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January 23, 2004

"Security Warrior": Know Your Enemy

Sebastopol, CA--Computer security is not precisely like warfare. In war, both sides seek to take advantage of the other's weaknesses. Both sides strive to operate from a position of offense rather than defense. Computer security is rather like building a fortress that you hope will be impenetrable to attack. It's similar to war, however, in that the threat of attack is real, constant, malicious, and unrelenting. Therefore, the tactics of war can be valuable in securing your systems and data against assault. And, as in warfare, the more you know about your enemy, the stronger your position.

Based on the principle that the best way to defend yourself is to understand your attacker in depth, Security Warrior (O'Reilly, US $44.95) by Cyrus Peikari and Anton Chuvakin reveals how your systems can be threatened. Covering everything from reverse engineering to SQL attacks, and including topics like social engineering, antiforensics, and advanced attacks against Unix and Windows systems, this book leaves you knowing your enemy and prepared to do battle.

Security Warrior offers readers unique methods for honing their information security (or infosec) techniques, presented in an entertaining and easy-to-read style. Covering a combination of formal science and real-life infosec experiences, multiple platforms, and attacks and defenses, the book explores areas of computer security that will gratify even the most seasoned veterans. According to the Peikari and Chuvakin, one example of this is their coverage of reverse code engineering (RCE), including the esoteric subjects of Linux and embedded RCE. As they explain, "RCE is indispensable for dissecting malicious code, unveiling corporate spyware, and extracting application vulnerabilities, but until this book, it has received sparse coverage in printed literature."

Reverse code engineering is thoroughly examined in the first section of the book, "Software Cracking." Part II, "Network Stalking," reviews security aspects of TCP/IP, network reconnaissance, OS fingerprinting, and examines social engineering using psychological theories to explore possible attacks and how hackers hide their tracks. Next, in "Platform Attacks," readers learn about platform-specific attacks and defenses, including weaknesses in Windows XP Remote Assistance, flaws in Kerberos authentication on Windows Server, web services security, and SQL injection attacks. Part IV, "Advanced Defense," tackles advanced methods of network defense, including the use of Bayesian analysis to implement intrusion detection systems.

As attacks against computer systems become increasingly sophisticated, a strong defense is essential, and the best way to build an effective defense is to understand and anticipate potential attacks. Anyone who is on the front lines defending against the enemy needs this book. It gives you the knowledge you need to render the most persistent enemy ineffectual.

Additional Resources:

Security Warrior
Cyrus Peikari and Anton Chuvakin
ISBN 0-596-00545-8, 531 pages, $44.95 US, $65.95 CA
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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