverman

Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Trevor
12-08-08, 02:03 PM

"Mafiaboy", Michael Calce/Craig Silverman, 2008, 978-0-670-06748-0,
%A Michael Calce
%A Craig Silverman www.regrettheerror.com
%C 10 Alcorn Ave, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario, M4V 3B2
%D 2008
%G 978-0-670-06748-0
%I Penguin/Signet/Roc
%O C$34.00 416-925-2249 Fax: 416-925-0068 service@penguin.ca
%O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0670067482/robsladesinterne
%O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0670067482/robsladesin03-20
%O Audience n- Tech 1 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P 288 p.
%T "Mafiaboy: how i cracked the internet and why it's still broke"

Yet Another L33t Wannabe Tell-All. Yet another story of broken home
(I almost wish somebody who lives with both parents would do some
serious net vandalism so we could dispense with the stereotype **),
social misfit, problem-with-authority, play-with-things-you-don't-
understand-and-make-a-mess book.

The jacket tells us that Mafiaboy has kept silence for eight years,
and only now will we get the real story. Well, an awful lot of this
book is on the public record already. So much of it comes from "The
Hacker Diaries" (cf. BKHCKDRY.RVW) that Dan Verton might be starting
to think about the boundaries of fair use. (The technical material is
similar to Verton's level of understanding: certain items from the
time are identifiable as presented, but others are questionable.)
When we get down to the inside scoop it's quite a disappointment:
apparently Mafiaboy doesn't really know that much about what went on
around him. (An entire chapter seems to be dedicated to this point.)

The jacket claims that Calce now only uses his powers for good, and
the introduction says that he is sharing his experience in order to
help us secure the online world. It goes on to say that this tome is
not intended to excuse Calce's actions. Indeed, the text notes
several times that his actions were wrong, and that he was stupid,
boastful, and ignorant. This is in between the passages where he
claims that he really was quite technically l33t (since he programmed
in C, instead of Pascal like his plebian friends), had amazing
contacts (about whom he can tell us nothing) and status (obtained by
being a nuisance to everyone he encountered), is actually a great and
very moral guy (since he could have done more damage), has been
wrongfully persecuted and slandered (since he really didn't do
anything wrong, just proved that systems which should have been secure
weren't), and has been treated shamefully by law enforcement and the

In terms of helping the reader to secure Internet use, the second part
of the book warns that bad things can happen to people who use the
Internet. The second last chapter of the work spends ten pages giving
us banal, pedestrian, and simplistic advice on things we can do to
protect ourselves. There really isn't enough detail in it to do much
good to anyone.

If you want the story of Mafiaboy all in one place (albeit slightly
disjointed), with a few personal and self-serving comments, this is
your book.

** Oh, yeah, sorry, Bob Morris, Jr. Coming up on his 20th
anniversary, aren't we? Neat timing for another blackhat book ...

copyright Robert M. Slade, 2008 BKMAFIBY.RVW 20081020

rslade@vcn.bc.ca slade@victoria.tc.ca rslade@computercrime.org
"Dictionary of Information Security," Syngress 1597491152
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