Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems 2nd Edition
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From the Back Cover
― Bruce Schneier
"This is the best book on computer security. Buy it, but more importantly, read it and apply it in your work."
― Gary McGraw
This book created the discipline of security engineering
The world has changed radically since the first edition was published in 2001. Spammers, virus writers, phishermen, money launderers, and spies now trade busily with each other in a lively online criminal economy ― and as they specialize, they get better. New applications, from search to social networks to electronic voting machines, provide new targets. And terrorism has changed the world. In this indispensable, fully updated guide, Ross Anderson reveals how to build systems that stay dependable whether faced with error or malice.
Here's straight talk about
- Technical engineering basics ― cryptography, protocols, access controls, and distributed systems
Types of attack ― phishing, Web exploits, card fraud, hardware hacks, and electronic warfare
Specialized protection mechanisms ― what biometrics, seals, smartcards, alarms, and DRM do, and how they fail
Security economics ― why companies build insecure systems, why it's tough to manage security projects, and how to cope
Security psychology ― the privacy dilemma, what makes security too hard to use, and why deception will keep increasing
Policy ― why governments waste money on security, why societies are vulnerable to terrorism, and what to do about it
About the Author
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While studying for the CISSP exam I was forced to familiarize myself in many areas of security I had previously skirted – thus it was grueling work. Few of the CISSP level exam questions require in-depth knowledge; overall the CISSP requires an eye-in-the-sky view of the entire security field, and how different concepts fit together. At the level of the CISSP there are many good resources and it only took me two weeks of study to prep for a passing score.
Studying for the CISSP-ISSAP has been more challenging. Not only is the training availability extremely limited, there are few good study resources for the exam. I understand the ISSAP concentration requires detailed knowledge of the inner workings of many technical systems (and not just those normally administered by security professionals). To pass this exam you not only need to retain that knowledge, but know how it all works in minute detail.
A long foreword, but the point being stumbling across this book has been a lucky break. Ross dives into security engineering at the street level and comes up for air only to relate real world cases of security failure and how they can be avoided. Not only does he get down to the detail level required on much of the CISSP-ISSAP curriculum, his book is heavily weighted in the technical control fields that are core to the ISSAP exam.
If you’re tasked with engineering security controls in any information system or joining me in studying for the ISSAP concentration I highly recommend this read.
This book was published in 2010 making it currently 7 years old. This means there are some glaring exemptions from his review of historical security failures and a bit of weakness in mobile, social and cloud. It should be noted that. Despite being 10 years out of date many of his observations seem eerily prescient given what has occurred during the intervening interval and although lacking in examples pertaining to Social Mobile Analytics and Cloud – he accurately predicted the systemic issues encountered in these areas proving good fundamental coverage still useful in 2017.
Trailing note. This is 1080 pages - if you're expecting a casual read look elsewhere, while Ross does an excellent job of keeping this digestible be prepared for some focused attention on every passage.
I especially like all the examples. If you already work in the space, you already know WHY any of this is important. If you don't, then leaving those stories out really makes the subject matter dry and irrelevant. Including it really hits home as to why security is so important to all of us, and it makes the solutions much more intriguing.
The author explains things in layman's terms, so although this is a very broad and complex topic, it's very accessible through this book. I also love the author's approach of introducing you to *all* the relevant concerns of security, and then giving you references if you want to learn more (including problems that haven't been solved yet).
One thing I found interesting was that having the advantage of living 10 years beyond the end of the book, it becomes clear that many of the current hot topics in security have been predicted by security experts for years. For example, Google just found the first SHA-1 collision, and in the book, Ross reported that an algorithm has been developed to find a collision in 2^69 steps, but it was predicted that it should be possible in 2^60 steps. 10 years later, as I'm reading the book, Google reports they did it with 2^63 computations.
If you're a professional, you probably already know all the important stuff from this book. So depending on what you're looking for, it might not be the book for you. If security is this mysterious, complex thing that feels like it's beyond your reach, you'll love this book. It's not like "heads first" security where it just flies by. You may find yourself slogging through the thousand or so pages over a series of eye-straining months. Your husband might get used to seeing you making pained faces around the house while looking at the ceiling as you try to understand something. But it's still fun. Oh also sometimes the author is unexpectedly sarcastic, and that's really fun, too.
