Breaking and Entering

The Extraordinary Story of a Hacker Called "Alien"
Narrated by: Jonathan Todd Ross
Length: 12 hrs and 4 mins
Categories: Bios & Memoirs, Criminals
4 out of 5 stars (128 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This taut, true thriller takes a deep dive into a dark world that touches us all, as seen through the brilliant, breakneck career of an extraordinary hacker - a woman known only as Alien.  

When she arrived at MIT in the 1990s, Alien wanted to study aerospace engineering, but she was soon drawn to the school’s venerable tradition of high-risk physical trespassing: the original “hacking”. Within a year, one of her hallmates was dead, two others were on trial, and two had been institutionalized. Alien’s adventures were only just beginning.   

After a stint at the storied, secretive Los Alamos National Laboratory, Alien was recruited by a top cybersecurity firm where she deployed her large cache of virtual weapons - and the trespassing and social engineering talents she first developed while “hacking” at MIT. The company tested its clients’ security by every means possible - not just coding, but donning disguises and sneaking past guards and secretaries into the C-suite. (She once got into the vault of a major bank by posing as its auditor.)   

Alien now runs her own boutique hacking outfit that caters to some of the world’s biggest and most vulnerable institutions - banks, retailers, government agencies. Her work combines devilish charm, old-school deception, and next generation spycraft. 

In Breaking and Entering, cybersecurity finally gets the rich, character-driven, pacey treatment it deserves.

©2019 Jeremy N. Smith (P)2019 Recorded Books

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Coming of age story about an attractive hacker.

Normally I stay away from 'young adult' literature, but the hacking theme drew me in. I'm used to stories that construct composite characters from real-life people, in this instance an attractive young woman named Alien who appears in diverse places at critical times in the way a good hacker might.

The main problem this story has, in my opinion, is the protagonist doesn't seem real until late in the book. When a character is unreal, there's no sense of actual progression through time. That's a big risk with using composites to construct characters. This made my mind wander to things like grocery lists while listening. At times I was very close to getting my credit back.

This story changes right near the end. It turns out the author knows a lot about business. There's still hacking in the theme, but from the perspective of the person running a business. I feel the book could/should have been condensed into something far shorter. The author makes some good and even profound points, just needed to do it in a more concise and crisp way.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Propulsive and Intimate

Listening, I was reminded of Michael Lewis at his best. Alien, the white hat hacker at the center of the story is a vivid and engaging protagonist. Hearing her story is like getting acquainted with any of the most interesting people I've ever met. Author Smith skilfully portrays a woman in full. What must be his own significant technical skills help clarify complex material without condescending to the reader. Jonathon Todd Ross's narration is crisp, emotive and entirely listenable.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Very Slow Start, Bla - Good Performance

I listened for about two hours. In that time they managed to introcude a dozen characters, half with the same name and took you on an endless walk through a building that seemed to lead nowhere. I have to mention the sex scene, only because it was the most unpassionate and laughable quickie of all time. Paraphrased "I put on the protection, and it was over like that! Then we cuddled". What? I returned the book.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Poorly read but vaguely entertaining

Terrible reading.

MIT exceptionalism. You know, you’re actually not all that.

Otherwise I found it quite uplifting to hear about a woman’s success in this overwhelmingly male world.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Boring

I thought it was going to be about hacking, not campus hijinks at MIT. fifteen

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Essential reading for Internet security

I didn't understand the technical aspect of this but it is not essential to grasp the overall reach of internet security problems and the "Black Hats" who cause the problems. the author keeps the story moving by relating it through the tale of the development of a hacker.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Story was interesting at times. Narration tedious.

I may be spoiled by the really well-narrated books that I've heard. Maybe that quality is hard to hire.

The narration cadence and intonation in this one made it drag. A little unnatural and strained. Good try, though.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great story a little bit dragged out

I'm glad I stuck it out but this story takes a little while to get going. Its more of a time line biography than an enthralling techno thriller.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Could have been so much better

Good book for the hackers among us but way too wordy. Needed to concentrate on the different hacks and not all the auxiliary life situations (what they had to eat, what they were wearing, the romances, etc)

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Can't even finish this book.

I tried to listen this for a couple hours and the narrator is just so lousy I can't finish this.