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BKMSNTSC.RVW 20021220

"Mastering Network Security", Chris Brenton/Cameron Hunt, 2003, 0-7821-4142-0, U$49.99/C$79.95/UK#37.99
%A Chris Brenton cbrenton@sover.net
%A Cameron Hunt cam@cameronhunt.com
%C 1151 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda, CA 94501
%D 2003
%G 0-7821-4142-0
%I Sybex Computer Books
%O U$49.99/C$79.95/UK#37.99 800-227-2346 info@sybex.com
%O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0782141420/robsladesinterne
%P 490 p.
%T "Mastering Network Security, Second Edition"

The introduction states that this book is aimed at systems administrators who are not security experts, but have some responsibility for ensuring the integrity of their systems. That would seem to cover most sysadmins. However, whether the material in this work is at a suitable level for most sysadmins is open to question. Now, to be fair to the authors, it seems that this second edition is a reissue, only marginally revised, of a book that was originally published seven years ago. (Under most standard contracts, publishers have the right to do this, and authors can't do much about it.) At that point, the material might have been pretty reasonable. Currently, it isn't.

Chapter one discusses systems theory. While the application of the text to network and security management is reasonably obvious in hypothetical terms, it is not at all clear in regard to direct operation in the real world. (This is particularly true for those who are not security professionals.) The systems development life cycle (SDLC) is covered in chapter two and, again, while it is an important topic, the relation to security is not made manifest. The introduction to networking itself covers the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model, routing, and bits of TCP/IP, in chapter three. One would have thought that this would have been old news to sysadmins. The same is true of the material on transmission and network topology, in chapter four. There is some mention of security issues, but the discussion is minimal.

Chapter five has a reasonable overview of firewalls, although the terminology is not always standard. Chapter six is documentation for the Cisco PIX firewall. The information about intrusion detection systems, in chapter seven, provides good material on points often neglected by other works, and adds a guide to Snort. The coverage of cryptography, in chapter eight, has a confusing structure. Most of the material on virtual private networks consists of screen shots of Microsoft's RRAS (Routing and Remote Access Server), in chapter nine.

Chapter ten relies on old concepts and technologies to discuss viruses and other malware. Disaster prevention and recovery, in chapter eleven, concentrates on building redundancy and the VERITAS server based backup system. A good deal of information about Windows, most of which may have some relevance to security, is in chapter twelve. Some introductory, and some network, data about UNIX is available in chapter thirteen. Chapter fourteen describes how information can be obtained about your system in order to mount an intrusion attack. Some resources for security are mentioned in chapter fifteen.

Overall, the book does provide a fair amount of information that would likely be of help to most network administrators in securing their systems and networks. However, there is also a lot of detail that is not directly relevant to the task, some erroneous content, and not a few gaps. While the original authors may have mastered their topic, the volume currently on offer does not reflect that.

copyright Robert M. Slade, 2002 BKMSNTSC.RVW 20021220