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The Myths of Security: What the Computer Security Industry Doesn't Want You to Know


If you think computer security has improved in recent years, The Myths of Security will shake you out of your complacency. Longtime security professional John Viega, formerly Chief Security Architect at McAfee, reports on the sorry state of the industry, and offers concrete suggestions for professionals and individuals confronting the issue.

Why is security so bad? With many more people online than just a few years ago, there are more attackers — and they're truly motivated. ...

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The Myths of Security: What the Computer Security Industry Doesn't Want You to Know

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If you think computer security has improved in recent years, The Myths of Security will shake you out of your complacency. Longtime security professional John Viega, formerly Chief Security Architect at McAfee, reports on the sorry state of the industry, and offers concrete suggestions for professionals and individuals confronting the issue.

Why is security so bad? With many more people online than just a few years ago, there are more attackers — and they're truly motivated. Attacks are sophisticated, subtle, and harder to detect than ever. But, as Viega notes, few people take the time to understand the situation and protect themselves accordingly. This book tells you:

  • Why it's easier for bad guys to "own" your computer than you think
  • Why anti-virus software doesn't work well — and one simple way to fix it
  • Whether Apple OS X is more secure than Windows
  • What Windows needs to do better
  • How to make strong authentication pervasive
  • Why patch management is so bad
  • Whether there's anything you can do about identity theft
  • Five easy steps for fixing application security, and more

Provocative, insightful, and always controversial, The Myths of Security not only addresses IT professionals who deal with security issues, but also speaks to Mac and PC users who spend time online.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780596523022
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/29/2009
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 238
  • Sales rank: 1,400,740
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

John Viega is CTO of the Software-as-a-Service Business Unit atMcAfee, and was previously Vice President, Chief Security Architect atMcAfee. He is an active advisor to several security companies,including Fortify and Bit9, and is the author of a number of securitybooks, including Network Security with OpenSSL (O'Reilly) and BuildingSecure Software (Addison-Wesley).

John is responsible for numerous software security tools and is theoriginal author of Mailman, the popular mailing list manager. He hasdone extensive standards work in the IEEE and IETF, and co-inventedGCM, a cryptographic algorithm that NIST (US Department of Commerce)has standardized. He holds a B.A. and M.S. from the University ofVirginia.

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Table of Contents

Why Myths of Security?;
How to Contact Us;
Safari® Books Online;
Chapter 1: The Security Industry Is Broken;
Chapter 2: Security: Nobody Cares!;
Chapter 3: It's Easier to Get "0wned" Than You Think;
Chapter 4: It's Good to Be Bad;
Chapter 5: Test of a Good Security Product: Would I Use It?;
Chapter 6: Why Microsoft's Free AV Won't Matter;
Chapter 7: Google Is Evil;
Chapter 8: Why Most AV Doesn't Work (Well);
Chapter 9: Why AV Is Often Slow;
Chapter 10: Four Minutes to Infection?;
Chapter 11: Personal Firewall Problems;
Chapter 12: Call It "Antivirus";
Chapter 13: Why Most People Shouldn't Run Intrusion Prevention Systems;
Chapter 14: Problems with Host Intrusion Prevention;
Chapter 15: Plenty of Phish in the Sea;
Chapter 16: The Cult of Schneier;
Chapter 17: Helping Others Stay Safe on the Internet;
Chapter 18: Snake Oil: Legitimate Vendors Sell It, Too;
Chapter 19: Living in Fear?;
Chapter 20: Is Apple Really More Secure?;
Chapter 21: OK, Your Mobile Phone Is Insecure; Should You Care?;
Chapter 22: Do AV Vendors Write Their Own Viruses?;
Chapter 23: One Simple Fix for the AV Industry;
Chapter 24: Open Source Security: A Red Herring;
Chapter 25: Why SiteAdvisor Was Such a Good Idea;
Chapter 26: Is There Anything We Can Do About Identity Theft?;
Chapter 27: Virtualization: Host Security's Silver Bullet?;
Chapter 28: When Will We Get Rid of All the Security Vulnerabilities?;
Chapter 29: Application Security on a Budget;
Chapter 30: "Responsible Disclosure" Isn't Responsible;
Chapter 31: Are Man-in-the-Middle Attacks a Myth?;
Chapter 32: An Attack on PKI;
Chapter 33: HTTPS Sucks; Let's Kill It!;
Chapter 34: CrAP-TCHA and the Usability/Security Tradeoff;
Chapter 35: No Death for the Password;
Chapter 36: Spam Is Dead;
Chapter 37: Improving Authentication;
Chapter 38: Cloud Insecurity?;
Chapter 39: What AV Companies Should Be Doing (AV 2.0);
Chapter 40: VPNs Usually Decrease Security;
Chapter 41: Usability and Security;
Chapter 42: Privacy;
Chapter 43: Anonymity;
Chapter 44: Improving Patch Management;
Chapter 45: An Open Security Industry;
Chapter 46: Academics;
Chapter 47: Locksmithing;
Chapter 48: Critical Infrastructure;

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Good, but not what I expected.

    After reading a brief overview of this book I was really excited to read it. As an information security professional, I was hoping the author would stir up some controversial thoughts and ideas that may have me rethinking the way I am doing things. What I got was a book that was a very good read, but nothing revolutionary. The book is organized into forty-eight topics, each a separate chapter consisting of a few pages each. Each chapter was just long enough to give some details or opinions about a topic without boring the reader with mundane page filler.

    The Likes:

    Chapter 16: The Cult of Schneier, was a great chapter. Yes, Bruce Schneier is one of the smartest minds in the industry, but he is the first to tell people not to be sheep. The author takes this one step further and declares do not take everything Schneier says as gospel, he is human, and can be wrong. Although I agree with the authors' thoughts that he will get a lot of flack for these comments from the "Cult of Schneier," I thought it was a great way to tell people to think for themselves and think outside the box.

    Chapter 24: Open Source Security: A Red Herring was my favorite chapter in this book. It looks at both sides of the open source software vs. closed source software debate. This portion of the book was written in a way to let the reader come to the own conclusion about the debate, and not just rely on the authors' opinion. It was an unbiased view on the pros and cons to both types of software solutions.

    Chapter 30: "Responsible Disclosure" isn't Responsible, was another great chapter. Again the author presented many pros and cons to both sides of the debate about public disclosure of vulnerabilities. This was again a chapter that shows the reader how the software industry currently views disclosure and lets the reader decide how they feel about the issue. In my opinion, this is one of the few chapters that will make you think about your stand on the topic and maybe help you choose a position.

    All of the anti-virus chapters were very well written, as expected from someone who has worked for one of the largest anti-virus developers. These chapters gave enough insight and detail about how the software works to let a layman understand, but not so much detail that they drowned in information.

    The Dislikes:

    In chapter 5 the author talks about the security software he runs, and then common security software that he does not run, including: firewalls and AV. His arguments for not running these items seemed very weak, especially for a guy who works for an anti-virus company. I would have liked more insight into his thought process.

    I found one contradiction that stood out, in Chapter 3 the author states that "However, these days, few services are visible by default..." when talking about need of firewalls. In Chapter 5 the author states firewalls are needed because "people typically leave lots of vulnerable services on machines that are directly accessible to a lot of people". Which is it?

    Overall this book was a very fast (you could read it on a short flight), but very good read. It may not challenge your perspective as I had previously thought, but it is a good refresher as to why some of us work in the Information Security industry.

    Review Written By Wayne M Gipson, CISSP, CISA

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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