Top international reviews
From historical standpoints to encryption, Security Engineering provides information contextualised for those either studying, working or simply researching (fiction authors might want a reference guide) though many might find it a dry read, lacking the more 'emotional' style of writting as featured in many trending titles in the field.
Well worth the money for a well researched work.
It was an eye opener, I bought the book and I haven't regretted it. The scope covered all the application areas in which I was interested, and added new ones.
It is well written to the extent that I found myself reading it for entertainment. Nevertheless it is also a solid academic book with plenty of references to other materials. It is also telling that this book is referenced by every other book on security and cryptography that I have since read.
Another highly recommended book.
Ross Anderson writes in an approachable manner that is casual and informative although at times he suddenly becomes pedantic. It's completely due to the scope of the material, which is incredibly broad (perhaps that's a necessary demon) and the realization that some it was written at different times with some topics being the author's passion and others being mandated. He does offers excellent insights into banking system security and command and control security - both topics that are usually kept secretive and sparse. You'll also get phenomenal viewpoints into the many ways attackers approach different systems.
The book is still worth purchasing if you want insight into the field of security. It should be praised for its scope, but not its depth (sometimes, it is superficial while at other times it is overly-detailed). It requires an update to a 3rd edition, followed by more frequent updates to match the frantic pace of this field. Until then, you will need to supplement it with a more recent, if not as detailed, text.
In the second section of the book, Anderson addresses a series of 'topic areas' such as multilateral security, banking and bookkeeping, monitoring and metering, security printing and seals, API attacks, copyright, telecom security, and more. In each section he leaves the reader with an excellent topical understanding of the historical issues these areas have encountered, how issues in various sections often relate to one another, and where and why errors in judgement have been made. The regular demonstrations of security failures - often due to side channel attacks - operate as powerful reminders that adequate policies that precisely identify how fault situations unfold are (arguably) amongst the most important elements of any security policy. It also demonstrates how what appear to be robust systems can be made to be quite brittle, thus emphasizing the need to think about how to develop effective defence in depth policies. This section is essential reading for both the actual implementers of security as well as whomever is making purchasing decisions on behalf of organizations. With the rapid growth of the 'security industry' and ever-increasing number of vendors that are invested in selling their latest products/snake oil, this section provides the reader with tools needed to critically interrogate products and make better purchasing and implementation decisions.
The final section is, arguably, most needed by mid- to high-level organizational planners. Civil issues are raised - how does security/surveillance impact individuals' rights? - as are step-by-step methodological systems for establishing threat patterns in relation to larger organizational concerns (e.g. profitability, consumer loyalty and trust). It also includes suggested practices for addressing potential security errors introduced in the generation of a digital or coded product, and how to establish an environment conducive to ensuring product- and process-based integrity, authenticity, and security. The final section is particularly needed for anyone looking into compliance seals and assurances. Anderson outlines the positive and deficient aspects of external audits, and also identifies how auditing systems have been gamed by nation-state actors and the reasons behind such gaming. While some organizations may be more concerned about receiving seals for bureaucratic purposes, for the agency that is concerned about the actual security value of the seals, this section provides much-needed resources to understand the nature of seal and certification systems.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Quite often, security books will emphasize a particular line of attack and bypass the broader conceptual systems underlying the incursion. This book largely takes the opposite track, focusing first on the conceptual deficiencies and the intellectual demands of designing secure systems. It then proceeds to outline attacks that often use the systems' logic to the attackers advantage. As a result, the reader will leave with a critical appreciation of the concepts and implementations of security. The emphasis on the conceptual conditions of security mean that the book will continue to age well, with readers being able to apply what is learned in this book to their work for years to come.
The book is available electronically but I just had to buy the paper version (and recommend it to all my friends, well at least those that appreciate a bit of IT with lots of gory details :)).