Ghost in the Wires

A friend of mine recently lent me Kevin Mitnick‘s book Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker. It’s an entertaining story that highlights how the willingness of people to trust and help others who they assume to be co-workers is often the greatest weakness in security systems.

It also highlights some of the characteristics of obsessive behaviour. I had no idea how many separate times Mitnick was caught. It reminded me of Marc Lewis’ Memoirs of an Addicted Brain, in terms of how repeated contact with agents of authority was insufficient to interrupt a longstanding pattern of behaviour.

The book is also a reminder of what seems like a more innocent era of global interconnectivity – when phone phreaks with blue boxes were a cutting-edge threat, and when the FBI would have real trouble tracking you down if you assumed the identity of someone who died in childhood. Now, attacks against computer systems seem associated more with governments themselves than with curious amateurs, and it’s difficult to imagine someone like Mitnick evading the surveillance state for long.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

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