http://unixreview.com/articles/2001/0108/0108l/0108l.htm Real World Linux Security: Intrusion Prevention, Detection, and Recovery by Bob Toxen Prentice Hall, 2001 ISBN: 0130281875 $44.99 Review by Ben Rothke [Read an exceprt from this book. http://unixreview.com/articles/books/book25/rwls_ch10.pdf ] A poll taken in July 2001 for Network World ( www.nwfusion.com/you2001/concerns/concerns.html ) asked 100 network executives what their biggest technology concerns were in 2001. It turns out that their biggest concern was "making sure the network is hackerproof." Ill ignore for now the fact that there is no such word as hackerproof; Ill take license and substitute the term bulletproof, which dictionary.com informally defines as impervious to assault, damage, or failure; guaranteed. With that, can network security and commercial off-the-shelf operating systems ever be impervious to assault, damage, or failure? Not even the largest seller of security snake oil would say yes to such a statement. Information security adversaries are already at the gate, posing legitimate threats; it is not a question of if networks will be attacked, but when. It is within this framework that Bob Toxen presents Real World Linux Security, a superb overview of how to comprehensively secure a Linux system. Toxen is one of the original developers of Berkeley Unix, and his book is full of interesting historical tidbits from the computer science halls of UC Berkeley in the early 1970s. When it comes to Unix security, Toxens mantra is certainly "been there, done that." Toxen is one of a very few writers who can write in the first person about developing operating systems while dropping names such as Bill Joy and Ken Thompson. Although it comprises nearly 700 pages, Real World Linux Security is light on filler and bursting with important information on how to secure a Linux host. In reference to space filler, other books often have about a third of their content made up of screen prints and source code listing. Toxen's book fortunately does not use that route and instead directs readers to either a Web site or the companion CD-ROM for source code. The book is useful for all flavors of Linux, yet nearly all of the topics can be applied to other operating systems as well, because the threats are basically the same -- only the common line usage changes. At page 25 -- where many other security books would still be addressing abstract ideas about computer security -- Real World Linux Security deals with Linuxs "Seven Most Deadly Sins." Some of them are: weak passwords, old software versions, open network ports, and poor physical security. Just a few of the other critical security topics covered in the book are: common break-ins by subsystem, establishing security policies, hardening your system, and scanning your system for anomalies. While much of the book is akin to "Linux Security 101," advanced topics and defenses are also covered. The wide-ranging topics of the book include not only Linux host security, but also what to do when an intrusion has occurred. Part 4 of the book is "Recovering From an Intrusion." The knee-jerk response of many systems administrators is to power down a system in the event of an intrusion. However, in reality, that is often the worst thing to do. Powering-down a system makes digital forensics much more difficult. A methodical and planned approach to intrusions is required, and the book details the appropriate steps to use. The book comes with a CD that has a lot of useful programs and custom-written scripts. The CD-ROM includes most of the popular security tools including, nmap, crack, tcpdump, snort, and more. Although most of the software is freeware and available on the Internet, having all of the tools on a single CD-ROM is a timesaver. The only complaint I have about the book is the use of skulls for the danger level. One skull indicates a minor effect or risk, while five skulls means the risk is too dangerous. It is often hard to discern whether the skulls refer to the topic just mentioned, or the subsequent one. While many of the threats and vulnerabilities in the book indeed have five skulls, Real World Linux Security deserves five stars. It is an excellent reference about Linux security -- a topic that, while timely, does not always get the respect it deserves. Ben Rothke is a New York-city based Senior Security Analyst with Camelot Information Technologies. He can be reached at: brothkeat_private - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Sep 04 2001 - 05:07:16 PDT