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Masters of Deception: The Gang That Ruled Cyberspace

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  958 ratings  ·  52 reviews
The bestselling account of a band of kids from New York who fought an electronic turf war that ranged across some of the nation's most powerful computer systems. "An immensely fun and -- one cannot emphasize this enough -- accessible history of the first outlaws in cyberspace."--Glamour ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published December 1st 1995 by Harper Perennial (first published 1995)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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Wil Wheaton
Apr 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010-project, hackers
I followed this story as it unfolded in the early 90s through the pages of Phrack, cud, and other philes and ezines. I talked to Bloodaxe and Phiber on #mindvox back in the old days, but other than Emmanuel Goldstein, I never really *knew* the people who were central to this story, so it was interesting to relive it all through a journalist's eyes.

Like all of the stories written about the LOD/MOD feud, the subjects contest the facts as presented in the book, and like all of the stories written a
Mar 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A fascinating review of "The Great Hacker War" (which some debate ever happened) and the Masters of Deception, a rather big name in the world of hacking.

The book is straight forward enough to provide a detailed and riviting account of events. At no point do you feel like you are getting bogged down in technical jargon. While you can't understand the intricate details of what they are doing, you at least comprehend the basics.

At the same time, it makes a legitimate attempt to explain the specific
Tim Avers
Apr 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, funny, and factual. A great account of the first PC cyberwar and its colorful players.
May 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
history of prankster phreakers in NYC - I found this very interesting since i work at a phone comapnies. man, this guys had mad skillz!
Steven Farmer
Feb 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I wish Michelle Slatalla + Joshua Quittner would do a 2,500 word follow-up on all the characters in this book.
Steven Brandt
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s 1989, and while personal computers have been around for a few years, their full potential is still largely untapped. Only about one household in three owns a computer, and most that do own them, don’t really know what to do with them. But there are an elite few who understand instinctively that mastery of the computer means power. These few are almost always teenage boys, are highly intelligent, and are bored. It was fun at first, like a game, but when a couple of hackers gain access to New ...more
A fascinating look into the early days of computer and telecommunications hacking. Michelle Slatalla takes us through the history of the Legion of Doom (LOD) and Masters of Deception (MOD), their on-line exploits, the reasons why they did what they did, and how it went oh so wrong in the end. From homes in Queens, NY and Houston, TX the unfolding story of teenagers fascinated with nothing more than trying to figure out how things work, their excitement of sharing what they knew, and the creation ...more
Jun 07, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Pure brain candy for geeks. A story about one of the first federal cases built against describes the early days of computer hacking, what could be done, some of the culture surrounding hacking, and how the early cases were built. I enjoyed reading about the attempts to hack into and use the phone system, given that my parents worked for the phone company for 30 years doing work on some of the systems described. An easy read, a fun book.
Alexander Case
Jun 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Bruce Sterling's seminal work "The Hacker Crackdown" is a tough act to follow, but Masters of Deception does a pretty good job of doing just that - by discussing the split between the Hacker group The Legion of Doom and The Masters of Deception - with a split over philosophy (among other things) - should Hackers be about elitism - whose Kung Fu is the strongest, or should it be about exploration and sharing knowledge, the original hacker spirit. ...more
Mar 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: programming
An entertaining tail of some silly, young and extremely smart hackers trying to get into systems they shouldn't. ...more
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Masters of Deception is simply an incredible novel about struggle, passion, and a run with the law. Michelle Slatalla writes to draw you in and live the lives of the young teen hackers yourself. You yourself live in Queens New York in 1989. You yourself are fascinated by the “simple” computer and wish to know everything there is to know about the complex, invisible system that controls our world. You yourself will get in a tangle with the federal law and how to deal with the struggle of trying t ...more
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the tale of LOD v. MOD from the early 90s. No more, no less. The title is a selling point, as at no point was MOD (or LOD) a "gang" that "ruled cyberspace." This was no doubt a means of selling copies.

It is missing a lot of technical details that, had it been a deeper dive, would have made it more interesting for this reader. No doubt when this was published in 1995, it would have seemed almost unbelievable in parts. As someone who just scratched cracking and war dialing, it was another
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
A true story about brilliant young hackers in the late 1980s. Masters of Deception versus Legion of Doom, and both poking around telephone companies' databases.

The book explores the adventures of curious teenagers who want to discover the intricacies of the telephone system and a government who can't quite understand what a switch is.

