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The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage (1989)

by Clifford Stoll

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2,481374,830 (4.09)1 / 29
This is the true story of how a systems manager at Lawrence Berkeley Lab singlehandedly tracked down and helped capture a computer hacker who had been breaking into U.S. computer systems and stealing sensitive military and security information. Cliff Stoll was an astronomer turned systems manager at Lawrence Berkeley Lab when a 75-cent accounting error alerted him to the presence of an unauthorized user on his system. The hacker's code name was "Hunter" -- a mystery invader hiding inside a twisting electronic labyrinth, breaking into U.S. computer systems and stealing sensitive military and security information. Stoll began a one-man hunt of his own, spying on the spy -- and plunged into an incredible international probe that finally gained the attention of top U.S. counterintelligence agents. The Cuckoo's Egg is his wild and suspenseful true story -- a year of deception, broken codes, satellites, missile bases, and the ultimate sting operation -- and how one ingenious American trapped a spy ring paid in cash and cocaine, and reporting to the KGB.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
I love this book. Published in 1990, this book first introduced me to hacking and cybercrimes and I have been hooked ever since. One of my early jobs when I first left school was to track down the spending against the costs for my employer. They had to match. If the final balance was out by less than $1 it took forever to find those few cents.

Cliff Stoll from California was given a similar job back in the 1980s. 75 cents were missing from the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory accounts, and he was given the task of finding those missing pennies. It took him several years but eventually he was able to bring down one of the first cyberterrorist cells that was stealing military secrets and selling them to the Russians.

While this is an old story, and computers and technology have now far surpassed what Cliff Stoll had to deal with, I still enjoy reading this for the history of the early hackers. ( )
  Robloz | Sep 23, 2021 |
Excellent old timey story about hackers before there was even an internet. All the same lessons still apply. ( )
  royragsdale | Sep 22, 2021 |
Reading again after 30 years. This true story reads like the best spy thriller fiction. A recent headline (March 2021) warned that some of the important “holes” in the security systems of computers worldwide have still not been plugged. ( )
  SharronA | Mar 13, 2021 |
It's a fun little foray into tracking spies. The Cuckoo's Egg is enough to satisfy your inner Tom Clancy, without delving into dumb action schlock. It's not a book that's going to stick with you, but it's an enjoyable read. ( )
  isovector | Dec 13, 2020 |
Accessible to the layman and engaging as hell, Stoll's journey in tracing a hacker - maybe some script kiddie? - all the way into Europe and beyond is a wonderful read. The ex-hippie shtick wears a bit thin in some places, but his personal transformation is made clearer by the epilogue. And in some ways he is just as much a novice to computer security as an average person reading this. A trip through unix and VAX systems, GNU-emacs holes and root/admin passwords, this is a great introduction to what "hacking" - and classification by aggregation - have always been about. ( )
  goliathonline | Jul 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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This is the true story of how a systems manager at Lawrence Berkeley Lab singlehandedly tracked down and helped capture a computer hacker who had been breaking into U.S. computer systems and stealing sensitive military and security information. Cliff Stoll was an astronomer turned systems manager at Lawrence Berkeley Lab when a 75-cent accounting error alerted him to the presence of an unauthorized user on his system. The hacker's code name was "Hunter" -- a mystery invader hiding inside a twisting electronic labyrinth, breaking into U.S. computer systems and stealing sensitive military and security information. Stoll began a one-man hunt of his own, spying on the spy -- and plunged into an incredible international probe that finally gained the attention of top U.S. counterintelligence agents. The Cuckoo's Egg is his wild and suspenseful true story -- a year of deception, broken codes, satellites, missile bases, and the ultimate sting operation -- and how one ingenious American trapped a spy ring paid in cash and cocaine, and reporting to the KGB.

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