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Cryptography Book Reviews

"Cryptography Decrypted", H. X. Mel/Doris Baker, 2001

The book seems to be rather ambitious, since the preface says that it is addressed to any (and therefore all) audience(s), without any limitation on the stated purpose. In general, it is an attempt to portray the basic concepts of cryptography, without getting too far into technical details. Many other books have tried to do the same thing, and signally failed. Mel and Baker by and large succeed.

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"Internet Cryptography", Richard E. Smith, 1997

According to the preface, this book is aimed at non-specialists who need to know just enough about cryptography to make informed technical decisions. As an example, Smith suggests systems administrators and managers who, while not formally charged with security, still have to use cryptographic techniques to secure their networks or transmissions.

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.NET Security and Cryptography", Peter Thorsteinson/G. Gnana Arun Ganesh, 2004

For an ancient linear/procedural dinosaur like myself, it is interesting to see the difference between the prehistoric API (Application Programming Interface) library documentation and the descriptions of the new object-oriented classes. Older books were full of icky things such as usage syntax and required parameters. While this work does contain some sample code, generally with comments that merely repeat what is obvious from the name of the method, most of the material simply consists of mentioning that the methods and classes exist. I can only wonder at the marvels of the new age of programming, where everything is so "intuitive" that correct coding is automatic and inevitable.


Practical Cryptography, Bruce Schneier/Niels Ferguson, 2003

The preface points out that cryptography has done more harm than good in terms of securing information systems, not because cryptography fails in and of itself, but, rather, due to the improper use or implementation of the technology. This book is intended to provide concrete advice to those designing and implementing cryptographic systems. As such, it is not the usual introduction to cryptography, and is aimed at a fairly limited group.