Cuckoo's Egg Analysis Paper

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THE CUCKOO’S EGG BOOK ANALYSIS – TRACKING A SPY

Suma Lakshminarayan

Book Analysis Paper
Professor Jon Clark
Summer Quarter 2012
11 September, 2012
INTRODUCTION
The Cuckoo’s Egg book is well written by Cliff Stoll. It was something like reading a horror story book. It was creepy, suspense, curiosity and scary too. The hacker every time breaks into a military system seemed to be like a ghost entering into the house and not like a thief. We know thief will definitely when he attacks a home he will for sure grab all things possible for him to steal. But this hacker was not doing just that, he was wandering in the system and making some creepy moves and disappeared. Many a times he would just come and go just to show that he was still there. Something like a ghosts act.

Cliff clearly briefs every day’s situations, thoughts and reaction of the people around him. As we are reading this book and try to imagine the description given by Cliff, we can understand how things were in those days. The FBI, NSA, NCSC and CIA reacted and helped for such case. It was definitely very difficult for Cliff to handle the pressure of his boss and the unsupportive FBI.

It was definitely a challenging case. An astronomer, who was least interested in computer programming lands up tracking a spy which leads him to be a professional network and information security provider. This journey of Cliff is an example to many who loose hope on their current jobs, or people who lost and don’t know where they are ending up.

From this book I take back lot of things related to computers, networks, the government, information security and its importance, and how to handle things under pressure and stress. There are many characters who teach us how to look at situations which actually shows us a way to solve the problem.

Luis Alvarez is one such example who actually showed Cliff another view of handling this case. I think it was because of him Cliff took this case as a research and not as part of his job.

IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF THE BOOK
The very interesting part of this book is the way author relates all the problems to astronomy and physics. Most of the time it was his physicist friends who helped him crack the puzzle and find hints related to the hacker.

The reader must be good at computer security or astronomy in order to understand the relations made between them by the author. Author also analyzes people relating to physics and planet study.
Cliff describes his new boss Marv Atchley and his division head Roy Kerth in physics aspect. Roy who was a college professor teaching about collisions, protons and anti-protons. He related his students and staff to his subatomic particles: keep them in their orbits, energize them and then shoot them into static positions. Roy was fed up of the year long delays and excuses given by computer professionals.

Author analyzed Roy and always made sure to start of a conversation something about relativistic physics before he could move on to computer related issues. That way author expected some kind of support for his tracking business, but Roy was a person who believed everything that had been proved or had some proof.

This made the author to maintain a logbook, in which he entered every single word related to this case. He even had dotted down the conversations made with every person whom he contacted for help. This logbook concept actually helped him to analyze the hacker and his activities, sometimes saved him from getting screwed by his higher authorities and also helped him to write his paper titled “Stalking the Wily Hacker”.

Though the techniques used by the author to trace the hacker is out dated now, but his way of approach is definitely amazing. How he relates this case to astronomy and physics is a very unique way.

Another physics aspect applied for detection is: When the hacker fires a universal file transfer program called Kermit. The hacker also used the Kermit...
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