Monday, February 27, 2017

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

I love technology. I'm amazed at what it can do, but also a little terrified. For everything blessing that it can bring into one's life, there is a corresponding curse. As technology is able to do more, it is able to do more bad as well as good. And individual and societal reliance on technology makes it much easier to manipulate the facts and distort reality. Yet so few people understand how this actually happens or what can actually be done. This book pulls back the curtain on a real person manipulating actual technology and explaining how vulnerable the systems we rely on are. And technology isn't the most vulnerable area.

Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker is an autobiography written by Kevin Mitnick covering the part of his life when he was one of the most famous and notorious hackers and how vulnerable systems were and continue to be. It's available in all formats: eBook, Audiobook, and those old-fashioned paper book things.

The Good

The Writing. The writing was excellent. It felt like the author sat down and told me a story. It was very conversational. He included a lot of specific details and technological information that I found fascinating, but there wasn't so much nor did he go so far into detail to turn off technophobes.

Social Engineering. One of the most fascinating--yet disturbing--parts of the book was how easy it is to manipulate human beings and how the human element tends to be the most vulnerable part of any system. The author cites numerous examples of how he was able to manipulate meaning individuals into helping him commit fraud and violate what should be iron-clad security.

Pacing and Entertainment. This is a long book, but you wouldn't know it from reading it or listening to it. I was completely absorbed in the story and couldn't wait to hear what happened next. The title makes it sound like it could be tedious or overly technical, but it isn't. There's enough technical detail that those who understand technology will learn something, but it's told in a way that even those who hate technology won't get bored.

Complete Story. This is a true story about a man who is still alive and functioning in society, which means his story isn't over. Yet the book feels complete with a beginning, middle, and satisfying ending. That's not to say there can't be a sequel with what's he's done since going legit, but that would be a separate story.

Ray Porter. I listened to this as an Audiobook narrated by Ray Porter. Ray Porter is one of my favorite narrators. I actually seek out and buy books he narrates even if I know nothing about the author or subject matter, because his reading is that good. 

The Bad


What I Would Like to Have Seen

I've got nothing.


Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker is an incredibly well-written autobiography about a fascinating character and era in history few know much about, at least not what actually happened. It is as entertaining as it is informative. I highly recommend it and give it a solid 5 out of 5 eReaders.



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