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Security in Computing

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2006

    accessible to a general IT audience

    [A review of the 4th Edition, that was published in October 2006.] I would compare this book to Matt Bishop's 'Introduction to Computer Security'. The latter is far more mathematical. Probably too much so for the typical sysadmin who is looking to defend her computers and network. Bishop's book is perhaps best suited to someone who wants to deeply understand cryptosystems and malware, and who might want to design a new cryptosystem or a malware detector. Whereas the Pfleeger book does not stress mathematical formalism at all. Much easier for a broader IT audience to understand. For a sysadmin, programmer, or an IT manager. All you need is some general background in computing, and much of the book will be very intelligible. For cryptography, there are 2 chapters, that give a quick overview of symmetric and public key systems. At the schematic level, with few equations. The seminal RSA algorithm is explained. The second cryptography chapter is actually the book's last chapter. Appropriate, because it is the most mathematical section of the text. It includes a nice Figure 12-3, that is an especially clear schematic of the hierarchies of complexity classes. It should make apparent the distinction between NP and P(olynomial) complete problems. There is a wide survey of malware. For viruses, there are qualitative explanations of how viruses can infect code. The level of detail is not that of more specialised books that focus just on viruses. The text does not give you enough to detect or write a virus. But you can understand how they work, at a level adequate for a sysadmin, say. In other words, if you have computers to defend, and you need to choose between various tools for detection, the book gives you enough education to rationally understand the differences between the methods of those tools. At least to the extent that the toolmakers offer such information, and that it is accurate.

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