Completely interesting listen, but with a unique blend of respect and contempt for the protagonist.
Clearly a very bright guy, he makes his case very convincingly that hacking is, for him, a matter of personal challenge and problem solving, and not to exploit in any major way the systems he hacks. However he demonstrates an astonishing lack of understanding regarding how he has put people out and caused trouble. There is very little remorse for the incidental casualties of his game. While I can sympathize with the complaints of the police not playing by the rules, it is a curious argument coming from someone who spent his life breaking them.
I enjoyed the first few hours, but it went gradually downhill.
It was fascinating to see how Kevin "social engineered" his was into anything, with almost no effort.
But the writers ego, arrogance, and petulance eventually wore me down.
He tends to write as if he is a superior intellect, because could break into computer systems and steal software, but he doesn't acknowledge that he could have never created such useful software in the first place.
An I lost count of the times that he complained that something wasn't "fair". Maybe a dozen times? He would break hundreds of laws, get caught and charged with a few of them, and then complain that a prosecutor was also accusing him of something he didn't do.
I am glad he turned his life around. (If he really did.) But I found his tone annoying, and I found him unlikable.
The narration was good, though.
I realize that I am in the minority. Having an IT background myself, I thought this would be a great listen. I couldn't finish it. Like the song lyrics.."poor poor pitiful me" is the theme replayed throughout the book. If I heard the words "socially engineered" one more time, I was going to have to stop listening, which I did. Most of the first half of the book is devoted to telephone company hacking. And more of the same. Sorry, I wouldnt recommend this. "Catch me if you can" while not my favorite book, was a better listen.
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
This is a well-written book about a sociopath and his virtually unstoppable crime spree. If he'd been a poor black kid in Compton rather than an upper middle class Jewish boy in Sherman Oaks, he would be serving life without parole under the "3 Strikes" sentencing guidelines for repeat offenders even if his last crime had been shoplifting milk to feed his hungry baby. I liked this book in spite of Kevin Mitnick's self-righteous and unrepentant attitude. He just didn't get that what he was doing was against the law. For some reason, he felt that as long as his hacking wasn't for profit - just for fun and the challenge - it was alright to repeatedly invade the privacy of other citizens and corporations. He started out at age 12 by over-riding the school bus punch card system. By 17, he was a full-fledged "phone phreaker", obtaining non-published phone numbers and addresses through what he calls "social engineering", which is no different than what child molesters and sexual predators like Ted Bundy employ to psychologically get victims to trust and believe in them. Most of his really outrageous offenses occurred in his 30s when he went through a great deal of preparation and care to remain out of jail. He even created software to enable him to circumvent law enforcement measures and in-house security of the companies he was assaulting. This book is less of a "Catch Me If You Can" story than it is an indictment of agencies like the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, California Attorney General's office, and various other local and federal agencies which were slow and cavalier in creating legislation to stop computer hacking on the massive scale perpetrated by Mitnick and his cronies, both domestic and international. During the same period that Mitnick hacked or illegally charmed his way into every computer database from Pacific Bell and UCLA to the Social Security Administration and the Department of Motor Vehicles, politicians took only a few years to pass legislation making possession of 1 rock of crack worthy of 10 years in prison while a kilo of powder coke might get you 2 years or a suspended sentence. Why? Because crack was the drug destroying the black communities while only whites could afford the more pricey and less attainable powder. Simultaneously, Mitnick was wreaking havoc in the technology world and getting away with it because there were no real laws in place to stop him. He had FBI agents, informants, stake out teams, and helicopters chasing him for YEARS but nothing was ever done while he blew through the computer networks of California for more than a decade before moving on to Denver and Raleigh, NC with a spate of stolen identity papers made possible from his hacking skills. What was particularly disturbing is that his estranged mother and father, his grandmother, and other family members co-signed on his criminal activities by subsidizing him with money, transportation, accommodations, etc. Never, not once, did his mother or grandmother - his primary "partners in crime" - force Mitnick to see the error in his ways. They turned him into a classic DSM-IV sociopath. Over and over in the book he claims to feel soooooooo bad about all the mess he was putting his mother and grandmother through yet his alleged remorse never stopped him. He even had his Granny drive him to Kinko's so he could pick up some ill-gotten documents needed for a hacking scheme. When he noticed that he might be walking into a police trap, he ducked out, leaving her sitting outside for 3 hours! Afterwards she and his mother facilitated his escape out of Los Angeles. He was finally "caught" in 1999 and served just 4 years. Then he came out and wrote books about his exploits, capitalizing on his legend among other hackers, "phreaks", nerdy outcasts. He now runs several successful security companies where, at one of them, he has the title of "CHO", i.e. "Chief Hacking Officer". Yep, that's America for you! A promising and immensely talented black NFL quarterback serves about the same time in prison for illegal dog-fighting at a house he owned in his home town, 700 miles away from his physical residence in another state. He loses his NFL contract and has to file bankruptcy, losing everything. But Mitnick is writing books, appearing at speaking engagements around the world, and guests on television talk shows while bringing in bank 💵 with his own businesses. What's up with that "Son of Sam" law? My review is based on the quality of the book not its content. Nor am I an advocate of Kevin Mitnick's criminal behavior or his obvious sociopathy. I have no respect for him as a human being. In fact I would never have paid money for this book had I known he was "thisclose" to being Scott Peterson. But, that aside, the book is pretty good. I just wish it was fictional. 👎
This book has great reviews and I was excited to get my ears on it. I got about 70% through and decided I'd had enough. There are very few, if any "thrilling" moments. If you enjoy a guy talking about how he uses social engineering to trick people into giving him confidential information over the phone and then repeat that story over and over again.. this might be your cup of tea.
