Every day, the news media give more and more visibility to the effects of computer security on our daily lives. For example, on a single day in June 2002, the Washington Post included three important articles about security. On the front page, one article described the possibility that a terrorist group was plotting to—and actually could—invade computer systems and destroy huge dams, disable the power grid, or wreak havoc with the air traffic control system. A second article, also on the front page, considered the potential loss of personal privacy as governments and commercial establishments begin to combine and correlate data in computer-maintained databases. Further back, a third article discussed yet another software flaw that could have widespread effect. Thus, computer security is no longer relegated to esoteric discussions of what might happen; it is instead a hot news topic, prominently featured in newspapers, magazines, radio talk shows, and documentary television programs. The audience is no longer just the technical community; it is ordinary people, who feel the effects of pervasive computing.
In just a few years the world's public has learned the terms "virus," "worm," and "Trojan horse" and now appreciates the concepts of "unauthorized access," "sabotage," and "denial of service." During this same time, the number of computer users has increased dramatically; with those new users have come new uses: electronic stock trading, sharing of medical records, and remote control of sensitive equipment, to name just three. It should be no surprise that threats to security in computing have increased along with the users and uses.Why Read This Book?
Are your data or programs at risk? If you answer "yes" to any of the following questions, you have a potential security risk.
Almost every computer user today meets at least one of these conditions, and so you, and almost every other computer user, are at risk of some harmful computer security event. Risk does not mean you should stop using computers. You are at risk of being hit by a falling meteorite or of being robbed by a thief on the street, but you do not hide in a fortified underground bunker all day. You learn what puts you at risk and how to control it. Controlling a risk is not the same as eliminating it; you simply want to bring it to a tolerable level.
How do you control the risk of computer security?
This book is intended for the study of computer security. Many of you want to study this topic: college and university students, computing professionals, managers, and users of all kinds of computer-based systems. All want to know the same thing: how to control the risk of computer security. But you may differ in how much information you need about particular topics: Some want a broad survey, whereas others want to focus on particular topics, such as networks or program development.
This book should provide the breadth and depth that most readers want. The book is organized by general area of computing, so that readers with particular interests can find information easily. The chapters of this book progress in an orderly manner, from general security concerns to the particular needs of specialized applications, and finally to overarching management and legal issues. Thus, the book covers five key areas of interest:
These areas are not equal in size; for example, more than half the book is devoted to code because so much of the risk is at least partly caused by program code that executes on computers.
The first chapter introduces the concepts and basic vocabulary of computer security. The second chapter provides an understanding of what encryption is and how it can be used or misused. Just as a driver's manual does not address how to design or build a car, Chapter 2 is for users of encryption, not designers of new encryption schemes. Chapters 3 through 7 cover successively larger pieces of software: individual programs, operating systems, complex applications like database management systems, and finally networks, which are distributed complex systems. Chapter 8 discusses managing and administering security, and finding an acceptable balance between threats and controls. Chapter 9 covers the way society at large addresses computer security, through its laws and ethical systems and through its concern for privacy. Finally, Chapter 10 returns to cryptography, this time to look at the details of the encryption algorithms themselves.
Within that organization, you can move about, picking and choosing topics of particular interest. Everyone should read Chapter 1 to build a vocabulary and a foundation. It is wise to read Chapter 2 because cryptography appears in so many different control techniques. Although there is a general progression from small programs to large and complex networks, you can in fact read Chapters 3 through 7 out of sequence or pick topics of greatest interest. Chapters 8 and 9 may be just right for the professional looking for nontechnical controls to complement the technical ones of the earlier chapters. These chapters may also be important for the computer science student who wants to look beyond a narrow view of bytes and protocols. Chapter 10 is for people who want to understand some of the underlying mathematics and logic of cryptography.
What background should you have to appreciate this book? The only assumption is an understanding of programming and computer systems. Someone who is an advanced undergraduate or graduate student in computer science certainly has that background, as does a professional designer or developer of computer systems. A user who wants to understand more about how programs work can learn from this book, too; we provide the necessary background on concepts of operating systems or networks, for example, before we address the related security concerns.
This book can be used as a textbook in a one- or two-semester course in computer security. The book functions equally well as a reference for a computer professional or as a supplement to an intensive training course. And the index and extensive bibliography make it useful as a handbook to explain significant topics and point to key articles in the literature. The book has been used in classes throughout the world; instructors often design one-semester courses that focus on topics of particular interest to students or that relate well to the rest of a curriculum.What Is New in This Book?This is the third edition of Security in Computing, first published in 1989. Since then, the specific threats, vulnerabilities, and controls have changed, even though many of the basic notions have remained the same.The two changes most obvious to people familiar with the previous editions are networks and encryption. Networking has evolved even since the second edition was published, and there are many new concepts to master, such as distributed denial-of-service attacks or scripted vulnerability probing. As a consequence, the networks chapter is almost entirely new. Previous editions of this book presented encryption details in the same chapter as encryption uses. Although encryption is a fundamental tool in computer security, in this edition the what is presented straightforwardly in Chapter 2, while the how is reserved for the later Chapter 10. This structure lets readers get to the technical uses of encryption in programs and networks more quickly.There are numerous other additions, of which these are the most significant ones:
In addition to these major changes, there are numerous small corrective and clarifying ones, ranging from wording changes to subtle notational changes for pedagogic reasons to replacement, deletion, rearrangement, and expansion of sections.
I used this for an intro-level graduate class in computer security, and I thought Pfleeger's presentation was great. Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2003
Except for the cryptography section, this book was of no use to me. At school, this is the required class text but our professor told us to forget about it and go buy Hacking... Read morePublished on Sept. 16 2000 by S. Cason
The book covers a lot of the computer security field. You should have some mathematical background that is not very well explained at the beginning of the book, otherwise it is... Read morePublished on Aug. 9 1999