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4.7 out of 5 stars42
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 21 January 1999
If you are already a cryppie or other security professional, this book will not add much to your knowledge. But if you are a programmer or other systems person with a desire to familiarize yourself with the field, I can't recommend this book highly enough. A reasonably solid mathematical background is required to fully understand the algorithms, but the book is structured in such a way that you can skip most of the heavily technical stuff and still get a lot out of the read.
Because this is essentially an introductory text, generality is the name of the game. Pretty much everything is covered, but to a low, or medium at best, degree of depth. (Only DES is covered thoroughly.) However, the reference list in the back is huge, and you can use it to easily track down any more detailed information that you're after.
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on 30 May 2000
This is without a doubt the best book to introduce anyone to cryptography on a detailed level, providing readable definitions of protocols, and a valuable mathematical introduction to help you keep your head above the water. If you have a solid mathematical base and crypto knowledge, the Handbook of Applied Cryptography would be a better reference, but for the rest of us, Applied Cryptography is superb.
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on 21 February 2007
The book is not for the average reader, you must be proficient with code and have a basic grasp of the math behind public key cryptography. The author is doing an excellent job at tryng to explain and simplify, so for the experienced coder it should be a fairly easy read.

The collection of algorithms is impressive and the analysis of them is thorough. Since quite a few were added between the first edition and second, I cannot but help thinking a third edition should be due soon.

I'd say this is good value for the money and a must have for anyone thinking of doing any coding related to (public key and other) cryptography.
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on 25 November 2000
This book supplies information at all levels. I am a computer scientist with a poor mathmatical background- it managed to explain the maths in a simple and methodical way. It also includes brief insights into quantum mechanics. A truly brilliant book for technical people from all disciplines and at all levels.
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on 2 November 2011
Bruce Schneier is one of the most respected persons in the field of cryptography.
His work provides a good in-depth description of crypto protocols, signature systems, hashing & digests
and some of the well-known cipher systems (at the time of publication).
His presentation of the material is well balanced between concept & mathematical description.
Unfortunately due to both space restrictions & the US embargo on exporting crypto material there is a limit on how much
source code could be included in the book. I would have liked to see source code for
hashing & signatures.
Schneier offers discs with much more source but they can only be legally provided
to residents of the US & Canada thus I have to reduce my overall rating of this fine work to four stars.
Nevertheless as a reference on crypto algorithms & protocols, this remains a fine work.
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I am an experienced networking guy with a need to understand security. This book has a lot of stuff I didn't actually need but it had a lot more that I did. It's very well written and readable and spends far more time on my desk than my bookshelf. As an essential reference for a networking guy, this book is on a par with that standard, "Internetworking with TCP/IP" by Comer. In a word, "Brilliant".
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on 16 October 1998
An excellent, informative and entertaining introduction to this field.
The first third covers, in reasonably technical detail, the theory and mathematical implementation of cryptosystems. Much of this isn't necessary for the casual reader, but its the clearest explanation of this arcane stuff you're going to find anywhere.
The second third covers real-world applications of cryptosystems - electronic voting, cyber-money, key management and a thousand other inventive uses. Sufficiently non-technical for even a salesman to understand.
The last third covers the politics of modern encryption, and is more intriguing, exciting and informative than any Tom Clancy novel. This last part alone is worth the price of the book.
Schneier's writing style is informal, informative and often humourous. It's hard to believe anyone can write about such a (potentially) dry subject and yet include some genuine jokes!
Buy this book.
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on 6 August 2004
This book is an excellent, in-depth guide to cryptography. It is an excellent starting point for a beginner, and is not stuffed with filler pages like so many technical books these days. It includes especially clear coverage of public-key cryptography, and the source code is a welcome bonus.
The only qualms I had was that despite advertising "Protocols, Algorithms and Source Code in C" the book includes only source code right at the very end, to a handful of encryption algorithms. Also, it does not discuss the AES, which I would have liked.
Nonetheless, an excellent books - a necessity for anyone interested in cryptography.
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on 1 August 1997
The mathematics, not to say sheer logic,
is likely to scare a lot of people.
I find when I lend the book that most people go
through quickly and read what might be
called the cryptographic purple patches --
pure prose sections, summing up which
ciphers are weak and which aren't, some of
the history, and such things. The rest they
leave. I've found myself in the position of
trying to explain all this stuff to CEOs and
other execs. It is hard. I wrote a CEO-friendly
summary ([...]) and it
worked fairly well. The people who need to
know this are also the hardest to get into the
topic. Maybe Bruce Schneier would like to
try writing a non-mathematical summary for
the intelligent layman -- like Einstein did
in The Evolution of Physics.
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on 14 May 1997
This is a good solid review of most current cryptography with source code available for software programmers. It does not go into mathematical proofs. I read the first version from cover to cover, however this edition, the second, is too large. It has become more of a reference book, although still very readable in parts. My only disappointment is the lack of good coverage of extremely high-speed cryptography like SEAL or MISTY or in depth explanations of secure computer network protocols like Novell's NetWare 4 RSA/GQ key exchange or Microsoft's NT hash-oriented key exchange. Also a more complete coverage of smart card technology would be nice. Basically this will get a competent engineer up to speed with 5 year old cryptography. This is still better than most alternatives like mathematics books or high-level overview books that are vague on details.
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