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Ghost in the Wires

My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker
Narrated by: Ray Porter
Length: 13 hrs and 59 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (37 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 33.83
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Publisher's Summary

Kevin Mitnick was the most elusive computer break-in artist in history. He accessed computers and networks at the world’s biggest companies—and however fast the authorities were, Mitnick was faster, sprinting through phone switches, computer systems, and cellular networks. He spent years skipping through cyberspace, always three steps ahead and labeled unstoppable. But for Kevin, hacking wasn’t just about technological feats—it was an old fashioned confidence game that required guile and deception to trick the unwitting out of valuable information.

Driven by a powerful urge to accomplish the impossible, Mitnick bypassed security systems and blazed into major organizations including Motorola, Sun Microsystems, and Pacific Bell. But as the FBI’s net began to tighten, Kevin went on the run, engaging in an increasingly sophisticated cat-and-mouse game that led through false identities, a host of cities, plenty of close shaves, and to an ultimate showdown with the feds, who would stop at nothing to bring him down.

Ghost in the Wires is a thrilling true story of intrigue, suspense, and unbelievable escape and a portrait of a visionary whose creativity, skills, and persistence forced the authorities to rethink the way they pursued him, inspiring ripples that brought permanent changes in the way people and companies protect their most sensitive information.

©2011 Kevin Mitnick. Foreword 2011 by Steve Wozniak (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the critics say

“Intriguing, insightful, and extremely educational into the mind of one who truly mastered the art of social engineering with the use of a computer and modern-day technologies. I strongly believe that one can learn a great deal about protecting themselves once they understand how another one perpetrates the crime.” (Frank W. Abagnale, author of Catch Me If You Can)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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absolutely stunning

it's a masterpiece, I am inspired to learn more about computers thank to Kevin's personal stories

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A must read

A must read for anyone interested in Information Security and Ethical Hacking.

The story is riviting and astonishing at the same time.

Makes me all the more aware of social engineering tactics.

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An epic real life story

Lots of technical words, some swears, but the story is awesome.
Mitnick takes you with him on his journey as a fugitive, with a lot of details about how and why he did what he did. It made me realize how vulnerable to social engineering we all are, no matter the security that's in place. The weak point is always people.

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  • Mikeyxote
  • 2012-06-01

Great listen for tech fans

What did you love best about Ghost in the Wires?

This book is great for anyone who wants a non-technical overview of the progression of Hacking from the late 70s to early 90s told from the inside. He never gets very technical about how he accomplished some of his hacks, but he does cover the spectrum of methods he used.

What about Ray Porter’s performance did you like?

I don't know how similar Ray Porter's portrayal and Kevin Mitnick actually are, but he really brought life to his reading. Well done.

37 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Judith
  • Sonomal, CA, United States
  • 2011-08-24

A Teriffic listen

First and foremost, Ray Porter is just the right narrator for this book. His delivery is right on.

The story itself is riveting. While I know, on one level, that for the most part, the police, FBI, and variety of corporate IT security is in place to protect us, there is another, darker side to that protection. I found myself cheering for Kevin, and hoping that he'd evade capture and prosecution. Why didn't these folks hire him?

53 of 59 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Robbie
  • United States
  • 2014-06-30

Fundamentally interesting story, executed poorly

The story itself was interesting, and I was sucked in pretty quickly at the beginning. After the first half though, it just plodded along, growing more tedious. I wanted to know how it all got resolved, so I hung in there, but it was hard to listen, as opposed to other books that I can't stop listening to.

I also lost all favor for the writer/main character as the story went on. At first he was interesting, but I got to the point where I could no longer abide his flagrant disregard for the law. I was rooting for the time where he actually got caught and held accountable.

There was also a lot of technical writing that lost me, but I am admittedly not THAT computer savvy, so maybe I'm not the target audience.

Overall it was interesting, but I couldn't get on board with cheering on such an egotistical criminal.

Sidenote: The narrator did a great job with what he had to work with, but could have had more variety when speaking in voices other than the main character.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Blaine
  • Fall River, MA, United States
  • 2011-08-28

Worthy of five stars, if not more

One of the most compelling books in my audible.com library, and I have more than a hundred. Although he was one of the most hotly-pursued and agressively prosecuted hackers ever, in the end Kevin Mitnick has done us all a favor: making computer networks and phone systems more secure. And he's done us another favor: writing page-turners.

Mitnick, himself, is easy to like. He's no reptile. Besides his remarkable intellegence and resoursefulness, he has a conscience and a sense of humor.

Lastly, Porter's narration is excellent. He reads the book as though he wrote it himself. Nice job, Ray.

44 of 50 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2014-09-17

For a smart guy, Mitnick was an idiot

This was an amusing and informative book. I have to say, though, I like Mitnick less now that I've gotten to know him.

I always thought of Mitnick as a brilliant hacker who was persecuted by a government that didn't understand the technology that they were trying to control. This is half true. The government certainly did overstep the bounds of sanity when they went after Mitnick... but Mitnick was not a brilliant hacker.

Mitnick spends the book telling us that all his greatest hacking achievements were about "social engineering", which is the marketing term for "lying". He was certainly an intelligent guy who knew how to do research and learn about systems... but all the brilliant computer hacking was actually just him taking advantage of bugs that he read about or was told about.

What made Mitnick famous wasn't that he was the smartest hacker, it was that he was the dumbest. In spite of constantly being caught in the act, and knowing that he was being watched by the highest echelons of law enforcement, Mitnick kept engaging in very risky hacks. He was the only one stupid enough to apply known bugs to breach security at major institutions, and he told other people about it, and kept hard evidence about it on his person.

