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Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust That Society Needs to Thrive Hardcover – 17 Feb 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (17 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118143302
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118143308
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.1 x 23.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 284,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Bruce Schneier is the go-to security expert for business leaders and policy makers. His breakthrough book Applied Cryptography (1994, 1998) explained how the arcane science of secret codes actually works, and was described by Wired as "the book the National Security Agency wanted never to be published." His business-oriented bestseller Secrets and Lies (2000) was called by Fortune "[a] jewel box of little surprises you can actually use." Best known as a refreshingly candid and lucid security critic and commentator, he has appeared in numerous media outlets, including The New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as on NPR, CNN, and the major networks. He has also testified on security before the United States Congress.

Product Description


"One of the best books I′ve read this year is by a security technologist, Bruce Schneier. In Liars and Outliers, he sets out to investigate how trust works in society and in business, how it is betrayed and the degree to which technology changes all of that, for the better or the worse. Schneier absolutely understands how profoundly trust oils the wheels of business and of daily life." (Margaret Heffernan, CBS MoneyWatch)

"This book will appeal not only to customers interested in computer security but also on the idea of security and trust as a whole in society." (The Bookseller, 16th December 2011)

"This book should be read by anyone in a leadership role, whether they′re in the corporate or political sphere... an easy read and the ideas and thoughts are profound." (Naked Security, February 2012)

"By concentrating on the human angle and packing the book with real world examples he has successfully stretched its appeal outside that of the security specialist to the more general reader." (E & T Magazine, March 2012)



"A rich, insightfully fresh take on what security really means!"
DAVID ROPEIK, Author of How Risky is it, Really?

"Schneier has accomplished a spectacular tour de force: an enthralling ride through history, economics, and psychology, searching for the meanings of trust and security. A must read."
ALESSANDRO ACQUISTI, Associate Professor of Information Systems and Public Policy at the Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University

"Liars and Outliers offers a major contribution to the understandability of these issues, and has the potential to help readers cope with the ever–increasing risks to which we are being exposed. It is well written and delightful to read."
PETER G. NEUMANN, Principal Scientist in the SRI International Computer Science Laboratory

"Whether it′s banks versus robbers, Hollywood versus downloaders, or even the Iranian secret police against democracy activists, security is often a dynamic struggle between a majority who want to impose their will, and a minority who want to push the boundaries. Liars and Outliers will change how you think about conflict, our security, and even who we are."
ROSS ANDERSON, Professor of Security Engineering at Cambridge University and author of Security Engineering

"Readers of Bruce Schneier′s Liars and Outliers will better understand technology and its consequences and become more mature practitioners."
PABLO G. MOLINA, Professor of Technology Management, Georgetown University

"Liars & Outliers is not just a book about security it is the book about it. Schneier shows that the power of humour can be harnessed to explore even a serious subject such as security. A great read!"
FRANK FUREDI, author of On Tolerance: A Defence of Moral Independence

"This fascinating book gives an insightful and convincing framework for understanding security and trust."
JEFF YAN, Founding Research Director, Center for Cybercrime and Computer Security, Newcastle University

"By analyzing the moving parts and interrelationships among security, trust, and society, Schneier has identifi ed critical patterns, pressures, levers, and security holes within society. Clearly written, thoroughly interdisciplinary, and always smart, Liars and Outliers provides great insight into resolving society′s various dilemmas."
JERRY KANG, Professor of Law, UCLA

"By keeping the social dimension of trust and security in the center of his analysis, Schneier breaks new ground with an approach that both theoretically grounded and practically applicable."
JONATHAN ZITTRAIN, Professor of Law and Computer Science, Harvard University and author of The Future of the Internet And How to Stop It

"Eye opening. Bruce Schneier provides a perspective you need to understand today s world."
STEVEN A. LEBLANC, Director of Collections, Harvard University and author of Constant Battles: Why We Fight

"An outstanding investigation of the importance of trust in holding society together and promoting progress. Liars and Outliers provides valuable new insights into security and economics."
ANDREW ODLYZKO, Professor, School of Mathematics, University of Minnesota

"What Schneier has to say about trust and betrayal lays a groundwork for greater understanding of human institutions. This is an essential exploration as society grows in size and complexity."
JIM HARPER, Director of Information Policy Studies, CATO Institute and author of Identity Crisis: How Identification is Overused and Misunderstood

"Society runs on trust. Liars and Outliers explains the trust gaps we must fill to help society run even better."
M. ERIC JOHNSON, Director, Glassmeyer/McNamee Center for Digital Strategies, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College

"An intellectually exhilarating and compulsively readable analysis of the subtle dialectic between cooperation and defection in human society. Intellectually rigorous and yet written in a lively, conversational style, Liars and Outliers will change the way you see the world."
DAVID LIVINGSTONE SMITH, author of Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others

"Schneier tackles trust head on, bringing all his intellect and a huge amount of research to bear. The best thing about this book, though, is that it′s great fun to read."
ANDREW MCAFEE, Principal Research Scientist, MIT Center for Digital Business and co–author of Race Against the Machine

"Bruce Schneier is our leading expert in security. But his book is about much more than reducing risk. It is a fascinating, thought–provoking treatise about humanity and society and how we interact in the game called life."
JEFF JARVIS, author of Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live