The law came down hard on these explorers. Each individual saw jail time for their exploits, but after punishment, they were valued and celebrated in the tech commu
Kunde Jennifer
Jul 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I know a real professional hacker who has worked for me once in this past month. He is very good at hacking. He offers legit services such as clearing of bad records online without it being traced back to you, he clones phones, hacks facebook ,instagram, whatsapp, emails, twitter, FIXES CREDIT REPORTS, tracks calls and messages. He also helps to retrieve accounts that have been taken by hackers. His charges are affordable, reliable, 100% safe. Contact him via gmail address. andrewthomacyberhelp@ ...more
May 29, 2020 rated it liked it
2,5/5 stars. Really skims on the details on A LOT of things, that probably would've been interesting to read about. But it was my designated "toilet book" (you know, the book you read when you take a shit?) so if you're looking for those (I know I always do! I should make a list...) this is a good one. ...more
Drew Weatherton
Sep 23, 2018 rated it liked it
A fairly interesting romp through an early gang of hackers back when everything was done on phone lines. Very dated, but gives some perspective on the personalities and mindsets that can lead to this type of behavior (which is even more prevalent today) even among young hackers.
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Maybe this would have been more interesting 10 years ago. Tech crimes of 2019 have surpassed what these kids were doing, so much so the whole book is boring. It’s complete overkill for crimes the world didn’t even understand yet committed by kids.
Vince C
May 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the writing style of this couple. Found it quite entertaining. Very informative. As you follow along, you notice the typical teen immaturity the hackers possess... while also displaying great talent and technical skills. Well done.
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
A little heavy on the background of all the primaries, but a fantastic journey through the wires with teenaged explorers in the 80's. ...more
L. Farmer
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very excellent book.
Mar 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Pretty fun ride, not very well written but an interesting insight into an infamous (and hackingly great) period of time, on the cusp of the transition from the pre- to the post-internet age.
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Masters of deception: the gang that ruled cyberspace.
By Michelle Slatalla and Joshua Quittner
I rated this book an eight/ten.
Brett Stevens
Mar 04, 2014 rated it liked it
This book was well-written in the journalistic style, interesting throughout, but probably tries to represent too much of what hacking was through a single incident. It also betrays an East Coast bias, which is somewhat fatal. Otherwise, there's a lot of good information here on the old school days of dial-up and network hacking. It introduces the major personalities, reveals the presence of the bulletin board and other hacker hangouts, and shows us some insights into hacker "culture" which was ...more
Human Neglect
Mar 31, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

pretty fun read. the writing isn't great and even has some really obvious misspellings and verb disagreements. i got some of the people mixed up from time to time, which is kind of a feat, considering how straightforward the story is. it's definitely a rush job to cash in on the "hacker" sensationalism, and while the book is occasionally hyperbolic, it sticks to the "facts" that the author can assemble (cuz who the fuck knows what really went down?). it feels like a very honest book.

i l
Rogue Reader
Nov 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: digital
Young geeks that transformed an industry, a nation even - from a safe, protected space that used digital technologies to get work done - to a wide open, vulnerable sore. These guys did a great job of pushing the limits and testing systems to expose weaknesses in data processing, privacy, security and networks. Early networks developed by AT&T, DARPA were particularly at risk, especially after these guys figured out switches. For the most part not malicious, these guys taught themselves and taugh ...more
Colin Conway
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Just reread Masters of Deception: The Gang that Ruled Cyberspace by Michelle Slatalla and Joshua Quittner. I first read it shortly after it was initially released in 1995. I bought a hardback copy and it’s sat on my shelf this entire time, waiting for a second go-round. It didn’t disappoint.

This book is a great examination of computer hacking in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. There’s a fair amount of technical jargon that the authors did a great job of making accessible to the layperson.

The autho
May 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was a book my husband picked up because he wanted to read it. I grabbed it because sometimes he does pick up book that I think I will be interested in. The idea of it was good, especially since it was based off of true events, but I didn't understand most of it. I think it would be something my husband would appreciate more than me. I did like how they tried to use layman's terms for those would don't know much about hacking or the phone lines. ...more
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Masters of Deception is the best book I have ever read. It is written in a way which makes you very exited about the events in the book. I personally can relate to the book which makes it very enjoyable for me to read over and over. If you are into technology/hacking this is the best book you could possibly read. The book is about a hacker gang war between MOD and LOD, which were both real hacker gangs. The book contains a very interesting plot, and I suggest this book to everyone.
Jesse Wagner
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Awesome look into the lives of real hackers that brewed up the culture to what it is. For me this type of material was pretty much the types of stories i was reading on the net in 90s as a 13yr old. Its full of awesome tidbits and delves a bit into knowledge of computer systems and the phone system as well as social engineering. Would recommend to anyone that enjoys things techy and alittle in the grey area.
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Michelle Slatalla is a New York Times featured columnist and author of the book The Town on Beaver Creek: The Story of a Lost Kentucky Community. She is also a public speaker, and gave a lecture about "How Internet Has Changed Our Lives" at an alumni luncheon organized by the University of San Francisco. Her presentation is available at The MBA Podcast. She currently writes a weekly column for the ...more

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