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Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker | [Kevin Mitnick, William L. Simon]

Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential - Ghost in the Wires is a thrilling story of hair's-breadth escapes, brazen sociopathy, and ultimately redemption. What's more, it's all true. Ray Porter expertly narrates the stranger than fiction autobiography of Kevin Mitnick as he recounts how he went from gaming the LA bus system for free rides to gaining unauthorized access to the most secure corporate computer systems in the world, all the while playing cat and mouse with the FBI. —Michael

Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (3690 )
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  •  
    Mikeyxote 06-01-12
    Mikeyxote 06-01-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great listen for tech fans"
    What did you love best about Ghost in the Wires?

    This book is great for anyone who wants a non-technical overview of the progression of Hacking from the late 70s to early 90s told from the inside. He never gets very technical about how he accomplished some of his hacks, but he does cover the spectrum of methods he used.


    What about Ray Porter’s performance did you like?

    I don't know how similar Ray Porter's portrayal and Kevin Mitnick actually are, but he really brought life to his reading. Well done.


    19 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blaine Fall River, MA, United States 08-28-11
    Blaine Fall River, MA, United States 08-28-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Worthy of five stars, if not more"

    One of the most compelling books in my audible.com library, and I have more than a hundred. Although he was one of the most hotly-pursued and agressively prosecuted hackers ever, in the end Kevin Mitnick has done us all a favor: making computer networks and phone systems more secure. And he's done us another favor: writing page-turners.

    Mitnick, himself, is easy to like. He's no reptile. Besides his remarkable intellegence and resoursefulness, he has a conscience and a sense of humor.

    Lastly, Porter's narration is excellent. He reads the book as though he wrote it himself. Nice job, Ray.

    35 of 39 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judith San Rafael, CA, United States 08-24-11
    Judith San Rafael, CA, United States 08-24-11 Member Since 2007
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    "A Teriffic listen"

    First and foremost, Ray Porter is just the right narrator for this book. His delivery is right on.

    The story itself is riveting. While I know, on one level, that for the most part, the police, FBI, and variety of corporate IT security is in place to protect us, there is another, darker side to that protection. I found myself cheering for Kevin, and hoping that he'd evade capture and prosecution. Why didn't these folks hire him?

    40 of 46 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MBrown Highlands Ranch, CO, United States 08-28-11
    MBrown Highlands Ranch, CO, United States 08-28-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Great story of a person tuning his life around"

    This book, and the narration, was REALLY well done. I had a hard time turning this thing off. I had been following Kevin since he first made the news about the whole Netcom incident as I was a member at that time. It was interesting hearing the differences reported from the main stream news as well as the online tech community and hearing so many discrepancies between the facts. Over the years we all found out how unfair they were towards Kevin in regards to the law. Of course he was no angel and he did deserve to pay for some things, which he admits to. But seeing how he did turn all of this into such a positive for himself was probably the best part of the story in my opinion. Of course it was extremely entertaining hearing some of these exploits and how he "maneuvered" the system.
    I highly recommend this book!

    25 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg Edmonton, AB, Canada 09-26-13
    Greg Edmonton, AB, Canada 09-26-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Yawwn.."
    What would have made Ghost in the Wires better?

    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.


    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 01-25-12
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 01-25-12 Member Since 2008

    Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting character study of a sociopath"

    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!

    38 of 49 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHRISTOPHER CALGARY, Alberta, Canada 08-30-11
    CHRISTOPHER CALGARY, Alberta, Canada 08-30-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Unsympathetic Protagonist, Fascinating Study"

    I enjoyed this book. My problem is really with the moral landscape of its author. Kevin Mitnick is not a sympathetic character, at all. What intrigues me about his book is his still apparent air of condescension when he refers to one of his adversaries catching him stealing or lying. After all, he's not really a thief or a liar. He's just a joy-rider on the information highway. As readers, we're invited along for the ride. What fun!

    There is real irony when he mentions how law enforcement officials must have something better to do with their time than pursue him. (Uhm-- yes they do, Kevin-- but you need to be stopped). When he hacks into his ex-wife's answering machine to discover that she is seeing someone else, he comments in dismay at her apparent betrayal: "...Where's the trust...?"

    I have to wonder if he actually understands himself, even now as he wrote this book-- and how skewed his perception of his actions appears to be. Mitnick justifies his actions by stating that he did no harm, and never gained monetarily. Well, at least not until the publication of his books.

    Still, this is a fascinating look at the pre-Internet world of modems, call-back numbers, back-up tapes and mainframe systems on raised floors. More importantly though, it is a telling portrayal of how easily people can be used to reveal small details and secrets that allow Mitnick access to systems and places that he has no right to be. He calls it "Social Engineering"; really just taking advantage of the very human desire to be helpful.

    The book is very well narrated. I could not stop listening.

    42 of 55 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Yoshida 11-18-13
    A. Yoshida 11-18-13
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    "Scary how easily a company can be hacked"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim Poulsbo, WA, United States 08-26-13
    Tim Poulsbo, WA, United States 08-26-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Sure he's a paranoid narcissist, but what a story"
    What made the experience of listening to Ghost in the Wires the most enjoyable?

