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Writing a technical book and getting it published are not particularly difficult projects. The primary requirements are dogged determination and persistence.
Writing a technical book that people can use, a book that they keep on their shelf as a reference, a book that becomes the standard in its classthat's quite a bit harder. To do that, you not only have to know the subject matter and be able to present it in a reasonably interesting manner, but you also have to include the information that people need to know and provide the analysis that experience provides. In addition, the technology must be presented in a way that is digestible by the average person responsible for implementing it. Accuracy, of course, must be ensured. Doing all of these things is not easy. It is, however, what I set out to do.
Should You Buy This Book?
My ego and my pocketbook say yes. My conscience, however, tells me that this book is not one that every techie will need. Here are some guidelines:
This book is not designed with the Windows end user, advanced or not, in mind. It is meant for the server administrator, network administrator, security administrator, IT manager, technology specialist, or other individual who must design, implement, troubleshoot, or configure the security of Windows Server 2003 or the networks it is used on.
Although it does provide the details that may help anyone studying for an exam, it is not a resource for those whose only interest is passing an exam. There are no study questions and way too much information on topics that may not be on an exam but that are vital to the understanding and operation of server and network security.
This book does provide important information and the details of securing Windows Server 2003; however, it is not a step-by-step guide on how to harden the server. Instead, it is a technical resource, and it provides much of the rationale behind hardening steps.
If you do not use Windows and don't believe it has a place in your network, why are you reading this? I do believe that if you read this book, you may find that Windows Server 2003 does have a place in your network. However, I must warn youyou need to consider the next statement.
If you have no experience or knowledge of Windows, you will need a companion book that concentrates on the technology, a server you can explore on your own, or a willingness to research basic Windows and basic Windows networking on your own. Before you begin studying the more advanced topics, such as securing Active Directory or utilizing Windows Server 2003 resources to provide network security, you will need some understanding of Active Directory. This book assumes that you are not new to Active Directory.
If you are an expert on Windows Server 2003 security, you may learn something new here.
If you are, like most technical Windows users, solidly savvy in some security areas but lacking information in others, I believe you'll be able to find the information you need to become well rounded within these pages.
If you are a programmer, this book can do much to help you understand how Windows server security works and how its security technologies are used on a network. It should not, however, be your source for the intimate details you need if you must program security or program securely. The technical details you need are primarily provided in the Software Development Kit (SDK) available from Microsoft. The sound security knowledge and necessary programming skill are functions of training and experience. I would especially caution you that the algorithms provided within this book to help readers understand how technology works do not provide enough information for you to produce code that can correctly implement the technology. Programming security technologies is especially difficult to get right and is not a subject addressed by this book.
What's Inside and What's Not
Information security is not a new field. What is new is the requirement that every information technology worker emerges from being security-challenged to being security-conscious. Those who are responsible for any facet of production networks have a higher calling. They must not only be aware, but they also must be proactive. They cannot afford to merely react to the latest Internet threat. They must apply the principles of information security through their network. This book can help them.
Chapter 1, "Principles of Information Security," defines these principles and relates them to the content of each chapter. Each chapter deals with a specific Windows Server 2003 security topic and provides both information and instructions for securing the server and for using its security technologies to provide protection for the network. Topics include authentication, user rights and permissions, Software Restriction Policies, Authorization Manager, NTFS, the Encrypting File System (EFS), WebDAV, changes in security technologies introduced with Active Directory, securing Active Directory, trusts in an Active Directory forest between domains in different forests and between forests, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), using Routing and Remote Access and RADIUS, IPSec and PPTP, SMB signing, a role-based approach to server security, auditing monitoring, and maintenance.
This book often provides a unique approach to its subject. It explains not just how to use the technology but when and why and how to use security technologies in a secure manner. An example of this approach is the two chapters on PKI. The first chapter explains the technology and details what must be done to ensure that this key security technology does increase security and not just provide a false sense of security. The second chapter details precisely how to do this. It provides the implementation details of securely implementing a two-tier Certification Authority (CA) hierarchy, including an offline root CA. This chapter is also an example of the type of value added by this bookit's rare to find a thoughtful security approach to a security technology, and it's even rarer to find such a step-by-step detail all in one document.
While the book starts with basic security information relative to Windows Server 2003 in a workgroup or domain environment, progresses to security in an Active Directory network, and finishes by explaining the details of advanced Windows-based security technologies, an advanced reader can also benefit by jumping right to the material relevant to a specific problem or a current desire for knowledge. This is because with some exceptions, chapters are based on technical issues rather than technologies. Chapters are therefore often focused around topics such as "Securing Remote Access" (RRAS, VPNs, Internet Information Server), "Securing Data in Flight" (IPSec, PPTP), "Controlling Access to Data" (NTFS, EFS, protecting shares, using WebDAV), "Authorization: Limiting System Access and Controlling User Behavior" (user rights and permissions), or "Restricting Access to Software, Restricting Software's Access to Resources" (Software Restriction Policies, Authorization Manager).
This book cannot be your only source for Windows security information. It does not, for example, provide information on securing other versions of Windows. While much of the information on Windows Server 2003 is relevant to the security of earlier versions and will be relevant to future versions, much is unique to Windows Server 2003. You also won't find everything you need to know about securing IIS or securing Windows applications. It is not a book on secure programming, and it does not seek to train you in computer forensics. These topics require book-length discussions of their own. It would be presumptuous to attempt to deliver them along with everything else.
This is also not a sexy book. You won't find cool hacker tricks within or justification for using a security technology based on some exploit that works if you don't utilize the hardening technique. There are far too many "I can hack into your networkand here is how to stop me" security books. You should not be relying primarily on securing your network against attacks that are so well known that they are published in a book. Instead, you should be applying the knowledge that not only works against multiple current attacks, but that also may quite possibly secure networks against exploits not yet designed.
An Unusual Approach to Production
The normal technical book production process, the process that is supposed to produce "the" book on "some subject," leaves much to be desired. An author is selected and writes. A technical reviewer is paid a pittance and may or may not actually find errors or step through the instructions to confirm the author's work. Editors, while they may know their grammar and how to improve writing style, are not technically trained. Finally, the process is at times rushed, and compromises have to be made.
This book was done differently. In addition to the normal editorial support, numerous technical volunteers examined each chapter for content, correctness, and usability. These volunteers gave their time freely, many of them doggedly reading the entire manuscript and others concentrating on topics they felt the most comfortable with or the most interested in learning about. Every one of them contributed substantially, providing me with insight that an author usually gets only after the book is published. This book is incredibly better because of them.
That said, the organization of the material is mine, and any errors although unintentional, are mine as well.
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