"Both accessible and thought provoking, Liars and Outliers invites readers to move beyond fears and anxieties about security in modern life to understand the role of everyday people in creating a healthy society. This is a must–read!"
DANAH BOYD, Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University

"Trust is the sine qua non of the networked age and trust is predicated on security. Bruce Schneier s expansive and readable work is rich with insights that can help us make our shrinking world a better one."
DON TAPSCOTT, co–author of Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business
and the World

"An engaging and wide–ranging rumination on what makes society click. Highly recommended."
JOHN MUELLER, author of Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mole on 26 April 2012
Format: Hardcover
Bruce Schneier is one of the most respected writers on the topic of security. Previously, his work focused on identifying what it all means in terms of Information Technology; in this book, he takes a step out into the wider world to explain just how the same issues of security and trust operate within society as a whole.

He has a way of clearly explaining the real issues that helps even those with limited experience understand some of the more complex scenarios. He takes the reader step by step through the various problems and makes even the most dry topic thoroughly readable. The writing is interspersed with real world examples that highlight those areas where things work well; and he takes various agencies to task over the foolish policies and strategies that do nothing to help secure the individual, organisation or nation.

Those that work in IT should definitely read this; and it would be of considerable use to senior managers, HR staff, politicians and anyone that has an interest in how society is developing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. on 25 Aug. 2013
Format: Hardcover
I have been a fan of mr. Schneiers work ever since I encountered it during a cryptography class in university. Bruce Schneier knows his IT security, he is an acclaimed expert on the wider issues surrounding (IT) operational security, and I appreciate him for that. However, when he first announced this book I saw two traps he could walk into, both related to the fact that with this book he would step far outside his academic home base.

First, like a physicist approaching economics, he could look around in his new field, loudly announce everything the experts have been doing wrong for decades, and proceed to make a fool of himself. Second, like an experienced excel user approaching an actual programming problem for the first time, he could be spending pages and pages furiously applying completely the wrong tool to an actual problem, wasting everybody's time.

Fortunately, mr. Schneier has avoided both traps with style by taking this book in a -for me at least- unexpected direction. This book is a tool-kit to help you think about trust and security related issues as they occur everywhere in society. In a slow but steady pace, using a lot of case-studies as examples, mr. Schneier shows us how to identify these types of issues, how to think about the various actors involved, and -and this is the most important bit- how to approach a possible solution. The book talks about all trade-offs involved, and also spends sufficient time about the fallacy of perfect security, and the impossibility of eliminating the need for trust. He never goes so far as to propose solutions for the many complex problems in this field that society faces, but he establishes an excellent vocabulary for talking about this type of problem, and that makes this book very valuable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Harm Hilvers on 14 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before I started reading "Liars and Outliars" I had never given much thought to the topic of trust in society. Of course, I had thought about security, but mainly from a technical standpoint: how to use it to secure myself and ourselves against threats from the outside. This book has taugt me how trust and security belong together and how the latter can be used to fill up the gaps that result from lacking the former. This book stands out, because both of its well-researched models and theories and because of its practicality: each of the main ideas is larded with examples that make understanding the presented ideas really easy.

This book is divided in four parts. In the first part Schneier brings the reader up to par with the current state of the 'science of trust', as he calls it. In these chapters he talks about the way human beings and some animals cooperate, how cooperation developed in their respective species, what altruism is, and what a society is. This first section of the book ends with an interesting set of societal dilemmas and - most importantly - a framework by which each of these dilemmas can be understood. In this framework Schneier puts the societal (or group) interest over against the interest of the party (or person) that wants to defect.

Part two of the book presents four pressures influencing every societal dilemma, namely societal, moral, reputational and institutional. Each one of these parts of this model of trust is described in detail and explained through examples. This part of the book ends with an overview of the topic of security and how it relates towards these pressures. In this chapter, Schneier shows once again how good and well-balanced security is necessary to counterbalance the different forms of trust.
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Format: Hardcover
As Bruce Schneier explains, "All complex ecosystems, whether they are biological ecosystems like the human body, natural ecosystems like a rain forest, social ecosystems like an open-air market, or socio-technical ecosystems like the global finance system, or the Internet, are deeply interlinked. Individual units within those ecosystems are interdependent, each doing its part and relying on the other units to do their parts as well. This is neither rare nor difficult, and complex systems abound.

"At the same time, all complex ecosystems contain parasites. Within every interdependent system, there are individuals who try to subvert the system to their own ends. These could be tapeworms in our digestive tracts, thieves in a bazaar, robbers disguised as plumbers, spammers on the Internet, or companies that move their profits offshore to evade taxes.

"Within complex systems, there is a fundamental tension between what I'm going to call cooperating, or acting in the group interest; and what I'm going to call defecting, or acting against the group interest and instead in one's own self-interest."

In these few words, Schneier has established the framework within which to present an abundance of information, insights, and counsel that prepare his reader and almost any organization (or almost any group within an organization) to help establish and then sustain a culture within which mutual trust is most likely to thrive. There are two essential questions to be answered: There is one essential question to be answered: How to empower the "cooperators" with whatever resources are needed so that they can minimize (if not eliminate) the damage done by "defectors"? In this context, "an ounce of prevention" really is worth "a pound of cure.
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