Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Mitnick and Simon

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Ghost in the Wires

The paper reports on one of the most interesting books dedicated to technology and communication, Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker, written by Mitnick and Simon in 2011. It provides a clear overview of the piece of writing and analyzes the key ideas the writers have expressed in the plot of their work. In addition to this, the examples of the particular hackers’ work implementation have been shown and discussed. The paper provides a profound insight into the world of virtual reality and communication starting with the easiest ways of tricking. The final point of the piece of writing is the analysis of the possible and essential consequences of the hackers’ work and its impact upon the position and the state of virtual reality. The report also regards the key aspects of the application of communication in the scientific world and makes an emphasis on the way science has made a contribution to the development of the hackers’ profession. In conclusion, it discusses the target audience the book is likely to attract. This helps understand who the main readers are, and how the book is able to assist in understanding the versatile mechanisms of the virtual space and the principles of the Internet’s existence.

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Currently, the influence of new information, the intensive introduction of modern communication facilities, and the rapid development of the Internet presuppose the appearance the innovative technologies such as e-forms and e-methods of scientific cooperation, and space research forms of online communication. There is also a transformation of the previously traditional model of scientific communication, whose main task was the formation of knowledge, into the model of e-science and e-communication, in which the focus has shifted towards dissemination and open access to information and the results of scientific studies.

It is important to note that the widespread implementation of information and communication technologies leads to a higher level of education. In fact, at present, the quality of training in any institution of higher education is increasingly dependent on the skills to use the information and communication technologies to obtain the necessary knowledge and produce the new one. However, not so long ago, when the Internet was not that developed, there was a telephone connection only that was often used to manipulate people and processes.

The book under analysis, Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker, written by Mitnick and Simon in 2011, regards many issues concerning the virtual world. It has been chosen due to the fact that the authors depict the real essence of hackers and show the way the communication technologies can be penetrated into by these people to reach their personal purposes.

The writers begin with the short historic note which shows to what extent the telephones were used, and how it was possible to take advantage of people and companies by the use of the phone in order to obtain any sort of benefits.

Starting from the first pages, Mitnick and Simon link the technology and science world with the hobby and human field of expertise. They have a conviction that any hobby that doesn’t provide some fun and a few laughs now and then probably isn’t worth the time and effort you put into it (Mitnick & Simon, 2011, p. 13).

In the professional field, researchers and various groups of people connected by technologies are increasingly using e-communication. Thus, the network is created and accumulated by the diverse scientific knowledge, which is a result of the development of scientific communication in general, and the result of the exchange of ideas between researchers in particular. Numerous studies show that most scientists continue to use e-mail as the main operational tool of scientific communication. In this regard, there have been problems of preservation, storage, and post-processing of this type of information related to the lack of a common and accessible system of its selection, retention, and accumulation. There is a real danger that the transition to more modern electronic scientific communication technology would entail the loss of this type of scientific information.

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As it has been stated above, hackers are likely to use the information space for their own purposes. The authors of Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker provide numerous examples of how the technology can be exploited in order to permit a hacker to penetrate it. Mitnick and Simon (2011) illustrate the easiest ways to break the system and provide their readers with the following example:

When the operator came on the line, I’d ask her to call me back at the phone number for the modem at the computer terminal I was using. The computer terminals in the lab at that time did not have internal modems. Instead, to make a modem connection, you had to place the telephone handset into an adjacent acoustic coupler, which sent signals from the modem into the telephone handset and out over the phone lines. When the operator called back on the modem telephone, I’d answer the call and ask her to dial a phone number for me. I used this method to dial into numerous businesses that used DEC PDP-11’s running RSTS/E. I was able to social-engineer their dial-ups and system credentials using the DEC Field Support ruse. (Mitnick & Simon, 2011, p. 21).

The authors of the book push their readers to the idea that information technology is understood by the majority as a process that uses a set of tools and methods for collecting, processing, and transmitting primary information in order to obtain one about the status of new objects, schemes, and phenomena of the surrounding world. The writers mention the fourth information revolution and the fact that, at its core, it is the integration of scientific, technical, and humanitarian knowledge. Critically analyzing the overall idea of Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker, it is possible to come up with an understanding that the development of this knowledge has taken place within the framework of a social science involving clear rules for verification and quality assurance of new information. At the end of the twentieth-century science recognizes social control and self-control; it cannot function fully without legal, moral and professional supervision.

