Recent Reads – Civilian Warriors by Erik Prince

Jon Stewart, yes, the one from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show had Erik Prince as a guest. Mr. Prince was promoting his new book, Civilian Warriors. I was a bit surprised. Stewart is known to come from the liberal end of the spectrum, he simply interviewed Erik Prince about his book and some details of his career as the founder, CEO, President of the controversial organization known as Blackwater. I thought he’d be more probing and cynical of Mr. Prince due to the stories conveyed in the media about his past organization, but he wasn’t. Mr. Prince presented him well, no question leading to him being a successful business person, but you could tell that he felt slighted in his dealings with the US government and that he truly believed what he was doing was noble and that there was another side of the story that the media refused to convey to the public.

In the beginning of the book Mr. Prince talks about his father and how grew his business into a flourishing one. Erik learned some life lessons from his father, and while the younger Prince seemed to come from a family of privilege, it didn’t seem to be a factor in Prince’s life. If  I recall correctly, he even tried to separate himself from his family’s social standing as to not take advantage of it. However, Prince does use some of his family’s money to start Blackwater.

The book seemed to convey a human side to Prince as well as the staff that worked for him at Blackwater. Prince talks about his infidelity and loss of his first wife. It certainly doesn’t make you want to like him, but there is sense of honesty around that part of his life, honesty I felt to be more real than what you’d see from a politician like John Edwards. The people in the book seem distant. You don’t really get to know them. I’m talking about the teams that got killed doing missions for uncle sam. The tragic fall of four staff members in Fallujah is hard to imagine. The four were ambused, killed, set on fire, corpses dragged through the streets and then hung from a bridge. Say what you want about Prince or Blackwater, this was horrific. Continue reading Recent Reads – Civilian Warriors by Erik Prince

Recent Reads – We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency

I thoroughly enjoyed the audio book. Written by Parmy Olson, It provides you some insight into the world of 4Chan, Anonymous, LulzSec and the folks that find themselves immersed in the internet underground. Let me tell you, it’s a different world.

It starts out explaining the roots of 4Chan from 2Chan and gets into the plethora of irc chats that make up the main channel of communication throughout the underground community. It’s a place that most of us wouldn’t understand. But, as mentioned in the book, people adapt to the environment. It’s something you have to read to understand.

We are Anonymous book

While some antics may seem immature, there are plenty of people that tend to overlook the stigma that may be placed on individuals in everyday life. Gender is one such topic. Nobody cares if you’re male, female, or something else. The lingo is interesting. Using the word ‘fag’ to describe different types of people was something that someone may find offensive, but others would overlook because it’s simply used as a word to describe someone and not necessarily to attack one’s sexual orientation. Again, some simply won’t understand.

The details of the story eventually revolve around the key players that went from Anonymous to the group known as LulzSec – Topiary, Sabu, and Kayla. This is the same group that attacked the Church of Scientology, Sony Pictures, XFactor (TV show), FBI and a few others. I found the moxy of these guys to blow me away. No question there was a conscious understanding that getting caught hacking websites and breaking into networks/email accounts would be a big deal. Many measures were taken to stay ‘anonymous’ online to prevent from being tracked down; yet, there was a certain drive to wreak havoc among different groups, companies, or individuals that would eventually lead to the capture of aforementioned players. Sometimes the attacks seemed to have what could be considered a ‘noble cause’ while others did not. The reputation that many members gained is intriguing. You read a whole book thinking Kayla, conveying an online persona of a young girl, ends up being a young man residing in London.

I do find it hard to understand how the author obtains all the details to write the book, where much of the communication, again, occurs online via irc channels. Regardless, it kept my attention and sucked me into a world that may not be for everyone. There’s counter culture – even within the hacker/IT security space, dialects, ‘mob rules’ mentality and a lot of different facets that were really interesting.