Strory about World's Most Wanted Hacker in Ghost in the Wires

Did you know Kevin Mitnick was the most elusive computer break-in artist in history? He accessed computers and networks at the world's biggest companies--and however fast the authorities were, Mitnick was faster, sprinting through phone switches, computer systems, and cellular networks
. He spent years skipping through cyberspace, always three steps ahead and labeled unstoppable. But for Kevin, hacking wasn't just about technological feats-it was an old fashioned confidence game that required guile and deception to trick the unwitting out of valuable information.

Driven by a powerful urge to accomplish the impossible, Mitnick bypassed security systems and blazed into major organizations including Motorola, Sun Microsystems, and Pacific Bell. But as the FBI's net began to tighten, Kevin went on the run, engaging in an increasingly sophisticated cat and mouse game that led through false identities, a host of cities, plenty of close shaves, and an ultimate showdown with the Feds, who would stop at nothing to bring him down.

Ghost in the Wires is a thrilling true story of intrigue, suspense, and unbelievable escape, and a portrait of a visionary whose creativity, skills, and persistence forced the authorities to rethink the way they pursued him, inspiring ripples that brought permanent changes in the way people and companies protect their most sensitive information.


Starting with the forward by Steve Wozniak, Ghost in the Wires provides us with a great insight, and obviously a more in-depth look into who Kevin Mitnick was and what lead to him being a fugitive. Ghost in the Wires isn't just a biographical accounting of his life; it's also about other hackers in the scene. Mitnick tells the story of his hacks, his relationships, and his stress over being arrested and returned to jail. His story rings of truth from the very beginning.

Something about this account of a life full of strange twists and turns grabbed hold of me, and refused to let go. An earnest honesty comes through as Kevin recounts his exploits; a candor that manages even to be reinforced by his occasional anger and judgment of the authorities and legal system that finally apprehend him. This is a story told by a man neither pretending to be faultless, nor admitting fault. Never does Kevin express remorse for his actions directly, aside from lamenting the stress he brought to his family. However, neither does he shy away from mistakes, or make excuses for his actions. He straightforwardly explains what he did and how he did it, occasionally pausing in an attempt to explain, as best he can, why.

Back in 2003, Kevin couldn't really talk about the places he'd hacked, nor how he'd done it, but he could explain how social engineering worked and what made companies (and people) vulnerable. His keynote proved to be an eye opener to those in attendance, but nevertheless left me curious about his time on the run, who he'd hacked and how.

"Ghost in the Wires", is the answer to those exact questions, given directly by Kevin. The book reads pretty much as if you're right there chatting with Kevin. For the technically inclined, there are enough references and 'pointers' that one can quickly deduce (or come up with) the rest; for those who are not into hacking or even computers, the technical references are minimal and help show that his exploits were not an easy feat.

For all readers, however, the book portrays a person full of 'humanity', in the good sense of the word; a person capable of real love, full of curiosity and willingness to learn and explore, and what would prove his downfall, a belief in that friends are ultimately good, loyal and trustworthy. And as Kevin frequently points out, his mother and grandmother are his unconditional go-to support during every one of his difficult times, becoming a beacon of trust which proves to be Kevin's literal lifeline.

However, if you look at what drove Kevin to hacking, it also portrays an utter failure of society in dealing with gifted individuals; from his high-school days, to his stints at college, to even the telcos, and justice system.

In Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker, the first personal account of what really happened; Mitnick says most of the stories around him were the result of the myth of Kevin Mitnick, and nothing more. In the book, he attempts to dispel these myths and set the record straight.

Some of the myths were that he was responsible for the phone of actress Kristy McNichol to be disconnected, and perhaps the most preposterous of them all, that he could whistle into a telephone and launch missiles from NORAD. The latter myth was responsible for him spending a year in solitary confinement. Mitnick notes that he thinks it was the federal prosecutor who got that idea from the movie WarGames.

But no one really knew Mitnick or what he was about. Left on his own, he would likely have been harmless. All he wanted to do was get into corporate sites, download code, play with the code and then move on to the next target. It is undeniable that Mitnick committed crimes; but not reasonable for the FBI to have made him a top priority for capture.

While the book does have a lot of technical details, it mainly is about the human side of Mitnick. Chapter 1 is appropriately titled Rough Start and he details his early days of growing up in the Los Angeles area.

These formative years as a hyperactive child, growing up with a single mom who had boyfriends that abused him and one who worked in law enforcement that molested him; may have been what led Mitnick to find solace behind a keyboard.

Mitnick writes how his first hack and entry into the world of dumpster diving was to forge bus transfers so he could ride around Los Angeles to occupy his time while his mother was at work.

In numerous places, Mitnick sincerely expresses his contrition for the pain he subjected his mother, grandmother, aunt, wife and others to.

Above and beyond his rough start, Mitnick also notes how he had his share of bad luck. He writes that too many times when he was growing up, including having to deal with various probation officers, unexplained failures in technology anywhere would be attributed to him. When the phone of his probation officers went dead, he was assumed to be the culprit.

The book ends with Mitnick's release from prison and provides the reader with a fascinating story of one of the most recognized information security personalities. Ghost in the Wires is an interesting account of one of the most well-known information security personalities.