The Art of Invisibility by Kevin Mitnick

When one of the world’s biggest hackers wants to teach you how to stay safe online, you’d better listen. And this is exactly what Kevin Mitnick does in his newest book.

We are living in the era of Big Data, and unfortunately in the Big Brother age as well. Our every move is being watched these days. And privacy is a luxury that very few people – mostly geeks – are able to create for themselves. But this book has the potential to change things.

The author has a lot of experience in the field; he was able to penetrate the security systems of various governmental agencies and corporations in the past. In fact, he was on a famous “Most Wanted” list for several years. Fortunately, Mitnick is now reformed and often times he is quoted as the expert when it comes to online and offline security.

Our online experiences have significantly evolved during the last few decades, and yet many people are doing crazy things online. They use their dogs’ names or “1234” for their passwords, for example. And even if they do choose a good password, they think that its 8 characters make it impenetrable.

Cyber security expert Kevin Mitnick wrote his book to change this perception for good. It’s a cold shower that should bring anyone back to reality: we’ve got TV sets that spy on us, cell phones that track our every move, electronic medical records, body implants which tell the interested parties how we feel, and much more.

Mitnick dedicates a large section of his book to email. His advice is to use an encryption application such as PGP – pretty good privacy – to keep your emails away from the unintended recipients’ eyes.

The Art of Invisibility is much more than having secure emails, though. The book also discusses VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), methods to encrypt phone calls, ways to access your favorite websites using two factor authorization, and several other geeky methods that will help you regain access to some – if not all – of your personal data and privacy.

A special chapter is dedicated to intelligent Wi-Fi usage. Too many people use weak passwords for their home networks, thinking that they are safe. But hackers can simply plug in a high gain, external antenna into a miniPCA card using an inexpensive U.FL cable, and then connect to your network even if they are 100 feet away from the router.

Mitnick tackles credit card purchases as well. His recommendation is to use a reloadable gift card whenever you want to purchase something online. He doesn’t recommend purchasing anything online, but if you really have to do it, this is his recommended method, because it minimizes risks.

The Art of Invisibility is a book that anyone doing anything online should read.


Power Play: How Video Games Can Save the World

The authors – game developer Asi Burak and journalist Laura Parker – wrote Power Play because they have discovered an unusual solution to all of our troubles: when worries strike, open the computer and start playing or (even better) start developing a great game!

Asi Burak is the Chairman of G4C, a company that uses good games to make the world a better place. He has studied at the Carnegie Mellon University and has a Master in Entertainment Technology.

The creator of PeaceMaker, a game that was built with the goal of bringing peace in the Middle East, discusses several games and game ideas that aren’t just fun, but have a clear, useful purpose. And the fact that Asi is a game developer himself shows clearly throughout the book! He goes through several game ideas that aren’t explored yet, or at least haven’t been explored to their full potential.

Is game development an industry that’s still in its infancy? Most people would give a negative answer, but Power Play is so full of interesting examples that it may change your perception. And its focus on games that can have a positive social impact is very refreshing.

Chapters include “The story of PeaceMaker”, “The story of iCivics”, “The story of Macon Money”, “The story of New Arab Media”, “The story of the Half the Sky Movement”, “The story of Re-Mission”, “The story of Foldit and crowdgaming”, “The story of NeuroRacer and Project Evo”.

With so many examples of games that have the potential to empower us to do good, the authors wanted to make sure that at least some of the readers will join their cause. The “Tools of a New Generation” section of the book lists powerful tools that can be used by aspiring game developers to create great games.

Virtual reality gaming has its dedicated chapter as well. The authors mention a VR project named Machine To Be Another, which was built by a group of students in Spain a few years ago. The project allowed people to swap bodies – virtually, of course. It’s an interesting idea, because it allows people to see themselves – and others! – from another perspective.

If you’ve ever been interested in using games to influence mental – and yes, even physical – well-being in a positive way, this book is for you. Power Play takes passion for game development towards new frontiers, encouraging the young generation to create projects that can make significant changes, improving people’s lives.

Power Play is now available in bookstores.

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