By Joseph Patrick Fair
Interview with Deb Radcliff, author of Breaking Backbones Hacker Trilogy
Recently, I struck up a conversation with Deb Radcliff, Author of the Breaking Backbones Hacker Trilogy.
Her first book, “Breaking Backbones: Information is Power,” is written in a fast-paced cinematic fashion that is destined to go to Hollywood. In it, GlobeCom has taken over the world through human chip implants, and hackers go off the grid to mount a cyberwar that will break the tech giant’s network backbones and free humanity from its overreach and control. She recently released her second book of the Breaking Backbones Hacker Trilogy, subtitled “Information Should Be Free,” which focuses on a new AI that was under development by GlobeCom in book one. Her third book of the series, “From Chaos to Order,” will be out in a few months. Her books are available in print, ebook, and audio, and are widely released across all outlets and available at Amazon, GoodReads, and her publisher, Archway (a division of Simon & Shuster).
Meet the incredible personality behind this breathtaking book, and learn how she fashioned the fictional characters on real hackers, cybercops, and vigilantes she encountered during her 30-year career as a cybercrime investigative reporter.
Deb’s exciting story starts in the mid-1990s when she was a journalist in Silicon Valley for a New York Times-owned newspaper. The Tech boom was just building in the USA, and she was working as a general assignment reporter when she responded to a request for a research reporter on what would become a best-selling book by Jon Littman about a hacker on the run from the FBI named Kevin Mitnick.
“Kevin’s hacker friends found my unlisted number less than twelve hours after I accepted the assignment and started making prank calls. I quickly learned that this new thing called the Internet was going to be a big security and privacy risk for businesses and individuals who were like sheep to the slaughter,” Radcliff told me.
This experience brought her into the hacker community, who she says were the first to sound the alarm. “There were no cybercops back in the day except self-made ones who, like me, saw the writing on the wall.”
She likes to claim she’s the first investigative journalist to make cybercrime a beat. Since 1996. She has been embedded in the hacker, law enforcement, and cybersecurity communities where she is now considered a “thought leader.” She has won two Neal Awards for investigative reporting, and was runner-up for a third, and is a frequent speaker on cybercrime and cybersecurity trends. “My crowning career moment was addressing the engineering students and faculty at West Point Military Academy in 2001,” she tells me. “They put me up at the historic Thayer Hotel at the campus entrance, and I brought my fifteen-year-old daughter. We got a tour of the property and we had lunch in the officer’s dining room. I got a salad from the salad bar. I will never forget it.”
To conduct her research, Radcliff has traveled to most three-letter agencies in the U.S., including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Secret Service, Customs, Army CIC (as it was called at the time), and the Air Force Research Labs to name a few. She’s also traveled the country to interact with hackers from the L0pht Heavy Industries, Cult of the Dead Cow, and many more, often meeting them at conferences like H.O.P.E (Hackers on Planet Earth) In New York and even in some seedy dives like the “Knock Knock” club in San Francisco.
Now, she’s taken her knowledge of tech and the characters she’s met to create an adventurous storyline that should be on your must-read list. In fact, the subtitles of the series “Information is Power,” “Information Should be Free,” and “Out of Chaos Comes Order,” are the three pillars of hacker culture as they explained to her in the early days of her career.
The series keeps an eye on the future of tech, and experts refer to them as “science fact,” rather than science fiction. They also tell her that she has a prophetic take on where tech is going. “My first book was published before the Ukraine War began, and the book starts with a drone war and kamikaze drones blowing up a wall to a GlobeCom data center. The book’s subtitle, ‘Information is Power’ also became a meme at the onset of the war,” Radcliff explains. “Now we’re onto AI in books two and three as ChatGPT seems set to take over in the very near future.”
In her first book, she also tells a strong cautionary tale against accepting human chip implants. With the enviable “Singularity” on the horizon, implants like Neurolink and RFID chips implants in people’s hands, this book explores the intersection of technology and the human condition. The future is unknown, but the possibility abounds.
Deb Radcliff's contact information:
Joseph Patrick Fair, Author for Heart of Hollywood Magazine.
Contact information: https://linktr.ee/josephpatrickfair