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The World's Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data

by Kevin Mitnick with Robert Vamosi

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-316-38050-8
Publisher: Little, Brown

A highly useful handbook for how not to be seen—online, anyway.

Think your data and identity are safe because you’ve got an eight-character password that isn’t “God” or “1234”? Guess again, says cybersecurity expert Mitnick (Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker, 2011, etc.). In a world where your smart TV can spy on you and your cellphone can reveal your location to any party with the ability to download tracking software, the odds are that your data is…well, compromised is the least of it. Furthermore, the American government has a rubber stamp for getting at your data, even in the days after Edward Snowden—whom the author mentions at several points—pointed out how much data the government already has. One step in the right direction is to use encryption software such as PGP (“pretty good privacy”) to keep your email secure. However, warns Mitnick after a discussion refreshingly short on technical arcana if still a little daunting, “to become truly invisible in the digital world you will need to do more than encrypt your messages.” Among the other techniques he suggests are using a passphrase instead of a password, made up of information only you can know, behind a virtual private network, encrypted phone calls, and two-factor authorization, all geeky things that Mitnick describes in admirably clear detail. Other tricks: use a reloadable gift card behind an email address used only for that purpose for online shopping, if you must shop online at all. Along the way, Mitnick describes how David Petraeus was caught in electronic flagrante, how Silk Road got taken down, and how he himself got nabbed.

You don’t have to be a paranoiac to have enemies, and you don’t need to be an outlaw to want to keep your personal information personal. Though with more than a whiff of conspiracy theory to it, Mitnick’s book is a much-needed operating manual for the cyberage.