The Art of Invisibility by Kevin Mitnick – Book Review
on February 14th 2017
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I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase products. If you buy using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale. It will never cost you any more.
You may be questioning why a digital marketer would encourage reading the Art of Invisibility. It’s a book teaching how to hide your online life. Hiding online actions does tend to make our jobs as digital marketers rather difficult.
However, you need to read this book for several reasons. First, I believe in informed choices. Yes, we use audience data for decision making (well, we should). And the data isn’t always anonymized. But our audiences should know and consent to this. Second, this book gives essential tips for protecting yourself online – which also protects your brands and clients. And finally, it’s written by Kevin Mitnick. I probably would have done better in college the first time if I wasn’t following Kevin’s hacking spree and run from the FBI. He definitely influenced my curiosity.
Kevin has now moved on to legal, authorized hacking as a penetration tester. Companies pay him to hack into their systems, except now it’s called testing. It does mean that Kevin sees what companies collate about us, and knows it’s not always used ethically. Is this book, Kevin shares that knowledge.
What’s the Art of Invisibility About?
The book is a how-to guide for avoiding hackers and malicious activities online and offline. It even goes as deep as teaching how to completely be invisible online. This internet-loving introvert thinks that sounds lonely, but recent reports show how much we all need to protect ourselves. For those reading this later, it’s February 2017 and it’s not shaping up to be the safest year in US history.
The Art of Invisibility is essentially divided in two. The first half details how to secure your own life. So choosing secure passwords, which public networks are safe, protecting your online banking, blocking ads and transaction tracking. That kind of thing. It’s very Android and Windows focused. Sometimes the recommendations are on price. Later in the book Kevin references the default security Apple uses, and that probably accounts for the Android and Windows focus. I’m being intentionally vague so I’m not putting words in Kevin’s mouth. In one example Kevin describes a road rage response he gave. If he can social engineer that kind of information on someone while driving down a freeway, I don’t want him grumpy with me. Which leads to a strong point that Kevin makes in the book, social engineering is a huge part of hacking and online security. It’s easy to pretend to be someone and talk a receptionist into handing over details. They may not realize what they’ve actually said. It’s covered in this book. This first 50% (I was reading a Kindle copy courtesy of publishers Little, Brown) could be a book on its own. It covers so much detail that I was wondering what could be left to discuss in the remaining 140 pages.
The second half gets seriously scary. I hope no one is ever in a situation to need to hide this entirely. Actually, it’s February 2017. Sigh, everyone read and follow Kevin’s advice. This second part is where Kevin teaches the art of invisibility. The first part of the book shows some tips, but this shows how to totally disappear. As with the first part, Kevin uses real life examples to illustrate both the points and the need for security. These are mainly his experiences. I found the way Kevin describes these experiences interesting. He’s been detained and searched by US government officials with less than valid reason, but even when describing this and the efforts he does to protect the devices he carries with him, he never allocates blame. I understand by now it’s a fact of life that he’ll be harassed when traveling, but it was interesting the way he turns the stories around. Having cash stolen from a hotel safe was the example of why you shouldn’t trust them and he explains how they are easily broken into.
Who Should Read the Art of Invisibility?
I sent this text the night I started reading. The group I reference is highly educated, conscious of current affairs and tech savvy, but there’s more we can do to protect ourselves and our brands and clients. Even though this book is directed at personal actions, we have Facebook accounts and WordPress installs accessible with our phones. We can’t think just of ourselves. Imagine your brand being compromised because you clicked the wrong link. Do you want to be responsible for that?
Consumers also need to make an informed decision on the data they share with us. This book helps them opt out (because we rarely make it easy).
So yes, I say online security and privacy is so important everyone needs to read the Art of Invisibility.
At the very least I urge you to read the first half. It’ll make you more secure than most. Reading the news of the last few weeks, I recommend you read and action the lot.
The Art of Invisibility was released today. Buy it, read it, action it, then share it with your family and friends. Democracy needs you to.
Disclaimers: Thank you to Little, Brown via NetGalley for the copy of The Art of Invisibility. This post does contain affiliate links because hosting servers aren’t free. Images courtesy of MitnickSecurity.com