Stealing the Network: How to Own an Identity

Mike Riley

October 30, 2009

3 Min Read
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Stealing the Network: How to Own an Identity

As is often the case with successful products, especiallya book series, follow-up titles are hotly anticipated by fans of the originals.This was the case when I heard about Syngress third addition to its amazing Stealing the Network series. Readers mayrecall my effusive 5 star review of the second book in the series, How to Own aContinent. Needless to say, my anticipation for How to Own an Identity was at an all-time high.


What makes the Stealingthe Network titles so compelling to read is the amalgamation ofentertaining spy-novel fiction writing and real-world exploitation of computerand network security flaws. This latest book continuesthis practice, and re-introduces the characters and plotlines from How to Own a Continent. While it s notnecessary to have read that book before this one, those who have willappreciate the recursion of story elements, as well as the recognition that cybercrimes and murders don t go magically unnoticed for long in the real world.


How to Own anIdentity reintroduces Bob Knuth, the main antagonist from How to Own a Continent. Readers learnabout his real name (Robert Knoll), his wife, son and daughter, and, ultimately,about his NSA background. As with the other Stealingthe Network titles, each chapter is written by a different author, eachintroducing different types of security exploits focusing on identity theft.


Throughout the course of the story, readers will becomemore paranoid about so-called trusted technologies, such as DNS, SSH, and SSL,as well as learn about how Cisco routers hold a treasure trove of informationand even how to, with a few sequenced front panel button presses on the device,turn an Apple iPod into a firewire drive (not just the section of the driveintentionally partitioned for HD access) for full extraction and disk imagingof its entire contents. Even stenography and playful number games betweenfather and son ( la Dan Brown s DaVinci Code Fibonacci flashback devicebetween that book s primary parent and child characters) make appearances.


The book s ending, while offering a few surprising twists,didn t quite have the visceral impact of Howto Own a Continent. In fact, How toOwn an Identity seemed rushed and failed to tie up a lot of loose ends. Ihad to re-read the last two chapters just to make sure I didn t miss anythingbetween the lines. Did Knoll s son eventually meet up with his father? Didhacker Forbes succeed with her Plan B ? What became of the hacker Flir, whohad been duped by Knuth in How to Own aContinent and was now hot on Knuth s trail? And what the heck happened toKnuth/Knoll s wife? If Syngress advertised that the next book in the serieswould be forthcoming with these answers it would be easier to defer thesequestions, but without this promise, it just feels like multiple authors introducedtoo many characters who were forgotten about or sacrificed for the sake ofdemonstrating a technical exploit.


Even with the discombobulated ending, Stealing the Network: How to Own an Identity continues Syngress excellent merger of suspenseful fiction with real-world examples of exploitingcomputing technology vulnerabilities. I just hope that the next book in theseries examines exploits at the technical extremes while tying up the story sloose ends.


Mike Riley



Title: Stealing the Network: How to Own an Identity

Author: RavenAdler, Jay Beale, Riley Eller, Brian Hatch, Chris Hurley, Jeff Moss, TomParker, Ryan Russell, Timothy Mullen, Johnny Long

Publisher: Syngress

ISBN: 1-59749-006-7

Web Site:

Price: US$39.95

Page Count: 336pages



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