Entertainment Security

6 Books About Online Privacy & Security You Need to Read

Mark O'Neill 01-05-2015

As online privacy and security continue to be spicy hot topics, a whole range of high quality books are being written on the subject. If you have any interest at all in this subject, you should never have a shortage of reading material, as experts in these fields give their opinions, and tell stories, on a wide range of related topics.


I have scoured the hidden depths of my Amazon Kindle Kindle Giving You Trouble? Three Easy Fixes and Troubleshooting Steps The Kindle range of e-readers from Amazon are excellent, lightweight devices that enable you to carry your library of books around wherever you go – but what happens when a Kindle goes wrong? Read More to find six books about online privacy and security you absolutely need to read.

Dragnet Nation – Julia Angwin

6 Books About Online Privacy & Security You Need to Read dragnetnation

I have previously mentioned Dragnet Nation in my article about breaking free from Google’s grasp How To Clear Your Data From Google & Attempt To Regain Some Of Your Privacy Wiping all trace of you from the web is not easy, but after reading Dragnet Nation by Julia Angwin you might just want to try. It's time to stop willingly throwing away your privacy. Read More . This is an immensely readable book, which details Angwin’s attempts to take back her privacy. She does this by contacting hundreds of data brokers, requesting what information they have on her, and demanding that it be removed.

She also tries to encrypt her email The 5 Most Secure and Encrypted Email Providers Fed up with government and third-party surveillance of your emails? Protect your messages with a secure encrypted email service. Read More , delete her Google search history How Do I Delete Previous Google Searches From History? Here's how to delete previous Google searches so you can remove them from your Google account and browsing history. Read More , keep her credit cards in an RFID wallet What Is an RFID-Blocking Wallet? (And Which Should You Buy?) If you have cards, passports, or devices with RFID chips, then an RFID-blocking wallet could be important for keeping your data safe. Read More , and install tracker blocking plugins The Top 8+ Security & Privacy Extensions For The Chrome Browser Google’s Chrome Web Store hosts many extensions that can protect your security and privacy while using Chrome. Whether you want to block JavaScript, plug-ins, cookies and tracking scripts or force websites to encrypt your traffic,... Read More (such as Ghostery) on her Web browser. She achieves mixed, all of which she discusses in the book.

Angwin also reveals that she applied for a credit card in a different name, and set that person up with a whole new identity 4 Good Ways To Disguise Yourself Online Why would it ever be necessary to disguise yourself online? Isn't such behavior only for the likes of hackers, spies, and lowlifes? Well, not exactly. It isn't always easy to fully disguise yourself in a... Read More , testing to see if that identity would eventually be traced back to her. It’s gripping stuff, and you will definitely read it all the way to the end.


Data & Goliath – Bruce Schneier

6 Books About Online Privacy & Security You Need to Read datagoliath

In Data and Goliath, Bruce Schneier Security Expert Bruce Schneier On Passwords, Privacy and Trust Learn more about security and privacy in our interview with security expert Bruce Schneier. Read More sets out to do what Angwin did. He tries to show us who is doing what to us, and how they are using our information. In doing so, he manages to beautifully lay out why privacy is (or at least should be) an essential human right for every person.

He tells us what our mobile phone is doing to us while it is switched on. He reveals what happens when you buy something online and what that reveals about us. Do you do a lot of emailing? That too can erode your privacy away. Then there’s the almighty Google that knows everything about us. But how and why? Schneier doesn’t let Facebook off the hook either. What information do they collect on you What Does Facebook Know About You? Why You Should Delete Facebook What does Facebook really know about you? One thing's for sure: if you want online privacy, Facebook is best avoided. Read More , and what do they do with it?

Governments and corporations have turned the world into one huge Big Brother society 10 Unique Live Webcam Feeds To Watch Around The World Remote webcams peeping into your lives may make you go all choleric, but when they point at some fascinating places around the world, they can make you gawk. Real-time webcam feeds that capture unique events... Read More . But why do we tolerate these blatant intrusions into our lives? Schneier lays it all out, offers a solution to the problem, as well as giving advice on how you can protect yourself.


Digital Hit Man – Frank Ahearn

6 Books About Online Privacy & Security You Need to Read privacyhitman

Digital Hit Man is a book by Frank M. Ahearn, who specializes in disappearing people. Previously, he was at the other end of the spectrum – employed as a skip-tracer, and hired by the rich and famous, as well as tabloid newspapers, to find people who didn’t want to be found.

He used a technique called “social engineering How To Protect Yourself Against Social Engineering Attacks Last week we took a look at some of the main social engineering threats that you, your company or your employees should be looking out for. In a nutshell, social engineering is similar to a... Read More ” to obtain confidential records, which enabled him to hunt down his quarry. Later, he started his own witness protection program, and helped victims of stalkers.

Now he has flipped the coin to become an expert in how to disappear. In his book, he shows you how to create and use deception to combat sites that are violating your online privacy by revealing information that is making your life a living hell. As a master of deception and misdirection, Ahearn will show you how you can get that embarrassing information off the Internet.


