Monday, May 7, 2012

Ghost in the Wires


I recently finished Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick.

Ghost in the Wires Cover Image
Ghost in the Wires cover

The book is an autobiographical account of Mitnick's 'adventures as the world's most wanted hacker'. He starts out by explaining his love for magic and deception as a young child, including a description of how he managed to get free bus rides around town.

Mitnick then describes his rise to notoriety in a thrilling, and suspenseful, tone that leads to numerous close shaves and hair-raising near encounters with the FBI.

Throughout the book Mitnick (and co-author, William Simon) uses an engaging writing style that never fails to keep you on the edge of your seat. I'm not normally a reader of any form of biography, but this is most definitely the exception. I mean, it has a helicopter chase in it. How many autobiographies have helicopter chases in?

I got this book for Christmas and started reading it, but a load of stuff happened that prevented me from being able to read it and it found its way to the bottom of the pile. After I found it again, I managed to finish reading it in less than 2 weeks (and I'm not the fastest reader).

The book contains details of many of the people he met in his hacking career (and all of their aliases) and how he worked with them, against them or how he was betrayed by them. Along with these people, he also showed how a strong family was vital for him. His mum and gram proved to be his backbone - his constant throughout his adventures.

As a computer geek myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the sections where the technical aspects of his exploits were explained and some of the codes shown. This really added a sense of wonder to his abilities and made the section about Novell NetWare even more enjoyable. This section was of extra interest as it is the system my college uses.

The book starts drawing to an end with his arrest and the Free Kevin protests that kept him going whilst inside. The end isn't quite as engaging as the middle, but that is to be expected with any book. The final chapter briefly details his change from the world's most wanted hacker to the world's best hacker with his own (legal) security firm, Mitnick Security.

Overall, it is the best non-fiction book I have ever read, and pretty close to my favourite book of all time.

Below is an interview (50 minutes) with Kevin Mitnick from Authors@Google:


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