The year is 1986 and Cliff Stoll’s grant money has just run out. One day he was an astronomer, working in the Keck Observatory of the Lawrence Berkeley Labs, the next day he’s transferred to the basement of the same building to work in the computer center.
Cliff knows computers okay, he’s worked with them to create astronomical simulations before, but he’s no computer wizard.
So the local UNIX guru hands him a task; find the source of a 75 cent accounting error. Should be an easy way to learn the ropes.
Little does Cliff know that pulling on this one minor thread will eventually unravel a much larger web of hacking and military espionage.
The Cuckoo’s Egg is a true story, written in first person by Clifford Stoll from meticulously kept notes through the entire course of his investigation. It’s a fascinating look into computer security (or the lack thereof) in the mid-80s, the internal politics of military and government organizations and one man’s relentless quest to solve a mystery, even though at times he’s not sure why he cares so much.
The book is quite compelling, and though it does have a fair amount of technical detail Stoll does a good job of making it accessible. The audiobook recording is well done, the narrator is clear and pleasant to listen to.
I would recommend the Cuckoo’s Egg to fans of a good mystery, especially those with an interest in computer systems and cybercrime.
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