Friday, May 28, 2004

--[ BOOK REVIEW: Hacker Diaries: Confessions of Teenage Hackers

# By Dan Verton
# Hardcover: 219 pages
# Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media; 1st edition (March 26, 2002)
# ISBN: 0072223642

Book discription (copied from Amazon):

To many who knew him, there was nothing odd about him. He was a normal kid...
On February 7, 2000, Yahoo.com was the first victim of the biggest distributed denial-of-service attack ever to hit the Internet. On May 8th, Buy.com was battling a massive denial-of-service attack. Later that afternoon, eBay.com also reported significant outages of service, as did Amazon.com. Then CNN's global online news operation started to grind to a crawl. By the following day, Datek and E-Trade entered crisis mode...all thanks to an ordinary fourteen-year-old kid.
Friends and neighbors were shocked to learn that the skinny, dark-haired, boy next door who loved playing basketball--almost as much as he loved computers--would cause millions of dollars worth of damage on the Internet and capture the attention of the online world--and the federal government. He was known online as "Mafiaboy" and, to the FBI, as the most notorious teenage hacker of all time. He did it all from his bedroom PC. And he's not alone.
Computer hacking and Web site defacement has become a national pastime for America's teenagers, and according to the stories you'll read about in The Hacker Diaries--it is only the beginning. But who exactly are these kids and what motivates a hacker to strike? Why do average teenagers get involved in hacking in the first place? This compelling and revealing book sets out to answer these questions--and some of the answers will surprise you. Through fascinating interviews with FBI agents, criminal psychologists, law-enforcement officials--as well as current and former hackers--you'll get a glimpse inside the mind of today's teenage hacker. Learn how they think, find out what it was like for them growing up, and understand the internal and external pressures that pushed them deeper and deeper into the hacker underground. Every hacker has a life and story of his or her own. One teenager's insatiable curiosity as to how the family's VCR worked was enough to trigger a career of cracking into computer systems. This is a remarkable story of technological wizardry, creativity, dedication, youthful angst, frustration and disconnection from society, boredom, anger, and jail time. Teenage hackers are not all indifferent punks. They're just like every other kid and some of them probably live in your neighborhood. They're there. All you have to do is look.

This is one of the only books that directly talks about teenage hackers and one that tries to change the people's and the media's perception about a hacker. It does not, however, do a great job of conveying this message, at least that is what I thought. The preface starts as a restatement of the well know Hacker's Manefesto authored by Mentor a decade ago. The book will not appeal to us techs and might only appeal to regular people who are just starting out to know what the hell TCP/IP is and how to crack passwords with LophtCrack (which is GUI btw ;) ). So if you think this book is in any way technical you are no where in the ball park of the truth. One issue that I really found serious in the book was that the message is contradicted. Although the book wants to convey the message that hacking is good and people who practice it are normal beings the choice of characters was no where normal. The characters which are mostly from divorced parents, living with no water in there house, picking fights, getting arrested, and getting expelled from school hardly the norm for the average teenager. A couple of technical inaccuracies were also spotted between the text and there a huge gap in the time line described between the day the hacker fiddled with his first computer and the day he started to break computers. Other than that issue the book is a good read although it does really appeal to my technological taste and must get a 6 out of 10.

Reviews done by others on the book:


Links pretaining to the book:

The hacker's manifesto, by the Mentor this is also knows by other names including The Conscience of a Hacker.
Genocide 2600 one of the guys talked about in the book.


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