Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier, Revised Paperback – 1 Aug 1985
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"PC Magazine" Riveting...an important chronicle of what is happening on the edge of the information age.
"Los Angeles Times Book Review"
An engrossing, valuable work.
Riveting...an important chronicle of what is happening on the edge of the information age.
"Author of "The Cuckoo's Egg"
An astonishing story [whose] trail leads across modems...as well as police blotters in America and Germany. This is the computing underground, our high-tech counterculture.
"Los Angeles Times Book Review"An engrossing, valuable work.
"PC Magazine"Riveting...an important chronicle of what is happening on the edge of the information age.
Cliff Stoll"Author of "The Cuckoo's Egg"An astonishing story [whose] trail leads across modems...as well as police blotters in America and Germany. This is the computing underground, our high-tech counterculture.
"Los Angeles Times Book Review" An engrossing, valuable work.
Cliff Stoll "Author of "The Cuckoo's Egg" An astonishing story [whose] trail leads across modems...as well as police blotters in America and Germany. This is the computing underground, our high-tech counterculture.
About the Author
Katie Hafner is a contributing editor at "Newsweek, " where she covers technology. She has also written for "Business Week, The New Republic, The New York Times, " and "Wired." She is currently working on a history of the Internet.
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This is not necessarily a bad thing. It just means the writing is kind of dry. But that doesn't make it boring. Indeed, most of the book is quite fascinating. In fact, after a while I began to appreciate the objective air that this style lent to the book: Most authors of this kind of book either try to be sympathetic to the crackers, representing them as harmless kids who only try to explore, or an evil menace which must be destroyed for our own safety. Markoff and Hafner, however, write with the unbiased, unopinionated journalism that befits people of their background.
Of course, when writing a book, you don't need to express opinions to make the text biased; You just need to present only one side of the facts. However, I do not feel that this is the case with this book. The book does not try to represent one side as good and the other bad. It just tells you something about both. There's both good and bad there.
So what's with all the people who say that the book is "biased"? I'm really not sure. I notice, however, that all of the people who say that are pointing specifically to Kevin Mitnick's case, and recommending Littman's "The Fugitive Game" (which is more sympathetic to Mitnick and his case) as a "better" book. The only reason I can figure for this is that the FREE KEVIN people are upset because the book does not agree with their ideals that Kevin is innocent and should be praised for being a "hacker". Sounds to me like those reviewers, and not the authors, are the ones with the personal bias.
SCREW KEVIN. He overstepped the line and went too far when he should have known better. Yes, his case has been mismanaged, but... But, I digress. Anyway. This book is not the be-all, end-all for learning about the hack/phreak culture (it's only three case studies, after all), but it's a good place to start if you've never familiarized yourself with that culture before. And even if you have, you'll probably find some tidbits here you didn't know. Score one for investigative journalism.
However, having just finished Jonathan Littman's "The Fugitive Game" I have to recommend reading both books to get the full story. Markoff's conflicts-of-interest and questionable journalistic practices aren't apparent from reading just "Cyberpunk." What appears to be a non-fiction account is, in reality, more complicated than that.... You really owe it to yourself to read both sides of the story.
So read this book and enjoy it for what it is -- and then read Littman for another perspective.
Like many works today that seem to be written for financial reasons, it seems very one-sided and sensational.
I really enjoyed Cyberpunk because it examined three very unique sets of characters. Kevin Mitnick's story centers on obsession, manipulation, a quest for knowledge, and betrayal at various levels. Hans Hübner's story involves espionage, but told from the perspective of the spies rather than the defenders. Robert Morris' story describes the ultimate hack gone bad, incorporating elements familiar to most security pros of the current decade. Readers could find elements of all three personalities in the modern world, although criminal and state-sponsored activity is by far the most prevalent.
I'd like to conclude by citing some of my favorite excerpts. First, when describing Digital's Palo Alto security, the authors write:
"[I]n recognition of the open-mindedness back at corporate headquarters, the computer scientists in Palo Alto took great care to operate their precious gateway responsibly. To give the best possible oversight both for maintenance and security, *Ph.D's in computer science* took turns poring over daily log files... So it was *only a matter of hours* after the intrusions into the Palo Alto computers began that the gateway watchers there noticed something amiss." (emphasis added) p 118
Second, when expressing frustration with Digital's inability to counter the intruders, the authors quote "one irate Digital employee":
"We seem to be totally defenseless against these people. We have repeatedly rebuilt system after system and finally *management has told the system support group to ignore the problem...* I want to make sure someone at network security knows that we are being ***** (censored) in broad daylight. These people freely walk into our systems and are taking restricted, confidential, and proprietary information." (emphasis added) p 120
Third, nothing changes:
"Digital might be reluctant to press charges... [F]ew of the computer crimes detected were ever reported to the police and still fewer were made public through criminal charges... [C]ompanies worried about having their vulnerabilities publicized." p 125
Though nearly 20 years old, Cyberpunk still shares many traits with the modern digital security world.