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Practical UNIX and Internet Security Simon Garfinkel, Gene Spafford and Alan Schwartz
Published by O'Reilly and Associates
ISBN:0-596-00323-4
984 pages
£ 38.95
Published: 7th March 2003
reviewed by Sarah Loyd
   in the June 2003 issue (pdf), (html)
bookcover  

There are some books which deserve to be in the libraries of everyone who works with UNIX or computer networks, the first and second edition of ``Practical UNIX and Internet Security'' by Simon Garfinkel and Gene Spafford are such books.

February saw the release of the third edition of this book and the addition of a third author Alan Schwartz. Maintaining the same size as the previous edition (just under 1000 pages) it's an imposing book to dive into.

The size of the book shouldn't put you off though; the book is packed with well written and accessible information for everyone from the total beginner to the expert.

It contains sections on fundamental security questions, ``UNIX history and lineage'', ``Policies and Guidelines'', ``User Passwords and Authentication'', ``Users Groups and the Superuser'', ``Filesystems and Security'', ``Cryptography Basics'', ``Physical Security for Servers'', ``Personnel Security'', ``Modems and Dialup Security'', ``TCP/IP Networks'', ``Securing TCP and UDP Services'', ``Sun RPC'', ``Network-Based Authentication Systems'', ``Network Filesystems'', ``Secure Programming Techniques'', ``Keeping up to date'', ``Backups'', ``Defending Accounts'', ``Integrity Management'', ``Auditing, Logging and Forensics'', ``Discovering a Break-in'', ``Protecting against Programmed Threats'', ``Denial of Service Attacks and Solutions'', ``Computer Crime'' and ``Who do you trust''.

Each section provides comprehensive guidance and solutions in the subject area. Plenty of links and additional reading suggestions are provided for the person who wants to delve deeper or expand their knowledge beyond what is provided.

The section on logging is excellent and nicely explains the occasional syslog entry sysadmins see on the lines of ``Captain there are Klingons on the starboard bow''.

Is the book perfect? No, I would have liked to see a chapter on Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) such as ``Snort'' and lighter weight options such as ``Portsentry''. A chapter on VPNs such as ``FreeSwan'' and ``PPTPD'' would also be a valuable addition.

If you don't have a copy of the book I would strongly recommend getting one. If you have one of the earlier editions there is sufficient new and revised material to justify getting the new version for your ``better half''. A well read copy should stand proudly on the bookshelf of every Systems Admin, UNIX Geek and network manager.

If my house caught fire and I had only time to save one computer security book, this would be the one I would carry out of the flames.

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