The Cuckoo's Egg

The Cuckoo's Egg

Tracking A Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage

Book - 1989
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Cliff Stoll was an astronomer turned systems manager at Lawrence Berkeley Lab when a 75-cent accounting error alerted him to the presence of an unauthorized users on his system. The hacker's code name was "Hunter"-- a mystery invader hiding inside a twisting electronic labyrinth, breaking into U.S. computer systems and stealing sensitive military and security information. Stoll began a one-man hunt of his own, spying on the spy-- and plunging into an incredible international probe that finally gained the attention of top U.S. counter-intelligence agents. "The Cuckoo's Egg" is his wild and suspenseful true story-- a year of deception, broken codes, satellites, missile bases and the ultimate sting operation-- and how one ingenious American trapped a spy ring paid in cash and cocaine, and reporting to the KGB.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, 1989
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385249461
Characteristics: vi, 326 p. ; 24 cm


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Oct 26, 2018

Timeless book on spying as Soviet Union used German third party hackers to get classified information instead of humint.
Astronomer forced to play counterintelligence on 75 cent missing & document everything including odd hour hacking which got NIMBY runaround from FBI, DIA upper management & other authorities because new emerging crime ,but got the attention of NSA top dog. He felt so small on password cracker program was available & "want one?".
Protagonist baited hackers in sting operation with fake vanilla website & fake slightly daffy secretary demanding applications for SDI conferences.
In aftermath, US & Russia forced to create cyberwarfare units in new digital front.
Book may be dated , but it mentioned security vs openness for all debate.

Mark_Daly Sep 02, 2013

For the casual reader, this title is billed as a true-life thriller. It unfolds like a police procedural. We follow amateur sleuth Stoll as he tracks an infiltrator through his university's computers, step by step. Perhaps too many steps -- while the early chapters are indeed suspenseful and puzzling, the tension slackens once the cat-and-mouse game becomes part of Stoll's regular work routine. The resolution of the mystery offers some surprises for patient readers. For the computer-savvy, Stoll's tale may inspire nostalgia for the days of UNIX and VAX line commands. There is lasting value here, however: the book provides a glimpse of the Internet's early history, and serves as a primer on how computer networks (and hackers) operate. Stoll also raises fundamental questions about security and community values that remain relevant today.

Oct 22, 2012

Cliff Stoll's real-life account in The Cuckoo's Egg belongs in a special category of "Obviously dated books that are still relevant." Computer technology has progressed an unimaginable amount in the past 25 years, and yet the human element here remains timeless. One can follow along easy enough even though the terminology is anachronistic. Some nice moments are the descriptions of what the infant internet looked like before it becomes the global behemoth we recognize today.

My only critique is that I feel the book runs too long by at least 100 pages. This story has a natural urgency that isn't helped by the unnecessary length.


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