(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
It's the piquant human element that really animates this rollicking memoir of high-tech skullduggery. Mitnick (The Art of Deception) recounts his epic illegal computer hacks of Sun Microsystems, Digital Equipment Corporation, and any number of cellphone makers; his exploits triggered a manhunt that made headlines. He insists he did it not for money but for the transgressive thrill of looking at big, secret computer programs-otherwise he apparently lived a threadbare existence on the lam-and the claim rings true; there's something obsessive and pure about his need to hack and brag about it to others, habits which eventually brought about his downfall. Mitnick's hacking narratives are lucid to neophytes and catnip to people who love code, but the book's heart is his "social engineering"-his preternatural ability to schmooze and manipulate. By learning their procedures and mimicking their lingo, he gets cops, technicians, DMV functionaries, and other mandarins-his control over telephone companies is almost godlike-to divulge their secrets and do his bidding. The considerable charm of this nonstop caper saga lies in seeing the giant, faceless bureaucracies that rule and regulate us unmasked as assemblages of hapless people dancing to a plucky con man's tune. Photos. (Aug. 15) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* Mitnick was at one time the most wanted computer hacker in the country, perhaps the world. It was claimed that he could launch U.S. nuclear missiles simply by whistling into a phone. This was, of course, utter fabrication. In reality he was just a kid with a powerful curiosity and an innate knack fo. social engineerin. (or conning individuals into giving up deep secrets). Although he made free, untraceable phone calls at will, hacked his way into almost every major software company, and stole vast amounts of proprietary code, he never made monetary gain on any of it. His story reads like those of Frank Abagnale Jr. (Catch Me If You Can, 1980) and Steven Jay Russell (Steve McVicker's I Love You Phillip Morris, 2003), both con men and impostors who assumed multiple personalities. But Mitnick's has a high-tech twist. He impersonated high-level phone company and computer field specialists simply to satisfy his addiction to hacking. He reveals in minute detail how he obtained some of the most closely guarded secrets of the computer industry, how he eluded the F.B.I. for years by living complete lives under false identities, and how one corporate IT security manager ultimately beat him at his own game.--Siegfried, Davi. Copyright 2010 Booklist