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

What better way to learn about systems then by attempting to break (into) them?

I just love reading about hackers, fraudsters thieves et al. I love how they expose both the complexity and fragility of the systems that surround us.

The Cuckoo’s Egg tells the story of Cliff Stoll a 1960s hippy astronomer turned sys admin at Berkeley University. On his first day on the job, he stumbles upon a riddle, that will define the next year’s of his life: An accounting tools balance is off by a couple of cents… What appear like a minor glitch in the accounting software to be fixed in the course of an afternoon turns into a relentless hunt for an intruder across networks all over North America and Western Europe. This tale from before the dawn of “the internet” has got it all: An unwilling hero, torn between an ethos of openness and the impulse to thwart a recklessness endangering this openness, a plethora of government agencies, raging from overwhelmed to shadow power brokers, a villain from Eastern Europe and plenty of technical details down to the exploits used.

An amazing trip to the beginning of (internet) time, highly entertaining and insightful.