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REVIEW: "The Teeth of the Tiger", Tom Clancy

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    BKTTHTGR.RVW 20040306 The Teeth of the Tiger , Tom Clancy, 2003, 0-399-15079-X, U$27.95/C$40.00 %A Tom Clancy %C 10 Alcorn Ave, Suite 300, Toronto,
    Message 1 of 1 , May 28, 2004
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      BKTTHTGR.RVW 20040306

      "The Teeth of the Tiger", Tom Clancy, 2003, 0-399-15079-X,
      U$27.95/C$40.00
      %A Tom Clancy
      %C 10 Alcorn Ave, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario, M4V 3B2
      %D 2003
      %G 0-399-15079-X
      %I Penguin Putnam
      %O U$27.95/C$40.00 416-925-2249 Fax: 416-925-0068 service@...
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/039915079X/robsladesinterne
      http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/039915079X/robsladesinte-21
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/039915079X/robsladesin03-20
      %P 431 p.
      %T "The Teeth of the Tiger"

      It is interesting to note, reading the reviews on Amazon, that even
      die-hard Clancy fans are starting to lose faith. Clancy has moved
      from curmudgeon to outright maverick in this work. The plot doesn't
      just depend on bending the rules, but by going completely outside them
      and playing God. (In which regard, I'm fairly sure that quite a few
      Catholics would take issue with the assertion that as long as you
      *think* you are doing the right thing, God can't say anything about
      it.) The "good guys" luck out a lot, but are extremely sloppy, and
      any group that did operate in this manner would tend to kill a lot of
      innocent people. Despite crises of conscience (very brief ones), none
      of the characters in this tale are attractive or sympathetic: they all
      seem to be pretty thin. But that isn't what we are here to talk
      about.

      Clancy demonstrated in "The Bear and the Dragon" (cf. BKBRDRGN.RVW)
      that he didn't understand cryptography, and he proves his lack of
      comprehension again here. Sun makes good workstations, but they
      aren't supercomputers. Single pass DES (Data Encryption Standard) has
      fallen to brute force attacks, but serious users have plenty of
      algorithms to choose from that haven't. Clancy has moved the myth of
      the NSA providing encryption standards with backdoors built into it
      slightly out of the house, but it's still a myth. (Yes, the NSA does
      have smart people, but the one time they did really try it, with the
      Clipper/SKIPJACK key escrow system, it failed. Ironically, the
      failure didn't lie in their ability not to get caught, since they were
      completely open about it, but in a weakness that meant the escrowing
      system could be broken.) As far as getting everyone to buy into a
      proprietary, unreviewed encryption system and use it pretty much
      universally for several years without anybody twigging as to what was
      going on, forget it. There are a number of players in the crypto
      market, everybody serious enough to study the field knows not to buy
      snake oil, and anyone following the security field at all knows that
      backdoors get found every day.

      Just because you use the same accounting system as someone else
      doesn't mean that you can read all their files. (In fact, if you are
      breaking in to someone's system, it is often easier to grab the data
      files themselves and process them with your own tools.) There is no
      discussion about getting access to files on remote systems at all:
      Clancy just seems to assume that it can be done. Admittedly, he is
      assuming a backdoor into Echelon, and assuming that Echelon can, in
      fact, collect all the transmission of voice and data anywhere in the
      world. (We'll leave that tall order for the moment, since it isn't
      inherently impossible, however unlikely.) The data under
      investigation, however, isn't in transit: it resides on a bank
      computer.

      This book has annoying errors in technology, flat characters, a shaky
      premise, and very little of the old Clancy flair.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2004 BKTTHTGR.RVW 20040306


      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... slade@... rslade@...
      If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only
      because they do not realize how complicated life is.
      - John Louis von Neumann
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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