am 7. März 2009
This author was recommended to me by a geek friend and after I did some research on Mitnick, I realised this was a guy I wanted to read. I was a bit amazed to read all the reviews who accused Mitnick of putting his ego all over the book. I didn't see any evidence of that at all. Yes he talks quite a bit about his own experiences in relation to what he is talking about in that chapter but that is to be expected. After all, he IS a convicted computer hacker! So he does have some knowledge in this area! Is this egotism? I don't think so. He is just giving us the benefit of his own experiences.
Where this book slightly falls down is that Mitnick makes it WAY too complicated and technical for people like me who are not that techie and geeky. So he talks about computer languages and hacking procedures that are just way too complicated to follow. So if you are not fluent in the lingo, you'll find yourself page flipping. This book is ideally for geeks and nerds who talk computer languages that normal people wouldn't even begin to comprehend! Not me unfortunately.
Nevertheless, this is a fascinating insight into the world of hacking and it is also frightening - it makes you realise how insecure a lot of computer systems are all over the world and how a teenager with a PC can easily gain access. Remember that the next time you're entering your password into your online banking.
am 24. September 2012
After the exhilerating and insightful experience of reading 'Kingpin' I thought this would give me more insight. Not so, unfortunately.
The story writeups are ok, a good cybercrime story is a good cybercrime story after all, even if it appears to have been written down by a teenager or a highschool dropout (wait a minute...). The book is full of typos and dropped words, it's very inconsistent in its explanations (typically, the more mundane, the more likely it is to be explained... RAS? Reverse DNS lookup? come on.). The authors also can't seem to be able to decide whether they want to just tell the story themselves or quote the perpetrators about it, in both cases it comes out very tedious reading.
The bottom line is I can't help but feel that Mitnick is old now and well out of the game. He could teach my mom something about cyber security with this book but anybody under 50 will be left wondering where the meat is.
Similarly, his view of "hackers" seems anachronistic and thus very romanticized, the only really bad thing he can say about "them" is that "they" are often childish and foolish and don't realize or care about the potential damage they may be causing. This illustrates how he keeps talking about "a hacker" in a sort of sociological way rather than purely empirically. Surely he must realize that there is not "a hacker" like there is "a plumber" or "a mason", and yet he keeps talking about "them" like it's some sort of homogenous demographic. He seems to feel all these people are hackers first and foremost, and then sometimes stray from the path of virtue to some degree ot other. Criminals that do some hacking as well appear as aberrations, impostors or intruders into his round table of 'true' hackers that "perform a valuable service" (Sic! Seriously. I'm quoting.).
His whole view of "the Hackers" as a sort of underground 'Community' with certain universal personality traits and motives is extremely naive and very 1998. It doesn't cover but the most innoctuous of cybercrimes and cybercriminals, i.e. the ones that hardly deserve the title. It's like someone doing a writeup on the drug trade based on a 1971 view of the problem.
Finally, a particularly painful part of the book is the so-called "insight", that ranges from the trivial to the plain ridiculous. To share one quote, under the title "THE BOTTOM LINE":
"Let's wake up, people. Changing default settings and using strong passwords might stop your business from being victimized."
At least he didn't use any exclamation marks. That's some shocking insight halfway through this book. Others include tips like glueing your ICs to the PCB if you're a slot machine manufacturer and regularly changing your passwords (I hope I'm not giving anything away here).
Finally, yes, as mentioned elsewhere, he does have the annoying habit of trying to refer everything to himself. Every single story includes at least one, sometimes many, passages along the lines of "that reminded me a lot of how I, back when I was the greatest hacker of all times,..." or how he inspired this or that guy to take up hacking. I'll just share another quote:
"[...] their son got involved in hacking because hae had several facvorite hackers who inspired him. It wasn't mentioned, but I get the impression from Adrian that one of those individuals might have been me."
And that was on the one "Hacker" that wasn't directly quoted saying that Mitnick was a great inspiration to them.
Overall, the book is like the script from a lengthy speech by Mitnick on the topic, and 'live' you would forgive him its shortcomings. As a book it's safe to say it's pretty bad and should at least be priced at half of what it currently is. This is a light $5 read for the porch or the subway commute. If you feel you're learning a lot from this, good for you, but you should give that some thought.
Finally, if you want useful facts and insight - on the how, the why, the 'scene' and the perpetrators, get 'Kingpin'.
am 12. August 2010
Extrem spannend geschrieben und eine sehr interessante Geschichte, über den ersten, berühmtesten und aufsässigsten Hacker der USA, der nie wirklich was gestohlen hat, sondern eher die Herausforderung gesucht hat, in Systeme einzubrechen und sich auch nie persönlich bereichert hat,a ber dafür von geltungssöchtigen Journalisten und Polizisten gejagt und für 5 Jahre ins Gefängnis verfrachtet wurde. Eine Geschichte, sie sie wohl nur in den USA passieren kann, hat etwas von einem Outlaw an sich, der Kevin Mitnick! Sehr empfehlenswert und das Englisch ist so gehalten, dass man (frau) es verstehen kann!