REVIEW: "PC Pest Control", Preston Gralla
- BKPCPECO.RVW 20071119
"PC Pest Control", Preston Gralla, 2005, 0-596-00926-7,
%A Preston Gralla
%C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472
%I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
%O U$24.95/C$34.95 800-998-9938 fax: 707-829-0104 nuts@...
%O Audience n- Tech 1 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P 275 p.
%T "PC Pest Control: Protect Your Computers from Malicious Internet
Chapter one, as is all too common in books about securing home
computers, is long on sensational stories and a bit short on useful
advice. There are suggestions of things to do, and those
recommendations may even be proper security measures. Instructions on
actually performing the security actions, however, are mostly absent.
Much the same material is repeated in chapter two, though in slightly
different wording and structure. Various computer activities are
listed, and then some of the risks of those functions are described
briefly. Once again, there are suggestions about actions to take to
protect yourself (this time in the form of "checklists"), but no
directions on how to perform them. A number of pieces of security
software, mostly commercial, are mentioned in chapter three, but
requirements for management, or the implications of reports that you
might obtain from these applications are not covered. Details related
to the operation of Microsoft Windows' System Restore and Registry are
given in chapter four, but while the instructions are clear the
significance of these activities may not be. Immediately after
telling you to run Windows Update, in chapter five, Gralla provides
guidelines for disabling it--by disabling ActiveX and not running
Internet Explorer. (The fact that this would be the outcome of
following the tutorial is not mentioned.) Chapter six is concerned
with spyware, and by this time a lot of the recommendations are
starting to sound very familiar. The definition of "virus" provided
in chapter seven is worse than is usual even for general home computer
security books. It asserts that viruses are delineated by requiring
no user intervention, whereas the most useful distinction between
viruses and worms is that viruses generally do require some operator
action, even if uninformed. (That Gralla keeps reiterating that
"virus" is just a generic term for any type of malware is also
annoying and misleading.) Along with the (not terribly helpful) text
on trojans and bots comes a list of names and descriptions of the "top
five" or so programs in those categories. This is a feature of other
sections of the book as well, and provides little help (or solid
information), and, of course, dates very quickly. It is rather
strange that worms are not included with the related topic of malware
in chapter seven, but with the subject of email and instant messaging
in chapter eight, and that spam, which is related to email, is handled
separately in chapter nine. (Chapter nine also contains an "ANSI"
table, which, instead, turns out to be a table of ASCII [American
Standard Code for Information Interchange] codes for text characters,
the table being used to illustrate a discussion of the alternate data
representations that can be employed in Web pages.) Phishing,
anonymizing, and the customary vague rules for protecting kids online
makes up chapter ten. Chapter eleven's material on safeguarding
wireless networks will make your home network less subject to attack,
though not as impregnable as Gralla seems to suggest. The content on
safety at wireless "hotspots" is less useful. The book is padded out
with an appendix that repeats material from the text.
There is a lot of white space, and the inclusion of pointless
graphics. There is a lot of verbiage. There is little helpful
information, and certainly nothing like the assistance that can be
obtained from Thomas Greene's "Computer Security for the Home and
Small Office" (cf. BKCMSCHO.RVW) or "Just Say No to Microsoft" by Tony
Bove (cf. BKJSN2MS.RVW).
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2007 BKPCPECO.RVW 20071119
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[I]f a man has good corn, or wood, or boards, or pigs to sell...
you will find a broad, hard-beaten road to his house.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
(some seven years after his death, Emerson's comment on quality
was altered to the now famous dictum on innovation, that if you
built a better mousetrap the world would beat a path to your door)