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Ghost in the Wires

My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker

By Kevin Mitnick
18-minute read
Audio available
Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin Mitnick

Ghost in the Wires (2011) is the wild story of one of the greatest hackers and social engineers of all time: Kevin Mitnick. Mitnick started by making phony phone calls in the 1970s, but quickly graduated to computers, hacking some of the largest companies in the world. Along the way, he got his hands on vast amounts of information, just to prove to himself that it could be done. This is a tale of technical brilliance and expert escape artistry so unbelievable that it must be true.

  • Computer enthusiasts interested in the story of one of the world’s greatest hackers
  • Anyone interested in the arts of social engineering
  • Law enforcement or cybercrime professionals

Kevin Mitnick was a prolific hacker who managed to stay one step ahead of the authorities for years. He now makes an honest living as a writer, public speaker and computer security consultant. He is also the author of the best-selling book The Art of Deception.

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Ghost in the Wires

My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker

By Kevin Mitnick
  • Read in 18 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 11 key ideas
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Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin Mitnick
Synopsis

Ghost in the Wires (2011) is the wild story of one of the greatest hackers and social engineers of all time: Kevin Mitnick. Mitnick started by making phony phone calls in the 1970s, but quickly graduated to computers, hacking some of the largest companies in the world. Along the way, he got his hands on vast amounts of information, just to prove to himself that it could be done. This is a tale of technical brilliance and expert escape artistry so unbelievable that it must be true.

Key idea 1 of 11

Kevin Mitnick grew up with an interest in magic and manipulation.

Born on August 6, 1963, Kevin Mitnick was an only child raised primarily by his mother, Shelly Mitnick. They lived an itinerant life in Southern California, as Shelly looked for work and entangled herself in a string of bad relationships.

The constant movement meant Kevin didn’t get much of a chance to make friends. Plus, his mother’s boyfriends had a bad habit of being abusive to Kevin, which probably contributed to the development of his anti-authority attitude.

Kevin managed to get decent grades in school, and he excelled in sports, but his imagination was captured by an extracurricular activity: magic.

When Kevin was ten years old, a neighbor showed him a magic trick. It was love at first sight. Kevin loved the element of deception and became obsessed with practicing tricks and discovering ways of manipulating the audience, all of which would influence his later escapades.

When he was 13, Kevin could often be found at the Survival Bookstore, perusing the pages of The Big Brother Game, a step-by-step guide on how to gain access to people’s property records, their driving history and even their bank account details.

These were techniques that would continue to come in handy as Kevin got further into the world of social engineering.

As the young Mitnick would come to learn, social engineering is the subtle art of manipulating people so that they do what you want. And the first key is to establish trust.

Say you want to call a company and acquire some specific information. You’ll sound more trustworthy if you use the correct terminology and lingo – the words and phrases used by everyone else at the company.

Using this technique, Mitnick was able to pick up a phone and, by saying the right things, get records and personal information on friends, teachers, and even some people he’d never met. It might sound unlikely, but it worked more often than not.

And this was all before his seventeenth birthday!

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