Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, the co-editor of the popular site boingboing.net, is a work of fiction for young adults (and even us adults) that was on the New York Times best-seller list for seven weeks. Although a fictional account of the events after an event similar to 9-11, the story relates to those interested in IT security very readily. Deeply embroiled as a political thriller, Little Brother was also very capable of showing how technology can be used against oneself and how we should really understand the things we use and become dependent upon on a daily basis.
Disguising quite a bit of education within the context of the story, Little Brother explains interesting topics such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, cryptography, Bayesian probability, encryption and the public key infrastructure, RFID hacking, and privacy and security. All right in line with its story about e-terrorismm, Little Brother captivates the reader in the scary practicality and possibility of what seemed like a far-fetched plot at the beginning. For example, here’s a small excerpt explaining a fictional operating system (although most things don’t need to be made-up) that is used in the story:
Paranoid Linux is an operating system that assumes that its operator is under assault from the government (it was intended for use by Chinese and Syrian dissidents), and it does everything it can to keep your communications and documents a secret. It even throws up a bunch of “chaff” communications that are supposed to disguise the fact that you’re doing anything covert. So while you’re receiving a political message one character at a time, Paranoid Linux is pretending to surf the Web and fill in questionnaires and flirt in chat-rooms. Meanwhile, one in every five hundred characters you receive is your real message, a needle buried in a huge haystack.
Although available from Amazon in paperback and hardback formats, the author also has Creative Commons-licensed copies of the book available for download from his website in all sorts of formats.
I actually listened to this book instead of reading it and, read by Kirby Heyborne, found it to be one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to before.