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Beautiful Security: Leading Security Experts Explain How They Think [Paperback]

Andy Oram , John Viega

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Book Description

8 May 2009

Although most people don't give security much attention until their personal or business systems are attacked, this thought-provoking anthology demonstrates that digital security is not only worth thinking about, it's also a fascinating topic. Criminals succeed by exercising enormous creativity, and those defending against them must do the same.

Beautiful Security explores this challenging subject with insightful essays and analysis on topics that include:

  • The underground economy for personal information: how it works, the relationships among criminals, and some of the new ways they pounce on their prey
  • How social networking, cloud computing, and other popular trends help or hurt our online security
  • How metrics, requirements gathering, design, and law can take security to a higher level
  • The real, little-publicized history of PGP

This book includes contributions from:

  • Peiter "Mudge" Zatko
  • Jim Stickley
  • Elizabeth Nichols
  • Chenxi Wang
  • Ed Bellis
  • Ben Edelman
  • Phil Zimmermann and Jon Callas
  • Kathy Wang
  • Mark Curphey
  • John McManus
  • James Routh
  • Randy V. Sabett
  • Anton Chuvakin
  • Grant Geyer and Brian Dunphy
  • Peter Wayner
  • Michael Wood and Fernando Francisco

All royalties will be donated to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).


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Beautiful Security: Leading Security Experts Explain How They Think + The Myths of Security: What the Computer Security Industry Doesn't Want You to Know
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More About the Authors

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Product Description

About the Author

Andy Oram is an editor at O'Reilly Media, a highly respected book publisher and technology information provider. An employee of the company since 1992, Andy currently specializes in free software and open source technologies. His work for O'Reilly includes the first books ever published commercially in the United States on Linux, and the 2001 title Peer-to-Peer. His modest programming and system administration skills are mostly self-taught.

John is CTO of the SaaS Business Unit at McAfee, his second stint at McAfee. Previously, he was their Chief Security Architect, after which he founded and served as CEO of Stonewall Software, which focused on making anti-virus technology faster, better and cheaper. John was also the founder of Secure Software (now part of Fortify).

John is author of many security books, including Building Secure Software (Addison-Wesley), Network Security with OpenSSL (O'Reilly), and the forthcoming Myths of Security (O'Reilly). He is responsible for numerous software security tools and is the original author of Mailman, the GNU mailing list manager. He has done extensive standards work in the IEEE and IETF and co-invented GCM, a cryptographic algorithm that NIST has standardized. John is also an active advisor to several security companies, including Fortify and Bit9. He holds a MS and BA from the University of Virginia.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Security: Bureaucratic drudgery or exciting career? 29 Jun 2009
By Allen Stenger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This collection of essays is a very clearly written introduction to a number of current topics and techniques in computer security. It is not a how-to book, but it includes several case studies and gives you a good idea of what is happening in the field. For the most part the book does not assume prior knowledge in the field, although occasionally a bit of hacker or security jargon is used without being defined.

For me the most interesting chapters were the one with case studies. In this book you will learn how to steal people's credit card numbers at airports (run a cut-rate WiFi access point), how to scan for malicious websites without getting infected (harder than it looks, and a constant battle of measures and countermeasures), and the true history of Pretty Good Privacy, as told by its inventor, Phil Zimmermann (not as lurid as the versions you have probably heard, but still full of twists and turns). You'll learn the going rates for stolen personal and financial information (not that much, so if you're going to steal it, you need to steal a lot) and how to run your own cyber money-laundering network (which seems to be where most of the money and the risk is). Microsoft plays a prominent role in the book, sometimes as hero, sometimes as chump.

The layout and production of the book are very good, and it has a good index (a glossary would have been nice, too). I have a couple of minor gripes: the book is set in itty-bitty type (I measured it at 8 points on 12 point line spacing); and although the book has two editors, the preface is written in the first person singular (apparently by Oram, but this is not stated).

The book's title, "Beautiful Security", was probably modeled on Oram's previous collection Beautiful Code: Leading Programmers Explain How They Think (Theory in Practice (O'Reilly)), but it doesn't really fit the content of this book. Some of the essays mention beauty in the body or the title, but this is usually a token appearance, or is explained as meaning that security should be built in rather than tacked on. The preface states that the purpose of the book is to convince the reader that security is not bureaucratic drudgery but is an exciting career, and I think the book is successful at this.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Security is Timely, Important and Readable 6 July 2009
By Jalna Oyman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Beautiful Security is full of pertinent information for all of us. The book is well written, covers topics we need to know about, is very readable. Start with the first entry by Mudge: his perspective is accurate and revealing and of course he writes well so enjoy the new insights you gain by reading this book. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book to give someone interested in getting in the security field 9 April 2010
By Daniel D. Lohin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Recently I have been asked by a lot of people how do you get in the security field? I used to say a lot of hard work and a lot of luck. My new answer is going to be to read this book and see if you are interested in the field. The book covers a wide variety of subjects across all of information security that are really quite useful. Some of these areas you won't learn a lot if you are in that particular field, but even if you are in security I am sure you will learn a lot. I learned quite a bit on the sections on metrics and software security. This is a great book to have to be able to lend to people with an interest in entering the field.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid set of case histories and examples of how to build better security measures 19 Aug 2009
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
BEAUTIFUL SECURITY: LEADING SECURITY EXPERTS EXPLAIN HOW THEY THINK provides a collection of essays on digital security and comes from experts who explain how social networking and other popular trends hurt online security efforts - and how to design new networks around these trends. Analysis of criminal attempts and logic patterns offer network security libraries a solid set of case histories and examples of how to build better security measures. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written with broad coverage of a critical topic 17 July 2009
By James Holmes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Like O'Reilly's Beautiful Teams, this book's a series of essays by industry experts, this time focused on security. The various authors do a great job of covering topics from social engineering to forcing firms to focus on security. The chapters are all well-written, although a few do better jobs of keeping the material interesting and flowing.

You'll find plenty of security-related history in the book. Phil Zimmerman's chapter on PGP's Web Of Trust is one example. Pieter Zatko's discussion of his work on the LH0phtCrack is another. Both stories help expose mindsets which, sadly, haven't changed a whole lot.

Security, as with testing or overall quality, is at its most fundamental roots a culture issue. Not every story focuses on this aspect, but pointing out bad culture is a common theme through many of the chapters. Zatko's discussion of "Learned Helplessness," John McManus's Security by Design, and Jim Routh's Forcing Firms to Focus are all great reads on this line. Many of the stories correctly emphasize that security isn't just about someone hacking code - it's a much broader issue.

As with any good security book, there's plenty of well-done content which will likely scare you in to re-thinking how you and your company approach security. Beautiful Security can help you identify practices, problems, and mindsets which leave you, your company, or your clients at risk.

Overall it's a very useful, highly readable book on a critical subject.
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