Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Book Review: The Cuckoo's Egg, by Cliff Stoll

If spooks and spies, computer security, and down to earth common sense with the scientific method appeal to you, this book will be an exciting read that you will not be able to put down.

"The Cuckoo's Egg", by Cliff Stoll, is a novel written by an astronomer at Berkeley who begins by helping some systems administrators and ends up chasing a German hacker who works for the KGB. Cliff, who is relating a true story based upon his experience, tracks down and provides the evidence to convict this hacker by working with the FBI, CIA, NSA, OSI, and other agencies. The book is around 350 pages, and has over 50 chapters, making for short chapters.

On a technical note, the techniques, procedures, and equipment in the book are described well so that the reader will have their curiosity piqued. The hacking techniques show how insecure the common administrator left their system 20 years ago (and to some degree today). The most common way that the hacker entered a system was by using a default username and password. All the technical readers will note how the interaction by the "computer experts" is very minimal, while giving credit to the author (I imagine we would all do the same, so I don't blame him).

I highly recommend this book to technical and non-technical crowds alike. Enjoy!

Amazon Link

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