The best cyber crime books

Many authors have picked their favorite books about cyber crimes and why they recommend each book.

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Ghost in the Wires

By Kevin Mitnick, William L. Simon,

Book cover of Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker

A famous hacker’s real-life story, told from his own perspective, Ghost in the Wires explains how criminal hackers think and act and the diverse techniques they use, no keyboard necessary—all, in this case, with little motive beyond a compulsion to explore and exploit. The hacking community has no bigger characters than Kevin Mitnick and no better first-person accounts of the art of “social engineering,” or human hacking—manipulating people (including, in Mitnick’s case, the FBI and other would-be pursuers) to your own advantage.


Who am I?

Jeremy N. Smith is the author of three acclaimed narrative non-fiction books, including Breaking and Entering, about a female hacker called “Alien” and the birth of our information insecurity age. He has written for The Atlantic, Discover, Slate, and the New York Times, among other outlets, and he and his work have been featured by CNN, NPR, NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, and Wired. He hosts The Hacker Next Door podcast and lives in Missoula, Montana.


I wrote...

Breaking and Entering: The Extraordinary Story of a Hacker Called Alien

By Jeremy N. Smith,

Book cover of Breaking and Entering: The Extraordinary Story of a Hacker Called Alien

What is my book about?

This taut, true thriller dives into a dark world that touches us all, as seen through the brilliant, breakneck career of an extraordinary hacker, a woman known only as Alien. When she arrived at MIT in the 1990s, Alien was quickly drawn to the school's tradition of high-risk physical trespassing: the original hacking. Within a year, one of her hallmates was dead and two others were arraigned. Alien's adventures were only just beginning.

SafeCyberHome

By Billy VanCannon,

Book cover of SafeCyberHome: Protect Your Family From Fraud, Identity Theft and Computer Hackers

SafeCyberHome focuses on understanding how corporations and governments collect and use our personal data. The book also gives strategies for opting out of this data collection whenever possible. And, where it is not possible to opt-out, the book gives clear explanations on why we should be as restrictive with our personal data as possible. Vancannon uses an example similar to one from my own book: if someone is really determined to get your data, they will. But if they’re just looking for an easy target, and you’re not one, they’ll move on. Same reason you lock your front door – a determined master thief can defeat even the best lock, if they really want to – but do you want to make your house the easiest target on the block?


Who am I?

I have been an information technology and cybersecurity professional for over two decades. I’ve learned over and over again that “people are the weakest link.” You can build the most secure system in the world, with stringent password requirements. But if the user writes their password down and leaves it where someone else can see it, system security is irrelevant! The easiest way to gain access to a system is via “social engineering” – to trick a human being into giving you the access you need, rather than trying to hack the system itself. The books on this list will help the reader lower their chances of being exploited like this.


I wrote...

10 Don'ts on Your Digital Devices: The Non-Techie's Survival Guide to Cyber Security and Privacy

By Eric J. Rzeszut, Daniel Bachrach,

Book cover of 10 Don'ts on Your Digital Devices: The Non-Techie's Survival Guide to Cyber Security and Privacy

What is my book about?

In nontechnical language and engaging style, 10 Don’ts on Your Digital Devices explains to non-techie users of PCs and handheld devices exactly what to do and what not to do to protect their digital data from security and privacy threats at home, at work, and on the road. These include chronic threats such as malware and phishing attacks and emerging threats that exploit cloudbased storage and mobile apps.

Through ten vignettes told in accessible language and illustrated with helpful screenshots, 10 Don’ts teaches non-technical readers ten key lessons for protecting your digital security and privacy with the same care you reflexively give to your physical security and privacy.

Warcross

By Marie Lu,

Book cover of Warcross

This book is a true gem, set in a futuristic world that gives off real Ready Player One vibes. There’s this virtual game called Warcross that everybody and their mom watches, including our down-on-her-luck protagonist, Emika. She just so happens to be a techy hacker who accidentally finds a backdoor into the game servers. She’s whisked away by the sexy bachelor game creator, Hideo, to compete in the big Warcross tournament and fix some security issues. This is a dope world with all kinds of Easter eggs for gamers, and technically it’s a lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers switcheroo that gets more complicated as the series goes on. Definitely a fun ride with dope world building!


