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JILT 1998 (2) - Alistair Kelman (2)

Dorothy E. Denning and Peter J. Denning's

Internet Besieged -

Countering Cyberspace Scofflaws

Addison-Wesley, 1998, £24.95
535pp, ISBN: 0-201-30820-7

Reviewed by
Alistair Kelman
LSE Computer Security Research Centre

This is a collection of thirty essays covering a variety of aspects of information security written well known American commentators. The 1998 publication date on this book is slightly misleading since some of the essays contained within it date back to 1992. The majority of the papers date from 1996. But this should not seriously deter the reader since the many of the articles are likely to become the foundation texts of the industry and stand the test of time and distance.

The first of the book's five sections covers the background of the Internet from a security perspective. The second focuses on the weaknesses of Internet-connected computer systems and shows how criminals exploit them. Part 3, details the cryptographic methods available to help secure systems, while the fourth section explores the particular challenges of electronic commerce. The final section looks at the larger and non- technical issues of Internet practices, laws, and policies.

The first section is a well balanced picture of the Internet as it stands today . The best parts are the overview chapters by Peter Denning 'The Internet After Thirty Years' and Dorothy E. Denning 'Cyberspace Attacks and Countermeasures' The second section on Internet Security is less interesting as too many of the papers are unnecessarily technical -better analysis can of the problem can be found in some computer science text books. The book is strongest, naturally given its main authors, in the cryptographic section - although I still prefer Bruce Schneier's 'Applied Cryptography' for an overview of the subject. The electronic commerce section is completely out of date - a great deal has happened in the two years since it was written. But the final section has three interesting papers by Dorothy E. Denning 'Encryption Policy and Market Trends' (which should be required reading for anyone wishing to take issue with the DTI's proposals on encryption and key escrow and a couple of nice essays by Bruce Sterling on legal and ethical issues.

This is a good book to dip into to get ideas on computer security. The bibliographies are thorough and the tone, in the main, is light but authoritative.

This is a Book Review published on 30 June 1998.

Citation: Kelman A, 'Dorothy E. Denning and Peter J. Denning's, Internet Besieged - Countering Cyberspace Scofflaws', Book Review, 1998 (2) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT). <>. New citation as at 1/1/04: <>

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