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Network Security Book Reviews

Biometrics, Samir Nanavati/Michael Thieme/Raj Nanavati, 2002

Part one deals with the fundamentals of biometrics. Chapter one presents a brief rationale for the use of the technology. Biometric concepts are given in chapter two, but only the most basic. In chapter three's look at accuracy there are standard metrics as well as a few unusual ones (and some non-standard jargon).

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Implementing Intrusion Detection Systems, Tim Crothers, 2003

The preface implies that this book is a professional reference for building and maintaining intrusion detection systems (IDSs). I'd say it has a fair way to go before it could make that claim.

Chapter one is an overview of intrusion detection. The basic concepts are all included, but it is often difficult to understand the point that the author is making.

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802.11 Security, Bruce Potter/Bob Fleck, 2003


The preface states that this book is aimed at the network engineer, and the security engineer, or the hobbyist, but it is not an introductory work. The reader will need to know Linux to the kernel configuration level, and TCP/IP networking to the ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) level.

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The Book of Wi-Fi, John Ross, 2003

Chapter one provides the usual explanation of 802.11 technologies, right down to the typical non-description of direct sequence spread spectrum. Components and devices, and some reasonable suggestions on evaluation and purchase, are listed in chapter two. Generic planning and basic installation, mostly of access points, is covered in chapter three.

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Building Secure Wireless Networks with 802.11, Jahanzeb Khan/Anis Khwaja, 2003

As with any hot topic, there are lots of people willing (eager!) to tell you about the security of wireless local area networks, without first making sure that they really know the subject.

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Firewalls and Internet Security, William R. Cheswick/Steven M. Bellovin/Aviel D. Rubin, 2003

As the first work to deal seriously and completely with the topic, the first edition of "Firewalls and Internet Security" was one of those classics that get known only by the last names of the authors, so as not to leave any possibility of confusion with books whose titles may be similar.

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Hack Attacks Testing, John Chirillo, 2003


The description in the introduction seems to indicate that this text might be similar to SATAN (Security Administrator's Tool for Analyzing Networks), in that it explains how to build a set of utilities in order to identify vulnerabilities. As such, there is the possibility that the work is open to a charge of being more useful to attackers than to defenders. Fortunately, the book does not provide a great deal of information that could be used to break into systems. Unfortunately, it doesn't help much with defence, either.

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High Integrity Software, John Barnes, 2003

Once upon a time, a group set out to build a language which would allow you to write programs that could be formally verified. Formal analysis and proof can be used to determine that a program will work the way you want it to, and not do something very weird (usually at an inopportune time). First came the attempt to build the Southampton Program Analysis Development Environment (or SPADE) using a subset of the Pascal programming language. When it was determined that Pascal wasn't really suitable, research was directed to Ada, and the SPADE Ada Kernel, or (with a little poetic licence) SPARK, was the result.

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Implementing Intrusion Detection Systems, Tim Crothers, 2003

The preface implies that this book is a professional reference for building and maintaining intrusion detection systems (IDSs). I'd say it has a fair way to go before it could make that claim.

Chapter one is an overview of intrusion detection. The basic concepts are all included, but it is often difficult to understand the point that the author is making.

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Intrusion Detection, Edward G. Amoroso, 1999

This is not (very much not) to be confused with the identically named, and almost equally recent, book by Escamilla (cf. BKINTRDT.RVW). Where Escamilla's is basically a large brochure for various commercial systems, Amoroso has specifically chosen to avoid products, concentrating on concepts, and not a few technical details.

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Intrusion Detection, Rebecca Gurley Bace, 2000

Bace's take on this topic (and title) provides a solid and comprehensive background for anyone pursuing the subject. Concentrating on a conceptual model the book is occasionally weak in regard to practical implementation, but more than makes up for this textual deficiency with a strong sense of historical background, developmental approaches, and references to specific implementations that the practitioner may research separately.

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Intrusion Detection with Snort, Rafeeq Ur Rehman, 2003

Chapter one is a very simple introduction to intrusion detection and Snort. Beginning with a brief look at topology, chapter two runs through an installation of Snort, but does not provide much in the way of explanation or recommendation at the various points.

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Intrusion Signatures and Analysis, Stephen Northcutt et al, 2001

Intrusion detection and network forensics are now vitally important topics in the security arena. An explanation of how to identify dangerous signatures, and extract evidence of an intrusion or attack from network logs, is something that most network administrators require. Unfortunately, while the idea is good, and badly needed, the execution, in the case of the current work, is seriously flawed.

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Protected Internet, Intranet, and Virtual Private Networks, Alexander Moldovyan et al, 2003

Despite the slim size, it is still disconcerting to find that there are only three chapters in this book. Chapter one provides an introduction to client/server networking, while implying that the technology is *not* hierarchical. Basic networking concepts are covered, but the writing has an academic pomposity without the requisite rigour.

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Securing the Network from Malicious Code, Douglas Schweitzer, 2002

While there is some basic information about viruses and trojans in this work, it isn't clear, good, particularly helpful, or easy to extract from the surrounding verbiage. What content is related to networks has very little to do with securing or protecting them from malware.

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Mastering Network Security, Chris Brenton/Cameron Hunt, 2003


The introduction states that this book is aimed at systems administrators who are not security experts, but have some responsibility for ensuring the integrity of their systems. That would seem to cover most sysadmins. However, whether the material in this work is at a suitable level for most sysadmins is open to question. Now, to be fair to the authors, it seems that this second edition is a reissue, only marginally revised, of a book that was originally published seven years ago.

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Mobile VPN, Alex Shneyderman/Alessio Casati, 2003

Part one presents wireless data fundamentals. Chapter one gives an introduction to mobile virtual private networks (MVPN), and the emphasis on cellular technology points out that the authors are familiar with the telecommunications, rather than security, field of work. The material contains a weak suggestion that MVPNs may be useful, lots of alphabet soup, and very little in the way of conceptual background.

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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.

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Network Security, Charlie Kaufman/Radia Perlman/Mike Speciner, 2002

For communications security, this is the text. As well as solid conceptual background of cryptography and authentication, there is overview coverage of specific security implementations, including Kerberos, PEM (Privacy Enhanced Mail), PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), IPsec, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), and a variety of proprietary systems. Where many security texts use only UNIX examples, this one gives tips on Lotus Notes, NetWare, and Windows NT.

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Secure Coding

Recent events have demonstrated that we are badly in need of guidance in the matter of the construction of secure software (or the safe fabrication of code). This book covers a topic that is very necessary. Unfortunately, the work is insufficient to the task.

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Wireless Security End to End, Brian Carter/Russell Shumway, 2002

Part one is an introduction to wireless network security. Chapter one is supposed to be an opening to wireless networking, but is basically a list of common protocols. Wireless threat analysis, in chapter two, is an unstructured list of miscellaneous threats. A facile overview of blackhat communities, some intrusion tools, and a discussion of insider attacks (without mention of any relevance to wireless networking) is in chapter three.

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Wireless Security Essentials, Russell Dean Vines, 2002

The introduction asserts, as a statement on the rapid pace of technological innovation, that wireless security may have changed between the writing and the publication of the book. It may be an interesting comment on security that the book is still relevant and that wireless security is unchanged in the two years since the book's completion. It may also be a measure of the good job that Vines did on his subject.

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