Masters of Deception

  • by Michelle Slatalla, Joshua Quittner
  • Narrated by Colby Elliott
  • 7 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the bedroom terminals of teenagers isolated from their peers by their hyperactive intellects, to the nerve center of a nationwide long-distance phone company infiltrated by a hacker's hand, Masters of Deception offers an unprecedented tour of the murkiest reaches of the electronic frontier and a trenchant, blow-by-blow chronicle of the most notorious gang war in cyberspace.
In 1989, Paul Stira and Eli Ladopoulos, two teenage hackers from Queens, New York, made some exploratory forays into local phone-company computers and discovered a domain far more mysterious and appealing than any they had ever seen. To unravel the mysteries, they contacted Phiber Optik (aka Mark Abene) - a member of an infamous gang of crack hackers called the Legion of Doom. Phiber Optik was legendary throughout cyberspace for his wealth of hard-won knowledge about the phone system. When he was satisfied that Stira and Ladopoulos weren't a couple of lamers, the three kids arranged a meeting of the minds in Ladopoulos's bedroom.
When Phiber Optik got kicked out of LOD after a tiff with its leader, Erik Bloodaxe (aka Chris Goggans), the New York kids formed a rival gang called Masters of Deception. MOD soon matched LOD's notoriety, gaining a reputation for downloading confidential credit histories (including Geraldo Rivera's, David Duke's, and a rival hacker's mom's), breaking into private computer files, and rewiring phone lines. All the while, federal agents were secretly monitoring this highly illegal battle royal and closing in for the kill.
Slatalla and Quittner, who have followed this case for five years, lead us down the darkest alleys of cyberspace and up to the front lines of the raging battle over just who will control the web that already connects everyone to everybody else. They offer an unparalleled hacker’s-eye view of the inner life of hackers, a heady realm where order and chaos hold equal sway.


What the Critics Say

“Oh is this ever a good book. It’s not just that the crime in this case is nonviolent, indeed almost harmless, but that the book is so well written and the topic - computer hacking - so interesting.” (Washington Post Book World)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Riveting Piece of History

I listened to this book on my Audible app for my phone, mostly during my 20 minute commute. Many times, I found myself hanging out in the parking lot or garage, waiting until the end of a chapter to find out what would happen next. The authors and narrator do a great job of bringing this fascinating group of hacker kids to life. Mark Abene, one of the central figures, is one part hero and one part tragic victim. Finding out what happened to him and his friends was amazing, and as a proud owner of a TRS-80 when I was a kid, I loved the trip down memory lane.

Not only is this a great, human story about young people getting in over their heads, and society figuring out how to incorporate new technologies, it's also a real education into how the phone systems worked and interconnected. Slatalla and Quittner have a knack for making complex, technical stuff understandable and entertaining, all the while keeping the story grounded with real people and all of their familiar vices and virtues. A great read!
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- Scott Lininger


Being from a telecom background, I thought this was excellent and smething I didn't know.
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- Kevin

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-26-2010
  • Publisher: Last Word Audio, LLC