Top Ten Hacker Books

This is a list of recommended (non-fiction) books about hackers and hacking which involve real life descriptions of events, and the personalities involved. Although solely my own opinion, I have read most of these titles and stand by this ordering, but of course feel free to post comments of your alternative suggestions here. Enjoy!
  1. Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker
    By Kevin Mitnick, Steve Wozniak and William L. Simon
    Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
    Published: August 15, 2011
    Amazon Link: here

    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 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.

  2. Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground
    By Kevin Poulsen
    Publisher: Crown
    Published: February 22, 2011
    Amazon Link: here

    A true page turning account of the exploits of Max Butler, a.k.a. Max Ray Vision, a notorious hacker who stole access to 1.8 million credit card accounts before law enforcement caught up with him. Kingpin gives us not just the personalities and double-dealing of this new underground, but also a look at how hacking has transformed the world of crime. It details the seesaw life of Butler, at one time a respected computer security professional, and next a pure criminal, hacking into credit card payment systems and handing off millions of credit card numbers to other criminals worldwide, via underground 'carders' websites.

  3. The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage
    By Cliff Stoll
    Publisher: Gallery Books
    Published: September 13, 2005. Originally published in 1985.
    Amazon Link: here

    A 75-cent discrepancy in billing for computer time led Stoll, an astrophysicist working as a systems manager at a California laboratory, on a quest that reads with the tension and excitement of a fictional thriller. Painstakingly he tracked down a hacker who was attempting to access American computer networks, in particular those involved with national security, and actually reached into an estimated 30 of the 450 systems he attacked. Initially Stroll waged a lone battle, his employers begrudging him the time spent on his search and several government agencies refused to cooperate. But his diligence paid off and in due course it was learned that the hacker, 25-year-old Markus Hess of Hanover, Germany, was involved with a spy ring. Eight members were arrested by the West German authorities but all but one were eventually released. Although the book will be best appreciated by the computer literate, even illiterates should be able to follow the technical complexities with little difficulty.

  4. The Fugitive Game: Online with Kevin Mitnick
    By Jonathan Littman
    Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
    Published: January 1, 1997
    Amazon Link: here

    The Fugitive Game is a compelling look at the events that led up to the capture of Kevin Mitnick, and no portion of the folklore surrounding the case is left untouched by the book's critical eye. The real gold of this volume comes from the nearly 200 pages of conversations with Kevin Mitnick himself, most of which were transcribed while he was fleeing from the law. John Markoff's involvement in the eventual capture of Mitnick by Tsutomu Shimomura is also scrutinized at length. A must read companion to "Ghost in the Wires".

  5. Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet
    By Joseph Menn
    Publisher: PublicAffairs
    Published: January 26, 2010
    Amazon Link: here

    Joseph Menn immerses us in the personalities and politics behind today's cybersecurity threats and countermeasures. This balanced, compelling account shows why the future of the Internet depends more on people of good will than on some technological magic bullet. The book describes the efforts of Barrett Lyon, a California surfer self-taught to become one of the world's leading Internet security experts, and Andy Crocker, a courageous British policeman, and their collaborative work to identify the criminals responsible for the now all-too-familiar viruses, worms, Trojans, and denial-of-service attacks that have infiltrated millions of computers and disabled thousands of Web sites.

  6. The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders and Deceivers
    By Kevin Mitnick and William L. Simon
    Publisher: Wiley
    Published: December 27, 2005
    Amazon Link: here

    Mitnick introduces readers to a fascinating array of pseudonymous hackers. One group of friends bilks Las Vegas casinos out of more than a million dollars by mastering the patterns inherent in slot machines; another fellow, less fortunate, gets mixed up with a presumed al-Qaeda–style terrorist; and a prison convict leverages his computer skills to communicate with the outside world, unbeknownst to his keepers. Mitnick's handling of these engrossing tales is exemplary, for which credit presumably goes to his coauthor, writing pro Simon. Given the complexity of the material, the authors avoid the pitfall of drowning readers in minutiae. Uniformly readable, the stories—some are quite exciting—will impart familiar lessons to security pros while introducing lay readers to an enthralling field of inquiry.

  7. The Hacker Crackdown: Law And Disorder On The Electronic Frontier
    By Bruce Sterling
    Publisher: Bantam
    Published: November 1, 1993
    Amazon Link: here

    Bruce Sterling's classic work highlights the 1990 assault on hackers, when law-enforcement officials successfully arrested scores of suspected illicit hackers and other computer-based law-breakers. These raids became symbolic of the debate between fighting serious computer crime and protecting civil liberties. However, The Hacker Crackdown is about far more than a series of police sting operations. It's a lively tour of three cyberspace subcultures--the hacker underworld, the realm of the cybercops, and the idealistic culture of the cybercivil libertarians.

