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Schneier on Security [Hardcover]

Bruce Schneier
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 29, 2008 0470395354 978-0470395356 1
Presenting invaluable advice from the world?s most famous computer security expert, this intensely readable collection features some of the most insightful and informative coverage of the strengths and weaknesses of computer security and the price people pay -- figuratively and literally -- when security fails. Discussing the issues surrounding things such as airplanes, passports, voting machines, ID cards, cameras, passwords, Internet banking, sporting events, computers, and castles, this book is a must-read for anyone who values security at any level -- business, technical, or personal.

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Schneier on Security + Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive + Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World
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Editorial Reviews


"...the timing of the release...could hardly be's certainly convenient to have [Schneier's columns] collected in one place." (, October 22nd 2008) "His conclusions are insightful and often provocative...A fascination read." (.Net, January 2008) "...refreshing common-sense approach...indispensable for anyone in the security industry and a thought-provoking read for anyone else." (Information Age, November 2008) " easy book to dip into...thought provoking, showing clear logic and real world examples...a highly accessible introduction to "security thinking"." (PC Pro, March 2009) "Thought provoking and refreshingly honest, this is a fascinating reading...rivetingread throughout...A compelling digest" (Linux Format, April 2009) "We could very well do with more Bruce Schneiers to advance that passionate cause for rational thinking" (Infosecurity, April 2009)

From the Inside Flap

You take off your shoes in the airport. You scan the supermarket's "preferred customer" card to get the sale price. You claw your way through tamper-resistant packaging for a couple of aspirin. You accept all these inconveniences in the name of security.

But are you any safer?

Bruce Schneier, arguably the world's foremost authority on computer security, has explored security issues ranging from protecting your password to illegal wiretapping. This collection of Schneier's best op-ed pieces, columns, and blog posts goes beyond technology, offering his insight into everything from the risk of identity theft (vastly overrated) to the long-range security threat of unchecked presidential power and the surprisingly simple way to tamper-proof elections. You'll discover:

  • Why data mining will never protect us from terrorists

  • How your stone-age brain affects what you fear and what security measures you accept

  • Why computer security is fundamentally an economic problem

  • Whether you can really trust a Trusted Traveler

  • If sacrificing your privacy has made you more secure

  • Why refusing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants actually reduces security

  • The industry power struggle over controlling your computer

  • Why we overestimate some risks and underestimate others

  • Why national ID cards won't make us safer, only poorer

  • . . . and much more

This book will challenge your illusions of security at every level. Think it's okay to give up your privacy if you're doing nothing wrong? What happens when "wrong" gets redefined? How much power over your personal life are you willing to concede to the person you least want to see as president? What's the acceptable trade-off between security and convenience?

In this ruthless, comprehensive, and thought-provoking analysis, Schneier shows us what we should be worrying about and how to get our national fingers off the panic button.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (September 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470395354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470395356
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #578,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bruce Schneier is the go-to security expert for business leaders and policy makers. His breakthrough book Applied Cryptography (1994, 1998) explained how the arcane science of secret codes actually works, and was described by Wired as "the book the National Security Agency wanted never to be published." His business-oriented bestseller Secrets and Lies (2000) was called by Fortune "[a] jewel box of little surprises you can actually use." Best known as a refreshingly candid and lucid security critic and commentator, he has appeared in numerous media outlets, including The New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as on NPR, CNN, and the major networks. He has also testified on security before the United States Congress.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the best from one of the best minds in security October 20, 2008
There is a perception in both the private and government sector, that security, both physical and digital, is something you can buy. Witness the mammoth growth of airport security products following 9/11, and the sheer number of vendors at security conferences. With that, government officials and corporate executives often think you can simply buy products and magically get instant security by flipping on the switch. The reality is that security is not something you can buy; it is something you must 'get'.

Perhaps no one in the world gets security like author Bruce Schneier does. Schneier is a person who I am proud to have as a colleague [Schneier and I are both employed by the same parent company, but work in different divisions, in different parts of the country]. Schneier on Security is a collection of the best articles that Bruce has written from June 2002 to June 2008, mainly from his Crypto-Gram Newsletter, his blog, and other newspapers and magazine. The book is divided into 12 sections, covering nearly the entire range of security issues from terrorism, aviation, elections, economics, psychology, the business of security and much more.

Two of the terms Schneier uses extensively throughout the book are intelligence and economics. From an intelligence perspective, he feels that Washington has spent far too much on hardware and other trendy security devices that create a sense of security theater. The security theater gives an aura and show of security, but in reality, has little real effect.

