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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
The name “Kevin Mitnick” is a Rorschach test for the digital age. To the government (and to companies like Sun Microsystems, whose Solaris source code he once appropriated), Mitnick was pure menace, marauding through computer systems that didn’t belong to him, causing millions of dollars of losses, and blazing a trail for even worse cybercriminals. To much of the hacker community, Mitnick’s a hero, unjustly persecuted by an ignorant Department of Justice: a prophet in the wilderness, warning folks who are too lazy or dumb to protect their digital assets. Perhaps you’ve seen those Free Kevin bumper stickers. After five years in prison, Mitnick’s on parole and evidently following the straight and narrow, though he’s still not allowed a web connection -- or even a ham radio license.
Even if you could care less about Mitnick personally, though, his book The Art of Deception is indispensable if you care about the vulnerability of your business computer systems -- or your own personal information. Mitnick presents the best discussion of “social engineering” we’ve ever seen: the art of understanding how to trick people into voluntarily handing over the information needed to break into computer systems.
It’s a shame you have to worry about folks “toy[ing] with your trust, your desire to be helpful, your sympathy, and your human gullibility to get what they want,” but you do -- and after you’ve read Mitnick’s extensive collection of case studies, you’ll be ready the next time someone tries social engineering on you.
You’ll learn how crackers have convinced even suspicious employees to reveal their usernames and passwords; six ways “phone phreaks” can get unlisted phone numbers from the telephone company; and how investigators can quickly discover a terrifying amount of information about you and your company. You’ll also learn how, through a chain of “innocuous” conversations, a cracker can get into even the most well protected systems.
Mitnick closes with a detailed guide to preventing social engineering attacks on your organization, including practical recommendations for employee security training, and a complete, easy-to-adapt security policy you can start implementing now. This may not be where you expected to get your security advice from, but hey, who could possibly know your vulnerabilities better than Kevin Mitnick? Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.