The sheer nerve of this guy. What he calls "social engineering" is nothing more than scamming and capitalizing on peoples trust. The fact that he, reportedly, did not take financial advantage of people for monetary gain (with the exception of the radio call in scam) carries some weight. While he probably greatly embellishes some of his exploits, he really doesnt need to. His understanding of the technology of the time (late 1980's and early 1990's) is amazing and his manipulation of that technology and the people surrounding it is the story (that and his paranoia)
No.. this is not a "moving" book. Its about a techy genus with an associated personality disorder. He admits, only in passing, early in the book that he was molested as a child, and never mentions it again. I'm certain the nurture/nature influences both teamed up to make him a uniquely damaged soul. He seems to be nearly sociopathic as he uses one person after another to get information or resources that help him move through his paranoid life, without a single guilty look backwards. In fact in the end he rants about the unfairness of the legal system and how he was badly treated, while leaving a wake of victims behind him.
In the end, I have to say it was a very compelling story, couldnt put it down.
He breaks the law “for fun”… and then he complains about the injustice of his consequences. He's a bright guy, but clearly doesn't understand the definition of irony.
The guy is a whiny little kid. Egotistical and VERY self-indulgent, I got through this book quickly only because I wanted to move on to something less stupid.
Say something about yourself!
I could not get through this book.
There is a real story here, but perhaps it should have been written by someone else. There is an arrogance in both the writing and even the tone of the narrator that was unbearable. I would have liked to hear something from other people involved for the sake of authenticity. There were several points in the story that did not seem to ring true. Each time, Mitnick chalks this up to incredible coincidence or luck.
The story about Kevin Mitnick is definitely interesting. And it's absolutely amazing (and scary!) to know how easy it is for someone with the right social skills (not even computer skills) to obtain confidential personal information from others. However, as interesting as it may be, I didn't find the story as gripping as other audiobooks. I guess I just didn't connect with the character. And the fact the author keeps reminding you every 15 minutes how brilliant and awesome he is, makes it hard to do so.
The other part I find disturbing with the book is that, even though the author was illegally accessing information and hacking into numerous systems, he doesn't seem to think there's anything wrong with it. He points out that he never profitted from his hacking (apart from probably racking up thousands of dollars in phone bills using other people's numbers), but that still does not make it right. He turned his hacking around into a consulting business, and his story into a speaking career, and you have to give him credit for that. But he didn't give me the impression he realized what he did was wrong. He just found a way to get (legally) paid for it!
Can there be any better pasttime than reading? Audiobook, regular book, e-book - I have 1 of each going at all times.
Denial actually IS a river in Egypt - at least if you listen to this book. Full of ego, euphemisms (social engineering = scamming) and lack of remorse, Mitnick portrays himself as a genius who was made miserable by laws and a government who just didn't understand him. The only reason I made it all the way through the book was to see if he would finally take responsibility and realize that every bit of what happened to him was due to his hacking addiction. Alas, no. He sets himself above the law because he claims he never made any money off his hacking skills. If you trust a guy who revels in his con artistry, maybe that's true. He still earned every bit of the jail time he served.