Essential Computer Security

This review is by Al Lukaszewski and appears here with his permission.

This is probably the easiest book review I have ever written. If you rely on computers for any aspect of your life, you owe it to yourself to read and re-read this recent book by Tony Bradley. The book's subtitle is "Everyone's Guide to E-Mail, Internet, and Wireless Security" and it delivers in each of these respects and more. The author lays a good groundwork for understanding computer security from the general user's perspective and in the common person's language. If you are a network administrator who needs to help hapless users grok computer security, this book will prove to be a treasure trove of good advice for them.

Al's Rating: yesyesyesyesyes

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If you have ever wished that your company's IT staff had more time to help you understand why you should not open email from people you do not know or how an IP address relates to the DNS, this book is for you. If you have ever wanted a personal network security consultant always on-call to explain the workings of daily network security issues, this book will meet that need at a fraction of a percentage of the cost.

The author sketches the general framework of a both wired and wireless networks. He then discusses in detail the risks associated with each application that uses those networks -- email, web browser, etc. In each case, his explanations are well-worded such that, by the end of any section, the reader feels like they grok the philosophy of security and has always known what the author just taught them. He does not obfuscate the content of the book in unexplained acronyms and unnecessary details but keeps his task of empowering the average user always in view.

Aside from covering the basics of network dynamics and applications used by the average internet user, the book offers two other boons for small and medium business users. For those who are unsure what a computer firewall is and how to deploy one effectively, the author offers an in-depth discussion of the subject via a case study. In addition, for those who are frustrated with Windows security lapses, another chapter offers a comprehensive discussion of alternatives to Windows applications and offers counsel on how to migrate to Linux.

Unlike other books, the author does not talk down to the reader but shares his extensive knowledge as a co-labourer in the reader's efforts. I wish I could have given this book to users when I worked for a major university -- but then I would have been out of a job! Simply put, this is one of the best computer security books for users that I have seen for several years.

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