Spying on Card Criminals

I quite enjoy reading books on catching hackers, not that I’m particularly keen on the law making good, mainly it’s because they’re one-on-one matches with technically competent players and tons of inept coppers who barely know how to switch a PC on (and, let’s face it, it’s rare a hacker writes about his exploits from his own perspective). There aren’t many books out there, The Cuckoo’s Egg by Clifford (now Cliff) Stoll, set around Berkley in the very early days of internet communications, and Takedown by Tsutomu Shimomura about his pursuit and help in capturing hacker Kevin Mitnick. (Incidentally, both these cases are similar, hackers broke into the computers of people able to match their skills, don’t hack a hacker guys, it pisses them off and they will catch you.)

So, I was interested in reading the Wired story about David Thomas, a former cyber criminal turned FBI informant (via Techmeme). He wasn’t a hacker, but he and many of the people he came into contact with were technically competent. I always find it interesting to get a look into hidden worlds.

Having a quick look at what other people have bought on Amazon it seems there are a couple of other books I may like: The Art of Intrusion by Kevin Mitnick and Hackers’ Tales: Stories from the Electronic Front Line by by Dr K both sound interesting (I read the excerpt, never underestimate how useful that function is).

Why does it interest me? I don’t know, I’m never going to be able to be a hacker, I’m not competent enough and I don’t understand computer systems well enough, although I do remember being shown how to find out the password of someone who logged on to the old Acorn Archimedes we used to use in college before you and using that to log in to a few people’s accounts (and some other stuff on those). I never did anything bad, just used it to spy on girls I liked. Anyway, I always like the idea of it though, being able to walk in and out of IT systems, get stuff for free and spy on people, although the reality is much less glamourous I’m sure.

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