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Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker Audible – Unabridged

4.6 out of 5 stars 676 customer reviews

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By Aaron J. Maynard on August 8, 2011
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: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished this book and it is excellent. Kevin Mitnick was finally allowed to tell his side of the story after all these years and all the other "fake" stories of his life and capture were made. The book is really good at explaining technical topics in a very high level so that anyone who reads it of all skill levels can understand what is going on. For security professionals, this book is a must read. Sometimes in the world of IT security we get so hung up on firewalls, exploits, SQL injection and all the cool techie things but the completely forget about the social side of security and out users. This book will allow you to see the importance of security through user awareness training, strict procedures to follow, etc.

For people outside of security this is a great introduction for anyone who is worried about how hackers commonly steal information and break into systems. The book will never leave you with eyes glazed over in getting down to the really techie details. A lot of people have views of hackers that they see from the movies which is really crazy nerds with crazy monitors who can break into anything in minutes (think swordfish). This is far from the case with real attacks often taking months to years. The book really does a good job at making users understand that they are the most critical asset when it comes to securing their organizations data as well as their own. The crazy software products are important, but in the end it comes down to the users and what they will do.

I managed to briefly meet Kevin Mitnick at Derbycon (a security conference) this year and he was nice enough to sign my book which is really a nice added bonus!
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