Book Reviews

Book Reviews


Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker


Kevin Mitnick with William Simon

Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker

By Kevin Mitnick with William Simon

Life has its strange twists. We met a young Israeli Security Researcher in the UK about two years ago and were very impressed with his skills and knowledge. Several months ago he wrote and said he was going to launch a security start-up, Zimperium, and did I know anyone that might be willing to be an investor? Kathy and I both thought it would be wonderful to be part of Itzhak "Zuk" Avraham's operation. Later, Zuk said he was thinking about having Kevin Mitnick on the board; what did I think?

Yes, exactly, what did I think? Kevin Mitnick is one of the biggest names in security, but the mention of his name also really raises red flags for some people from telephone and security companies. Kathy and I have both served on Kairos, a Christian prison ministry, teams. We have known many people that were convicted and incarcerated and we feel that when you have done your time, you have paid for your crime. Also, I will never forget the question they surprised me with when doing my five-year top secret clearance review, "Have you ever hacked a computer system?" Who am I to judge? But as far as being on the Zimperium board, I really did not know much about Kevin.

Then, four months ago, I hurt my knee. The doctors feel if I lose some weight and stay off it, then it will heal without surgery. But, I am a SANS instructor - how can I stay off my knee? At this time I met G. Mark Hardy, another security researcher and retired Navy Captain. He was willing to teach with me for half of the total teaching fee. And we need another strong teacher for the Management Curriculum and this is a good way to fast track someone. And it turns out that we are a good teaching team; we have different styles and perspective, but the students enjoy the experience. SANS Network Security 2012 was held at Caesar's Palace and during the week, G Mark mentioned that he knows Kevin Mitnick and was hoping he would come by. Because of my connections at Zimperium, I decided I would like to meet him.

So, Kevin came and he was kind enough to give me a copy of his book and his very original business card. Even though it was about my bedtime, I enjoyed the chat and a chance to shake hands and possibly begin a relationship. Apparently, the fact that Mr. Mitnick visited a SANS event was all the buzz in the Speaker Room. Today, I spoke with two of the SANS managing partners and one was nervous about it and the other of the opinion that Mr. Mitnick has paid his time. I started reading the book on the plane ride home, and the book was gripping and educational. The author team is to be commended and I applaud Kevin for his transparency. It is rare to feel you know someone after reading their book, but that is exactly how I feel. I recommend the book. And what he says is, he hacked for curiosity, but never sold the source code he found or used the credit card numbers he accessed. This is a bit of a different book review than most, but a wise person once told me that the threefold purpose of a graduate school is:
  • Discover knowledge
  • Chronicle the events of our time
  • Mentor those to come
I hope this review does a bit of each.