Author: Ryan Russell, Timothy Mullen
& Johnny Long,
Aimed at: Anyone interested in understanding hackers
Pros: A fun read - more a novel than a technical book
Cons: Most of it already published
Reviewed by: Mike James
This is a big book and not something to be read in a single sitting - or even many sittings. This is a collection of stories about hacking based on real technology with the idea that they educate and inform and are entertaining at the same time. Almost all the stories have been around for some time as separate volumes which have been combined to make the 1000 plus page Collector's Edition which includes a new final chapter which accounts for twenty of its pages. If you already have the rest this probably isn't enough to make it worth buying a copy of this hardback tome unless, of course, you really are a collector.
The books have been organised into sections. Part 1 - How to own the box - presents ten chapters on what you might call small scale hacking of individual systems. Part 2 - How to own a continent - deals with larger scale attacks. Part 3 - How to own an identity - is as you might guess about identity theft and Part 4 - How to own a shadow - wraps things up. The stories are the usual collection of using open source tools, writing short scripts and using information obtained by luck or "social engineering". Some of the technical details are a bit unbelievable, and occasionally you have to assume that there are bits left out or suspend your disbelief. But it is nearly always entertaining.
However this said if you are interested in "hacking" or getting an insight into their psychology then the book is good reading.
If you are into collecting then there is a DVD bound into the back that contains some interviews and the book is in hardback with an extra chapter but that's about all the new material. In most cases this isn't enough to warrant buying the collection if you have the originals.
The final conclusion is that it is just about good enough to be worth reading as almost-factual techno-fiction if you aren't interested in computers and if you are, well you might even be hooked.