Quick Look: Cryptography for the Masses
Clear explanations for the security non-expert
- By Roberta Bragg
This book begins with a rather simplistic explanation of why we need
security and how operating systems work (fortunately I don't start most
books at the beginning; if I had I might have pitched it). But then it
continues with lucid descriptions of symmetric-key cryptography and its
management, public key cryptography, the x.509 standard, digital signatures
(both explanation and legal implications), application, network and transport
security protocols (including IPSec), and hardware solutions (tokens,
smart cards, biometrics) . It ends with relatively useless, brief sections
on attacks and security standards.
Pro: Easy to read, clear, explanations
of modern cryptographic terminology and practices.
Con: Not enough on biometrics and other hardware based
solutions; simplistic explanations of some areas.
Verdict: IT staff without much background will find
this an easy ramp up.
The value of this book is that is clearly describes complex topics so
that anyone can understand them. If you already understand these topics,
and don't need to ever explain them to someone else, then this book is
not for you. Otherwise, use it to get up to speed on cryptography, fill
gaps in your knowledge, or as an answer to the fiftieth request for an
explanation, in layman's terms, of a cryptographic algorithm.
Roberta Bragg, MCSE: Security, CISSP, Security+, and Microsoft MVP is a Redmond contributing editor and the owner of Have Computer Will Travel Inc., an independent firm specializing in information security and operating systems. She's series editor for Osborne/McGraw-Hill's Hardening series, books that instruct you on how to secure your networks before you are hacked, and author of the first book in the series, Hardening Windows Systems.