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REVIEW: "Security Engineering", Ross Anderson

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Han
    BKSECENG.RVW 20080929 Security Engineering , Ross Anderson, 2008, 978-0-470-06852-6, U$70.00 %A Ross Anderson ross.anderson@ieee.org rja14@cam.ac.uk %C
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 27, 2008
      BKSECENG.RVW 20080929

      "Security Engineering", Ross Anderson, 2008, 978-0-470-06852-6,
      %A Ross Anderson ross.anderson@... rja14@...
      %C 5353 Dundas Street West, 4th Floor, Etobicoke, ON M9B 6H8
      %D 2001
      %G 978-0-470-06852-6 0-470-06852-3
      %I John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
      %O U$70.00 416-236-4433 fax: 416-236-4448
      %O http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/book.html
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0470068523/robsladesinterne
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0470068523/robsladesin03-20
      %O Audience i+ Tech 3 Writing 2 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
      %P 1040 p.
      %T "Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed
      Systems, Second Edition"

      Anything written by Gene Spafford is important. Anything written by
      Bruce Schneier is readable, and, even if you disagree with it, worth
      thinking about. Anything written by Ross Anderson is important,
      readable, worth considering, and correct.

      The preface states that this book is intended as a text for self-study
      or for a one term course, a reference for professionals, an
      introduction to the underlying concepts, and an original scientific
      contribution in terms of the foundational principles for security
      engineering. In addition, the preface to the second edition notes
      that these concepts now need to be understood by legal investigators,
      managers, and, in the wake of 9/11, everyone. A very tall order to
      fulfill, but one which, for once, seems to have been accomplished. I
      have often been asked, in regard to these reviews, whether there are,
      in fact, any books that I do like. Well, I like this one. If you are
      involved with security and you haven't read "Security Engineering,"
      you should. And you have no excuse if you haven't. This is the
      second edition to be printed, and the first edition is available
      online, in its entirety.

      (And, if the first edition is available online for free, why should
      you buy the second? Because the second edition has more, in almost
      every respect.)

      Part one deals with the basic concepts of engineering and security.
      Chapter one presents four example situations of security needs.
      Protocols are not limited to the precise but limited structures with
      which computer people are familiar. Security is a people problem, and
      chapter two, entitled "Usability and Psychology," addresses this issue
      up front, along with a set of more conceptual, but more formal,
      authentication problems and protocols. It is unlikely that the models
      presented exhaust the field, but some thought indicates that they are
      pertinent to a wide variety of applications. Much the usual thoughts
      and advice on passwords is issued in chapter three, although the
      research is better documented, and some additional research
      (passphrase generated passwords are as secure as randomly assigned
      ones, and as memorable as naively chosen ones) is presented.
      (Anderson's writing is clear enough, but he does betray a taste for
      symbolic logic that might limit the audience for the book. Still,
      perserverence on the part of the reader will be amply rewarded.) It
      is strange not to see any mention of the work factor of passwords
      overall. Chapter four reviews access control, but primarily from the
      perspective of system and hardware internals. Cryptography, in
      chapter five, is covered reliably and well, although the structure and
      flow of the material is not always in developmental order. The
      problems of distributed systems are examined; in terms of concurrency,
      failure resistance, and naming; in chapter six. Economics can be used
      to examine a great many aspects of security (and insecurity). Chapter
      seven looks at a number, but I was disappointed to note that risk
      analysis was not one of them.

      Part two uses a number of applications of secure systems to introduce
      particular concepts or technologies. Chapter eight discusses
      multilevel security, which encompasses most of the formal security
      models such as Bell-LaPadula. Medical (and census) databases are
      used, in chapter nine, as examples of multilateral, or compartmented,
      security: the need to deal with information of equal sensitivity, but
      restricted to different groups. Controls particularly related to the
      banking system and fraud are presented in chapter ten, although the
      material is long on anecdotes, and contains weaker analysis than the
      preceding text. A somewhat limited, but still interesting, review of
      physical security has been added in chapter eleven. Chapter twelve
      reviews monitoring systems, of both monitoring and metering types. In
      regard to nuclear command and control systems, chapter thirteen
      examines the tension between availability (the ability to fire a
      missile) and confidentiality (or authentication: making sure nobody
      else does). Various aspects of the technology for security printing
      and seals is dealt with in chapter fourteen. Biometrics, in chapter
      fifteen, gets a good, but fairly standard, treatment. Chapter sixteen
      delves into tamper-resistance in cryptographic gear and smartcards
      (expanding on the content of fourteen). The TEMPEST and Teapot (no,
      I'm not kidding) projects on emission security are reviewed in chapter
      seventeen. Chapter eighteen examines the security problems inherent
      in the use of application programming interfaces (APIs). There is
      good coverage of the basics of traditional electronic warfare in
      chapter nineteen, although the material on information warfare is not
      as thorough. Chapter twenty looks at telecommunications system
      security, with some material on phone phreaking and lots on cellular
      encryption. Network attack and defense, in chapter twenty-one, is
      less focussed than other chapters, and adds malware. Copyright and
      DRM (Digital Rights Management) systems are examined in chapter
      twenty-two, with solid coverage of recent controversies. Gaming,
      social networks, elections, and other complex applications are
      discussed in chapter twenty-three.

      Part three turns to politics, management, and assurance. Chapter
      twenty-four, under the title of "Terror, Justice, and Freedom," has a
      fascinating discussion of major issues in public policy. Management
      issues, in chapter twenty-five, are presented in an interesting but
      generic manner. The discussion of system evaluation and assurance
      asks the usual question in regard to how we know our systems are
      secure. In a sense, though, the subtitle of the book is wrong: much
      of the material points out how *not* to build dependable systems, and
      chapter twenty-six is a bit disheartening. The conclusion, in chapter
      twenty-seven, is that we need more engineers and engineering.

      Although the material is presented in a very formal way, the writing
      is usually quite readable, and the exceptional stilted passages are
      still accessible to the determined reader. On occasion, one could
      hope for additional explanations of some items that are mentioned
      briefly and passed over. The constant emphasis on how security
      protections have failed can be depressing, but the examination of the
      errors of others does provide the basis for better designs in the

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2002, 2008 BKSECENG.RVW 20080929

      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... slade@... rslade@...
      Whatever. - Jean Paul Sartre
      victoria.tc.ca/techrev/rms.htm blogs.securiteam.com/index.php/archives/author/p1/
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