Friday, December 31, 2010

Best Book Bejtlich Read in 2010

It's the end of the year, which means it's time to name the winner of the Best Book Bejtlich Read award for 2010!

I've been reading and reviewing digital security books seriously since 2000. This is the fifth time I've formally announced a winner; see 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006.

Compared to 2009 (15 books), 2010 was a good reading year -- 31 technical or security books, or my fifth highest total since 2000. Incidentally I read a decent number of "security history" books, meaning characterizations of "the scene." Many covered the 1990s and are fairly old, but I had always wanted to read them.

My ratings for 2010 can be summarized as follows:

  • 5 stars: 14 books

  • 4 stars: 9 books

  • 3 stars: 5 books

  • 2 stars: 3 books

  • 1 stars: 0 books


Please remember that I try to avoid reading bad books. If I read a book and I give it a lower rating (generally 3 or less stars), it's because I had higher hopes.

Here's my overall ranking of the five star reviews; this means all of the following are excellent books.

  • 14, 13, and 12. The Dragon's Quantum Leap, Decoding the Virtual Dragon, and Dragon Bytes by Timothy L Thomas, Foreign Military Studies Office. Thomas examines Chinese information warfare like no one else. Enlightening and frightening.

  • 11. Intelligence, 4th Ed by Mark M. Lowenthal, CQ Press. Anyone interested in learning about the IC and how professional intelligence officers think and act will enjoy reading I4E.

  • 10. The Book of Xen by Chris Takemura, No Starch. This could easily have been a very dry technical book, but TBOX is entertaining from the start.

  • 9. IT Security Metrics by Lance Hayden, McGraw-Hill Osborne Media. If you want to introduce a comprehensive security metrics program in your environment, ISM will very skillfully offer one way to accomplish that goal. It's immensely practical and grounded in reality, and it will help you.

  • 8. The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage, Walker & Company. Being a history major, I find The Victorian Internet (TVI) to be an enlightening antidote to chronocentricity, and I recommend it to anyone trying to better understand modern times through the lens of history.

  • 7. The Hacker Crackdown by Bruce Sterling, Bantam. THC is one of my favorite books on hacker activity because it combines a narrative with the author's accounts of interactions with key individuals.

  • 6. The Cuckoo's Egg by Cliff Stoll, Gallery. I first read TCE 20 years ago when it was first published, but I was a high school student who couldn't appreciate the content. Now, as an IR team leader, I recognize that Cliff probably shares 25 IR lessons in the first 50 pages!

  • 5. Hacking Exposed Wireless, 2nd Ed by Johnny Cache, McGraw-Hill Osborne Media. HEW2 is the best book on wireless security available. If you want to understand wireless -- and not just 802.11, but also Bluetooth, ZigBee, and DECT -- HEW2 is the book for you.

  • 4. Wireshark Network Analysis by Laura Chappell, Laura Chappell University. Wireshark Network Analysis (WNA) is a very practical, thorough, comprehensive introduction to Wireshark, written in an engaging style and produced in a professional manner.

  • 3. Network Maintenance and Troubleshooting Guide, 2nd Ed by Neal Allen, Addison-Wesley Professional. NMATG brings a whole new dimension to network analysis, particularly at the lowest levels of the OSI model. I found topics covered in NMATG that were never discussed in other books.

  • 2. The Rootkit Arsenal by Bill Blunden, Jones & Bartlett Publishers. "Wow." That summarizes my review of "The Rootkit Arsenal" (TRA) by Bill Blunden. If you're a security person and you plan to read one seriously technical book this year, make it TRA. If you decide to really focus your attention, and try the examples in the book, you will be able to write Windows rootkits. Even without taking a hands-on approach, you will learn why you can't trust computers to defend themselves or report their condition in a trustworthy manner.


And, the winner of the Best Book Bejtlich Read in 2010 award is...

  • 1. Practical Lock Picking by Deviant Ollam, Syngress. My review said in part (emphasis added tonight):

    Practical Lock Picking (PLP) is an awesome book. I don't provide physical testing services, but as a security professional familiar with Deviant's reputation I was curious to read PLP. Not only is PLP an incredible resource, it should also serve as a model text for others who want to write a good book. First, although the book is less than 250 pages, it is very reasonably priced. Second, Deviant wastes NO space. There is no filler material, background found in other readily available texts, reprinted Web site content, etc. Third, the writing is exceptionally clear and methodical, with extreme attention to detail and a master's approach to educating the reader. Finally, the diagrams, pictures, and figures are superb.


The Army FMSO office led publishers with 3 books this year, while traditional media publisher McGraw-Hill Osborne Media followed with 2.

Congratulations again to Syngress, publisher of the last three Best Book Bejtlich Read winners!

Thank you to all publishers who sent me books in 2010. I have plenty more to read in 2011.

Congratulations to all the authors who wrote great books in 2010, and who are publishing titles in 2011!

3 comments:

Mike Young said...

Great list and I can't wait to pick up a couple of these. I have read The Cuckoo's Egg and it is a timeless classic. It should be on every InfoSec Pro's bookshelf!

Mike Young

Mike said...

I am glad to see that The Cuckoo's Egg made your list. It is a great read as well as a good book about security. I always put it on my recommended reading list for my Software Security students. One of big lessons I like to point out to my students from this book is that high tech isn't always required to catch a hacker. Thanks for bringing this book to the light of day again. Like you said, after 20 years, it is still a worthwhile read.

Deviant Ollam said...

Wow, man. I am stunned and pleased. I can't say how happy i am to see people really enjoying Practical Lock Picking.

Thanks for the great review and thanks so much for your continued interest in lockpicking and physical security fun!

- dev