The Myth of Homeland Security

The Myth of Homeland Security

by Marcus Ranum
     
 

Buy the plastic sheets and the duct tape. Take your shoes off before going through airport screening. Report if you see signs of potential terrorist activity. Do you feel safer now that we have a Department of Homeland Security? Prominent security expert Marcus Ranum doesn’t think you are.

In this timely book, Ranum explains what’s wrong with

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Overview

Buy the plastic sheets and the duct tape. Take your shoes off before going through airport screening. Report if you see signs of potential terrorist activity. Do you feel safer now that we have a Department of Homeland Security? Prominent security expert Marcus Ranum doesn’t think you are.

In this timely book, Ranum explains what’s wrong with today’s homeland security policy and why it might–or might not–be fixable. Packed with vivid stories and examples, The Myth of Homeland Security exposes the bad ideas that have already been implemented in the government’s efforts to develop new procedures for airline security, to stop terrorists from hacking into secret databases, and to communicate with the public about threats. He demonstrates how current policies downplay low-tech threats and "social engineering," focus on immigration while overlooking the "nuts" already among us, ignore dangerous defects in the government’s own computer security, and are hampered by interagency bickering and corporate self-dealing. He then presents ideas for change, but argues that homeland security will always be a matter of degree, and not an absolute. This is a problem that is by its nature insolvable, but which at the same time cannot be ignored.

Writing with anger, honesty, and true patriotism, Ranum reveals the truth about "feel-good" security policies and boondoggle spending programs that mask real threats and do nothing tangible to improve public safety. Among the topics he explores:

  • Politics that hamper homeland security
  • Inadequate security used to protect government computer systems
  • Continuing problems with airline security
  • The role of the media in creating panic
  • The threat of cyber weapons to launch an electronic Pearl Harbor attack
  • The costly misuse of technology
  • Pervasive problems with government information technology and how they leave us vulnerable to attack

Ranum writes as a security specialist and problem solver, not a political polemicist. Trenchant, hard-hitting, and well researched, his is the one book that you need to read if you’re concerned about security in America.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This rather jumbled study of the state of modern American security issues falls short of indispensable but rises well above useless polemic. Saying the most in his own professional area, information-technology security, Ranum denigrates the prospect of "cyberwar," but then discusses in some detail the disruption that hackers have caused. Existing firewalls (of which the author is a professional developer) and virus protection are valuable, but only if universally and rigorously used. Hackers should not be rewarded for turning "expert" but charged with grand theft, and people with top-secret access need to be paid more than clerks. He praises the better-trained personnel of the Transportation Security Authority and goes on to denounce the opposition to profiling as the dreaded "PC's." If Ranum demonizes anybody in this breezy first-person polemic, it is the media, with the standard charges of giving information to the enemy ("Thanks a lot, guys!"), but he also makes a persuasive case for their abysmal technical ignorance. (The ACLU is not accused of anything worse than having a radically different perspective than his about the long-term consequences of the Patriot Act.) Ranum notes I that more cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies is needed, and is possibly occurring. The turf war between the FBI and the CIA has to end. And the government's information technology system needs to be rationalized, starting about 10 years ago. At the end of Ranum's stocktaking, one is left with an instant soup-like aftertaste, but there are enough cubes of information among the "You Should Know" sidebars and "Bringing the Point Home" boxes, particularly for technophiles, to make it worthwhile. (Nov.) (Publishers Weekly, November 3, 2003)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780471458791
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
10/03/2003
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
0.75(w) x 6.00(h) x 9.00(d)

Meet the Author

MARCUS J. RANUM is an outspoken security expert whose clients include government agencies, FORTUNE 500 companies, national governments, federal agencies, and technology firms. He has held senior scientist positions at several technology companies and is a much sought after speaker for his work as a catalyst for change in the scientific community.

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