The Strongarm Summer Reading List: 10 Scintillating Books on Espionage and Hacking
Do you have your beach reads picked out for the summer? If we may be so bold, you might think about adding some educational material to your stack. We promise—it doesn’t have to be boring. There are a few books related to hacking, espionage, military intelligence, and the early days of the Internet that have had a big influence on our team, our philosophies, and our work. We thought it would be fun to put together a Strongarm summer reading list for you to peruse.
The Strongarm Summer Reading List
Because Strongarm’s technology was first built at MITRE, many of the folks on our team have backgrounds in military and intelligence, and we’ve been influenced by several books on those subjects. We’re also security professionals, so naturally we devour books on hacking and cybercrime. You’d be amazed at some of the stories—especially the ones set at the dawn of the Internet.
With peak beach season arriving, we wanted to share our list of favorites with you. Check it out below.
Hacking and Cybercrime
- Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of Kevin Mitnick, America’s Most Wanted Computer Outlaw by John Markoff and Tsutomu Shimomura: If you know Kevin Mitnick primarily from his white hat days, you might be surprised to read about the crime spree that preceded them. In this book, Markoff and Shimomura detail the true story of how they caught Mitnick in the act.
- Masters of Deception: The Gang that Ruled Cyberspace by Michelle Slattalla: Did you know a band of kids in NYC were the very first cybercriminals? It’s true, and this bestseller details their Wild West with both humor and empathy, while bringing readers along on a wild ride through the frontier of the Internet.
- The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage by Cliff Stoll: This detective story for the computer age follows along on the race to catch a hacker who swiped and sold American intelligence to the Soviets. After the author accidentally stumbles upon the trail of an unauthorized user who stole $0.75 of computer time while granting himself “Superuser” access, the hunt begins—and you’ll be hooked.
- Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier by Suelette Dreyfus: This book, co-written and researched by a young Julian Assange, describes in vivid detail the activities of a group of black hat hackers from the U.S., Australia, and the U.K., back in the late 80s and early 90s.
- Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier by Katie Hafner and John Markoff: Featuring the exploits of three notorious hackers from around the Globe, Cyberpunk delves into the subculture of hacking and illuminates both what drives these “bad guys” and how they operate—as well as how little can be done to stop them (that is, unless you have Strongarm on your side…)
Espionage and Military
- Spycatcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer by Peter Wright: Written by a former MI5 officer and assistant director, this book was nearly banned by the British government upon publication. When you find out the purported identity of the Soviet mole Wright was assigned to unmask, you’ll start to see why the government was none too thrilled… and why this book is a must-read.
- The Puzzle Palace: Inside the National Security Agency, America’s Most Secret Intelligence Organization by James Bamford: Before Edward Snowden, NSA was a secretive, little known agency with a huge budget and mission: to exploit (and protect) signals across the globe. Bamford dives into the founding of NSA and it’s contribution to the Cold War. Read this if you want the truth about NSA – this is the best coverage of what the inside of the machine looks like. If you like Puzzle Palace, try the sequel, Body of Secrets.
- Hitler’s Spies: German Military Intelligence in World War II by David Kahn: Based on original documents and extensive interviews with involved parties, Hitler’s Spies dives deep into the world of Nazi intrigue. The book covers some of the harrowing operations undertaken, while illuminating what ultimately led to the downfall of this powerful, infamous regime.
- Farewell: The Greatest Spy Story of the Twentieth Century by Sergei Kostin: A former KGB officer turns on his country and begins spying for French counterintelligence in the 1980s. In this comprehensive account of events that helped bring about the end of the Cold War, double-agent Vladimir Ippolitovich Vetrov’s psychological makeup and daring actions are plumbed to great effect.
- Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare by William McRaven: Ever wonder what it’s like to be a Navy SEAL or a Green Beret? ADM (Ret) Bill McRaven has led special operations units from team to Unified Command and he takes us deep into the world of odds-defying maneuvers and heart-pounding rescues. Trust us: This one will have you on the edge of your beach chair.
There you have it. Ten of our favorite books spanning the gamut of hacking, spying, and covert operations. If you have any other reading suggestions for us, feel free to ping us on Twitter @strongarmio or drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.