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Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker Paperback – April 24, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 705 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (April 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316037723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316037723
  • ASIN: 0316037729
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (705 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If I wouldn't have started to halucinate at 2am from being so tired after reading for 8 hours, I would have read this entire book through in one sitting. The book isn't overly technical yet is a huge eye opener for anyone who isn't intimately familiar with the details of Kevin Mitnick as the most wanted hacker of the 90's. If you have a moderate interest in computing, you'll encounter many jaw dropping moments in reaction to the clever, often brazen and sometimes paranoid escapades captured in the book. Towards the 3/4 mark in the book, the story gets a bit drawn out, but was completely well worth the read.
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Format: Hardcover
When it comes to true crime, I'm pretty squeamish. Nothing violent, please. Clever and devious are what I'm looking for. Frank Abagnale's Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake is one of the best, and it's hard not to compare any subsequent caper story with it.

Ghost in the Wires doesn't reach the level of audacity of Catch Me if You Can - impersonating technicians over the phone doesn't rise to the sheer nerve of a teenager impersonating an airline pilot or a doctor, as Abagnale did, and getting away with it. But Ghost in the Wires goes well beyond the adolescent bragfest of phone hacks that it could have been.

I think this is largely due to the co-writer, William L. Simon. Kevin Mitnick describes in his acknowledgments, how he and Simon argued over how detailed and technical the book should be, and apparently Simon prevailed. There's enough detail to explain how the scams were possible, but not so specific as to send the non-programmer into a hexadecimal stupor.

Another big plus is that many of the hacks depended as much on what Mitnick calls "social engineering" as on specialist knowledge. Unlike the stereotypical computer nerd, Mitnick was as comfortable and proficient at schmoozing people as he was writing code - he could talk his way into places that were restricted and convince people he was entitled to classified information. These were scams anyone can understand.

Mitnick also succeeds at not crossing the line from confident to insufferable, which is another pitfall of true crime tell-alls. Perhaps we can once again thank William Simon for this achievement.

I expected to skim this 400-page book but ended up reading every word.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fascination with hacking goes back pretty far for me (I'm an old bat). I loved my experiences reading about Kevin Mitnick, even when he made the papers while on the go. The papers were full of hyperbole even then. I knew to reserve my excitement and hold out for Kevin's own words. My patience is rewarded with this book.

I can't help but enjoy reading about someone who has the adept social engineering of a film noir gumshoe, or the undercover detective, who applied it growing up and getting into trouble. Like Kevin, I knew The Three Days of the Condor. I learned it was a favorite of his, and I clung to this fact which fell through the sieve of newspaper myth. Free Kevin!

Now read Kevin's story, where you'll find enough detail to keep any heart racing. Whether or not you have enough awareness for some of the bits, or rely on the plain language, the story can strike sheer terror in the hearts of those who don't know much of anything about bits and bytes. For those who do, this book contains updated method nomenclature and references to security protocol that it's valuable from that perspective.

Kevin possesses the kind of curiosity to dig and uncover gems of hidden info for esoteric purposes in order to unlock a power only a successful hacker knows about. Social engineering is akin to the confidence game, but different all the same when it involves computer networks. The best hackers are never caught, never known about. Kevin has a different distinction: The first and the grandest adventure story, ever.

You don't need to be a hacker or security professional to appreciate and learn from it. Today, security is serious business and hackers typically have bad or misguided intent.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I remember the news stories, I remember the whole "Free Kevin" movement on the web, I remember reading about his release in newspapers and online magazines. It's awesome to read about these events, now, from his perspective.

I've read several of the negative comments written about this book, and I don't understand why these people read the book in the first place. They talk about not being able to sympathize, they judge Mitnick for taking advantage of people, they hate Mitnick for the way he exploited his mother and grandmother, they talk bad because they can't understand what drove Mitnick to continue to break into systems, they are irritated because of his cocky attitude. In my opinion, those reviews are more emotional than objective.

In common with the people who wrote negative reviews, I too felt bad for his mother, grandmother, friends, him, and everyone he ever used for his criminal activities. I too felt that he had plenty of opportunities to stop and get away clean. I too rolled my eyes when I read about how much smarter he was than everyone else, especially towards the end b/c it'd been ongoing throughout the book. But it's Kevin Mitnick - the social engineer hacker king - Interaction w/ people and mind-screwing most of them is expected, as is the manipulation of relationships in his favor!

My 5 stars because:
I like (auto)biographies, I am an IT professional, I enjoy narratives - this book was a perfect read for me. I could hardly put it down. It only took me a couple of weeks to read (light reading in evenings and heavier on weekends).

I was hooked from the beginning - opening word by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. The book contains a few jaw-dropping moments as Mitnick explains how he infiltrated organizations and systems.
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