  8. The Watchman: The Twisted Life and Crimes of Serial Hacker Kevin Poulsen
    By Jonathan Littman
    Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
    Published: March 31, 1997
    Amazon Link: here

    Takes us inside the mind of former computer hacker and now respected author, Kevin Poulsen. In his previous life as a hacker, he seized the phone lines of a major Los Angeles radio station to make certain he was the 101st caller. Over time, he won two Porsches, $22,000 in cash, and two trips to Hawaii. He was caught and charged with numerous computer and telephone crimes, the most serious of which alleged that he obtained a classified document from a military database. Poulsen became the first computer hacker in history to be charged with espionage, and in all he was charged with 19 counts of computer fraud, wiretapping, money laundering, and obstruction of justice.

  9. Masters of Deception: The Gang That Ruled Cyberspace
    By Michele Slatalla
    Publisher: Harper Perennial
    Published: December 1, 1995
    Amazon Link: here

    A riveting account of electronic gang warfare and computer crimes by two rival bands of hackers. One group of brainy teens based in New York City and calling themselves Masters of Deception (MOD) downloaded confidential credit histories (including those of Geraldo Rivera and Julia Roberts), broke into AT&T's computer system and stole credit-card numbers. Their arch rivals, the Texas-based Legion of Doom (LOD), launched a security service firm to assist corporations whose computers MOD has penetrated. The events leading up to the conflict and its climax make for some great reading.

  10. Unmasked
    By Peter Bright, Nate Anderson, Jacqui Cheng, Eric Bangeman and Aurich Lawson (of ArsTechnica)
    Publisher: Amazon Digital Services (Kindle Edition)
    Published: March, 2011
    Amazon Link: here

    ArsTechnica does a fantastic job of chronicling the Anonymous/HBGary saga over the course of a number of articles. Every piece is well written, detailed, and informative. If you have any interest in the impact an anonymous collection of individuals can have, or the types of organizations the US government contracts with, you owe it to yourself to read this book.

Below I've listed some books that I feel deserve a mention, including the recently released titles "DarkMarket" by Misha Glenny and "A Bug Hunter's Diary" by Tobias Klein.

> DarkMarket: Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You
By Misha Glenny
Publisher: Knopf
Published: October 4, 2011
Amazon Link: here

Misha Glenny (author of organised crime book "McMafia"), explores the three fundamental threats facing us in the twenty-first century: cybercrime, cyberwarfare and cyberindustrial espionage. Glenny travelled from the U.S. to Ukraine, via France, Germany and Turkey following the players associated with cybercrime, including those associated with the underground carders website DarkMarket. Interviews feature the criminals, the geeks, the police, the security experts and the victims.

CYBERPUNK: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier, Revised Edition
By Katie Hafner
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: November 1, 1995
Amazon Link: here

Cyberpunk tells the stories of notorious hackers Kevin Mitnick, Robert T. Morris, and the Berlin-based Chaos Computer Club. The story of Morris, who became infamous for unleashing a crippling worm that brought the Internet to a grinding standstill, is still as relevant and ominous today as it was at the time. The space devoted to Mitnick is a must-read companion to either "Ghost in the Wires" or "The Fugitive Game". Included also is CCC's "Pengo and the Project Equalizer," the story of a West Berlin punk turned hacker, a true cyberpunk of the title.

A Bug Hunter's Diary: A Guided Tour Through the Wilds of Software Security
By Tobias Klein
Publisher: No Starch Press
Published: October 22, 2011
Amazon Link: here

Follow along with security expert Tobias Klein as he tracks down and exploits bugs in some of the world's most popular programs. Whether by browsing source code, poring over disassembly, or fuzzing live programs, readers get an over-the-shoulder glimpse into the world of a bug hunter as Klein unearths security flaws and uses them to take control of affected systems. They also learn how the developers responsible for these flaws responded to Klein's discoveries—or didn't seem to respond at all. In this one-of-a-kind guide that mixes the personal with the deeply technical, readers learn how hackers approach difficult problems, see the fallout of a security advisory, and understand the true joys (and frustrations) of bug hunting.

Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier
By Suelette Dreyfus
Publisher: Mandarin Australia
Published: June 6, 1997
Amazon Link: here

Underground provides an excellent overview of intrusion activities focusing on the UK, Australia, and the United States from the late 80's to the early 90's, with stories on incidents such as the WANK Worm outbreak and 8lgm's activities. The stand out attribute of this book is that it examines what happened to the intruders after their activity rather than focusing on the activity itself. WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, famously helped with research for this book.

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