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Hacked Again – Scott Schober Explains The Miseries Of Cyber Attacks

April 11, 2018


There is no shortage of cybersecurity titles in the book world. But a somewhat unappreciated volume among the multitude is Scott Schober’s Hacked Again. Beyond the hysterical cover art, where a disgruntled man is letting out a primal scream to convey the trauma of getting hacked, are pages and pages filled with practical ideas for shielding a small business from cyber criminals.

Schober’s choice for his self-published book’s title isn’t just for brevity either. As the CEO of a hardware manufacturer specializing in wireless devices, Schober’s company has suffered multiple breaches that harmed its bottom line. He’s been hacked again so many times himself, he feels an affinity for perps and victims alike. This is what makes Hacked Again so compelling–it offers an unfiltered view of the small-scale threats that can wreak enormous damage on private lives and businesses.

Although it was released in 2016, Schober’s plain writing style and detailed summaries of various cyber crises make his book a worthy chronicle of the decade’s biggest internet stories. At a little less than 200 pages long, Hacked Again is divided into four parts. The most delightful among them is a catalog of hacker foils and stratagems–from page 33 to 107–found in Part 2–serving as a decent entry level guide to the cybersecurity field at large.

But Schober’s saga starts with an unkind recollection of his own experience as a cyber criminal’s unassuming victim. This involves the painful discovery of his corporate debit cards being pilfered. As if that weren’t awful enough, he also recounts getting ensnared in an elaborate credit card heist involving $14,000. Perhaps the most unsettling part of Schober’s war stories are the dismal excuses made by American banks when informed of their client’s plight.

But Schober doesn’t get into gear until Part 2 of his book, where 11 chapters are devoted to the ABCs for cybercrime and the hacker subculture, e.g. spamming, phishing, social engineering, etc. This is easily the best segment of Hacked Again and each chapter ends with a “quick tip” or factoid to drive home an important lesson. It’s interesting to note how little Schober offers in Part 3, where he insists security is everyone’s business. It’s the shortest portion in the book and illustrates how lopsided the cybersecurity field is. Malicious actors always have the advantage because they move undetected and choose when to pounce. Victims, on the other hand, must prepare for the worst and hope for the best, always not knowing when the dreadful reckoning shall come.

Schober does offer a timeless bit of insight, however, when he declares, “Hackers are lazy and they will look for the path of least resistance to get into your computer’s network…hackers will always exploit the easy and most obvious weaknesses you may not even realize, such as leaving the door open.”

The last stretch of Hacked Again is a treat for readers who want to revisit major cybersecurity incidents. These are the newsworthy breaches that either triggered massive scandals, such as the iCloud hack that leaked nude pictures of women celebrities, or sank the reputations of blue chip companies. The book’s lighthearted tone darkens a bit in its final chapters, each dealing with events that may be considered state-sponsored cyberwarfare. There’s the blackmail of Sony over The Interview, an event that was probably orchestrated by elite North Korean hackers. Then the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach where 27 million records belonging to American federal employees got harvested by a mysterious foreign entity.

Hacked Again deserves a place in any serious enterprise IT and gray/white hat reading list. It’s an excellent primer too for professionals allergic to the “techie stuff” they avoid at their own peril. Beneath the covert drama of the nefarious cyber activities conducted by nation states is a lawless underworld where anonymous criminality reigns. Schober’s book shines a withering beam of light on this dark frontier and explains its norms.

Hacked Again is available on the author’s personal website and online retailers such as Amazon and B&N.

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