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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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on 20 May 2016
If you haven't read it you should.
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on 1 August 2014
Exactly what I was expecting
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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 9 February 2017
This book is directed at people who implement crypto. It's more for engineers than for academics.
Most of us should know better than to make our own implementations of crypto algorithms. Today, it makes more sense to use tried-and-true libraries than to reinvent the wheel. I wouldn't use the book for its original purpose, but I still find it quite relevant to understand the basic concepts (and some history).

It is highly dated. In 1996, the world was different. DES was still quite used, and the Clipper Chip was a current threat. Nobody talked about AES/Rijndael, and MD5 was already suspected to be insecure, though not yet as blatantly as today.

This is not a good reference on how to do crypto in 2017. This is a good reference on what crypto is, what the basic concepts are about, and how they work.

Buy this book if you are entering the world of crypto and want to have a holistic view of what it is about (symmetric/public-key cryptography; hashes; MACs; secret sharing, digital certificates, even digital cash.....). Do not buy this book if you need to learn current-day algorithms like AES or SHA-2 (SHA-1 is included, and considered secure back then).

I found the book still worth my time and money. I'm now looking for similar, but updated books, and for the mathematical aspects of cryptography, I recommend Dan Boneh's (incredibly difficult) cryptography course in Coursera. All together, they are hard to beat. Do not focus all your energy on this book - but don't disregard it either.
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on 1 March 2016
I think this book might have been great, but today, it shouldn't be considered more than a historical document. Even though a 20-year anniversary version was released, it has no changes but a new introduction and in it, Bruce Schneier says:

"For those who want a more current book, I recommend Cryptography Engineering, which I wrote in 2010 with Niels Ferguson and Tadayoshi Kohno. But for a review of those heady times of the mid-1990s, and an introduction to what has become an essential technology of the Internet, Applied Cryptography still holds up surprisingly well."
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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 12 April 2000
So, the cover looks good, the 758 pages of text appear daunting and and it's something your grandmother wouldn't appreciate at Christmas. Who cares about the downsides? In this case ... not me. Both encyclopaedic and an absorbing read, Schneier covers the central themes of cryptography both for the beginner and the expert with sometimes humerus and more often well written ease. If your new to the area this is an excellent start; and if you're not, it's an absorbing six shooter that you can't, gladly, hide in your pocket.
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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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