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The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security Paperback – 17 Oct 2003


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The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security + Ghost In The Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker + The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders and Deceivers
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; New edition edition (17 Oct 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076454280X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764542800
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 53,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Amazon Review

The Art of Deception is about gaining someone's trust by lying to them and then abusing that trust for fun and profit. Hackers use the euphemism "social engineering" and hacker-guru Kevin Mitnick examines many example scenarios.

After Mitnick's first dozen examples anyone responsible for organisational security is going to lose the will to live. It's been said before but people and security are antithetical. Organisations exist to provide a good or service and want helpful friendly employees to promote the good or service. People are social animals who want to be liked. Controlling the human aspects of security means denying someone something. This circle can't be squared.

Considering Mitnick's reputation as a hacker guru the least and last point of attack for hackers using social engineering are computers. Most of the scenarios in The Art of Deception work just as well against computer-free organisations and were probably known to the Pheonicians. Technology simply makes it all easier. Phones are faster than letters after all and large organisations mean dealing with lots of strangers.

Much of Mitnick's security advice sounds practical until you think about implementation, when you realise more effective security means reducing organisational efficiency: an impossible trade in competitive business. And anyway, who wants to work in an organisation where the rule is "Trust no one"? Mitnick shows how easily security is breached by trust, but without trust people can't live and work together. In the real world effective organisations have to acknowledge total security is a chimera--and carry more insurance. --Steve Patient --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

a fascinating read ( ForTean Times, June 2004)

"...a lot of interesting cautionary tales..." (New Scientist, January 2004)


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
a company may have purchased the best security technologies that money can buy, trained their people so well that they lock up all their secrets before going home at night, and hired building guards from the best security firm in the business. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dr. G. Hinson on 20 Oct 2003
Format: Paperback
Story by story, Mitnick (once described as the FBI's "most wanted hacker") reveals some tricks-of-the-trade. Fair enough. But if you are expecting technical details about defeating system login controls or busting through firewalls, you will be disappointed. Mitnick's favorite hacking tools are the telephone, plus the experience and nerve to deceive unsuspecting members of the organizations he is attacking into defeating the controls from the inside.
Reading this book, you will quickly come to realize that Mitnick's toolbox is every bit as effective as the hacking and cracking technology ... and as you read further, it may dawn on you just how hard it is to counter the social engineering attack. After all, much as you might like to, you can't simply plug in a new program to security-patch your employees!
Mitnick's suggested countermeasures in section 4 of the book are fairly straightforward (a wide-ranging security awareness program and a decent set of policies) but implementing them effectively and persuading employees to pay attention requires those very social engineering skills described in sections 1-3.
I'm left with the distinct impression that Mitnick is teasing us by describing a few simple deceptions whilst keeping the best to himself. But think for a moment about the success of the "419" advance fee scams. Otherwise sane, intelligent individuals are evidently being drawn into parting with their hard-earned cash on the basis of these crude deceptions. The implications are truly frightening.
My bottom line: take this book on holiday with you. Once you start, you will not want to put it down and you can reflect on it at the bar. Free drinks anyone?
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "asptech" on 20 Aug 2003
Format: Hardcover
Kevin Mitnick begins The Art of Deception by telling the reader about securities weakest link - people, and throughout the book he continues to labour this point, constantly reminding us that no matter how well computers are protected against potential hackers, it will 99% of the time be the employees who give away passwords, codes and other secret, and important information to people who will quite simply just have to ask for it.
The book is very easy to read, it isn't full of computer jargon, which I personally thought it would be. The stories are told from the point of view of the hacker, an introduction describing each situation is given first, phone conversations are written down, the con is analyzed, and then Mitnick tells us how to avoid situations like that happening by 'preventing the con'.
It is very easy to see when reading this book how the people (note, not the technology) get tricked or persuaded into giving away such vital information, the key is social engineering. These people believe that the hacker is someone within the organisation who should have access to this information anyway so no harm will come from giving it away, but how can they tell simply from one phone call?
All in all, this book is an education in information security, it tells us that having firewalls, anti-virus software and other security equipment installed will help to protect your information system, but this alone will not be enough, the updates are a very important element in securing your information, and without these, your system will be even more vulnerable from attack by outsiders. Employees, without being educated in information security, can let you down, simply by being too trusting and not knowing who they are giving the information away to!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Keith Appleyard VINE VOICE on 26 Dec 2003
Format: Hardcover
There was little material in here that I didn't already know, so I gave it 4*, for its use as refresher. For those unfamiliar with the topic, it probably does rate 5* as a primer.
Like other reviewers I didn’t enjoy Mitnick's self-congratulatory / self-apologetic tone.
What it did remind me of is the lack of security at my own company :

* our employee car park beneath the building is permanently unmanned, so multiple passengers could enter the building piggybacking – and they have direct access to the office space behind the 'firewall' of the reception desk.
* in common with many companies we know have outsourced lots of things, including our Systems Security. So who's protecting who? I get lots of requests to send e-mails of commercially sensitive material outside our network to developers in India; but I refuse. Of course their own staff based onshore could be forwarding it on, and we wouldn't know.
I recommend everyone reads this book to see if they can improve upon their own security.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Haynes on 20 Jan 2011
Format: Paperback
Like many other reviewers here I disliked the "tone" of the book. Granted, it is clearly written for the American market, but because a lot of the "examples" are fictional, it's hard to empathise. What you notice very quickly is that the book is written for the most basic audience. If you don't know what a trojan is or what a root user is, then maybe you'll learn something. Other than that, the techniques repeat themselves and some of the examples are hopelessly out of date ie. I can't use the internet because I'm on the phone and it's a dial-up connection!
Take this book as a basic explanation of social engineering techniques, and some countermeasures, but nothing more.
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