    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)


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    In the end, I have to say it was a very compelling story, couldnt put it down.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew 05-23-13
    Andrew 05-23-13
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    "Detailed; almost to a fault"
    Any additional comments?

    Mitnick provides an exhaustive account (both a good thing and a bad thing) of his 'exploits'. The book is mostly entertaining, and does a good job of showing how obsessive he was. However, detailing hack after social engineer after hack can get a little boring.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 285 results PREVIOUS1229NEXT
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  • John
    Harrogate, United Kingdom
    12/8/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A captivating tale that improves with each chapter"
    Would you listen to Ghost in the Wires again? Why?

    No. I never read a book twice.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    They get better as the book progresses. The detail given throughout the book will be interesting to both technical reader and non-technical reader alike - explanations are clear and well explained but not dumbed down.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    If you trust the ratings given to this book on Audible then you need to read this book. If you've read the book and still don't question the ratings then you didn't read the book properly.

    This book is well worth reading for the insight it gives into human nature.

    The author's character is a little irritating in the first few chapters as he seems to be getting into trouble needlessly but it very quickly grows into a likeable one. After the first half hour of listening I wasn't sure if I would make it all the way through but soon after that I couldn't put it down.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A P Smith
    Bath, B&NES England
    11/6/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic, Inspiring stuff"

    Really enjoyed this. Facinating insight into the exploits and mind of one of the most famous 'hackers' ever. What was most interesting to me was that a large part of what Kevin did was 'Socially Engineering' not the stereo type of a spotty kid sitting in front of a computer in a dark room at all. Some of ways he would trick people into revealing highly confindential information to what was effectively a stranger on the phone left me open mouthed at the both the shear audacity and the genius of it.

    Sure the writing is not perfect and Kevin clearly relishes describing the technical detial of his hacks which I found facinating, but may put others off. Some other interesting details of his life are kind of glossed over to focus more on the actuall hacking. I would have like to hear a little more of how he coped with his time in prison, and a little more about why his close family seemed so acepting and tollerant of his exploits - even when he was on the run from the FBI and using a false identity!

    All in all though this is a facinating listen and should be required reading for any one working in computer/phone security.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs
    Holmfirth, United Kingdom
    9/24/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting at first..."
    What disappointed you about Ghost in the Wires?

    It began well but towards the end it all became a bit repetitive. Lost interest in the character and didn't really care what happened to him.


    What could Kevin Mitnick and William L. Simon have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Could do with a ruthless edit.


    Any additional comments?

    Social engineering sections were interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alistair
    MARLBOROUGH, United Kingdom
    7/10/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Compelling stuff"

    This felt like a hacker's version of 'catch me if you can' (the Leonardo DiCaprio film) and I found myself listening at any opportunity I could, to find out what would happen next. A very interesting story and told well, though at times I found the narrator's voice a bit grate-y.
    On top of this it provided a real insight into how you might take steps to protecting yourself and your personal information from other hackers like him, particularly as more and more is done online.
    I'd thoroughly recommend this book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • edward
    sallins, Ireland
    6/25/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A really enjoyable listen"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Ghost in the Wires to be better than the print version?

    I haven't read the book.

    But the audio book is one of the best I have heard. Ray Porter's performance is great.


    But I would say that reading out the text displayed on a terminal was a little tedious at times.


    Have you listened to any of Ray Porter’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    No, but Ray's performance is great.
    The best I have heard so far.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Stewart Gibson
    South Africa
    5/28/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "High hopes, battled thru a few hours and abandoned"

    this must be a fascinating story but I think the whole thing needs a another approach for a casual listener. One of the few books I abandoned half way thru.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Janice
    Balham, LON, United Kingdom
    4/8/13
    Overall
    "Incredible and thought provoking"

    I'd heard a review of this and it sparked an interest in the book. I was certainly not disappointed. This was one of those books I couldn't stop listening too as I found it riveting! It really makes you think about how secure or not our computer systems are. His candid storytelling made the incredible believable and yet you managed to have some empathy - well written and worth getting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. S. A. Longley
    Bromsgrove UK
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "Fascinating insight into a hacker's world"

    I bought my first PC when Windows 95 came out and the following year I got on to the Internet with my 28K modem. Looking back I think that was arcane. When I bought my first PC Kevin Mitnick had been hacking for years and finally been caught. Listening to his exploits was thrilling, a bit like "Catch me if you can". The narration was very good and made it a joy to listen to. It probably the book I've listened to the quickest as I was addicted to what was going on. I find his knowledge amazing and his examples of social engineering scary. I would recommend this for anyone who likes computers, but i don't think you need to be too much of a nerd to enjoy it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. M. J. Cawley
    Liverpool, UK
    3/13/13
    Overall
    "I... WAS... STOKED!"

    A truly great insight into a criminal mind, deception tactics, and social engineering. The narration was superb, in what I wouldn't have thought was an easy text to convey. I found myself warming to the guy, hoping he wouldn't get caught, I didn't want it to end.



    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Matthew Rayner
    Kent, UK
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "An amazing surprise read"

    I thought this book was amazing, It was a surprise off the cuff choice whilst browsing though Audibe and I am extremely glad I chose it.



    I recommend it whole heartedly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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