Who am I?

I don’t just write YA sci-fi, fantasy, and magic steeped in romance—I’m obsessed with the subject in general. Whether it’s the newest book series, tv show, movie, or anime… you can bet your golden snitch that I will be devouring any of these stories I can get my hands on. I'm a sucker for coherent plot work, snappy dialogue, fun action sequences, and phenomenal character building. Trust memy list has your back.


I wrote...

Echo Through the Stars

By Jessica Lynn Medina,

Book cover of Echo Through the Stars

What is my book about?

Avery Vey lives on Level 4 of New San Francisco, far removed from the war that rages on Echo, the sister planet just beyond the hypergate. She wants nothing to do with Earth’s pointless crusade against the native race of that world. After a routine bioscan, the Earth Federation beats down Avery’s door and takes her into custody. When fellow prisoner Finn Lunitia helps her escape, they find that Avery has incredible powers—that no human should possess.

As Finn drags her to Echo, Avery is unwillingly labeled a savior for their people. But to rescue her grandmother, she must master her gifts, as well as the political games that govern both worlds. With each step she takes, the planet—and Finn—begin to take hold of her heart.

The Cuckoo's Egg

By Clifford Stoll,

Book cover of The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage

A system administrator’s suspenseful account of the hunt for a hacker who broke into the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). The author trumpeted the experience and became a hero in cybersecurity circles. This was the first real proof available to laymen that cybersecurity adversaries were a force with which to be reckoned. Unfortunately, for most global corporations, it fell on deaf ears.


Who am I?

I am a cybersecurity risk management thought leader and subject matter expert with hands-on experience in managing and measuring large-scale cybersecurity programs, system security architecture, cybersecurity tools and techniques, cybersecurity forensics, audit of information systems and networks, and technology control processes. I have spent my career educating others in cybersecurity, mostly because it has always been necessary to educate staff; and colleagues soon recognized that I was easily able to handle the transition from staff training to external classroom environments. But my main motivation for external cybersecurity education is to get feedback from the cybersecurity professional community on my approaches to today’s cybersecurity issues.


I wrote...

Enterprise Security for the Executive: Setting the Tone from the Top

By Jennifer L. Bayuk,

Book cover of Enterprise Security for the Executive: Setting the Tone from the Top

What is my book about?

This is a cybersecurity book in the “Business” category. It was written for business executives with direct responsibility and/or interest in information security or cybersecurity. It describes cyber security management practices and recommends an approach for those motivated to create and/or support an information/cyber security function. In a nutshell, it can give executives confidence they are setting the right tone at the top to support their company’s cybersecurity initiatives. For a deeper dive into cybersecurity policy decisions, advance to my Cyber Security Policy Guidebook (2012) or Financial Cybersecurity Risk Management (2018).

This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends

By Nicole Perlroth,

Book cover of This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race

A reporter’s account of nation-states' relentless pursuit of superior offensive capability. Although former NSA officials may not agree with every word, it is generally acknowledged to be a true trail of facts available to reporters. Most cybersecurity staff are routinely muzzled by legal confidentiality agreements in the same manner as staff who have access to business trade secrets. There are few reporters who have had as much access as Perlroth to those individuals. 


Who am I?

I am a cybersecurity risk management thought leader and subject matter expert with hands-on experience in managing and measuring large-scale cybersecurity programs, system security architecture, cybersecurity tools and techniques, cybersecurity forensics, audit of information systems and networks, and technology control processes. I have spent my career educating others in cybersecurity, mostly because it has always been necessary to educate staff; and colleagues soon recognized that I was easily able to handle the transition from staff training to external classroom environments. But my main motivation for external cybersecurity education is to get feedback from the cybersecurity professional community on my approaches to today’s cybersecurity issues.


I wrote...

Enterprise Security for the Executive: Setting the Tone from the Top

By Jennifer L. Bayuk,

Book cover of Enterprise Security for the Executive: Setting the Tone from the Top

What is my book about?

