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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.

Critic Reviews

“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 Ratings

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

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.

32 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Judith
  • Sonomal, CA, United States
  • 08-24-11

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?

49 of 55 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

For a smart guy, Mitnick was an idiot

This was an amusing and informative book. I have to say, though, I like Mitnick less now that I've gotten to know him.

I always thought of Mitnick as a brilliant hacker who was persecuted by a government that didn't understand the technology that they were trying to control. This is half true. The government certainly did overstep the bounds of sanity when they went after Mitnick... but Mitnick was not a brilliant hacker.

Mitnick spends the book telling us that all his greatest hacking achievements were about "social engineering", which is the marketing term for "lying". He was certainly an intelligent guy who knew how to do research and learn about systems... but all the brilliant computer hacking was actually just him taking advantage of bugs that he read about or was told about.

What made Mitnick famous wasn't that he was the smartest hacker, it was that he was the dumbest. In spite of constantly being caught in the act, and knowing that he was being watched by the highest echelons of law enforcement, Mitnick kept engaging in very risky hacks. He was the only one stupid enough to apply known bugs to breach security at major institutions, and he told other people about it, and kept hard evidence about it on his person.

I have lost so much respect for Mitnick after reading this. He wasn't a genius that couldn't be contained. He was a fool who couldn't stop getting himself in trouble.

The sad thing is that if Mitnick had actually had some brains and self-control he could have been the mastermind that the world mistook him for. At several points he was monitoring the FBI and police as they were tracking him. A sensible person would have kept this card close to the vest. But Mitnick tipped them off by leaving a box of donuts for raiding FBI agents. When I first heard this anecdote, I thought it was awesome, because he was one step ahead of the FBI. The book flushes this out a bit more, and we see that Mitnick didn't really have a plan at this point. This wasn't measured taunting... this was an impulse control problem.

The list of idiotic things that Mitnick did just goes on and on: he frequently stuck around after he had evidence that his cover was blown; he made no contingency plans; he gave incriminating evidence to people he didn't know, or worse, knew as untrustworthy or suspicious characters; and he always kept damning evidence of his crimes on him... without encrypting it.

I wanted Mitnick to be just like Richard Feynman mixed with Frank Abagnale. Instead I found out he was a damned fool.



51 of 58 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Blaine
  • Fall River, MA, United States
  • 08-28-11

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.

43 of 49 people found this review helpful

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

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.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • Raglan, New Zealand
  • 08-21-12

An insight into the mind of a hacker

If you could sum up Ghost in the Wires in three words, what would they be?

naughty computer geek

What was one of the most memorable moments of Ghost in the Wires?

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

What does Ray Porter bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

You are able to believe that Kevin is reading it to you, and that is all you could ask for

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The trials and tribulations of the world's most notorious hacker

Any additional comments?

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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

coundn't be done soon enough

Would you try another book from Kevin Mitnick and William L. Simon and/or Ray Porter?

I would def listen to Ray Porter again, just not a Mitnick book.

Any additional comments?

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"

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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

I don't suffer narcissism well ...

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.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • MBrown
  • Highlands Ranch, CO, United States
  • 08-28-11

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!

28 of 34 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Robbie
  • United States
  • 06-30-14

Fundamentally interesting story, executed poorly

The story itself was interesting, and I was sucked in pretty quickly at the beginning. After the first half though, it just plodded along, growing more tedious. I wanted to know how it all got resolved, so I hung in there, but it was hard to listen, as opposed to other books that I can't stop listening to.

I also lost all favor for the writer/main character as the story went on. At first he was interesting, but I got to the point where I could no longer abide his flagrant disregard for the law. I was rooting for the time where he actually got caught and held accountable.

There was also a lot of technical writing that lost me, but I am admittedly not THAT computer savvy, so maybe I'm not the target audience.

Overall it was interesting, but I couldn't get on board with cheering on such an egotistical criminal.

