The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security / Edition 1

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A legendary hacker reveals how to guard against the gravest security risk of all-human nature

"...a tour de force, a series of tales of how some old-fashioned blarney and high-tech skills can pry any information from anyone. As entertainment, it's like reading the climaxes of a dozen complex thrillers, one after the other" —Publishers Weekly

Kevin Mitnick's exploits as a cyber-desperado and fugitive from one of the most exhaustive FBI manhunts in history have spawned dozens of articles, books, films, and documentaries. Since his release from federal prison in 2000, Mitnick has turned his life around and established himself as one of the most sought-after computer security experts worldwide. Now, in The Art of Deception, the world's most famous hacker gives new meaning to the old adage, "It takes a thief to catch a thief."

Inviting you into the complex mind of the hacker, Mitnick provides realistic scenarios of cons, swindles, and social engineering attacks on businesses-and the consequences. Focusing on the human factors involved with information security, Mitnick explains why all the firewalls and encryption protocols in the world will never be enough to stop a savvy grifter intent on rifling a corporate database or an irate employee determined to crash a system. He illustrates just how susceptible even the most locked-down information systems are to a slick con artist impersonating an IRS agent or any other seemingly innocent character. Narrated from the points of view of both the attacker and the victim, The Art of Deception explores why each attack was so successful and how it could have been averted in an engaging and highly readable manner reminiscent of a true-crime novel.

Most importantly, Mitnick redeems his former life of crime by providing specific guidelines for developing protocols, training programs, and manuals to ensure that a company's sophisticated technical security investment will not be for naught. He shares his advice for preventing security vulnerability in the hope that people will be mindfully on guard for an attack from the gravest risk of all-human nature.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471237129
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 10/11/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 803,745
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

KEVIN MITNICK is a security consultant to corporations worldwide and a cofounder of Defensive Thinking, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm ( He has testified before the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs on the need for legislation to ensure the security of the government's information systems. His articles have appeared in major news magazines and trade journals, and he has appeared on Court TV, Good Morning America, 60 Minutes, CNN's Burden of Proof and Headline News. He has also been a keynote speaker at numerous industry events and has hosted a weekly radio show on KFI AM 640 Los Angeles.

WILLIAM SIMON is a bestselling author of more than a dozen books and an award-winning film and television writer.

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Table of Contents




Part 1: Behind the Scenes.

Chapter 1: Security's Weakest Link.

Part 2: The Art of the Attacker.

Chapter 2: When Innocuous Information Isn't.

Chapter 3: The Direct Attack: Just Asking for It.

Chapter 4: Building Trust.

Chapter 5: "Let Me Help You".

Chapter 6: "Can You Help Me?".

Chapter 7: Phony Sites and Dangerous Attachments.

Chapter 8: Using Sympathy, Guilt, and Intimidation.

Chapter 9: The Reverse Sting.

Part 3: Intruder Alert.

Chapter 10: Entering the Premises.

Chapter 11: Combining Technology and Social Engineering.

Chapter 12: Attacks on the Entry-Level Employee.

Chapter 13: Clever Cons.

Chapter 14: Industrial Espionage.

Part 4: Raising the Bar.

Chapter 15: Information Security Awareness and Training.

Chapter 16: Recommended Corporate Information Security Policies.

Security at a Glance.




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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 24 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2014

    Not what I expected but good.

    I thought this book would be a lesson on HOW to social engineer, but unfortunately it is just a interesting corporate handbook. Provides a couple of interesting stories and techniques but I'd like to see a guidebook to ethical social engineering. Good read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011


    This was an extraordinary book!


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  • Posted November 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Vivid, eye-opening stories with a dry, professional addendum

    This is a highly enjoyable collection of short stories demonstrating social engineering fundamentals. It's Scams 101 written by a highly credible author. Each method chapter draws from street experience and is analyzed for comprehension and defense, This is a real eye-opener for those of us sheltered in corporate office jobs or academia.