However, it is obvious that Mitnick and Simon (2011) have a conviction that the twenty-first century highlights information that is not always recognized by the proven rules of the new knowledge, i.e. the concept of ‘information’ is not identical to the concept of ‘scientific knowledge’ although the information technology and information networks and the entire computer science have emerged on the basis of scientific knowledge. The definition of ‘information’ in various sciences is known to be different. It has its interpretations in philosophy, economics, cybernetics, decision theory, semiotics, etc. For example, in semiotics, the information is understood as a measure to eliminate the uncertainty in the knowledge of the message recipient about the object or about some event. In the science of science and philosophy of knowledge, scientific knowledge is not just new information about objects, their properties, and surrounding phenomena of the world. It is also the recognition that scientific knowledge is subject to certain requirements to the entire process of its production, testing, and examination, discussion, and publication (printing).

The writer also mentions the fact that the exchange of information through modern means of communication, and primarily through computer networks, involves the use of not only scientific knowledge, i.e. verified information, but also the unchecked one as the society has not developed any form of social control of its quality and truth. Computers, TV, information networks actively form the tastes of the people today, the value system of the society, the virtual culture, and the virtual world of a certain number of individuals. The modern information society is different from the industrial one whose main aim was the manufacture of the technologies. The prevailing asset of the new society is the information, its production, storage, and distribution which is changing the basic operation of the majority of social institutions of all kinds.

Additionally, the authors of Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker lead the readers to the conclusion that in terms of functionality, the Internet can be considered as versatile since it serves as an information database for virtually all spheres of human activities, including science and education, as a new type of library, as a means of mass communication, as a special communication space (cyberspace) and functions as a medium of exchange of ideas among the members of its virtual community. Similarly, the network control problems are at the intersection of technology, economics, politics, law, and morality, so the analysis of the network ethics is interdisciplinary in nature and considered by philosophy, history of science, sociology, and ethics.

Moreover, having read the book, a reader is likely to realize that communication is a socially conditioned process of transmission and reception of information in terms of interpersonal communication carried out through different channels using different means of communication such as verbal, nonverbal, etc. Accordingly, virtual communication is understood as a form of communication that takes place on the basis of the channels that transmit and receive information via computer and computer networks. It has a number of significant differences from the most traditional forms of communication.

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Citing a story after a story, the authors prove that communication has a high level of penetration, and it is global in nature. Any individual who has a computer, a laptop, or a mobile phone of the latest generation of satellite communication becomes a part of the whole process.

The writers go further to state that one of the greatest advantages of virtual communication is its anonymity because the participants of the dialogue are not familiar and not introduced to each other. They can share not reliable information and leave the chat at any time. Moreover, it is possible to take any image one wants which means that network communication is not always the interaction of specific individuals. In such intercourse, one can experiment with their identity, and use nicknames.

The ability to remain anonymous and to change the name of the profile, in fact, is a symbolic rejection of the individual from himself, his identity, society, and from the real culture that creates the illusion of the absence of any cultural and social norms and constraints in the virtual world. As a result, one can compare virtual communication with the medieval carnival, when during one night or all the event, people could indulge in any amusement without being limited by any moral or religious norms which allow you to temporarily forget about the cruelty and harshness of real life. This means that virtual communication, neglecting the importance of many of the social conventions and differences, is accessible to everyone, while traditional intercourse is limited by the social status of the person. In the virtual world, communicants have no bodies, sex, age, profession, nationality, or race.

Undoubtedly, the erosion of social roles and statuses, the destruction of the spatial, cultural, and geographical barriers, and other features mentioned above make it difficult to control the virtual communication and virtual space by the currently existing social institutions. Therefore, one can talk about their boundaries being non-institutional with uncertainties governing their social, legal, and moral standards.

To sum up, the book under analysis Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker written by Mitnick and Simon in 2011 depicts the real nature of the hackers and provides numerous examples of how their work is performed, and how they are likely to impact the virtual life of people. In addition to this, the work can be a precious source of inspiration for those who are engaged with the technologies and for those who would want to know more about the speculations and work of the systems of communication and technologies.

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