The Watchman: The Twisted Life and Crimes of Serial Hacker Kevin Poulsen

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St. Martin's Press, Mar 31, 1997 - Biography & Autobiography - 289 pages
6 Reviews
Written like a California noir thriller by way of William Gibson, The Watchman brings to life the wildest, most audacious crime spree in the history of cyberspace. Busted as a teenager for hacking into Pac Bell phone networks, Kevin Poulsen would find his punishment was a job with a Silicon Valley defense contractor. By day he seemed to have gone straight, toiling on systems for computer-aided war. But by night he burglarized telephone switching offices, adopting the personae and aliases of his favorite comic-book anti heroes - the Watchmen. When authorities found a locker crammed with swiped telecommunications equipment, Poulsen became a fugitive from the FBI, living the life of a cyberpunk in a neon Hollywood underground. Soon he made the front pages of the New York Times and became the first hacker charged with espionage. Littman takes us behind the headlines and into the world of Poulsen and his rogues' gallery of cyberthieves. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews with Poulsen, his confederates, and the authorities, he spins a thrilling chase story on the electronic frontier. The nation's phone network was Poulsen's playground. On Los Angeles's lucrative radio giveaways, Poulsen worked his magic, winning Porsches and tens of thousands of dollars. He secretly switched on the numbers of defunct Yellow Pages escort ads and took his cut of the profits. And he could wiretap or electronically stalk whomever he pleased, his childhood love or movie stars. The FBI seemed no match for Poulsen. But as Unsolved Mysteries prepared a broadcast on the hacker's crimes, LAPD vice stumbled onto his trail, and an undercover operation began on Sunset Strip.
  

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Review: The Watchman: The Twisted Life and Crimes of Serial Hacker Kevin Poulsen

User Review  - Jessica - Goodreads

This is sort of embarrassing to admit but I love the movie Hackers. I also enjoy true crime and that breed of novelized journalism that Ben Mezrich has popularized. I'm not proud of that either. But ... Read full review

Review: The Watchman: The Twisted Life and Crimes of Serial Hacker Kevin Poulsen

User Review  - Wil Wheaton - Goodreads

This is an interesting account of Poulsen's major exploits during the 80s, but it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. That doesn't mean it isn't worth reading, just that I probably know a lot about 80s hacker culture thanks to Bruce Sterling. Read full review

Contents

Prologue
3
Dungeon Master
11
WarGames
21
Play a Game?
27
Network News
33
Top Secret
45
Star Watch
53
Identity Crisis
59
Controlled Detonation
146
Classified
156
Tap Dancing
164
Kevins Court
173
Grand Jury
180
Happy Birthday
187
Blonds Have More Fun
207
The Giveaway
214

Command Control
67
Corporate Headquarters
75
The AntiHacker
87
The Storage Locker
95
The Bust
102
Blindfolded
109
The Meeting
116
The Wiretap Machine
124
Home Shopping
131
Risky Business
137
The Stakeout
222
The Chase
230
Unsolved Mysteries
240
Musical Chairs
250
The Office
256
Houdini
265
Epilogue
273
Authors Note
287
Copyright

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About the author (1997)

Jonathan Littman is the author of three previous books, including The Fugitive Game and The Watchman, and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Forbes, the San Francisco Chronicle, and other publications. A former college soccer player (on Berkeley's nationally ranked NCAA playoff sqaud), he is the father of two young daughters. He lives in the Bay Area.

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