News in the Category "A Hacker’s Mind"

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Book Review: A Hacker’s Mind

  • Ben Rothke
  • RSA Conference
  • July 14, 2023

When asked to name the world’s largest hacking firm, most people would think along the lines of Rapid 7 or Check Point. But in truth, it is Deloitte and PwC who are the largest hacking firms. It’s not because they have so many penetration testers. Instead, it is due to how many accountants and lawyers they employ.

And that is the underlying theme Bruce Schneier makes in his excellent new book A Hacker’s Mind: How the Powerful Bend Society’s Rules, and How to Bend them Back (W.W. Norton Publishing). His premise is that hacking is, in fact, a universal trait. While those in the information security field think of hacking in terms of zero days and Windows vulnerabilities, finding gaps in things is a normal human response…

Book Review: A Hacker’s Mind by Bruce Schneier

  • David Strom
  • Web Informant
  • May 27, 2023

I have known Bruce Schneier for many years, and met him most recently just after he gave one of the keynotes at this year’s RSA show. The keynote extends his thoughts in his most recent book, A Hacker’s Mind, which he wrote last year and was published this past winter. (I reviewed some of his earlier works in a blog for Avast here.)

Even if you are new to Schneier, not interested in coding, and aren’t all that technical, you should read his book because he sets out how hacking works in our everyday lives.

He chronicles how hacks pervade our society. You will hear about the term Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich (how Google and Apple and others have hacked and thus avoided paying US taxes), the exploits of the Pudding Guy (the person who hacked American Airlines’ frequent flyer system by purchasing thousands of pudding cups to obtain elite status), or when the St. Louis Browns baseball team hacked things by hiring a 3’7″ batter back in 1951. There are less celebrated hacks, such as when investment firm Goldman Sachs owned a quarter of the total US aluminum supply back in the 2010’s to control its spot price. What was their hack? They moved it around several Chicago-area warehouses each day: the spot price depends on the time material is delivered. Clever, right?…

Hacking Procedure

  • Curtis E.A. Karnow
  • California Litigation Vol. 36 Iss. 1 (2023)
  • April 19, 2023

A long time ago I joined Bruce Schneier on a panel on cyber security. I spoke on legal issues, developing a theme on self-defense which I later turned into a paper which won a little prize. Schneier was the real expert though, knowledgeable not just on technical details, the state of the art, but also the human factor and organizational causes of insecure computer systems. He’s since come out with a series of books on computer security, privacy, and related issues, and publishes a fairly regular “Crypto-Gram” newsletter.

Hacker’s Mind

Schneier’s latest book is “A Hacker’s Mind: How the Powerful Bend Society’s Rules, and How to Bend them Back.” This plays off the old notion of the hacker—the one I grew up with—as one who delights in understanding and manipulating systems to generate unexpected results- or at least results unintended by the system’s developer. A hacker is not a crook, but an exploder of limits. “Hacks follow the rules of a system but subvert their intent,” Schneier writes in his March 15, 2023 Crypto-Gram. Hacks aren’t necessarily illegal, although some are. Some are normalized and eventually accepted as a feature of the system. Banks that play fast and loose with reserve requirements might lead Congress to make the practice illegal (or the opposite: Congress might bail out the banks and allow bankers to keep their bonuses). Tax loopholes which plainly subvert the public intent of the tax system are often subsumed as an acceptable practice…

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…

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.