This book, written by a past life hacker, tells the story of Max Vision and his computer underworld exploits. I liked this book. Easy to understand and read. A full review can be read here:
This is a book by a real hacker, about hacking in the illegitimate sense of the word, which admittedly is difficult to ascertain when one exists in a completely fraud-based society such as America presently is. A real hacker, as opposed to some grandstanding neophyte such as Kevin Mitnick, who, to those who didn't know him, was more the credit card thief, than hacker, and incompetent at his job in tech support at Group Health which he once held (and his prediction that Microsoft - - and I'm NO MS fan - - would be a goner by 2001 was as on target as his other stuff). Update: The author of this book, now an editor at "Wired" magazine, was the only person and/or reporter, to file FOIA requests for information files from the Secret Service on Aaron Swartz and his persecution.) [Order of best books on subject: 1) "This Machine Kills Secrets" 2) "Kingpin" 3) "Anonymous"]
This is a really interesting case study of a modern hacker (i.e. financially motivated), their modus operandi, and their associates.
Kevin Poulsen knows his stuff. He keeps the technical description to a minimum, but still manages to describe how hacks work. He also does a good exploring the motivations of Max Butler.
The most interesting part of the book is hidden away in the epilogue, when Poulsen writes "Underlying all these breaches is a single systemic security flaw exactly 3.375 inches long. Credit card magstripes are a technological anachronism, a throwback to the age of the eight-track tape, and today the United States is virtually alone in nurturing this security hole. [...] American banks and credit card companies have rejected [better security] because of the enormous cost of replacing hundreds of thousands of point-of-sale terminals with new gear. In the end, the financial institutions have decided their fraud losses are acceptable, even with the like sof Iceman prowling their networks."
This is a fine and fast-paced book that paints a detailed portrait of the computer-hacking underworld. Everything you always wanted to know about how credit card theft is accomplished and how it works. Very readable. There's detail there that people who really understand computers might get more from than I did, but it is not obtrustive--you don't feel like you are getting lost in the weeks. The personalities come out pretty clearly and that's what makes it enjoyable. I wouldn't be surprised to see a movie from it--plenty of action. All in all, a very enjoyable read.
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