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)
Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.
This is a fascinating character study of Kevin Mitnick, whom I would describe as a "low level" sociopath. He clearly has exceptional knowledge of computers, telephone company infrastructure, and what he incessantly calls "social engineering". Yet he has spent much of his life using his unusual skills in illegal pursuits.
Equally fascinating is his sense of entitlement, lack of ethics, and lack of moral substance. He has lied through his teeth on a regular basis to get what he wanted and then dropped names of the people he finagled in this book, which is really one long "BOAST" and whining session about how unfairly he has been treated.
I rate the book as highly as I did, because I have always had a deep fascination with sociopathy, a mental disorder with a wide spectrum of lethality. Kevin prides himself in having ethics, but I see very little in the way of ethics in his behaviors. He is terrifically narcissistic, and he has given us here a clear picture of the deviousness of a narcissistic sociopath. How anyone could make him into a hero is beyond me. Listen for yourself and you decide!
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.
It felt like I was sitting in a coffee shop with Kevin Mitnick hearing his story first hand. His casual tone made for a compelling story in a typically dry genre.
The examples of the social engineering and the preparation required for parts of it was fascinating. Sometimes luck was involved but there is a great amount of skill required.
The myth of Kevin Mitnick was ridiculous, it had little basis and made ridiculous claims.
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.
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.
Fun story of a clearly interesting and genious character. For the technologically inclined and interested even the lengthy and repeated descriptions of all the phone hacking details might be borderline boring. They were for me. For tose not so inclined it will likely be a real chore. The book does not really get going until the second half have been condensed to half the length.
A repetitious book, certainly not as much fun as reading about a Shopaholic. So if you like repetitive stories about compulsive people who are also master of manipulating people, then this is your book.
Excellent performance by Ray Porter and he was the only I stuck with this audible book.
Story interesting, but Mitnick's self-pity gets old. The guy was a criminal doing lots of economic damage.
I almost gave up on the book because the simultaneous "the government is being unfair" and "excuse me while I steal Sun Microsystem's source code while hacking into Pacific Bell's phone switch to illegally eavesdrop on calls." was just a bit much.
Also, even though I'm a technologist, the recitation of commands and phone numbers did not work well for an audiobook.
This was an amazing book - thoroughly enjoyed it and its narrated in such a way that you would think you are actually hearing Mitnick himself reading to you. The guy is obviously a genius but his writing style is very laid back and humble. If you are into technology or even if you're not I would highly recommend this book.
"Not great for non-tech people"
Some of this story was fascinating, ie, the human aspects. But so much of this was technical jargon that it interrupted the story and I lost interest. I do know how to use a computer but this was constant detail about processes.
The narrator was good, and I did get to the end but it wasn't my thing. I imagine that if you have done some hacking in the past, or even some higher spec computer stuff, then you might love it.
"Riveting! Captivating! Amazing! Insightful!"
Didn't wanna put this down & loved the hair raising pace. An awe inspiring insight into the electronic world of computer, phone systems & social engineering; complexed systems most of us take for granted.
Kevin Mitnick is a genius.
Kevin's motivation & ethics for hacking are admirably intriguing. In my books he's a 'top man'.
If you've the slightest interest in computer systems, security or social engineering this book is a Must Read.
Have to say this is a damn good listen. The narrater really does bring the story to life. Its quite an unbelievable story, and one really you would believe to be the work of fiction had you not heard of Kevin Mitnick before. Its one of those books that you keep shouting "don't do it" as Kevin constantly gets himself deeper and deeper. Without giving too much away, it has to be a must listen for anyone in computing, just to know how these guys hack into systems. Its not just down to their technical skills, as the book explains. Very good read, and really enlightening as to how these guys can get into systems as easily as they do.
"Top ten audio book"
Up there with the best. Amazing story - with a couple of jaw dropping moments. Whilst you don't have to be technical to appreciate the book, it helps. Ray Porter nails the narration. He really lives the story.
"Amazing story for the IT nerd"
If this was simply an adventure story set in the world of IT & Telephony it would have been good, but as its real the story has so much more depth. The fastest book I've listened to, I've shunned friends, TV and listened almost non stop between work and family commitments.
The narration fits the story as though Leven is talking to me.
i couldn't turn it off I was a roller coaster ride from beginning to end.
you could learn a lot from Kevin.
"I enjoyed it, very informational"
You could tell that this was written by somebody with a passion for the topic. The level of detail that the book goes into when explaining the exploits for me was a only slight negative. I didn't feel the need to know what all of the numbers were for the different dial up modems or exchange, this information would be good starting but it continued all the way through.
It was interesting to find out about his life and adventures, I just wish that more content after his final release as it felt like the ending was rushed.
Overall amazing book, I would highly recommend it to all readers/listeners and I will be looking into some of his others (The art of deception).
"A must for all nerds"
I am a Technology Consultant, so the finer points of the book made a lot of sense to me, and this realism made me want to actually get stuck into the book. He discusses his activities, makes no beans about it being illegal, and no excuses for what he did.
When the FBI are about to arrest him (I can tell you this without spoiling the book, as it is common knowledge he got arrested), keeps you on a knife edge.
Ray reads the book well, I've heard a number of audiobooks he has narrated, and he is without doubt one of Audibles best ones. Good inflection, emotion and fluency.
It made me laugh, got me interested in the detail.
"an amazing book"
I'm so glad I read/listened to this book.. for years I assumed the move Track Down was written about Kevin with him supporting it. this book shows me it wasn't and provides a much better and amazing story.
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