REVIEW: "Computer Security Basics", Rick Lehtinen/Deborah Russell/G. T. Gangemi Sr.
- BKCMPSEC.RVW 20060819
"Computer Security Basics", Rick Lehtinen/Deborah Russell/G. T.
Gangemi Sr., 2006, 0-596-00669-1, U$39.99/C$51.99
%A Rick Lehtinen
%A Deborah Russell
%A G. T. Gangemi Sr.
%C 103 Morris St., Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472-9902
%I O'Reilly and Associates, Inc.
%O Audience i- Tech 1 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P 296 p.
%T "Computer Security Basics, Second Edition"
I've been waiting a long time for an updated version of this classic.
"Computer Security Basics" was a pretty accurate name for the first
edition. The book was an overview of many aspects that go into the
security of computers and data systems. While not exhaustive, it
provided a starting point from which to pursue specific topics that
required more detailed study. Such is no longer the case.
Part one looks at security for today. Chapter one starts with 9/11,
then talks about various infosec groups, and only then gets to an
introduction of what security is, and how to evaluate potential
loopholes. The definition points out the useful difference between
the problems of confidentiality and availability, and now adds
integrity. The distinction between threats, vulnerabilities and
countermeasures is helpful, but may fail to resolve certain issues.
Ironically, in view of the title of this section, chapter two gives
some historical background to the development of modern data security.
Part two deals with computer security itself. Chapter three looks at
access control, but is somewhat unstructured. Malware and viruses
receive the all-too-usual mix of advice and inaccuracies in chapter
four. Policy is supposed to be the topic of chapter five, but most of
the text is concerned with matters of operations. Internet and Web
technologies, and a few network attacks, are listed in chapter six.
The prior inclusion of network topics is rather funny, since part
three delves into communications security. Chapter seven turns first
to encryption, which could be presumed to have applications in more
than communications, although it is important in that field. The
material on encryption is quite scattered and disorganized, and the
explanation of asymmetric systems is probably more confusing than
helpful. A lot about networks, a list of network security components,
and not much that is useful makes up chapter eight.
Part four turns to other types of security. Chapter nine takes a
confused look at physical security, and includes biometrics: as with
encryption and communications, the topic that could be related to
physical security, but might more properly be dealt with elsewhere.
Chapter ten reviews wireless LANs, mentioning threats, but only
tersely listing security measures, with no detail for use or
The original version of the book was a good starting point for
beginners who had to deal with computer security at a basic level.
This second edition is a tremendous disappointment: Lehtinen has done
a disservice not only to Russell and Gangemi, but also to those
relying on this foundational guide. The tone of the first edition may
have been too pompous, but the contents were informed by the primary
concerns for information security. This update has introduced random
new technical trivia, muddied the structure and flow, and reduced the
value of the reference overall.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1993, 2002, 2006 BKCMPSEC.RVW 20060819
====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
rslade@... slade@... rslade@...
Information is light. Information, in itself, about anything, is
light. - Tom Stoppard, `Night and Day'
Dictionary of Information Security www.syngress.com/catalog/?pid=4150