One of my favorite kind of books to read are on the history of computing (and science in general), in particular ones which tell the story about not only the technology that’s developed, but the people who developed it, and how their personalities interacted. That’s why while the PBS documentaries “The Machine That Changed The World” and “The Shape of the World” are interesting, I like “Connections”, “Revolution OS”, and “Triumph of the Nerds” more, because in addition to playing off the technological aspects, the personal aspects come up as well, how personalities interact, how they play off each other, and how the meeting of two people can have as much impact on the invention of a piece of technology as a the invention of a previous piece of technology was.
I mention all that because I got tipped off to this article at Wired Magazine. Basically, it’s almost the cybercrime equivalent of GoodFellas. The difference being, Henry Hill realized that being the mob was more hazardous than it’s worth, particularly since there were no possiblities for advancement for him – being Irish on his dad’s side instead of Italian – so he told the law what he knew. On the other hand, this story is, a bit, the polar opposite – the guy the story’s about, Max Butler, basically becomes the man you have to go through (through his site) in order to buy-and-sell stolen card numbers, as well as the equipment needed to take advantage of those numbers – which I’d certainly count as advancement. Not to mention, unlike Hill, Butler didn’t talk to the Feds, tell them everything they needed to know and go in the Witness Protection Program – he was caught and sent to prison for life – the first Cracker (I’m not going to use the word Hacker for a crook like thim) to get that punishment.
Okay, yeah, so he can get 30 years instead of life if he takes a plea bargain, but anyway, the story is fantastic. It plays out like a crime novel (in this case a true crime novel). I doubt it would work for a movie, maybe a documentary – it would be extremely difficult to dramatize the hacking process – and a lot of the interactions here are between people who have never met each other face to face, only online. Still, it’s an amazing read.