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Practical Unix & Internet Security, 3rd Edition 3rd Edition

41 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0596003234
ISBN-10: 0596003234
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Editorial Reviews Review

The world's most business-critical transactions run on Unix machines, which means the machines running those transactions attract evildoers. Furthermore, a lot of those machines have Internet connections, which means it's always possible that some nefarious remote user will find a way in. The third edition of Practical Unix & Internet Security contains--to an even greater extent than its favorably reputed ancestors--an enormous amount of accumulated wisdom about how to protect Internet-connected Unix machines from intrusion and other forms of attack. This book is fat with practical advice on specific defensive measures (to defeat known attacks) and generally wise policies (to head off as-yet-undiscovered ones).

The authors' approach to Unix security is holistic and clever; they devote as much space to security philosophy as to advice about closing TCP ports and disabling unnecessary services. They also recognize that lots of Unix machines are development platforms, and make many recommendations to consider as you design software. It's rare that you read a page in this carefully compiled book that does not impart some obscure nugget of knowledge, or remind you to implement some important policy. Plus, the authors have a style that reminds their readers that computing is supposed to be about intellectual exercise and fun, an attitude that's absent from too much of the information technology industry lately. Read this book if you use any flavor of Unix in any mission-critical situation. --David Wall

Topics covered: Security risks (and ways to limit them) under Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X, and FreeBSD. Coverage ranges from responsible system administration (including selection of usernames and logins) to intrusion detection, break-in forensics, and log analysis.


"It's almost impossible to criticize such a venerable work as this, and there can be little doubt that backed up by online resources, this will form a solid foundation and reference work for years to come." - Martin Howse, LinuxUser & Developer, Issue 30 "If you know nothing about Linux security, and only have time for one book, you should start with Practical Unix and Internet Security." - Charlie Stross, Linux Format, September

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 988 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 3 edition (March 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596003234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596003234
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 2.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #369,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By kievite on April 25, 1998
Format: Paperback
Somewhat outdated -- two years old in a very dynamic field, Rootkit is not even mentioned, Bugtraq mentioned only in supplement, etc. Far from being practical and can be used only as an introductory text in Unix security. Not recommended for Internet security (superficial and incomplete). Good style --  Simson Garfinkel of The UNIX-Haters Handbook fame  is a really talented journalist (but now only a journalist, see his interview with  The main problem with the book is that instead of relying on tools as any Unix author should, the authors use a cookbook/reference approach giving recipes about improving security. References to important RFCs, FAQ and CERT advisories are absent. For example RFC1244 (now superseded by RTC2196) is not mentioned in index(and probably in the text as well) although Ch.2 and Ch.24 mirror its content. No attempts were made to explain what tools can be used for checking/fixing particular class of problems or to present a bigger picture in which the flaw exists. Typesetting is very primitive. Although one of the authors is a (former) programmer judging by just the book content it is difficult to believe that he is able to spell PERL :-). The book is not updated enough to compete with newer books on Internet Security. For corporate users possible alternatives are combinations of one book on Unix security (for example, Unix System Security by David A. Curry) and one book on Internet security (for example Actually Useful Internet Security Techniques by Larry J. Hughes). The last is recommended as an alternative for readers who cannot afford two books. Often books written by a specialist in particular areas can be a better deal than books from security folks. For example TCP/IP Network Administration by Craig Hunt contains a lot more information about how properly configure TCP/IP than this book and in Ch.12 has a very decent overview of security in just 40 pages.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By G. Hoeppner on August 1, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a Linux administrator, I ordered this book hoping to find out how hackers typically gain access to systems and neat little tricks for locking down my system, as well as detecting and dealing with intruders. While Practical Unix & Internet Security did cover these topics, it covered little I didn't already know.

Significant time is spent explaining how unix-based systems work. The book covers things such as file systems, partition structure, file ownership/permissions, users and groups, inodes, ssh, backups, etc. Each command, utility, procedure or feature is detailed over several pages followed by an explanation of what you should be doing with said topic.

There are also a few real-world examples here and there; stories most of us have heard before, like the admin who had . in his path.

Unlike many computer books, this one is well written and an easy read, and it's certainly a lot more friendly than some unix geek's advice which consists of RTFM.

I think this book would be great for someone who has a very basic understanding of unix-based systems but has never administrated one before, but for those of us who've already had some experience running unix there's probably not anything new here for you.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Uri Raz on July 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
This books is a very thorough hands-on guide to the subject of security for unix computers connected to the Internet.
It starts with basic subjects, such as passwords, backups, security auditing & logging, and physical security, and then continues with networking subjects, such as modems, TCP/IP, NFS, kerberos, firewalls, proxies, etc. important issues and terms are interwined - such as what is the rainbow series and legal issues.
The subject of computer & Internet security is changing quickly, and as other reviewers have written a book written a couple of years ago (I have the 1996 edition) is no longer up to date.
But I think it's a minor issue.
First, because one must still learn and protect against older attacks - an intruder will not shy away from trying to use an old security hole just because it's two months old. Hacks are not cheese, and cant be thrown out after two weeks.
Second, a sysadmin should get the basic information, terms, ways of thought, etc - and this book will teach this well - and then continuously look for new information and information sources.
This includes finding out about bugtraq, ntbugtraq, phrack, and any other new mailing lists and web sites regularily.
So I highly recommend this book to anyone who deals with the subject of unix & internet security.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Marco De Vivo on March 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
The second edition of this book was my security vade mecum for the last 8 years. For what I can foresee, this third edition, will play the same role for (at least) the next three years.
When you are required as an security expert, several tasks are usually to be faced:

New scenarios to analyze?, checklists to recommend?, good firewall architectures to suggest?, logs to watch? (and so on). Don't worry, with the only help of this Garfinkel, Spafford and Schwartz 'little giant' book, you are done.
Excellent book. A Must for security people.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
The best beginners guide to UNIX security and computer security in general I have ever read. In fact the only technical book I have read and enjoyed! This book explains first principles in computer security in an understandable way. This is particularly useful for computer auditors, who may not be technically competent in UNIX. I used this book to develop security audit programs for backup and recovery, incident management, basic UNIX security review and risk management. Consequently I was haled as a hero and a guru by management! New computer auditors should buy this now!
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