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Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World Hardcover – 4 May 2006
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"Does arming pilots make flying safer? Computer security guru Schneier applies his analytical skills to real-world threats like terrorists, hijackers, and counterfeiters. BEYOND FEAR may come across as the dry, meticulous prose of a scientist, but that's actually Schneier's strength. Are you at risk or just afraid? Only by cutting away emotional issues to examine the facts, he says, will we reduce our risks enough to stop being scared." -- Wired
"Schneier provides an interesting view of the notion of security, outlining a simple five-step process that can be applied to deliver effective and sensible security decisions. These steps are addressed in detail throughout the book, and applied to various scenarios to show how simple, yet effective they can be....Overall, this book is an entertaining read, written in layman's terms, with a diverse range of examples and anecdotes that reinforce the notion of security as a process." --Computing Reviews
"Schneier is a rare creature... Although he made his name as an alpha geek in cryptography... [he] can also speak to laypeople about the general security matters that increasingly touch all of our lives." -- Business Week
"Once again Schneier proves that he is the one of few people who indeed understands security, and what is more important and more difficult, can explain complex concepts to people not specializing in security. Whatever your trade and whatever your background, go ahead and read it ..." -- itsecurity.com
"In his new book, 'Beyond Fear', Bruce Schneier -- one of the world's leading authorities on security trade-offs -- completes the metamorphosis from cryptographer to pragmatist that began with Secrets and Lies, published in 2000." -- infoworld.com
From the Back Cover
DOES ARMING PILOTS MAKE FLYING SAFER?
WILL COMPUTERIZED VOTING MACHINES MAKE ELECTION RESULTS MORE ACCURATE?
IS ONLINE SHOPPING WITH CREDIT CARDS ESPECIALLY RISKY?
WILL A NATIONAL ID CARD BETTER PROTECT US FROM TERRORISM?
If you read the newspapers or listen to the pundits you might answer "yes" to these questions, but the truth will surprise you. Security expert Bruce Schneier has spent his entire career figuring out how security actually works, and he explains it all in this entertaining and readable book. Beyond Fear goes beyond the hype, and explains how we all can think sensibly about security. In today's uncertain world, security is too important to be left to others. Drawing from his experience advising world business and political leaders, Schneier demonstrates the practical - and surprisingly simple - steps we can all take to address the real threats faced by our families, our communities, and our nation.See all Product description
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Take face recognition as an example. Even a system claiming 99.9% accuracy (which none are) will still fail 1 in 1000 times. How many times would it fail when used on football crowd? Or at an airport? How are the police better off when they have to deal with dozens of false positives from the most perfect system? What is the point of a system which requires every face to be logged in a database when terrorists are so sparse to begin with (and not necessarily in the database)? Obviously it's ridiculous, but this doesn't stop people claiming such nonsense will prevent another 9/11 or whatever.
Instead he advocates human intelligence - security guards who are trained to recognize signs that people are behaving oddly (or 'hinky' as one officer described a terrorist caught smuggling a bomb). This and common sense security based upon risk assessment. As one of the world's leading experts on security, his is a voice that should be listened to. Unlike his crypto books, there is no an equations to be found here. Instead he highlights his points with real world examples and analogy. This tends to become a little tiresome in places, but the point is well made.
It's too bad that someone as informed as Schneier isn't in charge of policy. Otherwise we might be in a world where money would be spent on systems which actually protect us, rather than offer faux security and inconvenience.
However, its not overtly political, and gives dozens (perhaps a 100) practical worked examples of good & bad, effective & ineffective, responses to security issues, whether it be physical, electronic etc.
There is a 5-step process which I found useful to apply to everyday situations; and (in highly abbreviated form) these are : what are you trying to protect; what are the risks; risk mitigation; risks caused by the solution; trade-offs
The core message is : "as both individuals and a society, we can make choices about our security", and this book helps you understand how to make those informed decisions.
Schneier's book expands on the ideas in the article. Although Schneier is a technology fan and it is his livelihood, he realizes that sometimes a live security guard can provide better security than cutting-edge (but still fallible) face-recognition scanners, for instance. He explains why national ID cards are not a good idea, and how iris-scanners can be fooled.
These are ideas for security on a large scale, for airports, nuclear and other power plants, and government websites. For security on an individual or small business scale, try Art of the Steal by Frank Abagnale. But even if you don't run a government, Beyond Fear is a fascinating read about how your government is making choices (and how they SHOULD be making choices about your security and about your rights.
My biggest criticism is that, for a work of non-fiction, there is not a single reference to his sources. Similar works, such as "Security Engineering" by Ross Anderson, cite every reference they used. This book isn't an academic work, of course, but I would still have liked to follow up on the facts.
In this book, he also looks at many aspects of physical security, and in particular the way that security is being implemented in the modern world. He is highly critical of many security measures and explains in precise detail why they are so ineffective; and why we should still not be that concerned about this, except for the extra cost burden it places on us.
I would strongly advise that if you are involved in physical or digital security in any way, that you should have a copy of this book and that you should re-read it from time to time. Even if it is not a primary part of your job, you may well find it of value.
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