Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Ghost In The Wires by Kevin Mitnick - Book review
Ghost in the Wires
My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker
By: Kevin Mitnick
Published: April 24, 2012
Format: Paperback, 448 pages
Publisher: Back Bay Books
"I have hacked into some of the largest companies on the planet and penetrated the most resilient security systems ever developed - hired by the companies themselves, to help them close the gaps and improve their security so they don't become the next hacking victim", writes the world's most famous (former) hacker, and now security consultant Kevin Mitnick, in his fast paced and insider information packed book Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker. The author describes, in vivid detail, his shadowy life as an elusive and highly effective computer break-in specialist, and of his career as a sought after expert on uncovering even the most unsuspected entry points into supposedly highly secure computer systems.
Kevin Mitnick recognizes that any security system will have weaknesses that can be exploited by illegal computer entry artists. He would know that very well, as he was one of them. In his page turning account of his career as a computer, on both sides of the law, the author shares his adventures in entering the computer systems of the world's largest corporations. Staying constantly one step ahead of the authorities, Kevin Mitnick established his reputation for being skilled enough to slip through any security system. Very often, the skills he demonstrated in his dark side career were not even based on technology. Very often, the most critical element of illegal computer entry was simply an old fashioned confidence game. For Kevin Mitnick, there was more than one way to gain access to a very secure computer system.
Kevin Mitnick (photo left) understood both the computer systems that he was gaining entry to, and the psychology of the people who worked in the technology industry. That familiarity with both computers, and with how technical people think, created the impetus for the author's most successful and audacious entries. At the same time, Kevin Mitnick was aware of how the security experts who were tracking his every move conducted their investigations.
In the end, Kevin Mitnick not only revolutionized how security personnel, in both the public and private sectors, addressed the issue of illegal computer break and enter. The author is himself, part of that technology security revolution, as he has since turned his own skills and techniques to the discovery and apprehension of other illegal computer hackers.
For me, the power of the book is how Kevin Mitnick describes the methods and deception techniques used by illegal computer hackers. He shares his own story of his career on the wrong side of the law, and of others who were operating illegally as well. Despite the often historical aspect of the technology and systems involved, the story reads like a thriller novel, and not a dry computer hacking manual. The author does provide a real service to the reader by sharing some of the most frequently used deception tactics, that are as timeless as the confidence schemes from which they were spawned.
The author arms the reader with a warning that there are very real and very dangerous computer hackers still in operation throughout cyberspace. Through an understanding of some of their tricks and deceit, computer users in all sizes of companies and with their home computers, can avoid many of the hacking intrusions that present a real threat to computer network security.
I highly recommend the warning filled and expert computer security advice book Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin Mitnick, to anyone in any industry or who owns any technological device, and is concerned about the very real dangers of illegal intrusion. This book provides the background and sounds the alarm that despite often heard assurances, that there are real dangers of illegal computer break and enter still alive and well, and needing to be secured against their actions.
Labels: book reviews
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