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Crimeware: Understanding New Attacks and Defenses

***** Crimeware: Understanding New Attacks and Defenses. By Markus Jakobsson and Zulfikar Ramzan. Published by Addison-Wesley/Symantec Press, (Web); 582 pages; $54.99.

Authors Markus Jakobsson and Zulfikar Ramzan have assembled a group of highly qualified contributors to create an excellent work on the growing number of cyber threats faced by corporate America, the government, and private individuals alike.

We learn that having a firewall, antivirus software, and an intrusion detection system is no guarantee of safety from attack; that 25 percent of passwords can be discerned through a brute-force dictionary attack; and how just visiting a Web site can be harmful. We learn how botnets are created to bring down entire networks; how keyloggers steal passwords; and how our credit card numbers, bank account information and personal identities are stolen, then sold as commodities in the Internet underground.

Each chapter of Crimeware stands on its own, so a reader interested only in rootkits, phishing attacks, botnets, or trusted computing need only read the pertinent section. Each chapter details not only threats but also their countermeasures. References are plentiful, pointing readers to such varied sources as articles, conference papers, court cases, proceedings, consumer reports, studies, and Web sites.

The authors explain the nature of technical threats and describe how hackers have evolved from mischievous geeks with too much time on their hands to professional criminals who have learned that, with a little technical knowledge, software tools, and some deceit, they can make considerable money on the Internet.

Noticeably absent is discussion of the enormous threat posed by China with its cyber divisions, intrusions into government computers, and its theft of U.S. military data. Unfortunately the book has no glossary, but the 25-page index is helpful in discerning the meanings of unfamiliar words.

Crimeware is a must-read for those involved in cyber security, counterintelligence, national security, and the protection of information, and it is highly recommended to anyone interested in enhancing his or her own protection.

Reviewer: G. Ernest Govea, CPP, is security director of government security and facility security officer for Parsons in Pasadena, California. He has been responsible for the protection of classified information for 33 years with the military and the defense sector. He is a Vietnam veteran and a member of ASIS International.