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Open Source Security Tools: Practical Guide to Security Applications, A Paperback – Jul 29 2004

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 11 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The High Value of FREE / Open Source Security Tools March 3 2005
By shuumai - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book provides a good overview of security tools. It could help readers get started by explaining security concepts and stepping the reader through installation of useful tools. (The book includes a CD containing the utilities covered in the text.) It doesn't however, give good coverage to interpreting the results of scans and monitoring.

About 1/4 to 1/3 of the book is wasted on appendices of readily available information. GPL and BSD licenses, well-known port numbers, and a huge list of Nessus plug-ins. The space might have been better utilized by providing coverage of virus scanners or even common application alternatives that are more resistant to attack. On the positive side, the information is there so you won't need to look for it on the Web.

I like the fact that the book covers utilities for both Linux and Windows. And the fact that the utilities are free and Open Source, of course. Just using one of the utilities covered in the book would save you many times the cost of the book.

I learned a few new tricks from this book even though I was already familiar with many of the utilities and concepts.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding Survey of Open Source Security Tools Dec 31 2004
By Bookreader1000 - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent resource to help readers understand what open source tools are available to address every dimension of securing a computing infrastructure.

What I liked best about this book is that it did not assume an already-existing base of knowledge in the reader. Other books present information that assumes the reader already understands the topic, and therefor only needs the details of how to use the tool being discussed. Howlett's book provides a graduated discussion of every area, enabling a beginner to start from scratch and an experienced reader to glean the important details.

Also outstanding about this book is the fact that it covers pretty much all the areas of security an admin will need to address. If you work through this book, you can be pretty sure that you've covered all your bases.

Because of that, the book is like a survey, rather than an exhaustive discussion of any one area. However, the author always provides pointers to other places the reader can go for deeper material. I think this is a great way to organize material and really enjoyed the book because of it.

Overall, this is a great contribution to a critical area of computing.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Good for Beginner to Intermediate System Admins Dec 20 2004
By Atillla Ozgur - Published on
Format: Paperback
I consider myself a developer rather than system admin. But I enjoyed and learned quite a bit. I read this book in one 7 hours bus journey. It is very good on introducing new topics. It teaches you how to use programs and give recommandations.

I think my money is well spent.

Think it, this way. When you start to learn something new, you are bombarded with a lot of buzzwords and jargon. This book will teach you most of this buzzwords and you will learn quite a lot in reading this book. A internet search about tools will bring you more similar tools and new learning points.

As I said in the title, this books is about beginners. If you are a expert, I do not think you will gain a lot from this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Top down and bottoms up views Aug. 15 2004
By W Boudville - Published on
Format: Paperback
Howlett spans both the unix/linux and Microsoft worlds in his offering of free, open source security programs. There really is a surprising amount of reliable, free packages out there, for you to bolt down your network. He shows this at the book's start, with a simple but very convenient table of tools, like Ethereal, finger, OpenSSH, PGP, Snort and traceroute. Many others are also listed. Several are available on both operating systems. Here, I consider all the unix/linux OSs as one, and likewise with Microsoft.

The book can be regarded as a buildout of the table. Explaining each tool's best usage, with examples and screen captures. But Howlett offers more than just an encyclopaediac reference approach to the tools. That's more of a bottoms-up outlook. The book has a top-down view that starts with high level topics like firewalls and network sniffers and suggests how to understand the salient points. And thence use some tools optimised for these.

In passing, when he talks about why a cracker might want to break into your system, even if you have nothing in it worthwhile to her, he understates the danger. If you have a machine with a broadband connection, then a cracker has an economic incentive to take it over. She can use it to transmit spam (especially the phishing variety) to other, larger networks. Because open relays are getting closed up, to prevent spam, then some spammers are resorting to creating their own open relays, in this fashion. Howlett describes her using your system for DDOS attacks. But spam injection is actually a better reason, inasmuch as she can make money from this. Of course, this scarcely invalidates his text. If anything, it increases the need for it.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Solid guide to security for the systems administrator Aug. 16 2004
By Jack D. Herrington - Published on
Format: Paperback
This thick security tome is a practical guide to security that seems ideally suited to systems administrators. There is a brief introduction to general security issues, then eleven chapters that cover tools and techniques. These include packet sniffing, data encryption, wireless security. An overall soup to nuts guide to practical security.

This book doesn't go from computer science theory and architecture, it starts with descriptions of the problems very close to the metal (often times showing packet layouts), and then covers point by point use of open source software to fix the holes.

The text is well written, if a little stiff, and the graphic are not overused but are not as sparse as O'Reilly. I recommend this book for Systems Administrators looking for a step by step guide to using open source security tools.