This isn’t the first hacker book I’ve reviewed. Unlike Hacker’s Tales, this one had much more technical detail, which is fairly interesting, and gives a much better insight into hackers mentality. It drives home that while they’re technically competent, they redefine the words patience and persistence. Having said that, some of the stories (it’s a collection of stories about different hackers/groups) are boring while others are very engaging.
Mitnick, for those who don’t know, is probably the most notorious hacker in the world (that’s not to say he’s the best), and was the subject of a book by one of those who ‘chased’ him (although he disputes the events). Aside from the stories and the descriptions, there are also ‘lessons to learn’ sections at the end of each chapter which provide some thoughts on how to reduce or remove the likelihood of you suffering the same fate. While I found the book interesting for the insight and technical discussions (not that I’m saying I fully understood them) I didn’t find it massively engaging.
My favourite book of this ilk is The Cuckoo’s Egg by Cliff Stoll. It’s way out of date by now but comparing it to the recent books I have read I think the fact that this is told as a detective story tracking a hacker down is far more engaging than the simple retelling of how a hack was done. Possibly it’s because there are two parties involved. Maybe that’s a lesson to be learned for books from the hacker’s perspective, if you could find a story where the hacker knows someone is after them it would up the ante.
Anyway, worth a read if you like looking at the technical stuff, not much for the leisure reader.
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Reviewed: 8th August 2009