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Computer Networking: Internet Protocols in Action Paperback – Jan 3 2005


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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Hands-on networking experience, without the lab!

The best way to learn about network protocols is to see them in action. But that doesn’t mean that you need a lab full of networking equipment. This revolutionary text and its accompanying CD give readers realistic hands-on experience working with network protocols, without requiring all the routers, switches, hubs, and PCs of an actual network.

Computer Networking: Internet Protocols in Action provides packet traces of real network activity on CD. Readers open the trace files using Ethereal, an open source network protocol analyzer, and follow the text to perform the exercises, gaining a thorough understanding of the material by seeing it in action.

Features

  • Practicality: Readers are able to learn by doing, without having to use actual networks. Instructors can add an active learning component to their course without the overhead of collecting the materials.
  • Flexibility: This approach has been used successfully with students at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Appropriate for courses regardless of whether the instructor uses a bottom-up or a top-down approach.
  • Completeness: The exercises take the reader from the basics of examining quiet and busy networks through application, transport, network, and link layers to the crucial issues of network security.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
If you use network software like web browsers or e-mail clients, then you know they require a network connection to work properly. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 13 reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
A phenomenal introduction to packet analysis for newbies Feb. 18 2005
By Richard Bejtlich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I eagerly anticipated reading Jeanna Matthews' 'Computer Networking: Internet Protocols in Action' (CN:IPIA). I am always looking for good networking books to recommend to people asking how to enter the digital security field. I am pleased to report that CN:IPIA is an excellent, hands-on, packet-oriented introduction to networking, suitable for all entry-level analysts. Even those with several years of experience may learn a trick or two, as I did.

The book is very logically organized. Section 1 is an introduction to using Ethereal to collect and inspect packets. I was unaware of Ethereal's ability to color packets based on user-specified 'color rules'. Section 1 also describes the various Ethereal panes and what they mean.

Section 2 starts the hands-on packet analysis work. The CD accompanying the book offers 30 MB of packet traces collected by the author. She uses these traces to expertly illustrate a variety of networking concepts. Section 2 introduces the top of the protocol stack by looking at application protocols. I learned about HTTP Last-Modified, If-Modified-Since, Cache-Control, and ETag headers.

Section 3 discusses transport layer protocols like TCP and UDP. I really liked the author's exposition on TCP Selective Acknowledgement (SACK), and I was glad to see she fully understood and explained TCP sequence numbers. I also finally grapsed the idea behind TCP time sequence graphs by reading this part.

Section 4 covered network layer protocols. After fairly standard material on DHCP, ping, and traceroute, I was surprised and pleased to read about routing protocols. Both interior protocols (RIP and OSPF) and an exterior protocol (BGP) made appearances. Better yet, analysts can examine traffic traces to understand how these protocols work.

Section 5 talked about link-level protocols (wired and wireless), and section 6 concludes the book with a few examples of security-related network events.

My few problems with CN:IPIA are overshadowed by the excellent material elsewhere. On p. 79 the author writes that a mail server involved in exchanging a message is the system which makes a DNS query. In fact, the trace shows it's the mail client, a laptop, making the query. Since the mail server in the example is also the sample network's DNS server, any query it makes would be answered by itself -- and wouldn't appear on the wire. On p. 109, in the second paragraph, the last two references to 'packet 7' should be 'packet 6'. I also think readers should have seen an example of active FTP to complement the book's discussion of passive FTP.

If you're looking to gain a packet-oriented understanding of networking, you must buy this book. It's a fast read, but I have not seen a better hands-on introduction to network traffic. Those wishing to learn packet analysis should start their journey with CN:IPIA, and spend plenty of time inspecting the traces on the book's CD.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Great Concept, Great Implementation. March 3 2005
By John Matlock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a great concept. We all read about networking protocols but here you get to see them in action and without a whole laboratory full of equipment. This book is based on a series of experiments that you can do yourself using a network protocol analyzer. Aaaaah, there's a buzzword, network protocol analyzer. This book is written around using Ethereal, a software network protocol analyzer that is included on the CD that comes with the book (but you may want to download the latest version - it's open source software and free).

