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Joseph Menn

Joseph Menn’s third book, “Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet,” was published in the US in January 2010 and in the UK in February 2010 by PublicAffairs Books. Part true-life thriller and part expose, it became an immediate bestseller, with Menn interviewed on national television and radio programs in the US, UK, Canada and elsewhere. Menn has spoken at major security conferences including RSA, Black Hat DC and DefCon on his findings, which include hard evidence that the governments of Russia and China are protecting and directing the behavior of some of the world’s worst cyber-criminals. He also has given invited talks at meetings convened by the US Secret Service and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

“Fatal System Error accurately reveals the secretive global cyber cartels and their hidden multibillion-dollar business, proving cybercrime does pay and pays well,” said Richard A. Clarke, special advisor to President George W. Bush for cyber security and author of “Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror.” The New Yorker magazine said it was “riveted” by the tale, comparing it to the novels of Stieg Larsson, while Business Week called it “a fascinating high-tech whodunit.” Fatal System Error has been placed on the official reading list of the US Strategic Command and is being translated into Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Menn has reported on technology for more than a decade at the Financial Times and the Los Angeles Times, mostly from his current base in San Francisco. His coverage areas for the FT include technology security and privacy, digital media, and the PC industry. He is a two-time finalist for the Loeb Award, the most prestigious in financial journalism, for coverage of Microsoft and the Hollywood writers’ strike. Earlier, he won a “Best in Business” award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers for tobacco coverage at Bloomberg News, where as legal editor he directed stories that revealed the landmark settlement talks between the cigarette companies and the states.

His previous books include “All the Rave: The Rise and Fall of Shawn Fanning’s Napster,” the definitive 2003 work selected as a book-of-the-year finalist by the trade group Investigative Reporters & Editors Inc. “All the Rave” reversed the conventional wisdom on what had been the most exhaustively covered start-up of the era. The New York Times wrote it “provides a well-documented history of one of the most celebrated collapses of the Internet. But it goes far deeper, giving an inside account of the creation of Napster, the battle for its control and the maneuvering by big Silicon Valley names to try to turn music piracy into gold.”

Menn is also co-author of “The People vs. Big Tobacco: How the States Took on the Cigarette Giants” (1998) and a principal editor of “The Chronology: The Documented Day-by-Day Account of the Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Contras” (1987). He was taught advanced technology and business writing at the University of California at Berkeley’s graduate school of journalism and lectured at other universities and conferences.

Menn began his professional career at The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer. He grew up in the Boston area and graduated with honors from Harvard College, where he was executive editor of The Harvard Crimson.


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