Kevin Mitnick was the most elusive computer break-in artist in history. He accessed computers and networks at the world’s biggest companies—and however fast the authorities were, Mitnick was faster, sprinting through phone switches, computer systems, and cellular networks. He spent years skipping through cyberspace, always three steps ahead and labeled unstoppable. But for Kevin, hacking wasn’t just about technological feats—it was an old fashioned confidence game that required guile and deception to trick the unwitting out of valuable information.
Driven by a powerful urge to accomplish the impossible, Mitnick bypassed security systems and blazed into major organizations including Motorola, Sun Microsystems, and Pacific Bell. But as the FBI’s net began to tighten, Kevin went on the run, engaging in an increasingly sophisticated cat-and-mouse game that led through false identities, a host of cities, plenty of close shaves, and to an ultimate showdown with the feds, who would stop at nothing to bring him down.
Ghost in the Wires is a thrilling true story of intrigue, suspense, and unbelievable escape and a portrait of a visionary whose creativity, skills, and persistence forced the authorities to rethink the way they pursued him, inspiring ripples that brought permanent changes in the way people and companies protect their most sensitive information.
©2011 Kevin Mitnick. Foreword 2011 by Steve Wozniak (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Intriguing, insightful, and extremely educational into the mind of one who truly mastered the art of social engineering with the use of a computer and modern-day technologies. I strongly believe that one can learn a great deal about protecting themselves once they understand how another one perpetrates the crime.” (Frank W. Abagnale, author of Catch Me If You Can)
I find myself almost scared to write this review for fear that Kevin Mitnick will hack into my life and -- using some contorted interpretation of ethics -- make my life a living hell.
I do not care for his brand of nerdy selfishness, which sets its own rules at the emotional expense of others. While true that Mitnick may not have stolen material possessions from the people whose privacy he intruded on, I must say that I really feel bad for his victims, and the turmoil that resulted (I especially feel bad for his family, "Ann" at the SSA, et al, and the others he manipulated over and over again).
The story is one of a kid who becomes a hacker back in the pre-Internet days of dial-up telephones, old-school modems, and mainframe computer systems, although his primary means of law-breaking was through manipulation of people's trust (his social engineering practices). At first I found his story entertaining because it had sentimental quality, and a childlike innocence that, perhaps, could've been forgiven. But as the story wore on I found myself hoping he would get busted.
He did, eventually get busted, but Mitnick seems to lack a sense of self-reflection necessary to make his plight sympathetic; in fact, just the opposite is the case here: He is arrogant, self-righteous and condescending. He seems to seek sympathy and understanding for being treated unfairly while failing to realize that trust has to be earned. During the course of this memoir he did not earn my trust. The book consists of far too much whining, not enough contrition.
Would I recommend it? In a way, yes, because it is a solid warning to others not to venture down the road of the hacker and, much more importantly, a cautionary tale about the fact that our actions really and truly can hurt others even if we do not gain wealth from those actions.
The narrator, by the way, is outstanding. His reading of this biography made it a worthwhile purchase.
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.
Typical cat lady: lazy, sings off-key, craves spicy bloody marys.
Kudos to Ray Porter for breathing life into Kevin Mitnick's detailed account of how he fooled the world and thumbed his nose at giant tech companies just for sport. His insatiable curiosity, exceptional persistance and gigantic ego are just the right combo to achieve what he did [read: break the law & disrespect other people's rights and privacy].
It's really not great writing but his audacity is fascinating and what's also shocking is how gullible people can be. He couldn't have done most of it without people's basic nature to believe that someone is telling them the truth.
Yet, the person most snowed by Mitnick is Mitnick. He's really just a self-centered, egomaniac who gives lip service to caring about others or justifying his hacking but is really convinced he's better than everyone else.
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.
I would def listen to Ray Porter again, just not a Mitnick book.
was pretty good in the beginning, but waaay too much minutiae to keep me interested.
constantly found myself checking how much longer i had to go.
I guess i just don't care how you "find someones phone number at will"
I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!
naughty computer geek
The emotions described when Kevin has to return to solitary confinement. It seems unbelievable that a white collar perpetrator of largely victimless crimes should undergo a Stalinesque torture
You are able to believe that Kevin is reading it to you, and that is all you could ask for
The trials and tribulations of the world's most notorious hacker
It started slowly, and initially I had no sympathy for this maladjusted nuisance blowing his own trumpet about how he pointlessly infiltrates various phone companies. But as the book develops you develop empathy with him. It becomes especially interesting when he is on the run and creates new identities for himself. But the idiot still can't stop himself from engaging in meaningless hacking, he's just addicted. There is a nice happy ending which gives you a feelgood factor, and you can't help yourself warming to this odd character.
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.
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.
There are two main problems with this book:
- it needed a thorough edit which would have trimmed the length of the book by at least a third ... citing just one example, long strings of code interrupt the flow of the story and except for highly technical readers, are an irritation. The story is lost in this emphemera.
- Mitnick is 98% unlikeable - the thing that I most dislike is his dishonesty, and I feel listeners are being taken for a ride. Clever clogs Mitnick likes to dress his manipulation, deceit, guile and lying to people under the guise of the term
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.