So in this book you don't just read about network protocols, you analyze them yourself using this software package. You get to actually see what the various packages like your internet browser are actually sending and receiving. This is a great way to remove the mystery of what networks are actually doing.

At the end of the book there is some discussion and illustrations of ways networks get attacked. There's quite a bit of discussion and demonstration of what the Blaster worm does, including the network traces of its action.

Great Concept, Great Implementation.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Best value, practical introduction to networking July 23 2006
By J. Felipe Ortega Soto - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As Associate Professor with several years of experience teaching Computer Networking to undergraduate and graduate students, i think practical exercises are crucial for students to really understand this field.

Jeanna Matthews does a very good job introducing featured aspects of computer networks. The book follows a tipical top-down approach, which has proven to be the most reasonable option for practical networking (specially at the introductory level). Each chapter begins with a brief theoretic introduction (in the style of 'basic concepts about TCP', and then presents the rest of the practical topics in a 'learn by example practice' way.

Another great point is the CD included with all the network traffic traces you need to follow each example. The book also includes a brief introduction to Ethereal (now renamed as Wireshark).

Super-recommended to students and self-learning people that really want to understand TCP/IP in practice from the ground up. It is also useful as a guide for a lab-based computer networking course (introductory level), along with 'TCP/IP essentials' by Panwar (if you want to cover more advanced topics).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
What a Great Introduction... Nov. 2 2009
By Trav - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a small and very helpful book into learning the internet protocols...literally IN ACTION. There are some grammatical errors here and there, but obviously if you are smart enough you can still understand what she means. It is pretty harsh to base a review solely on some grammatical errors and then not say anything else about this book. This book is right-to-the-point with no overwhelming context on an author trying to proclaim how well they can sophisticate vocabulary. For a book that is less than 300 pages and ~$35 bucks, I didn't expect advanced features. If you google some of the context in the book, you can see how many universities and those alike use this to teach their classes. I think she did a great job for reaching those who need an entry level/beginners learning resource.

Having this book has really helped me to catch on quick! As one of the reviewers had stated, you should check out her website and see what the students are doing...it's actually really neat!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Gray-Haired Tiger June 25 2011
By zerolagtime - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm using this book for a class and the material is highly detailed, but concepts are introduced in bite-sized chunks to make it manageable. It isn't a quick read if you have never opened Wireshark, but once you're done with the book, Wireshark will be your friend, just like it's every network administrator's friend. This book is great for being able to spot the difference between a properly working network, one with a hardware problem, and one which is under attack. Spotting device misconfiguration issues is going to take device-specific expertise though as experience is the best teacher there.

I greatly appreciated the opportunity to explore routing protocols without having to set up my own test lab. I'm sure it wasn't easy to coordinate the packet traces with the text. While I am sure that there are mistakes in "book vs sample trace" examples, I believe that they constitute less than 1% of the examples.

Where the publisher needs to get with the program is that this book is getting pretty old at this point. Easy fruit that needs cleaned up includes expanding areas where protocols have advanced, especially with 802.11 (wifi) standards WPA2 and 802.11n. It's the curse of writing books like this, but if they are unwilling to provide updates, they need to quit charging US$40+ for the book.

Other topics I would like to see, since I don't usually get to examine them, include: broader coverage of other routing protocols, VLANs, trunking, port bonding, fragmentation, tunnelling, IPsec, QoS, NAT, and of course IPv6.

More tools can be used besides Wireshark for examining some of the extended topics, but I really liked using Wireshark for studying network communication. Having all of the equipment is a major distraction from looking at the raw packets and this approach is far easier since the prerequisities to successful studying are both cheaper and more straightforward.


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