Smith...serves a fascinating and entertaining account ... Vignettes careen from gripping to funny and show the critical need for regular testing, as security breaching in elections and corporate and personal identity theft are growing industries ... Like an espionage thriller, this account ensnares readers into the high-stakes world of computer security, told through Alien's emergence as a recognized expert in a male-dominated profession. It will reach audiences of enthusiastic hackers and general readers.
Further complicating things, Smith gives every character and company a pseudonym and changes the locations of key events. We are told this is to protect their privacy, but the effect is that Alien, on whom so much is riding, feels distant. This distance is compounded by the fact that Breaking and Entering includes long stretches of dialogue and precise details from decades-old events. When you never quite know how much about a character is fictionalized, such precision can make the scenes feel reimagined. Smith’s writing style, though, is crisp as he charts the course of Alien’s life ... Smith is a lively storyteller ... at times I wished we could have stepped back a bit from her story to see the bigger picture. Instead, tethered to Alien, we can see only as far as she can in the moment ... The story offers just enough technological details to establish its bona fides without slowing its pace ... Alien’s social-engineering techniques have been detailed in books by and about the hacker Kevin Mitnick and elsewhere, and will come as no surprise to tech-savvy or security-conscious readers. More casual readers will get an introduction to that world, but not a guide to help them understand it.
...a book that reads like a fictional thriller while remaining solidly grounded in fact ... Smith’s book is remarkably easy to read. Although hacking can involve very complex programming tactics and systems architecture issues that lay readers would struggle to understand, the author keeps the technical side of the story manageable and easy to follow ... Breaking and Entering is an engaging cautionary tale of security vulnerabilities and the constant threat of cyber attacks that businesses and institutions face on a daily basis.