REVIEW: "Computer Security Fundamentals", Chuck Easttom
- BKCMSCFN.RVW 20080205
"Computer Security Fundamentals", Chuck Easttom, 2006, 0-13-171129-6,
%A Chuck Easttom
%C One Lake St., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
%I Prentice Hall
%O U$52.00/C$51.95 800-576-3800 416-293-3621 201-236-7139
%O Audience n- Tech 1 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P 344 p.
%T "Computer Security Fundamentals"
This is a textbook, and the preface states that it is intended for
students. The author and reviewers are all from colleges, and one
presumes that they know something about textbooks. They do not,
however, demonstrate much knowledge of security.
Chapter one is supposed to be an introduction to cyber crime and
security, but important terms are poorly defined, and many are
missing. The material seems to be sensational rather than
educational. Fundamental concepts are presented oddly as well.
Security is divided not into the fairly standard confidentiality,
integrity, and availability, but into malware, intrusions, and denial
of service (DoS), which leaves out all kinds of important issues. A
terse overview of risk analysis is rather simplistic, but much better
than the rest of the content. The questions included at the end of
the chapter are trivial: the exercises are more time-consuming but no
Chapter two contains random topics about networks and the Internet.
The structure is as disorganized as most of the book: the subject of
domain name service comes between a discussion of media access control
addresses and an illustration of RJ45 jacks, a type of physical plug.
Screenshots of network scanning utilities make up chapter three.
Chapter four, about denial of service attacks, confuses DoS and Man-
in-the-Middle offensives. Malware, in chapter five, is treated even
worse than is normally the case, stating outright that there is no
difference between viruses and worms, confusing viruses with buffer
overflow conditions, and providing almost no information at all on the
types of virus protection. Chapter six has more screenshots and
typically useless recommendations on hardening Windows systems: the
reader is advised to disable unnecessary services, but is not given
any information about how to find, enable, or disable services, or
determine which services are necessary or otherwise.
Chapter seven's outline of encryption is highly unreliable. We are
told that there are two types of encryption, transposition and
substitution, and that within substitution there are two divisions:
symmetric and asymmetric. (Most modern symmetric algorithms use
combinations of transposition and substitution, and asymmetric
algorithms use mathematical transformations.) PGP, a cryptosystem, is
compared with the RSA algorithm. (PGP, in fact, can use the RSA
algorithm: this is a bit like comparing apples with refrigerators.)
Two of the three virtual private network protocols that are discussed
in regard to encryption protocols have no encryption capability.
A list of some Internet frauds is given in chapter eight. Chapter
nine, supposedly about corporate espionage, tells us that information
has value and we should have some information security. (Rather
ironically, the advice that is given is irrelevant to the issue of
insider abuses, which is the most common form of business espionage
and fraud.) Cyber terrorism and information warfare gets the usual
lurid (and inaccurate) treatment in chapter ten. Entitled "Cyber
Detective," chapter eleven says that you can find information about
people by using Web search engines. A few security utilities are
briefly described in chapter twelve.
This is a book that is very long on page format, and rather short on
content. The material is unreliable and incomplete. I would not want
to take a course that used this as a text, and I certainly wouldn't
hire anyone simply on the basis that they passed such a course.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2008 BKCMSCFN.RVW 20080205
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Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in
heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. Deut. 4:39