Breaking and Entering FAQ

Is this really a true story?

Yes! Alien made two requests when she agreed to share her story with me. One was that I give the most honest, accurate account possible of her life and the hacker and InfoSec communities she’s been part of. The other was that I change identifying details of friends, family, colleagues, and clients.

I agreed. Work began, interviewing Alien and dozens of others, consulting almost two decades of journals, diaries, day planners, and correspondence, and traveling to every major site in the book. As I drafted, I changed names and other identifying details, as promised. In a small number of instances, either to protect privacy, streamline the narrative, or both, I combined multiple events or individuals. Regardless, I reconstructed scenes and dialogue as factually as possible and to the best of Alien’s and others’ memories.

Why can’t I find a hacker named “Elizabeth Tessman” when I search online?

Elizabeth Tessman is a pseudonym. Since the publication of Breaking and Entering, Alien has been covered by media reports that reveal her real name.

I found her real name, but her initials aren’t E. T. Did you make up the part about her choosing the handle “Alien”?

No. Her middle initials are E. T. :)

When I look online, I see two different book covers. Why?

The black cover is for the U.S. edition, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The teal cover is for the UK/Australia/New Zealand edition, published by Scribe.