The lack of intelligence is most manifest with airports, which are a perfect example of misguided security. Schneier notes that current trends in US airport security requires that people remove their shoes, due to a one-time incident with shoe-based explosive.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hardbound collection of Internet Essays February 21, 2009
I got this book for free. I would not have paid money for it, since all of Bruce's essays and writings in this book or all over his website & blog. Bruce is very up-front about that. At the same time, though, I can't give Bruce a low rating because the content is very Bruce-- very good. If you want a "book formatted" version of Bruce's writings, here you go, but I would suggest picking up his _Beyond Fear_ book first, then subscribe to either his blog or mailing list (or both). If you want more Computer Security info, look to his _Secrets and Lies_ book first.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Being a fan of Bruce Schneier's other books, I looked forward to his latest work "Schneier On Security", and certainly was not disappointed, although I found that I had read some sections of the book previously.

"Schneier On Security" consist of a compilation of articles published by Mr. Schneier from 2002 through the summer of 2008.

If you regularly read Crypto-Gram and Wired Magazine you will be familiar with some sections of this book. Articles published in other magazines and newspapers, and reprinted in this book, I had not previously read and enjoyed the opportunity to read them now.

As with all of Mr. Schneier's writings, the articles in the book are thought provoking yet at the same time easy to read.

The book is divided into 12 chapters, followed by a large list of web-sites providing additional information and references.

The chapters are:

1 - Terrorism and Security
2 - National Security Policy
3 - Airline Travel
4 - Privacy and Surveillance
5 - ID Cards and Security
6 - Election Security
7 - Security and Disasters
8 - Economics of Security
9 - Psychology of Security
10 - Business of Security
11 - Cybercrime and Cyberwar
12 - Computer and Information Security

Each chapter consists of a few previously published articles related to the chapter topic.

Well written, thought provoking, and an opportunity to get several of Mr. Schneier's articles collected into a single volume.

Highly Recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Security mantras April 14, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Schneier's security mantras are:

Security is a trade off.
Security is about people, not technology.
Security is about failure, not success.
Security is obtained by skilled intelligence gathering.

Because Schneier presents a collection of previously published articles and blog posts he repeats himself a lot, but that's OK as it reinforces the mantras all the more strongly.

When he writes of airport security, for instance. If our name is on a no-fly list, the clerk at the check in desk will not be permit us to board our flight. Why should he? If he does and we are terrorists, he's fired and maybe prosecuted. If he doesn't allow us aboard despite the fact we are upstanding citizens, he is praised for doing his job. Are we more secure? No. A genuine terrorist will probably avoid using a name on a no-fly list. And who manages this list? Can we check if our name is on it? No, we can't. If we do find out we are on the list, e.g. by being refused boarding for no adequate reason, can we get our name off it? No, there's no appeal process. The no-fly list is a bad system, it effectively sentences people without due process.

Compare this with the 1999 attempt to sneak explosives into the US from Canada. The culprit wasn't arrested because his name or license plate number were on a watch list but because a trained border crossing agent, Diana Dean, recognized suspicious behaviour and decided to investigate further. What led to her decision cannot be quantified or turned into a procedure, her instincts were honed by years of experience.

The applicable mantra in both cases is "Security is obtained by skilled intelligence gathering". Read the book for illustrations of the other mantras.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Collection of Articles and Essays
Not a bad book. A collection of his articles and essays that have been published in various locations - Bruce's material talks about security concepts from a wide variety of angles... Read more
Published 7 months ago by TommyElf
5.0 out of 5 stars Secruity, privacy, and why it you
I'm not very political. In fact I'm jaded toward the whole process. Truth be told I think it's mostly a ridiculous, pathetic circus... Read more
Published 8 months ago by G. Chapman
3.0 out of 5 stars "Rock star?" -- I think not !
OK - I get it ... he actually believes his own hype. The book is heady to some degree and the material was pertinent and timely at the time of publishing. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Richard Dion, PhD
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book!
I had already read Liars and Outliers and learned to appreciate Bruce Schneier's writings. This book, or bundle of essays, has inspired lots of thought as to our security as a... Read more
Published 14 months ago by uRock
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!
this is a great security book.

In chapter after chapter, Bruce Schneier says the security truth.

One of the better books out there.
Published on January 30, 2012 by Tameeka Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Should Have Been Boring
A book that covers the spaces where technology and security intersect shouldn't be this interesting or easy to read. Read more
Published on July 23, 2011 by Jim McGaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have for Security Professionals
Bruce Scheier is the Chuck Norris of security. His philosophical thinking to every day security will entertain you and help shed light on some of the security theater we face... Read more
Published on October 16, 2010 by ToasT
5.0 out of 5 stars This guy is extremely smart
While this book is a bit dated, it is a very enjoyable book to read. I've studied parts of his Cryptology book, which was brilliant, and found this book to be worthwhile. Read more
Published on October 8, 2010 by Joseph D. Wert
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, for left of center opinion
This is a good book if you want a left-of-center opinion of what has happened in the States since 9/11. Read more
Published on October 5, 2010 by RF
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been edited for book form
The content of this book is good: interesting perspectives on everyday security problems and why the existing solutions won't work. Read more
Published on August 12, 2009 by Andrew M
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