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John Soat
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IT Confidential: The Hacker Payoff; Youth Seduced

Who says crime doesn't pay? Kevin Mitnick, variously referred to as "the most notorious hacker" or "the best hacker on the planet," served almost 60 months in prison in the late 1990s for computer fraud. Mitnick plea-bargained a release in 2000, and in 2002 he published a book called The Art Of Deception, about social engineering and the human element in hacking. Now Mitnick is writing another book. As part of his plea bargain, Mitnick is prevented from detailing his own hacking exploits till 2010. So he's soliciting hacking stories, with the help of his publisher, John Wiley & Sons, from other cybercowboys—"The more devious and cunning, the better," according to a press release last week from Wiley. The book, tentatively titled The Art Of Intrusion, will feature the most compelling hacker anecdotes received, with anonymity guaranteed the providers. Hackers chosen for inclusion will receive a signed copy of Mitnick's first book, and the hacker with the best story will get $500. According to Eric Holmgren, senior publicist at Wiley, Mitnick put up his own money for the project: "Kevin conceived the project, and he will decide who gets the $500."

The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Georgetown University last week published the results of a comScore Media Metrix analysis that shows young people flock to Web sites sponsored by alcohol companies. The analysis found that in the last six months of last year there were 700,000 "in-depth visits" to alcohol-company Web sites by people under the drinking age. Apparently, young people are attracted by interactive games on the sites as well as downloadable music. And the software used by alcohol sites to limit access by underage visitors is largely ineffective. "These alcohol Web sites are a virtual cyberplayground with no adult supervision," John O'Hara, executive director of the center, said in a statement.

Emerson, the $14 billion-a-year electronics and process-control company, has tapped Stephen Hassell as its new VP and CIO. Hassell came to Emerson from the CIO spot at Invensys, the U.K. optimization-software company rumored to be a takeover target of Siemens. Before Invensys, Hassell was VP and CIO of Newport News Shipbuilding.

Simeda, a Romanian cell-phone software company, has developed an application that mimics the sounds of traffic, a dentist's drill, a circus parade, or even a phone ringing. The idea is to provide an ambient "alibi" for being late to work or an appointment, or for cutting short a call. SoundCover works only on Nokia series 60 phones.

Let me know when it has the sounds of typing or incoming E-mails, so I can pretend to be at work rather than at a sports bar watching the NCAA tournament. And let me know when you have an industry tip—send it to or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about romanticizing hackers or where the CIO jobs are, meet me at's Listening Post:

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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