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)
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.
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 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.
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
This book is filled with shocking stories of how Kevin Mitnick was able to hack into systems through social engineering and computing security holes. He collected information from dumpster diving and other simple methods. Then he brazenly bluff his way in getting more information by acting as an "insider." He patiently kept mining for more information from different people to fill in gaps in his "insider" persona... until he was able to access the restricted information he wanted -- codes, dial-in numbers, IDs, and passwords.
Since the book is co-written by Kevin Mitnick, he paints himself as an awkward youth hacking into systems out of curiosity and the satisfaction of being able to do it. He repeats throughout the book that he didn't profit from the information he had stolen. When he's finally caught, he portrays himself as a victim of unethical governmental prosecution. Although he may not have sold the information he had stolen, he shared his hacking techniques with other hackers who did cause damages. There was good reason why the government wanted to put him away for life. I think the book would have been improved if it was a biography and had a more balanced view of Kevin Mitnick.
This book is illuminating on how easily social engineering can work and how the collection of seemly unconnected, basic information can make a company vulnerable to hacking.
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!
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.
Aerospace engineer and web site developer
This is one of the most fascinating non-fiction stories I have "read". From a simple fascination and curiosity as to how the phone system worked, Kevin Mitcnick found himself in the middle of a real life "Catch Me If You Can." Always one step ahead of everyone else, his addiction to hacking eventually did him in. I don't know how he could sleep at night knowing that every moment could be has last free one.
The narrator, Ray Porter, was phenomenal. He was so natural that at times I felt he was talking right to me.
The narrator made me feel as if Kevin Mitnick was actually speaking to me. The story is honest, suspenseful, and eye-opening. There was a little too much technical jargon for my taste, but I understand that the more computer-savvy listeners would appreciate it.
"amazing book, gripping funny n seriously"
Enjoyed it from start to finish, listened to it 2or3 times now, looking forward to more similar books now
"interesting insight into the passive hacking world"
shows the establishments struggled to understand the skills that were available. they should have embraced Kevin Mitniks skills not chased him
As experienced myself it is very easy to get what is needed due to people trusting too easily. Was unable to leave this book alone and thoroughly enjoyed listening to it.
"A really interesting read"
I really enjoyed this book which was superbly read. It's truly an amazing story that can be described as thrilling.
"Gripping and tense read"
The pace in the book was unrelenting - I never felt starved for more tales of Kevin's exploits, and each story was just as thrilling and unbelievable as the last!
Kevin's descriptions of the social engineering hacks he used to gain entry to the companies he phoned absolutely amazed me - the audacity he showed, and the gullibility of his victims, were quite astounding.
There are several tense moments towards the end of the book where Kevin is forced to flee around America, only to be found again by the FBI, no matter where he takes refuge. These scenes are nail-bitingly intense, as Kevin struggles to make more false documents in time to move again, sometimes with the FBI hot on his trail as he manufactures them!
Ghost in the Wires is quite a long book, so I wasn't tempted to listen to it all at once; however, the chapters are relatively short so it was always easy to find a place to stop listening, and to find my place once I wanted to start again.
Although I didn't understand the technical bits (and there are lots of those). I got the gist. What I found most interesting was the role that gullible humans play in Kevin's story - not least kevin himself some times. Reassuring too.
A real unexpected find. Well written and a fascinating read that had me hooked from the start, my techie side embraced the story from start to finish and left me wanting more.
I've never written an audio book review before but felt compelled after listening to this one. 'Ghost in the Wires' captures perfectly a life of excitement, ups and downs expertly narrated in a very entertaining way. As a bit of a techy myself, I found the details fascinating. This is probably one of my favourite non-fiction books ever.
more social hacking than technical, compelling story of a young boy who got the knowledge bug
"MIxed reaction to this"
Started by quite enjoying this, the middle section became a bit tedious with repeated phone stories, then got back into it at the end. I have worked in IT for 20 years.The guy is, quite frankly, a bit of a d!ck. I felt no sympathy for him whatsoever. Some of the text has a few toe curling cliches and the way he treats his family, who quite honestly are complicit in harbouring him, bailing him out multiple times is dreadful. He expresses no remorse on the basis that he wasn't doing any harm, despite breaking numerous laws. He's deluded.
Only to people in IT probably.
I actually laughed out loud at a few points at his dead pan delivery of some of the more emotional moments regarding relationships and so forth.
On balance, just about, particularly if you are interested in the subject area.
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