on 11 October 2011
Shimomura, assisted by NY Times journalist John Markoff, tries to out-Stoll Stoll in this 1996 re-run of The Cuckoo's Egg. This tale recounts the demise of Kevin Mitnick, 'the world's most wanted computer criminal'. Mitnick was a cell-phone fanatic and arrogant with it, breaking into computer after computer, we are told, stealing and trashing as he went. Shimomura, evidently a computer security guru (I've never heard of him either), became personally involved when Mitnick and his buddies broke into his computer and started leaving rude messages on his answerphone.
This book suffers from a couple of problems. First, it's padded with endless 'California lifestyle' twaddle about Shimomura roller-skating around town with cell-phones and pagers and computers strapped to his body, and as if that wasn't enough, we're treated to blow-by-blow accounts of his personal relationships. On top of all this, Shimomura comes across as an arrogant prima donna, to the extent that by the end of the book it would have been almost as entertaining if Mitnick had won. There's some interesting technical stuff in there, particularly about cell-phone technology, but in the end it's really just a long, drawn-out shadow of Clifford Stoll's book.