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REVIEW: "Hacker's Challenge", Mike Schiffman

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    BKHKRCHL.RVW 20020221 Hacker s Challenge , Mike Schiffman, 2001, 0-07-219384-0, U$29.99 %A Mike Schiffman %C 300 Water Street, Whitby, Ontario L1N 9B6
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2 8:32 AM
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      BKHKRCHL.RVW 20020221

      "Hacker's Challenge", Mike Schiffman, 2001, 0-07-219384-0, U$29.99
      %A Mike Schiffman
      %C 300 Water Street, Whitby, Ontario L1N 9B6
      %D 2001
      %G 0-07-219384-0
      %I McGraw-Hill Ryerson/Osborne
      %O U$29.99 +1-800-565-5758 +1-905-430-5134 fax: 905-430-5020
      %P 355 p.
      %T "Hacker's Challenge"

      Initially, I was skeptical of the title, considering the wording to be
      simply jumping on the current security bandwagon, with "hacker" this
      and "hacker" that on every bookshelf. In an odd way, however, the
      title is quite appropriate. This volume contains a series of twenty
      tests that are supposed to challenge your ability to analyze network
      data (most of the scenarios are network based) in order to identify
      and assess intrusions. Unfortunately, there are some problems in the
      implementation.

      The book is divided into two parts. First come the twenty scenarios,
      with varying types and degrees of detail about the problems. Then
      come twenty "solutions," which are supposed to point out how you
      should have approached the situation, and what indicators should have
      tipped you off to the intrusion and intruder. This physical division
      is rather meaningless: it isn't as if the solutions were short phrases
      that had to be printed upside down at the bottom of the page so that
      the reader doesn't inadvertently read the answer to the riddle while
      thinking about it. There is no reason that the solutions could not
      immediately follow the stories.

      Actually, the pieces were written by thirteen different authors, and
      the amount of detail varies tremendously. Therefore, all the possible
      mistakes that could be made in a work of this type are represented.
      Sometimes the audit logs presented to us in the scenario contain the
      relevant details and very little else, but the explanation is very
      sparse. In other pieces readers are presented with huge amounts of
      log data, and the relevant points are lost. There are scenarios which
      are not complete, and the data necessary to solve the problem is not
      given until the solution write-up. A few pieces contain almost no
      data for the reader in the problem section, while the solution
      presents almost no detection information or forensic exegesis. In one
      case we are given pages of log data and almost no analysis at all in
      the solution. There are articles that simply reproduce earlier
      situations with different characters. One solution makes no sense in
      terms of the data given in the problem outline. Some pieces are
      unclear, some simplistic, and some can only be described as
      misleading.

      The occasional scenario is written up almost poetically, and isolated
      solutions do have tutelary explanations of how to read network audit
      logs.

      If you are very good at forensic network analysis, you might enjoy
      pitting yourself against these challenges. Of course, if you are good
      at forensic network analysis you have more work than you can handle,
      and no time for games. If you are weak at network analysis, this book
      doesn't have very much to help you out.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2002 BKHKRCHL.RVW 20020221


      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... rslade@... slade@... p1@...
      I have never been hurt by anything I didn't say. - Calvin Coolidge
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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