REVIEW: "Network Security Jumpstart", Matthew Strebe

Discussion in 'Computer Security' started by Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Trevor, Jul 6, 2004.

  1. BKNTSCJS.RVW 20030604

    "Network Security Jumpstart", Matthew Strebe, 2002, 0-7821-4120-X,
    %A Matthew Strebe
    %C 1151 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda, CA 94501
    %D 2002
    %G 0-7821-4120-X
    %I Sybex Computer Books
    %O U$24.99/C$39.95/UK#18.99 800-227-2346
    %P 365 p.
    %T "Network Security Jumpstart"

    The introduction states that this book is suitable for anyone from the
    home user to the network administrator to the CEO. Which is a pretty
    tall order.

    Chapter one has a decent overview of why computers aren't secure, a
    scant computer security history, a few security concepts, and a fairly
    trivial set of "review" questions. There is a media level exposition
    on "hackers," in chapter two, a rough outline of intrusion procedures,
    and a list of specific attacks that I'm not sure the author fully
    understands. (Immediately following "Denial of Service" comes a
    separate entry for "Floods": flooding being a type of denial of
    service.) There is a terse introduction to cryptography, and not much
    more than chapter one gave us about authentication, in chapter three.
    The suggestions for policy creation, in chapter four, aren't bad for
    simple cases, but seriously understate the difficulty of establishing
    a full policy, even for home users. Chapter five describes firewalls
    (and seven tells a little bit more about using them at home). Chapter
    six makes the common mistake of assuming that all VPNs (Virtual
    Private Networks) are about confidentiality: some are merely about
    managing communications configurations.

    There is some correct and useful information about viruses in chapter
    eight, but it is unfortunately mixed in with a lot of garbage.
    Windows NT and its subsequent versions are *not* immune to viruses,
    although a rigorous set of file permissions can reduce your risk of
    file infectors (which are no longer a major category anyway).
    Signature scanners are *not* the only type of antiviral software.
    Viruses were *not* invented by accident, BRAIN *never* had an onscreen
    display and didn't infect program files, and neither Stoned nor
    Jerusalem (Friday the 13th is one variant) were based on BRAIN.
    Neither Stoned nor BRAIN relied on program sharing to propagate: data
    disks were quite sufficient. Viruses that only replicate are *not*
    benign (anybody ever have problems with Stoned? Melissa?
    Loveletter?), *will* be discovered, and scanning signatures *are*

    Fault tolerance, in chapter nine, is not quite business continuity
    planning (BCP), but does go beyond the usual UPS (Uninterruptable
    Power Supply) and backup recommendations. Although chapter ten lists
    a number of security mechanisms in Windows, a practical understanding
    of their use is not presented. The UNIX tools in eleven are described
    more usefully--but they only relate to file permissions. The network
    security tools for UNIX are in twelve--but are only enumerated.
    Chapter thirteen has good suggestions for Web server security--but
    doesn't say how to implement them. A random collection of email
    security tools and threats makes up chapter fourteen. IDS (Intrusion
    Detection System) concepts are not explained very well in chapter
    fifteen: Strebe apparently doesn't understand that all forms use audit
    data of one type or another, and doesn't list the major distinctions
    between either the engine type or sensor location.

    Even given all the faults, one has to admit that Strebe has not done a
    bad job with his ambitious intent. Certainly home users and CEOs can
    find better explanations here than in many of the other works aimed at
    them, however much I might wish that the book as a whole was more
    accurate. And, yes, even the network administrators might find some
    helpful points in the more conceptual material at the beginning of the
    book: most of them could do with a better understanding of the need
    for policy. This work isn't great, by any means, but it can fulfill a
    need for a quick guide to network threats, for a variety of audiences.

    copyright Robert M. Slade, 2004 BKNTSCJS.RVW 20030604


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    Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Trevor, Jul 6, 2004
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