I have lost so much respect for Mitnick after reading this. He wasn't a genius that couldn't be contained. He was a fool who couldn't stop getting himself in trouble.

The sad thing is that if Mitnick had actually had some brains and self-control he could have been the mastermind that the world mistook him for. At several points he was monitoring the FBI and police as they were tracking him. A sensible person would have kept this card close to the vest. But Mitnick tipped them off by leaving a box of donuts for raiding FBI agents. When I first heard this anecdote, I thought it was awesome, because he was one step ahead of the FBI. The book flushes this out a bit more, and we see that Mitnick didn't really have a plan at this point. This wasn't measured taunting... this was an impulse control problem.

The list of idiotic things that Mitnick did just goes on and on: he frequently stuck around after he had evidence that his cover was blown; he made no contingency plans; he gave incriminating evidence to people he didn't know, or worse, knew as untrustworthy or suspicious characters; and he always kept damning evidence of his crimes on him... without encrypting it.

I wanted Mitnick to be just like Richard Feynman mixed with Frank Abagnale. Instead I found out he was a damned fool.



59 of 69 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrew
  • 2013-05-23

Detailed; almost to a fault

Any additional comments?

Mitnick provides an exhaustive account (both a good thing and a bad thing) of his 'exploits'. The book is mostly entertaining, and does a good job of showing how obsessive he was. However, detailing hack after social engineer after hack can get a little boring.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Raglan, New Zealand
  • 2012-08-21

An insight into the mind of a hacker

If you could sum up Ghost in the Wires in three words, what would they be?

naughty computer geek

What was one of the most memorable moments of Ghost in the Wires?

The emotions described when Kevin has to return to solitary confinement. It seems unbelievable that a white collar perpetrator of largely victimless crimes should undergo a Stalinesque torture

What does Ray Porter bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

You are able to believe that Kevin is reading it to you, and that is all you could ask for

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The trials and tribulations of the world's most notorious hacker

Any additional comments?

It started slowly, and initially I had no sympathy for this maladjusted nuisance blowing his own trumpet about how he pointlessly infiltrates various phone companies. But as the book develops you develop empathy with him. It becomes especially interesting when he is on the run and creates new identities for himself. But the idiot still can't stop himself from engaging in meaningless hacking, he's just addicted. There is a nice happy ending which gives you a feelgood factor, and you can't help yourself warming to this odd character.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Keith
  • 2013-10-31

I don't suffer narcissism well ...

I find myself almost scared to write this review for fear that Kevin Mitnick will hack into my life and -- using some contorted interpretation of ethics -- make my life a living hell.

I do not care for his brand of nerdy selfishness, which sets its own rules at the emotional expense of others. While true that Mitnick may not have stolen material possessions from the people whose privacy he intruded on, I must say that I really feel bad for his victims, and the turmoil that resulted (I especially feel bad for his family, "Ann" at the SSA, et al, and the others he manipulated over and over again).

The story is one of a kid who becomes a hacker back in the pre-Internet days of dial-up telephones, old-school modems, and mainframe computer systems, although his primary means of law-breaking was through manipulation of people's trust (his social engineering practices). At first I found his story entertaining because it had sentimental quality, and a childlike innocence that, perhaps, could've been forgiven. But as the story wore on I found myself hoping he would get busted.

He did, eventually get busted, but Mitnick seems to lack a sense of self-reflection necessary to make his plight sympathetic; in fact, just the opposite is the case here: He is arrogant, self-righteous and condescending. He seems to seek sympathy and understanding for being treated unfairly while failing to realize that trust has to be earned. During the course of this memoir he did not earn my trust. The book consists of far too much whining, not enough contrition.

Would I recommend it? In a way, yes, because it is a solid warning to others not to venture down the road of the hacker and, much more importantly, a cautionary tale about the fact that our actions really and truly can hurt others even if we do not gain wealth from those actions.

The narrator, by the way, is outstanding. His reading of this biography made it a worthwhile purchase.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • MBrown
  • Highlands Ranch, CO, United States
  • 2011-08-28

Great story of a person tuning his life around

This book, and the narration, was REALLY well done. I had a hard time turning this thing off. I had been following Kevin since he first made the news about the whole Netcom incident as I was a member at that time. It was interesting hearing the differences reported from the main stream news as well as the online tech community and hearing so many discrepancies between the facts. Over the years we all found out how unfair they were towards Kevin in regards to the law. Of course he was no angel and he did deserve to pay for some things, which he admits to. But seeing how he did turn all of this into such a positive for himself was probably the best part of the story in my opinion. Of course it was extremely entertaining hearing some of these exploits and how he "maneuvered" the system.
I highly recommend this book!

28 of 34 people found this review helpful

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  • Judy R. Williams
  • 2016-08-05

More interesting for a "techie" ?

I don't know if it was the way the reader read it or if it's Mitnick himself, but I found his persistent refrain of "I wasn't THAT bad", and "I hate upsetting my mom and grandmother" a little arrogant and self serving. He never once, that I remember, said anything about addiction, but it certain sounded much like the refrain of other addicts.

There is no doubt that he was/is very good at hacking, phone freaking and social engineering (a euphemism for conning, lying, and manipulating people) and I'm glad that he has turned his attention to preventing others from doing the same. I wonder though, if he hadn't been caught and punished, would he have continued to do what he was doing and eventually, in order to support himself, break more and more laws by more blatant identify theft and using others credit cards. (Who's to say he isn't???)

Don't I sound moralistic? I only realized, as I started writing this, how angry it made me. It was a long time ago and I assume that things are locked down much more securely by now because of Mr. Mitnick and others.

Last comment: this book contains hours of various numbers, names, technical terms and descriptions that, if being read, could have easily been skipped, no so while listening.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful