Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cybercrime and Espionage, by John Pirc and Will Gragido

Cybercrime and Espionage: An Analysis of Subversive Multivector Threats, by John Pirc and Will Gragido

If there is one word to describe this book it would be "thorough." It begins with a discussion of the philosophy of crime itself ("Criminal behavior is neither new nor is it something to be taken lightly."), moves into a description of the various forms of defense, and lists the players on both sides of the network defense battle before starting to discuss cybercrime in earnest. The title isn't exactly misleading, but there is certainly more background subject matter than I'd expected.

There is an especially good description of the silos of security; the expected network, desktop, and server defenses but also badge readers, cameras, motion sensors, and the people that guard and maintain all the above. Along the way there are several asides describing actual cases of security breaches, such as Bradley Manning leaking Army secrets to WikiLeaks and Robert Hanssen selling intelligence to the Soviets. I would have preferred sidebars that were more on topic with actual hacker exploits and cyber threats but the point that the weakest point of any secure installation is usually the humans maintaining it is very well taken.

For a book with such attention to detail, the publisher did the authors a huge disservice with the amateur nature of the included pictures and graphics. Many are blurry to the point of being unreadable, even simple organizational charts. It would be a great irony if this was a result of the source material being hacked, but sadly I expect this is simply shoddy page setting and inconsistent editing.

This review sounds a bit negative, but that isn't my intent. This is a very worthwhile book and I walked away with a much clearer picture of the current security landscape. Gene Roddenberry would be saddened with the concept that "technological progress and advancement do not blot the darker aspects of humanity," but the evidence presented is quite convincing. Cybercrime and Espionage is a solid introduction to the ever changing threats we face in our modern world.

First Sentence:
The Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero (b. 106 B.C.-d. 43 B.C.) when speaking on the nature of criminality, once said that "The enemy is within the gates; it is with our own luxury, our own folly, our own criminality that we have to contend."

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