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REVIEW: "Conspiracy.com", R. J. Pineiro

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    BKCNSPRC.RVW 20030603 Conspiracy.com , R. J. Pineiro, 2001, 0-812-57505-9 %A R. J. Pineiro author@rjpineiro.com %C 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 10, 2003
      BKCNSPRC.RVW 20030603

      "Conspiracy.com", R. J. Pineiro, 2001, 0-812-57505-9
      %A R. J. Pineiro author@...
      %C 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
      %D 2001
      %G 0-812-57505-9
      %I Tor Books/Tom Doherty Assoc.
      %O pnh@... www.tor.com
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0812575059/robsladesinterne
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0812575059/robsladesin03-20
      %P 405 p.
      %T "Conspiracy.com"

      The author's bio, printed inside the back cover, indicates that he has
      almost two decades of experience in the computer industry. The
      material on his Web page (which, unfortunately, doesn't seem to have
      been updated in the past two years) points to work as a chip engineer.
      Which may explain the myriad errors in everything from network
      operations to authentication to screen resolution.

      From a technical perspective, the book presents a bit of a dichotomy.
      On the one hand, there is a rough awareness of much of the detail of
      the computer world. On the other hand, many of the particulars are
      wrong: the whole point of the Internet was that you wouldn't need to
      dial up each computer individually, high end workstation prices in the
      book are ridiculously inflated, and there is the standard mistake of
      assuming that a cellular phone actually has to be making a call in
      order to be tracked.

      The same rift occurs in regard to computer security. For once the
      good guys seem to do all the system penetration. There is a lovely
      piece of social engineering employed in order to install a kind of
      rootkit. One character takes advantage of a "beaming" (infrared data
      transfer equipped) personal digital assistant, and the inevitable fact
      that people write down lists of their passwords, in order to obtain
      access information. (The beauty of this scam is somewhat reduced
      because PDAs have extremely weak security at the best of times, making
      this plot device somewhat redundant.) But the attempt to make the
      action "visual" (one can almost hear the movie deal making going on)
      definitely comes at the expense of technical realism. The virtual
      reality "interface" makes little sense in terms of either networking
      or database management. The agents seem to simply operate by magic.
      The security systems are ludicrously vulnerable, with operations and
      controls completely exposed. There is a vague hint of "sniffing" for
      passwords as they are used, but security and intrusion detection
      systems would be operating in a resident mode (and generally internal
      to a system) so that they would have no need to submit passwords.
      Certainly the idea that major banks, corporations, and government
      institutions are all using static, reusable passwords, with no
      challenge/response systems, is sadly behind the times.

      A mixed bag, this. More than a passing familiarity with the computer
      world, but a ton of annoying mistakes.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2003 BKCNSPRC.RVW 20030603

      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... slade@... rslade@...
      There is more to life than increasing its speed. - Mahatma Gandhi
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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