The Windows Security Resource Kit is a wonderful wealth of information on securing Windows networks and operating systems. It is useful for anyone above the beginner level. It concentrates on using features of primarily Windows 2000 and XP to maximize security for various levels of needs. It is not about building a bastion host or configuring firewalls.
It is not a "cookbook" like too many training manuals are these days and is not full of fluff - it covers a lot of territory in it's 680 pages and is not geared for technogeeks, but is clearly written and understandable to the average Joe and Jane [except page 349]. The first two chapters put you in the security "mindset" - Key Principles of Security [including the Ten Immutable Laws of Security] and Understanding Your Enemy. I think that is very important, because security needs to be approached from an attitude about what you are up against and how only one vulnerability can sink your boat.
The next twenty three chapters are logically divided into security topics that can later be accessed easily as needed for reference purposes. Each chapter ends with best pratices recap and references to other books or Knowledge Base articles.
I thought the "meat" of the book was thorough, interesting, and accurate. Finally I have one place to go for an explaination of what ALL the user rights, security options, and services are. There is an excellent chapter on securing tcp/ip with specific recommendations on registry modifications to defend against a denial of service attack and even a .vbs script on the cdrom to implement them all. An equally excellent chapter on auditing including comprehensive tables explaining Event Ids and Event ID 681 failure codes. I finally know what the difference is between auditing account log on and log on events. Chapter 10 goes into great detail about ALL of the various settings in the Web Content Zones for Internet Explorer and how to configure them for your needs. Cookie/Privacy settings are also explained in detail. Chapter 7 includes specific recommendations on ntfs security settings for every folder in a new installation and a security template to implement them. I was impressed with Chapter 21 in that it shows you how to secure an IIS 5.0 server without having to be an IIS expert. Chapters 22 and 23 nicely explain patch management, Windows Update, using Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer tool, and using SUS for patch management on a large scale basis. The chapter on remote access and vpn explains the differences in pptp and l2tp and when to use each. Other chapters cover securing Terminal Services, authentication - various settings for Lan Manager authentication level, managing security templates/Security Configuration and Analysis tool, wireless networking/WEP, EFS [ten pages of crucial info], ipsec, Certificate Services, Group Policy, Active Directory [I now know how to use dsacls to reset object permissions to default], securing laptops [very informative], permissions, account/password policies, and managing users. Chapter 24 covers using security assessment tools including how to port scan and a extensive chart of common Windows ports and what applications use them.
Part VI of the book breaks away from Windows specific configurations and is called Planning and Performing Security Assessments and Incident Responses. It discusses vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, and security audits. This part is also extremely informative to those of us who are not trained in what to do after an incident - what to do when an intrusion is detected, who to inform , and most importantly how to preserve data in the event of criminal prosecution or to reconstruct the attack. The last chapter goes into privacy issues that one needs to know as how far can one go in gathering information from a legal standpoint.
Windows Security Resource kit is a very valuable resource in my opinion to anyone interested in securing a Windows computer or network. The writing style is very understandable and you do not have to read the whole book for it to make sense if only certain topics are of interest. It does not however go into too much detail on importance of virus/trojan protection or perimiter/firewall security but there are whole other books written on those topics. The included cdrom has many tools from the Resource Kit and the book itself. I also highly recommend it to anyone studying for their MCSE and consider it a "must have" for anyone planning to take any of the MCSE security exams or pursue the MCSE Security certification. Kudos to Microsoft Press for this one.