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Hacker Cracker: A Journey from the Mean Streets of Brooklyn to the Frontiers of Cyberspace Hardcover – October 8, 2002

3.6 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

By age 21, Nuwere had grown from a precocious child in Brooklyn's embattled Bed-Stuy neighborhood to a well-established Internet security specialist for a major investment bank. In between, he served a long stint as a renegade though ultimately benign hacker, an experience that gave him much-needed background for his professional career. Written with Chanoff, his memoir is an appealing primer to hacker culture matched with the personal story of being raised by an extended family (due to Nuwere's mother's death from AIDS) in an impoverished environment. Nuwere's adventures in the computing underworld primarily include phishing, or conning Internet users into divulging credit card information; making free phone calls using stolen 800 numbers; and exploring the computer systems of major corporations in order to better understand their intricacies. Unfortunately, much of the drama is mitigated by the blacking out of the name of the company most seriously hacked by Nuwere, as well as the name of the project in development that he was busted for entering ("We kept going deeper and deeper into [blacked out] until we reached the computers that actually controlled the [blacked out] that was all over the news"). This continues for some pages, making it difficult for readers to maintain interest in this pivotal episode. Superfluous details about Nuwere's high school experiences and martial arts tournaments are not well integrated with the more compelling hacker narrative. Nonetheless, this is an empathetic, revealing account of a new breed of insurgents.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Nuwere is only 21 years old, but he has lived quite a life, which he shares here with the help of able coauthor Chanoff. Currently a security specialist with a major financial institution in New York City, Nuwere grew up in Brooklyn's often dangerous Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. He was a precocious child who watched his young and once beautiful mother die of AIDS. At 13, under the watchful eye of his grandmother, he became a serious hacker, thanks to an uncle who lent him a PC. Nuwere's determination sets him apart from most he is smart enough to figure out that the risks associated with hacking, particularly anything financially rewarding, are probably much greater than the return. He also seems to have a real gift for independent study, able to teach himself a great deal by examining the available documentation or reading textbooks in Barnes & Noble stores. These efforts culminate in the book at least with travel to Japan and plans to return and study the culture at length. Nuwere's well-paced account should appeal to a wide audience. For academic and public libraries. Hilary Burton, formerly with Lawrence Livermore National Lab., CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0066210798
  • ISBN-13: 978-0066210797
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,331,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a cafe at large bookstore in lower Manhattan sipping latte and looking over a stack of FreeBSD and Linux books when I heard a voice say "Are you into BSD?" I looked up at the young man and replied yes. I have been working with computers since 1982 and I wasn't sure how much
this person knew, but we started talking about FreeBSD and OpenBSD and the security problems with the new Linux distributions. I have lots of gray hair and I was blown away by how much this guy knew about BSD and computer security.
It was late in the evening and they announced the store was closing for the night. As we walked out, we shook hands, and he said his name was Ejovi and he had just published a book called "Hacker Cracker." I thought to myself, "Sure... but he does know a lot. Maybe he did write a book." After I got home I searched for the book on Amazon, and sure enough, Ejovi had put out a book. Of course, I ordered it immediately and as soon as it arrived I read it non-stop. The book is an interesting adventure about how a kid from a bad area of New York City manages to stay out of trouble and learn some valuable computer skills. In fact, most of his computer education is learned by experience. He talks about using "sniffers" to get passwords and how he broke into several large networks, but he doesn't give specifics about how he did it. As another reviewer mentioned, many names are blacked out, which may let the reader doubt that these events might not have happened. If I had not met Ejovi, I might not have believed him, but I did spend time talking to him and he does know a lot about Unix and security.
I found the book interesting, but I am not sure if I would recommend it to someone with only a casual knowledge of computers.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an autobiography, not a book about hacking. Taken in that light, the book provides a rare glimpse into the life of someone who was able to literally fight his way out of the slums of Brooklyn. What is interesting is that hacking was one of the vehicles that helped him rise above his surroundings. Hacking is just one of the challenges that Ejovi takes on in order to escape his otherwise desperate life.
My review is not completely fair, because I know Ejovi. Before I read the book I knew very little about his past experiences. I was amazed by his courage in telling this story. Although blacking out the name of one of the victims of his exploits is not a technique I would have chosen, I can understand that some institutions would be too sensitive to even hint at.
I grew up in Queens, where I was mugged a few times for being a skinny, white kid. I ended up in computer security for its intellectual challenge. I think Ejovi was given many opportunities to become like the thugs that beat me up, but he arrived at computer security for similar reasons to mine. He just started from a much tougher beginning.
If you are looking for a book about international cybercrime or as an encyclopedia of exploits, then this isn't the book. If you want a book that describes the life of a person who ends up in the hacking community and several other places along the way, then this book is a good choice.
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Format: Hardcover
After reading "Masters Of Deception" several times before leaving it at Logan Airport, I had a strong feeling that it was to be the best "hacking" story I would ever read. Flash to a few years later...
I recieve an autographed copy of "Hacker Cracker" for Christmas. I was intrigued at first (being that much of my adolescence was spent on a computer) but also a bit skeptical.
To my knowledge, Ejovi wasn't a famous hacker - in fact - I had no clue who he was. But I began reading almost immediately after unwrapping it.
The first 100 pages (including the prologue which is featured on the back of the book), I was even more skeptical about the life Ejovi claimed to have lived. Fights, never knowing his father, his mother in and out of prisons and her drug use which led to her contracting HIV. But after that, my doubt began to diminish. Accurate portrayals of psych ward life, his first brush with hacking which was on AOL (a scene I knew better than anyone) seemed on point with descriptions of Phishing as well as the original "Warez" private rooms.
Ejovi progresses in his knowledge of UNIX systems such as FreeBSD and Solaris, and begins to break into systems which unintentionally lands him jobs and sparks a career in computer security.
He meets all sorts of people in this field along the way, and eventually becomes a part of the supposedly elite group w00w00 (whos members include Napster (MP3 file sharing program fame) and attrition.org's Jericho (his site being famous for archiving defaced webpages).
His martial arts career as well as his acting career are noted in his book, but not to a real great extent, but rather a diversion from all the hack talk. He even has a chapter of commentary on the events of 9/11.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ejovi Nuwere is dangling outside a two-story building, gripped by the hand of his weeping teacher. A moment before he had jumped off the edge and now, hanging there, he belatedly decides that living on the edge is preferable to the air.
Hacker Cracker is the story of Ejovi Nuwere's life on the edge, or many edges: His world of drugs, gangs, and depression; the murky world of computer hackers; and his current life as a computer security expert.
This is an immensely satisfying story about an American life -- not hacking or computers.
We get a look at what happens when any person -- yes, even a young black kid from Bed Stuy -- becomes an expert at something the world needs, in this case, computer security. We see how excellence leads to opportunity. We see how a strong family has given a boy the tools he needs to become a man.
Ejovi and co-author David Chanoff do not reflect much on Ejovi's experiences and perhaps that is good. Ejovi Nuwere is still in his 20s and maybe it is too early to analyze. Yet, it is impossible not to wonder what he makes of all that has happened to him.
This book makes you want to have coffee with Ejovi and meet his grandmother, uncle, and stepfather. Just to hear what they have to say.
I liked Ejovi throughout the whole book, but I came to admire him after I read the last chapter, about his experiences at the World Trade Center on September 11. In this chapter, at last he gives us what we hope to learn from him -- and what we hope HE will learn. The end is a most satisfying beginning for Ejovi Nuwere's life on the edge.
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