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Maximum Linux Security (2nd Edition) Paperback – June 21, 2001
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As we've all become well aware lately, every complex system has flaws. When the complex system is a computer operating system, such as Linux, or a piece of software running under it, those flaws can provide black-hat hackers with the access they need to steal your data, damage your system, or use your computing resources as a base for attacking other computers. Maximum Linux Security reveals security holes in Linux and does so explicitly. You can follow instructions in this book and break into unsecured Linux machines in a variety of ways. The newest edition of this book includes newer information about Linux security exploits and updated links to information and tools.
The anonymous author of this book has done a fine job of recognizing that his readers, despite the fact that they're probably pretty accomplished power users just because they're messing around with Linux, aren't really experienced with Linux or with computer security. He's careful to explain his subjects precisely. For example, he goes to considerable effort to explain how to set up user accounts properly (with emphasis on preventing obvious security holes), in addition to documenting offensive and defensive weapons like SAINT and Crack. Most entries on software include URL references to the latest versions, as well as cross-references to related programs. --David Wall
Topics covered: Good Linux security practice, as well as specific malicious software packages and ways to defend against them.
From the Back Cover
Maximum Linux Security helps Linux administrators identify and plug security holes on their systems by detailing Linux system holes, attack methods, and hacker's tools that hackers have had years to study, explore, and improve upon. As Linux continues to become more and more mainstream, network administrators will need to know all about the weaknesses in Linux systems that hackers and crackers have had years to learn and explore. Maximum Linux Security provides a crash course on the vulnerabilities of Linux systems, and how to protect these systems from outside attacks. Written from the same hacker perspective as Maximum Security, this book contains everything the Linux network administrator needs to know about protecting his or her systems. This edition of the book has been revised, expanded, and updated to cover the latest advances in Linux hacking tools and techniques, and to more thoroughly cover firewalls, intrusion detection, Linux graphical environments, and routers.
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Top customer reviews
MLS is less list-oriented than the typical "Maximum Security" book. Useful advice on practical security measures takes the place of exploit listings. While you'll find discussions of older vulnerabilities, the most ancient are isolated in appendix B. The appendix also offers lengthy, detailed command listings and glossaries, unlike any I've recently seen.
The friendly tone of the book reminded me of a mentor speaking to a novice. Furthermore, the authors clearly know their material. For example, Linux frequently demands compiling tools from source code. Sometimes this process requires tweaking the code before running 'make'. The authors regularly give specific advice on the changes needed to get the code working properly. This attention to detail impressed me, and helped me run some of the example applications as I read the text. The authors also gave great clues on applying patches, a task required of every system administrator.
Beyond its specific use as a Linux security text, MLS also lets readers learn of other resources useful to security practioners. I was pleased to check out the Linux Cross Reference project, where I can browse and link to several incarnations of the Linux kernel.
On the negative side, the back cover advertises MLS as an "intermediate-advanced" text. While I thought the diagrams and explanations of the introductory chapters were well-done, they clearly depicted basic material. I also felt the discussion of intrusion detection failed to reflect front line experience with that technology and process.
If you're looking for a more defensive-minded Linux security book, give MLS a try. Those with an offensive mindset (like penetration testers) should stick with the Hacking Exposed series. Readers looking for the high end of Linux security theory will like Bob Toxen's "Real World Linux Security."
(Disclaimer: I received a free review copy from the publisher.)
As a definitive list of all the security tools you could use for Linux, this is a good book, however you better expect to investigate each on your own. If you're looking for a book that is more geared to teaching you as well as overviewing products, I suggest Hacking Linux Exposed or Real World Linux Security. The former is probably the better of the two, but both are better than this one.
I'm happy to see that the author has de-anonymized himself somewhat, though.