Like other kids in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, Ejovi Nuwere grew up among thugs and drug dealers. When he was eleven, he helped form a gang; at twelve, he attempted suicide. In his large, extended family, one uncle was a career criminal, one a graduate student with his own computer. By the time Ejovi was fourteen, he was spending as much time on the computer as his uncle was. Within a year he was well on his way to a hacking career that would lead him to one of the most audacious and potentially dangerous computer break-ins of all time, secret until now.
Before he finished high school he had created a hidden life in the hacker underground and an increasingly prominent career as a computer security consultant. At the age of twenty-two, he was a top security specialist for one of the world's largest financial houses.
Hacker Cracker is at once the most candid revelation to date of the dark secrets of cyberspace and the simple, unaffected story of an inner-city child's triumph over shattering odds to achieve unparalleled success.
By age 21, Nuwere had grown from a precocious child in Brooklyn's embattled Bed-Stuy neighborhood to a well-established Internet security specialist for a major investment bank. In between, he served a long stint as a renegade though ultimately benign hacker, an experience that gave him much-needed background for his professional career. Written with Chanoff, his memoir is an appealing primer to hacker culture matched with the personal story of being raised by an extended family (due to Nuwere's mother's death from AIDS) in an impoverished environment. Nuwere's adventures in the computing underworld primarily include phishing, or conning Internet users into divulging credit card information; making free phone calls using stolen 800 numbers; and exploring the computer systems of major corporations in order to better understand their intricacies. Unfortunately, much of the drama is mitigated by the blacking out of the name of the company most seriously hacked by Nuwere, as well as the name of the project in development that he was busted for entering ("We kept going deeper and deeper into until we reached the computers that actually controlled the that was all over the news"). This continues for some pages, making it difficult for readers to maintain interest in this pivotal episode. Superfluous details about Nuwere's high school experiences and martial arts tournaments are not well integrated with the more compelling hacker narrative. Nonetheless, this is an empathetic, revealing account of a new breed of insurgents.