Ghost in the Wires

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Paperback.

Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker is the memoirs of Kevin Mitnick, a famous hacker, phreaker, and social engineer. It was written by Kevin Mitnick with William Simon and published on 2011-08-15.

The book recounts Kevin Mitnick's most notable hacking exploits, his many run-ins with the law, how he hacked the FBI to learn about their investigation into him, and how he eventually went to prison for his crimes.

Personal

Being a big fan of hacking myself, I was interested in this book from the title subtitle. I finished it on 2022-06-22.

I don't own this book, but I listened to the audiobook read by Ray Porter.

Review

Good

  • Kevin Mitnick has a near-endless supply of exciting and suspenseful stories about hacking into systems and convincing susceptible people to volunteer secure information. This is exciting, but also serves as a reminder for why it's important to have and follow good security protocols.
  • The author doesn't just gloss over how he performed his hacking, he frequently goes into detail about how he broke into systems and sometimes even gives the specific computer commands he used.
  • Mitnick frequently stresses the importance of ethical hacking and explains why, even though he had ample opportunity, he never stole money, sold trade secrets, or blackmailed anyone.
  • Throughout the book, Mitnick is frequently caught and betrayed by his colleagues. All the years Mitnick spent incarcerated and running from law enforcement is also a good reminder for why you shouldn't try to illegally hack systems, and, if you do, why you shouldn't brag about it.
  • Mitnick explains how, on many occasions, corporations made up a variety of lies about his hacking, how law enforcement arrested him illegally and fabricated a number of trumped up charges without evidence, how judges violated his constitutional rights, and how the media would frequently repeat what law enforcement said without even attempting journalism. This is an important reminder why you should never trust authority figures.
  • Reading about Mitnick going back to hacking, even when he knows he's on probation, even when he knows people are secretly watching him and trying to catch him, is a reminder of how an addicted mind works, and why mental health care is important.

Bad

  • Despite claiming to be an ethical hacker, most of the recounted "harmless" pranks are actually quite cruel, and some probably really did cost companies a lot of money on investigation and heightened security, none of which they ever got back. Also, his stashes of hacked data included a lot of private information that, even if he didn't use for nefarious purposes, the fact that it was now in insecure places, meant that it could be more easily found by people who would. But, to his credit he owns up to some of his stupidity now as an adult.

Ugly

  • Nothing.

Media

Covers

Links

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