Fatal System Error – Joseph Menn

6 Books About Online Privacy & Security You Need to Read fatalsystemerror

Joseph Menn covers cyber-security stories for the Financial Times 8 Websites to Help You Plan Your Financial Future Personal financial planning is a vital aspect of modern living and you need to understand it. These websites will help you improve your bank balance or wipe out your overdraft. Read More , and the plaudits he has received for Fatal System Error are numerous. The book recounts the story of a computer expert called Barrett Lyon, who decided to investigate hackings on business websites. Unbeknownst to him, the Russian mob were behind these attacks. They were stealing from corporations, stealing financial consumer data, and stealing government defense secrets.

This was in 2004, and at this time, US law enforcement was still not up to speed on these issues. Not so the UK. The London-based National Hi-Tech Crime Unit sent agents to enlist Barrett’s help. They also sent a detective to Russia to find and take down the hackers.

Fatal System Error offers unprecedented access to both mob businesses and Russian officials. It illustrates how top criminals earned protection from the Russian government, and the dangers currently facing the Internet.


Kingpin – Kevin Poulson

6 Books About Online Privacy & Security You Need to Read kingpin

I first read Kingpin several years back, and it took over a long overdue holiday with my wife. Instead of visiting relatives and seeing the sights, I was instead hooked on this book. Like Dragnet Nation, it is a very easy read – Poulsen (who is the senior editor at Wired magazine) has a knack for telling a story well.

The book concerns a black-hat hacker called Max “Iceman” Butler who, as well as being a celebrity and consultant for the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), was also secretly running a multi-million dollar online crime ring. When word gets out that someone has just staged a hostile takeover of an online criminal network that siphoned billions of dollars from the US economy, the FBI rushes to investigate.

Little did they know that the person they were seeking was none other than Butler. But despite undercover operations, moles, and double agents, Butler managed to stay ten steps ahead of the authorities. While doing so, he was also stealing millions of credit card numbers, and stealing money from fellow hackers.

This book covers law enforcement’s efforts to catch Butler, and the effects that online criminal enterprises like this have on ordinary law-abiding people.

Spam Nation – Brian Krebs

6 Books About Online Privacy & Security You Need to Read spamnation

Finally, a topic that everyone can identify with – spam. No, I’m not talking about the canned meat, but the annoying emails you get every day What Everybody Ought to Know About Dealing With Email Spam It might be next to impossible to stop spam completely, but it's certainly possible to reduce its flow to a trickle. We outline some of the different measures you can take. Read More offering you a fantastically better sex life and cheaper medications from Canada. Or perhaps it’s Nigerian princes offering you Do Nigerian Scam Emails Hide A Terrible Secret? [Opinion] Another day, another spam email drops into my inbox, somehow working its way around the Windows Live spam filter that does such a good job of protecting my eyes from all of the other unsolicited... Read More a cut of a huge fortune that the whole world has conveniently forgotten about. Yes, that kind of spam. The insidious type.

In Spam Nation, Krebs takes us into the criminal networks running the spam empires, and the banks in which they keep their money. He talks to computer programmers and mobsters to discover how the business is run, which also includes harvesting personal details and selling them on the black market.

All of which makes this a fascinating read for anyone who has ever received spam in their inbox. Which is surely everyone reading this.

Do You Have Any Other Recommendations?

Have you read any of these books?, If so, what are your opinions on them? Can you recommend any similar books about online privacy and security that your fellow MakeUseOf readers should check out? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image Credits: privacy theft Via Shutterstock, hand holding a book Via Shutterstock

Related topics: Book Reviews, Computer Privacy, Computer Security, Online Privacy, Online Security.

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  1. Noah Body
    November 23, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Anything by Bruce Schneier is certainly authoritative. I think two notable books missing from the above list are:

    - "The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy: A Privacy Guide for the Rest of Us" by Violet Blue

    - "Hiding from the Internet: Eliminating Personal Online Information" by Michael Bazzell

    Short write-ups on these 2 books can be found here, http://www.cogipas.com/internet-privacy-books/

    Thanks MakeUseof and keep the great Internet privacy articles coming!

  2. Anonymous
    May 3, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    Firewalls Don't Stop Dragons by Carey Parker is a good one too.

  3. charmingguy
    May 2, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    An excellent website about privacy is myshadow.org

    • Q
      May 3, 2015 at 11:42 am

      You guys aregreat so

  4. AlS
    May 1, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Future Crimes by Marc Goodman.

  5. Anonymous
    May 1, 2015 at 7:31 pm


    How to Be Invisible: Protect Your Home, Your Children, Your Assets, and Your Life by J. J. Luna http://www.amazon.com/How-Be-Invisible-Protect-Children-ebook/dp/B0065QZVB6


    How to Disappear: Erase Your Digital Footprint, Leave False Trails, and Vanish without a Trace by Frank Ahearn and Eileen Horan http://www.amazon.com/How-Disappear-Digital-Footprint-without-ebook/dp/B00MJD7AN6/

    are essential reads to any privacy/security conscious individuals in modern society. Much like Dragnet Nation, they outline the extremes one can go to in protecting one's privacy, albeit in greater detail, but in doing so they help you become aware of just how interconnected and traceable data really is.

    Data & Goliath by Bruce Schneier is a fantastic resource for understanding both corporate and government bulk data collection, however his focus is on government abuses and the dangers of surveillance in a democratic society. How to Be Invisible and How to Disappear focus on how ANYONE can exploit big data through social engineering and how you can protect yourself by making it harder to connect the dots.

    If you have to pick one between the two I'd say go with Luna's How to Be Invisible, however, both books are really complimentary.