News in the Category "A Hacker’s Mind"

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A Hacker’s Mind—How the Elites Exploit the System

  • Becky Hogge
  • Financial Times
  • February 10, 2023

What does the computer world have to teach us about designing for resilience in other domains? Quite a lot, argues Bruce Schneier, in a new book that sees the security expert turn his gaze to the increasingly vulnerable financial, legal and political systems that underpin society.

“When most people look at a system, they focus on how it works,” writes Schneier, whose popular books and practical expertise have earned him a stellar reputation in the computer security field. “When security technologists look at the same system, they can’t help but focus on how it can be made to fail.”…

Hacking and the Social Contract

  • Viktor Mayer-Schönberger
  • Science
  • February 10, 2023

View or Download in PDF Format

The concept of “hacking” is not an invention of the digital age. Nor is it a purely technical process, although today it often requires some technical expertise. Humans have always tried to find loopholes in the systems of rules we find ourselves beholden to. When we reach a wall, we try to find a way around it.

Bruce Schneier’s A Hacker’s Mind is a collection of fairly short, often insightful commentaries about hacking. Schneier is one of the nation’s most well-known cybersecurity experts, and his prose is clear, jargon-free, and a pleasure to read. A reader might pick up this book for the numerous instructive cases and vignettes it offers, but conceptually, …

Review: Digital Tech Advances, AI Spur Hacking of Society

  • Frank Bajak
  • Associated Press
  • February 8, 2023

This Associated Press book review was reprinted by: ABC News, The Buffalo News, The Chicago Tribune, The Lexington Clipper-Herald, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer,, The Winchester Star, and WRAL News.

“A Hacker’s Mind: How the Powerful Bend Society’s Rules, and How to Bend Them Back” by Bruce Schneier (W.W. Norton & Company)

Hacking is universally understood as the exploitation of a software vulnerability by a malicious actor.

But hacking encompasses oh, so much more. By gaming systems, it achieves outcomes for which they were not designed. People do it to the economy, the tax code, the law. Discover a loophole, profit from an oversight…

How to Know if You’re a Hacker, and Other Life Hacks

In “A Hacker’s Mind,” Bruce Schneier goes beyond the black-hoodie clichés.

  • The New York Times
  • February 7, 2023

In the popular imagination, a hacker has one of two goals: to crusade as a modern-day folk hero against totalitarianism and corporate duplicity, or to steal your identity. In either case, he—for pop culture dictates that the hacker must be a man—looks much the same in his dark, windowless room, his pallid features bathed in the glow of computer monitors (at least three) and swaddled in a cloud of e-cig vapor. He’s a furtive underdog consigned to a realm of greasy pizza boxes, Guy Fawkes masks and, especially, black hoodies, which hackers are apparently issued at birth…

Pluralistic: Bruce Schneier’s A Hacker’s Mind (06 Feb 2023)

  • Cory Doctorow
  • Pluralistic
  • February 6, 2023

A Hacker’s Mind is security expert Bruce Schneier’s latest book, released today. For long-time readers of Schneier, the subject matter will be familiar, but this iteration of Schneier’s core security literacy curriculum has an important new gloss: power.

Schneier started out as a cryptographer, author of 1994’s Applied Cryptography, one of the standard texts on the subject. He created and co-created several important ciphers, and started two successful security startups that were sold onto larger firms. Many readers outside of cryptography circles became familiar with Schneier through his contribution to Neal Stephenson’s …

A Hacker’s Mind (Book Review)

  • Publishers Weekly
  • January 20, 2023

Starred Review

“Hacking is something that the rich and powerful do, something that reinforces existing power structures,” contends security technologist Schneier (Click Here to Kill Everybody) in this excellent survey of exploitation. Taking a broad understanding of hacking as an “activity allowed by the system that subverts the… system,” Schneier draws on his background analyzing weaknesses in cybersecurity to examine how those with power take advantage of financial, legal, political, and cognitive systems. He decries how venture capitalists “hack” market dynamics by subverting the pressures of supply and demand, noting that venture capital has kept Uber afloat despite the company having not yet turned a profit. Legal loopholes constitute another form of hacking, Schneier suggests, discussing how the inability of tribal courts to try non-Native individuals means that many sexual assaults of Native American women go unprosecuted because they were committed by non–Native American men. Schneier outlines strategies used by corporations to capitalize on neural processes and “hack… our attention circuits,” pointing out how Facebook’s algorithms boost content that outrages users because doing so increases engagement. Elegantly probing the mechanics of exploitation, Schneier makes a persuasive case that “we need society’s rules and laws to be as patchable as your computer.” With lessons that extend far beyond the tech world, this has much to offer. …

A Hacker’s Mind (Book Review)

  • Philip Zozzaro
  • Booklist
  • January 1, 2023

Author and public-interest security technologist Schneier (Data and Goliath, 2015) defines a “hack” as an activity allowed by a system “that subverts the rules or norms of the system […] at the expense of someone else affected by the system.” In accessing the security of a particular system, technologists such as Schneier look at how it might fail. In order to counter a hack, it becomes necessary to think like a hacker. Schneier lays out the ramifications of a variety of hacks, contrasting the hacking of the tax code to benefit the wealthy with hacks in realms such as sports that can innovate and change a game for the better. The key to dealing with hacks is being proactive and providing adequate patches to fix any vulnerabilities. Schneier’s fascinating work illustrates how susceptible many systems are to being hacked and how lives can be altered by these subversions. Schneier’s deep dive into this cross-section of technology and humanity makes for investigative gold…

Book Review: A Hacker’s Mind

  • Kirkus Reviews
  • November 16, 2022

Starred Review

A cybersecurity expert examines how the powerful game whatever system is put before them, leaving it to others to cover the cost.

Schneier, a professor at Harvard Kennedy School and author of such books as Data and Goliath and Click Here To Kill Everybody, regularly challenges his students to write down the first 100 digits of pi, a nearly impossible task—but not if they cheat, concerning which he admonishes, “Don’t get caught.” Not getting caught is the aim of the hackers who exploit the vulnerabilities of systems of all kinds. Consider right-wing venture capitalist Peter Thiel, who located a hack in the tax code: “Because he was one of the founders of PayPal, he was able to use a $2,000 investment to buy 1.7 million shares of the company at $0.001 per share, turning it into $5 billion—all forever tax free.” It was perfectly legal—and even if it weren’t, the wealthy usually go unpunished. The author, a fluid writer and tech communicator, reveals how the tax code lends itself to hacking, as when tech companies like Apple and Google avoid paying billions of dollars by transferring profits out of the U.S. to corporate-friendly nations such as Ireland, then offshoring the “disappeared” dollars to Bermuda, the Caymans, and other havens. Every system contains trap doors that can be breached to advantage. For example, Schneier cites “the Pudding Guy,” who hacked an airline miles program by buying low-cost pudding cups in a promotion that, for $3,150, netted him 1.2 million miles and “lifetime Gold frequent flier status.” Since it was all within the letter if not the spirit of the offer, “the company paid up.” The companies often do, because they’re gaming systems themselves. “Any rule can be hacked,” notes the author, be it a religious dietary restriction or a legislative procedure. With technology, “we can hack more, faster, better,” requiring diligent monitoring and a demand that everyone play by rules that have been hardened against tampering…

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.