"Excellent Text and Excellent Reader"
This book was fascinating in that it showed that at least 50% of the "hacking" prowesses of Kevin Mitnick were what he calls "social engineering" and what most of us would call using psychology to trick people. No major technical prowess; just understanding how people think. Very enlightening for anyone concerned about IT security.
In addition the reader of this book is excellent. One feels that it is Kevin Mitnick who is telling us his story directly. The only other time I kept on feeling that it was the author telling me his story rather than someone reading a book was for the Churchill WW2 Memoirs.
"A treat to read and better then a James Bond novel"
I read Kevin Mitnick's first book about hacking and I was hooked. its a great read, as is this book and it tells you so much about social engineering and how hackers do it. I naively though that they sat at the computer guessing passwords. If you think that then read this book. Its far easier to hack and break into a company's server then you could realise and though I assume that if this guy wasn't guilty he would not have been sent to jail, he tells a really goos storey about manipulating people to get people to give you access to company secrets.
This is a tale about breaking in, and having to be on the run. There was a film of his encounters which was a flop but to be rank you need to read this to get to the real adventure. Its all here, secrets, FBI, mistrust, betrayal and finding new identities. Great.
Loved it and hope there are other similar books out there for me to delve into.
"The absolute obsession and love of the challenge.."
The absolute obsession and love of the challenge rather than any financial gain is richly described in this deeply detailed account of Kevin Mitnick's life as one the original hackers and expert social engineers of the 80's. I'm sure others may dispute Kevin's version of events but it is both scary and scandalous how he is portrayed in both the courts and the media. He is no angel but some accusations levelled at him are not only rubbished by Mitnick but also shown to be completely implausible and utterly untrue! His skills as one of the original hackers are amazing and his audacity to social engineer people is breath taking. The sheer joy he gets from taking on a hacking challenge and succeeding is described in rich detail and it makes for an exhilarating, roller coaster listen.
"Next time you credit card company phones..."
Listen to it. Learn about social engineering. Understand why you should be sceptical with phone calls claiming to be from your bank, your credit card company and/or your mobile phone company. All they want is your date of birth, the first line of your address and your post code. Hello Kevin! This book is cool.
The life of Kevi Mitnik unfolds like a Jason Bourne story but without people getting killed. Whether or not you approve of hacking you cannot help holding this man in awe in terms of his high intelligence and his incredible audacity. Also, the narration by Ray Porter is superb. Highly recommended.
"Not just for Geeks and Nerds!"
Ghost in the wires is a fast paced story of how Kevin Mintnick evades and escapes the police and FBI after being a caught numerous time hacking into various different organisations computer networks.
I really enjoyed listening to this book. You genuinely feel an attached towards Kevin, and you don't want him to et caught. He is honest with the reader and doesn't embellish being on the run, he tells it how it was, make helps you appreciate the loneliness and isolation that he felt.
Ghost in the wires is not a book that I would normally choose to read, but I enjoyed every page. For this reason I gave it 5 stars.
"A brilliant Audio Book"
Once I started listening to this Audio Book I couldn't stop and until I got to the end I thought it was actually Kevin Mitnick reading it! This is a brilliant audio book from start to finish and I would highly recommend it.
I wasn't sure i would like this, But after the first hour i was hooked. I actually listened to it in about 2-3 days as i could not STOP listening, its such an interesting story and very exciting, I could also tell there is an effort to explain it to people who are not tech smart, which is nice (not that i needed it). Its actually one of the best books i've had the pleasure of listening to.
I started off enjoying this story, - Kevin's cleverness and undoubted skills make for interesting reading. However he has made a fortune out of lying to people and taking great delight in tricking other people- who trust him. He really enjoys making people look stupid. it is very telling that some of his closest friends also betray him...He never sees this as a personal character flaw - in fact every time his behaviour is challenged he reverts to 'poor old me'. The two most salient factors that absolutely turned me OFF were when he stole the identities of dead babies, without a thought to how this would impact any families involved in those tragic events. Secondly, several time he mentions the tole his life choices have taken on his Mother & Grandmother- he calls on them every time he gets into trouble, but he never thinks to alter his behaviour, change his choices, in fact every time he gets a steady job, he 'just can't help' & 'just to see if I can' and ends up getting fired again. I couldn't wait to see him locked up, but he seems to fall on his feet right to the end. This book made my blood boil, I ended up intensely disliking the author.
"Close but no cigar"
Sadly no, even though this book was well written and amazingly actually based on real life events that kept me listening to just one more chapter finished leaving me with no real closure.
Obviously very clever Kevin Mitnicks crimes eventually come to grow a pointless and as a reader I ended up hoping for him to get caught just for some variety. A very clever man with one hell of a story to tell but I personally only want to hear it once.
Without giving too much away the most memorable moment in Ghost in the wire, was the fugitive tacking the FBI, the way he went around it was genius.
Kevin Mitnick, this is the only choice really as it is only Mitnicks side of the story that is retold.
Firstly sheer disbelief, with what he had the guts to do. As most of the crimes are repetitive a ended the book in frustration.
Kevin Mitnick gets information from people by basically lying to them. It is called social engineering in the book, social engineering to get information out of people to use to your own advantage. I just wonder if you replaced every reference of social engineering with the word lying if Kevin Mitnick would come across as such a likable person? A good listen but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone without a technical background.
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