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on February 17, 2016
The cover is for "Practical Cryptography" but the pages inside are a copy of "Unix for Dummies". I'm currently waiting for a replacement
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on July 8, 2012
I have always been interested in Cryptography but have never been able to find a book that is great for beginners that covers all avenues of Cryptography. Practical Cryptography starts by explaining in easy to follow terms what Cryptography is and how it came to be a major corner stone in IT and corporate workplaces. It then moves to covering the different types of Cryptography and various implementations. The rest of the book deals directly with various concerns and strength and weaknesses in the field of cryptography. If your in the security field or interested in cryptography I highly recommend this book. It made a great addition to my collection of IT and security books.
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on December 21, 2008
I received it within short time, like 3 to 5 days. it was fast.

the quality of book was very good. no damage whatsoever on the book.

thumbs up to the sender. keep up the good work.

and the contents are as usual very good for beginners
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on January 9, 2008
Guru Bruce Schneier teams with fellow guru Niels Ferguson to explain the practical implementaion of cryptography.

In his first book, Applied Cryptography, Schneier dissected how cryptography worked. But there was a lot of hand-waving, such as "Alice implements a secure RNG" which worked for theoretical knowledge of cryptography, but weren't of much use to a programmer who needs to design something. Practical Cryptography is the "in depth" sequel to Applied Cryptography, and explains in detail a lot of the nuts and bolts of actually implementing good cryptography.
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on January 14, 2007
This book really does explain the practical side of cryptography and writing cryptographic software.

The authors take the readers with them as they design a secure communication system using existing algorithms and standards. You look over the shoulders of two experts in the field as they make decisions (e.g. AES vs. Serpent vs. Twofish) and explain them (e.g. AES is the IBM of algorithms, Serpent is the most secure, and Twofish is fast like AES but without the vulnerabilities).

There is an entire chapter devoted to "Implementation Issues" which includes some of the best information on software design I have ever read. In addition to the cryptography related information, the authors point out some flaws in traditional software development methodology. In fact, this book should be required reading for every computer science student and every practicing software engineer.

If you have had trouble understanding cryptography and cryptographic algorithms in the past, this book will fill in the gaps. The book very well written, which is a rarity in the field of cryptography. If you are a crypto-phile, you can actually read this book for entertainment.
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on March 10, 2006
This can be an annoying book for a serious developer, but I do know Writing a secure cryptosystem is very hard. People should be aware that it is hard, and they are likely to make mistakes. It isn't something that should be attempted lightly. If you are doing some actual work, it's not a good one. The book does not cover sufficient mathematic knowledge, and the edit is bit horrible as well. The authors chose to support their own algorithm shedding less light on AES and even RSA. That really made me stop reading this book.

The author's other book "Applied Cryptography" is still my favorite.
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on July 19, 2005
From the very first pages, authors emphasize the need for public algorithms and peer review. Yet, the book is full of suggestions that appear first time in the book. They even take time to give fancy names to their new proposals. It is typical to see things like "While writing this chaper we came up with this new random number generator...". Well, the authors could have used some of public scrutiny they are so fond of.

The authors are extremely biased against algorithms designed by others. For example, they bend over backwards to blow some generic weaknesses of AES out of proportions. They even add a scary story of a bored PhD student offhandedly breaking AES. I think this not only unfair but also a bit unethical to direct generic critisism to a design and then pretent it does not apply to their own.

They must be really pissed off when their own algorithm was beaten by AES in the NIST competition.

The book is useful if all you want is a light reading about security and you can manage to read it with a grain of salt.
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on August 20, 2004
As one other reader pointed out this book can be called Applied Cryptography Light. It is true, it gives you more theory and very little math. I did not like this book by itself since I was interested in actual implementation and i wanted to see full algorithms and math. I did end up buying Applied Cryptography and those 2 books combined provide an excellent reference. I was not able to give more than 3 stars since I did not feel i got any knowledge out of this book to be able to apply it in real life except reading: "Cryptography is hard, you might need to hire an expert..." while I want to become an expert myself one day!
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on December 23, 2003
The authors spend far too much time preaching that cryptography is only a small (albeit important) part of security. This is not a new revelation. Most cryptographers have known this for a long time. In fact, the only cryptographer I know who believed for many years that cryptography was the entire answer, only to later suddenly realize that this was not the case, is Bruce Schneier himself. (Not coincidentally, his change of opinion coincided with the change in direction his company took from cryptography consulting to managed security monitoring.....)
The book has an extremely condescending tone. It can be summarized as follows: "Cryptography is a very complicated and sophisticated task. Therefore, we will not provide you with any meaningful explanations and details, but only a few tidbits to convince the naive reader that we are very smart and experienced. This should convince you not to attempt to learn more about cryptography, but instead hire us as consultants."
The authors may succeed in fooling the novice reader, but they won't fool the experienced cryptographer or security practitioner.
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on December 10, 2003
I've read a large number of cryptography books. Very few of them come down to brass tacks. They give you a description of a few algorithms, their strengths and weaknesses, and leave it at that. Either that, or they describe in lovingly complex detail the implementation of a particular protocol, one usually so fraught with options and details that you wonder how, at the end of it, that anybody writes a conforming implementation.

Practical Cryptography does neither of these things. It presents algorithm classes, why they exist, and what the best known algorithms are in each class. It explains how the various strengths and weaknesses of algorithms in each class combine to make a cryptosystem weaker or stronger. Then it goes on to show you how to use that information to build working cryptosystems.

This book is NOT a careful discussion of the implementation details or plusses and minuses of particular algorithms. They give detailed implementation instructions and advice for some algorithms (such as RSA or Diffie-Hellman) that tend to end up being misunderstood or implemented poorly, but the main focus of the book is about putting all the information together to build a real system. This is something that I feel is sorely lacking in the field of cryptography as it stands in 2005 (when I last updated this review).

The book does have a flaw. The authors present several algorithms and techniques that they recently invented and are not 'tried-and-true'. They present good arguments as to why they're secure. But the only real test of such things is lots of peer review and real-world testing. And, since they're new, they haven't been tested in that way.

People have complained about the book's seeming schizophrenia. On one hand, the authors are trying to show you how to build a secure cryptosystem. On the other, they're telling you how hopeless a task it is to build one that has no vulnerabilities, even if you're an expert in such things.

This can be annoying, but I more find it refreshing. Writing a secure cryptosystem is very hard. People should be aware that it is hard, and they are likely to make mistakes. It isn't something that should be attempted lightly. The current state of computer security is depressingly abysmal. People should be encouraged, as much as possible, to not contribute to the problem.

I'm not following my own advice, and I am building a new cryptosystem. I have found this book a more valuable resource than any other book on cryptography that I have yet read. Even if you aren't building your own cryptosystem, I think you will find the insights this book has into complexity and design to be useful tools in evaluating other cryptosystems.
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