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Malicious Cryptography: Exposing Cryptovirology [Paperback]

Adam Young , Moti Yung
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 27 2004
Hackers have uncovered the dark side of cryptography—that device developed to defeat Trojan horses, viruses, password theft, and other cyber-crime. It’s called cryptovirology, the art of turning the very methods designed to protect your data into a means of subverting it. In this fascinating, disturbing volume, the experts who first identified cryptovirology show you exactly what you’re up against and how to fight back.

They will take you inside the brilliant and devious mind of a hacker—as much an addict as the vacant-eyed denizen of the crackhouse—so you can feel the rush and recognize your opponent’s power. Then, they will arm you for the counterattack.

This book reads like a futuristic fantasy, but be assured, the threat is ominously real. Vigilance is essential, now.

  • Understand the mechanics of computationally secure information stealing
  • Learn how non-zero sum Game Theory is used to develop survivable malware
  • Discover how hackers use public key cryptography to mount extortion attacks
  • Recognize and combat the danger of kleptographic attacks on smart-card devices
  • Build a strong arsenal against a cryptovirology attack

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Review

“The authors of this book explain these issues and how to fight against them.” (Computer Law & Security Report, 1st September 2004)

From the Back Cover

"Tomorrow’s hackers may ransack the cryptographer’s toolkit for their own nefarious needs. From this chilling perspective, the authors make a solid scientific contribution, and tell a good story too."
–Matthew Franklin, PhD Program Chair, Crypto 2004

WHAT IF HACKERS CONTROL THE WEAPONS USED TO FIGHT THEM?

Hackers have unleashed the dark side of cryptography–that device developed to defeat Trojan horses, viruses, password theft, and other cybercrime. It’s called cryptovirology, the art of turning the very methods designed to protect your data into a means of subverting it. In this fascinating, disturbing volume, the experts who first identified cryptovirology show you exactly what you’re up against and how to fight back.

They will take you inside the brilliant and devious mind of a hacker–as much an addict as the vacant-eyed denizen of the crackhouse–so you can feel the rush and recognize your opponent’s power. Then, they will arm you for the counterattack.

Cryptovirology seems like a futuristic fantasy, but be assured, the threat is ominous ly real. If you want to protect your data, your identity, and yourself, vigilance is essential–now.

  • Understand the mechanics of computationally secure information stealing
  • Learn how non-zero sum Game Theory is used to develop survivable malware
  • Discover how hackers use public key cryptography to mount extortion attacks
  • Recognize and combat the danger of kleptographic attacks on smart-card devices
  • Build a strong arsenal against a cryptovirology attack

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
There is no way to describe the feeling of approaching a computer system to download the data that your Trojan horse has been collecting for days. Read the first page
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Concordance
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent May 30 2004
Format:Paperback
Bypassing computer security systems has sometimes been called an art rather than a science by those who typically do not interact with computing machines at a level that would allow them to appreciate the science behind security attacks. This book does not address the strategies of how to bypass security systems, but instead concentrates on how to use cryptographic methods to corrupt the machines once access has been acquired. Clearly the authors are very excited about the developments in cryptovirology, a relatively young field, that have taken place in the last five years. Their goal though is not to train hackers to break into systems, but rather to coach the reader on how to find vulnerabilities in these systems and then repair them. The subject of cryptovirology is fascinating, especially in the mathematics that is uses, and a thorough knowledge of its power will be required for meeting the challenges of twenty-first century network computing.
After a "motivational chapter" that it meant to shed insight on what it is like to be a hacker, this being done through a collection of short stories, the authors move on to giving a general overview of the field of cryptovirology in chapter 2. The reader gets his first dose of zero-knowledge interactive proofs (ZKIPs), which allow a prover to convince a verifier of a fact without revealing to it why the fact is true. The authors point out that viruses are vulnerable once found, since their rudimentary programming can be then studied and understood. This motivates the introduction of public key cryptography into the payload of the virus, and it is at this point that the field of cryptovirology is born.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Heaven's dark side May 14 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
For some time now we have been taught that modern cryptography offers an elegant solution to a number of problems. Communicate securely? use a VPN; identify the author of a document? use a digital signature; securely encrypt e-mail? use PKI. But what if the very power behind these solutions can itself be [misinterpreted]? If such is the case, then encryption can be a curse, a digital signature an illusion and the heralded savior an unconquerable nemesis. This is the essence of what this book is about.
To be sure this is not easy reading. It is adult material, meaning that thinking is required. But it could not be otherwise, the material would not allow it. However the reader will be well rewarded for every morsel of math they endeavor to puzzle through. The realization of the potential dark side of modern cryptography is the first step in preparing to defend against it. This book provides that realization.
The reader may find the first few chapters to be an entertaining fictional account of some days in the life of a hacker. Indeed, the text reads beautifully as such. But here is a chilling thought - what if the events described were real?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Virus writing for academic cryptographers March 31 2004
Format:Paperback
This book presents an initial, interesting idea - could a computer virus be written that attacks a computer by encrypting the user's data? This could be a tool for extortion or a unique Denial of Service attack. Now this is not a new idea (eg: the KOH virus) but there is a new twist - the data is encoded with an asymmetric cipher, thus rendering it unrecoverable except to the virus writer. The authors state that such a virus has indeed been trialled in a proof-of-concept form. There is some detailed high level discussion of techniques and pitfalls. The authors then go on to describe how contemporary cryptographic technology may be adapted to the theft of information such as secure data and passwords. This is all done at the level of mathematical relationships - there is no viral code.
Two new words are added to the language - cryptovirology (the study of computer viruses with a cryptographic payload, usually malicious) and kleptography (the application of cryptography to data theft).
Here are a few chapter or section headings to give a taste of the themes running through this work: Through Hackers's Eyes; Cryptovirology; Deniable Password Snatching; Using Viruses to Steal Information; Computationally Secure Information Stealing; The Nature of Trojan Horses; Subliminal Channels.
The book starts with an accessible piece of fiction, but quickly progresses to the opaque style common to much academic writing in this field. The reader is well advised to brush up on matrix algebra, Jacobians and Abelian and non-Abelian groups and to have a working knowledge of computer viruses (however obtained). There are appendices intended to provide brief tutorials on computer viruses and public key cryptography.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Enough with the "Neuromancer", already... March 27 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The whole first chapter of this book is a piece of low-grade Gibsonesque cyber-punk. The only thing missing is a reference to an Ono-Sendai "Samurai VII" cyber-deck. (This chapter is especially amusing, since the author makes references to "loading TSR programs." MS-DOS ???) Why are the authors killing trees with that kind of garbage in a book on malware technology?
The rest of the book is fairly informative, although it seems to be padded with a lot of supporting information about things like good vs. bad random number generators. People who have enough background to understand the threats the authors are describing probably don't need a refresher course in algorithms. People who DON'T have enough background probably won't be helped by the cursory treatment of these subjects given in the book.
All that being said, this is probably worth reading if you can get it for half off retail.
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