Sidenote: The narrator did a great job with what he had to work with, but could have had more variety when speaking in voices other than the main character.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Olivier
  • 02-29-12

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.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Graham BC
  • 08-30-12

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ross
  • 01-13-13

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • bhak
  • 12-23-12

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mariann V.
  • Mariann V.
  • 07-31-17

FUN

FUN. :) If you can enjoy the story despite the fact what "social engineering" really is about and despite Mitnick's seemingly high ego*, this book really is funny. I mean it - the guy was helplessly "adrenal dependent" and while at first it seems kinda stupid (to step into the same trap twice, or many more, actually :)), then I soon realized that he jus couldn't help himself and his way of explaining things made his pitfalls rather funny than anything else. He was just a seriously tech addicted adrenal junkie with some compulsive obsessions (may be still is, in a different, more productive way :)) which led him into troubles, like addictions usually do. If the reader understands that, it's easier to sympathize with his predicaments. And, because it all turned out good by today, it's not a sad kind of "addiction story" either. One could learn a few things about unusual (or is it unusual nowadays?) addiction behaviours besides the obvious information security topics.

What bugs me, is the fact that "social engineering" is just a nice definition for systematic lying/using people's behavioural weaknesses. But then again, does it matter what kind of definition is used? That particular term is just a shorter combination of words for saying what it is.. so, (we should) get used to it - the definition doesn't chance the essence of it, although it sounds more sophisticated and, sadly, more innocent (compared to straight forward "lying" or gentle "manipulating bugs in the human hardware"), which so might get the idea more appealing to some people. BUT - this isn't about the author or his book, it is about a definition, which's etymology is unclear for me, but probably not invented by Mitnick and came into "play" a little later(?).

I enjoyed author's ability to make fun of himself and the nerdish thriller like storyline. Suggested reading for anyone who has interest in tech and information security and not suggested if you aren't into rather specific descriptions of the technical details (which is what the book is about and might be educating listening about that bit of history of hacking and "social engineering").

* - Didn't bother me, because _seemingly_ - I personally think it's his nerdish obsessive style and challenge chasing that some mistake for ego; his confidence wasn't too high either, if you pay attention, rather he was driven by his addiction and adrenal thirst than by ego, and those egocentric remarks are for fun, imo.

Narrator is great, totally nailed it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 12-31-12

Staggering

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Charles
  • 12-23-12

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 12-08-12

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MR
  • 06-15-12

Gripping

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • g.l.ward
  • 07-09-14

Close but no cigar

Would you listen to Ghost in the Wires again? Why?

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.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Ghost in the Wires?

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.

Which character – as performed by Ray Porter – was your favourite?

Kevin Mitnick, this is the only choice really as it is only Mitnicks side of the story that is retold.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Firstly sheer disbelief, with what he had the guts to do. As most of the crimes are repetitive a ended the book in frustration.

Any additional comments?

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.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Keith
  • 06-02-16

Unbelievably great story into Technology

Unbelievably great story into Technology and its flaws. Beautifully narrated and absolutely accurate from software based attacks to social engineering to realising the power of information gathering.

10/10 - highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • kris
  • 04-12-16

Fantastic Story. Excellent audiobook narration.

This audiobook is impossible to put down. The narration is so well done and the production quality is top shelf.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • afrosheep
  • 06-23-15

Quick paced, intriguing insight

Seemed to fly by. Really felt like I was there in the midst of all the hacking adventures. A great book, worth listening to. Narrator did a top job.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • David Burne
  • 02-11-18

Self-important, self-justifying narcissism. Pointless.

It was hard to listen to this welter of self-justifying, self-important narcissism, as he detailed the litany of breaches of systems for his own self-satisfaction. All the while bemoaning the injustices of the systems that prosecuted and incarcerated him.

The damage done to his mother, in particular, must have been profound.

I made it about three hours in before I did something rare for me and gave up, such was the level of animus I developed for this insignificant gob of human spittle.

What a complete waste of human space.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ross Murray
  • Ross Murray
  • 07-15-17

incredible book.

Simply astounding. Couldn't stop listening.

Mitnick's life is not only unbelievable, his ability to tell it well is just as amazing.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful