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Customer Review

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best real-life digital incident detection and response book ever written, July 17, 2010
This review is from: The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage (Paperback)
Cliff Stoll's "The Cuckoo's Egg" (TCE) is the best real-life digital incident detection and response book ever written. I know something about this topic; I've written books on the subject and have taught thousands of students since 2000. I've done detection and IR since 1998, starting in the military, then as a consultant and defense contractor, and now as director of IR for a Fortune 5 company. If you're not an incident detector/responder, you're probably going to read TCE as a general enthusiast or maybe an IT professional. You'll like the book. If you're a security professional, you'll love it.

I first read TCE 20 years ago when it was first published, but I was a high school student who couldn't appreciate the content. Now, as an IR team leader, I recognize that Cliff probably shares 25 IR lessons in the first 50 pages! I plan to write a separate article explaining these, and I encourage my team to read the book. I think TCE would form an excellent text for a semester-long course on IR, and I might teach such a course at some point.

TCE is an important book because it is a first-hand account of an intrusion, from the victim's discovery of the event to the prosecution of the offender. Two and a half decades since the events took place, some aspects of intrusions have changed and others have stayed the same. I don't see another author stepping forward to explain all of the personal and professional heartache and obstacles suffered while defending his enterprise against persistent adversaries. Today the threat of a lawsuit and the desire to protect company and professional interests would likely preclude such a story, and probably with good reason!

On a human note, I found Cliff Stoll to possess the single most important characteristic of a good incident responder: he took the intrusion personally, and it made him angry! All the best security professionals I know take compromise personally and react emotionally to the thought of intruders violating their enterprise. Cliff Stoll was effective because he was smart, yes, but he was exceptionally effective because he cared.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 23, 2010 7:35:15 PM PDT
ari180 says:
I apparently have enough ego-needs to find it really reinforcing when I read a review, assess it as an especially effective example of what a review (in the relevant field) should be and should do* -- and then notice that the reviewer is already recognized as an exceptional performer in the Amazon 'verse.
Thank you for such a prime work on what is clearly a prime work; onto the To-Be-Read list!

*three of the key criteria being...
(A) does the review teach me something that might be of value and that I didn't already know, either within the relevant discipline or beyond it (and preferably both)? (bonus points if it answers a question with which I'd been struggling and had not yet found any satisfactory answers, or provides an answer different from any already found)
In short, the review helps reduce my ignorance.
(2) does the review articulate anything that I'd believed, thought, felt, suspected, etc, in a way better than I'd yet done for myself? (bonus points if it's presented in a way better than I'd ever have been able to do)
In short, the review helps reduce my inarticulateness.
(iii) does the review help me to appreciate a point of view, belief, judgement, or life experience foreign to me? (bonus points if the review gets me to recognize how the thinking makes sense to the person(s) holding it, even if it still doesn't make sense to me; double-bonus points if the review gets the thinking to make sense even to me, even if I still disagree with it; and an order-of-magnitude or quantum leap in bonus points if it gets me to change my mind on something and realize I'd previously been wrong about it)
In short, the review helps reduce my narrow-mindedness and/or stupidity.

Posted on Feb 5, 2013 8:18:32 AM PST
Tim Jones says:
Excellent recommendation sir.

I must ask, did you ever pen that article highlighting some of the lessons?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 5, 2013 10:06:20 AM PST
I think I did a blog post only?
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