A very readable history of the early US hacking scene, including the roots of Def Con and Blackhat security conferences. The book is filled with a cast of characters many of whose names and exploits I recognize — although I’ve only met one or two in person. The book is definitely US-centric in it’s coverage but an interesting way to spend a summer evening or two.
Menn (the author) spends a lot of time working through the moral reasoning that led a group formed out of an interest in how things worked and a sense of community among the socially awkward, to a group that made a profound difference to how we think about responsible disclosure of security vulnerabilities and our obligations as technologists while at the same time trying to be funny (the hackers, not the author).
The description of how cDc dragged Microsoft kicking and screaming into taking security for their software seriously is both funny and interesting, as well as the discussion of early attempts at responsible disclosure at a time where software vendors would sue instead of fixing their products.
I find the descriptions of the various players “going straight” and acquiring actual jobs in order to pay for their mortgages or whatever reassuring to those of us facing middle age.
An excellent read that I’d recommend to anyone interested in the history of what we now call Cyber.