This is a cybersecurity book in the “Business” category. It was written for business executives with direct responsibility and/or interest in information security or cybersecurity. It describes cyber security management practices and recommends an approach for those motivated to create and/or support an information/cyber security function. In a nutshell, it can give executives confidence they are setting the right tone at the top to support their company’s cybersecurity initiatives. For a deeper dive into cybersecurity policy decisions, advance to my Cyber Security Policy Guidebook (2012) or Financial Cybersecurity Risk Management (2018).

Tools and Weapons

By Brad Smith, Carol Ann Browne,

Book cover of Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age

Brad Smith is the president of Microsoft, a lawyer who designed and drove Microsoft’s legal strategy during the anti-trust suit in the 1990s. (I should also mention he was my undergraduate classmate at Princeton University—though I’ve not seen him in decades.) Smith co-authored the book with Carol Ann Browne, Microsoft’s Senior Director of Communications. Most big tech companies see themselves as historically unique, allergic to discussing risk, regulation, responsibility, or self-restraint. I assumed this book would follow suit; but I was wrong. It’s honest, balanced, and full of historical references to earlier technologies, such as railroads, electricity, the telegraph, and nuclear weapons. It’s also loaded with insider stories about cyber threats, social media-facilitated violence, and international law initiatives (e.g., the “Digital Geneva Convention”). This book taught me a lot about how major tech companies are already affecting war and peace.


Who am I?

Living in the American Embassy in Moscow as a teenager during the Cold War, I grew up keenly aware of the perils of global instability and nuclear war. While friends back home worried about how to buy a car or score a date, I wandered the streets of Moscow, often tailed by the KGB, hoping US nuclear missiles didn’t launch our way. So, I’ve always been interested in big questions of how to avoid wars, and how to end them. Since then, I’ve traveled the world, worked in both government and academe, advised senior national and international policymakers, and become an award-winning author.  


I wrote...

Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation Is Arming Tomorrow's Terrorists

By Audrey Kurth Cronin,

Book cover of Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation Is Arming Tomorrow's Terrorists

What is my book about?

Powerful market forces are driving lethal capacity into the hands of small groups, like private armies, militias, insurgencies, terrorists, and even individuals. Commercial drones, cyber weapons, autonomous weapons, and AI decision-making have disrupted key functions that used to be monopolized by states. 

This book explains exactly how that process works. Market forces drove earlier innovations, too—like dynamite and the Kalashnikov rifle, which ballooned insurgencies and terrorist campaigns. But the scale, scope, and political impact of today’s technologies are unprecedented. It used to require a professional army to mobilize, project power, and direct command-and-control. Now state armies are blindsided by their effects. Power to the People explains how common technologies endanger us, and how we can reduce their destabilizing risks without snuffing out innovation.

Fatal System Error

By Joseph Menn,

Book cover of Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who Are Bringing Down the Internet

It is a reporter’s account of a cybersecurity entrepreneur stumbling into criminal and nation-state level cyberattacks, assisting in the investigation, and ultimately becoming a target. The writing is clear and accessible to the non-technical reader but it still conveys a good sense of what it is like to witness and investigate cyber-crime. It is a suspenseful human drama.


Who am I?

I am a cybersecurity risk management thought leader and subject matter expert with hands-on experience in managing and measuring large-scale cybersecurity programs, system security architecture, cybersecurity tools and techniques, cybersecurity forensics, audit of information systems and networks, and technology control processes. I have spent my career educating others in cybersecurity, mostly because it has always been necessary to educate staff; and colleagues soon recognized that I was easily able to handle the transition from staff training to external classroom environments. But my main motivation for external cybersecurity education is to get feedback from the cybersecurity professional community on my approaches to today’s cybersecurity issues.


I wrote...

Enterprise Security for the Executive: Setting the Tone from the Top

By Jennifer L. Bayuk,

Book cover of Enterprise Security for the Executive: Setting the Tone from the Top

What is my book about?

This is a cybersecurity book in the “Business” category. It was written for business executives with direct responsibility and/or interest in information security or cybersecurity. It describes cyber security management practices and recommends an approach for those motivated to create and/or support an information/cyber security function. In a nutshell, it can give executives confidence they are setting the right tone at the top to support their company’s cybersecurity initiatives. For a deeper dive into cybersecurity policy decisions, advance to my Cyber Security Policy Guidebook (2012) or Financial Cybersecurity Risk Management (2018).

Bookshelves related to cyber crimes