    The first two thirds of the book are the method chapters, while the remaining third is a rather dry sequence of corporate policy recommendations. The recommendations seem stale, but they establish ample justification for your boss to buy it for you. (Perhaps another scam pulled off by Mitnick?).

    If I have any criticism it is that, despite the title, the book concentrates on the defensive side of the 'art'. There are no lists of suggested exercises to practice each method; instead short case analyses are concluded with steps to avoid being a victim. Also, the acknowledgements section is plainly a nauseous gush.

    The writing style of the bulk of the book is great though: easy and engrossing. If you tore off the last third of the book, it would stand on its own as a must-read for anyone interested in modern deception and fraud.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2005

    Amazing Book

    This book is undoubtably a good read. It kept my intrest the whole way through. I am a social engineer but i wanted to learn more about this subject so i picked up this book and my skills improved alot. I only use my social engineering skills for talking my way out of on into things i dont think its worth the risk of diong some of the things in this book. SO DONT ATTEMPT ANY THING U READ IN THIS BOOK!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2005

    Is it worth it?

    This book is easily one of the greatest books that I have read to date and would recommend any book written by the great coder and computer enthusiast Kevin Mitnick. If you want a book that not only tells of the attack side of a computer intrusion, but also the tracking side, then this book is the one for you. I also strongly recommend that big companies have all employees that work with sensitive data to read this book to protect against social engineering.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2005


    Never in my life have books kept my attention, but I must say this book is truly amazing! I love the wording and the storys that are used. I have learned so much from Kevin.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2002

    The Greatest Hack

    Kevin Mitnick¿s ¿The Art of Deception¿ is his greatest (to date) successful attempt of the ¿hacking¿ on a mass scale. Not only he got to disseminate the craft cleverly bypassing probation restrictions, but also in doing so he legitimately got paid. Bravo. The content - amusing (hence 3 stars) mix of anecdotes and corporate manuals, presents no news to a professional. Better books were written on the subject. It is also unfortunate that the term "social engineering" stuck, though the desire of a con man to call himself an artist is understood.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2002

    Packed with Knowledge!

    In The Art of Deception, Kevin D. Mitnick, a corporate security consultant who was once arrested for computer hacking, has written a fascinating book about how to control security lapses due to the ¿human element.¿ With writer William L. Simon, he describes how con artists use social engineering to gain information by lying to pass themselves off as insiders. By being sensitive to human behavior and taking advantage of trust, they learn to bypass your security systems. The book teaches you how to ward off such threats and educate employees. Yet, problematically, this information could also help con artists be more sophisticated. In any case, this highly informative, engaging book includes sample conversations that open the door to information, along with tips about how various cons are used and what to do about them. We from getAbstract recommend this book to corporate officers, information managers, human resource directors and security personnel, but don¿t tell anybody.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2002

    This is a *great* KISS and TELL story!

    Only the most arrogant Sys Admin, Manager or simple reader would read these tales and not wonder WHEN one of Mitnick's described social engineering techniques has been used on them or their colleagues. The book flows smoothly and demonstrates clearly how vulnerable EVERYONE is to manipulation. I was surprised and pleased that such a book is not banned. It reads much like a 'bad guys' HOWTO--But, since this info is already available to those who would take advantage, making the info available to the community at large educates and strengthens the rest of us. If only Senior Execs would read this book and learn--they could take us all a huge step forward; toward securing and protecting the data we are responsible for. And everyone, from the medtech to the artist, even those without computers to defend, would benefit by reading it. It teaches us definitively about human nature and human vulnerabilities. The book is about INFORMATION--how people try to steal or manipulate it, and how we can protect our information and ourselves. Mitnick, while never truly reviled by computer folks, may have just redeemed himself in Society. I'd be tempted to give him his freedom and his modem back, with the implicit request that he hack only to 'do good'. I paid $30ish for the book in-store, and wouldn't sell it off for less than a $100. It's always the stuff that seems so obvious once you read it, that you really do need to read and know. Mitnick and Simon are providing a gift of understanding. Take it. READ IT.

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