Worth a Look: Books By Hacker Kevin Mitnick

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War
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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended!!!!! A must read for hacker and non-hacker alike, September 7, 2011

By Michael T. Gracy

One of the most humble and honest telling of a personal story. Kevin pulls no punches and does not hide behind any excuses for what he did and why he did it (I pulled the fire alarm on my first day of kindergarten to see what it would do). He fully acknowledges the consequences of his actions and atones for them by giving back in this book. This story is the true and original definition of hacker, not what the media has twisted it into. A must read for anyone wishing to understand the mindset and drive of a hacker. Thank you Kevin for bringing to the light (even though geeks tend to avoid light) what it is we strive for – knowledge.

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From Publishers Weekly:  It would be difficult to find an author with more credibility than Mitnick to write about the art of hacking. In 1995, he was arrested for illegal computer snooping, convicted and held without bail for two years before being released in 2002. He clearly inspires unusual fear in the authorities and unusual dedication in the legions of computer security dabblers, legal and otherwise. Renowned for his use of “social engineering,” the art of tricking people into revealing secure information such as passwords, Mitnick (The Art of Deception) introduces readers to a fascinating array of pseudonymous hackers. One group of friends bilks Las Vegas casinos out of more than a million dollars by mastering the patterns inherent in slot machines; another fellow, less fortunate, gets mixed up with a presumed al-Qaeda–style terrorist; and a prison convict leverages his computer skills to communicate with the outside world, unbeknownst to his keepers. Mitnick’s handling of these engrossing tales is exemplary, for which credit presumably goes to his coauthor, writing pro Simon. Given the complexity (some would say obscurity) of the material, the authors avoid the pitfall of drowning readers in minutiae. Uniformly readable, the stories—some are quite exciting—will impart familiar lessons to security pros while introducing lay readers to an enthralling field of inquiry.

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From Publishers Weekly: Mitnick is the most famous computer hacker in the world. Since his first arrest in 1981, at age 17, he has spent nearly half his adult life either in prison or as a fugitive. He has been the subject of three books and his alleged 1982 hack into NORAD inspired the movie War Games. Since his plea-bargain release in 2000, he says he has reformed and is devoting his talents to helping computer security. It’s not clear whether this book is a means toward that end or a, wink-wink, fictionalized account of his exploits, with his name changed to protect his parole terms. Either way, it’s a tour de force, a series of tales of how some old-fashioned blarney and high-tech skills can pry any information from anyone. As entertainment, it’s like reading the climaxes of a dozen complex thrillers, one after the other. As a security education, it’s a great series of cautionary tales; however, the advice to employees not to give anyone their passwords is bland compared to the depth and energy of Mitnick’s descriptions of how he actually hacked into systems. As a manual for a would-be hacker, it’s dated and nonspecific better stuff is available on the Internet but it teaches the timeless spirit of the hack. Between the lines, a portrait emerges of the old-fashioned hacker stereotype: a socially challenged, obsessive loser addicted to an intoxicating sense of power that comes only from stalking and spying.