Written by Berkeley astronomer Cliff Stoll, this book tells of how he managed to nail the hacker who broke into the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory’s network in 1986/1987, and his part in uncovering what appeared to be an espionage effort against the US military.
Without giving too much away for those who haven’t read it yet, the story can be slow-going for the first couple hundred pages, but it lays out a real-world example of entire networks getting hacked because of weak passwords, unpatched software, and basic lack of interest from those who should have protected them.
Network security would have been rather tedious back in the day. Stoll said as much during his recent TED lecture (also worth watching), and it was just one aspect of a hacking scene that gave us the Internet we have now (the Chaos Computer Club gets a mention in the book). Of course, today information security’s a challenge for the technically-minded, because of the complexity of today’s networks, because the Internet’s become so layered and integrated into our lives, and because there are 1001 ways of defeating security. Stoll’s book is still highly relevant and provides an excellent introduction to computer hacking and security.