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Beyond fear : thinking sensibly about…

Beyond fear : thinking sensibly about security in an uncertain world (2003)

by Bruce Schneier

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553828,992 (4.06)4
Many of us, especially since 9/11, have become personally concerned about issues of security, and this is no surprise. Security is near the top of government and corporate agendas around the globe. Security-related stories appear on the front page everyday. How well though, do any of us truly understand what achieving real security involves? In Beyond Fear, Bruce Schneier invites us to take a critical look at not just the threats to our security, but the ways in which we're encouraged to think about security by law enforcement agencies, businesses of all shapes and sizes, and our national governments and militaries. Schneier believes we all can and should be better security consumers, and that the trade-offs we make in the name of security - in terms of cash outlays, taxes, inconvenience, and diminished freedoms - should be part of an ongoing negotiation in our personal, professional, and civic lives, and the subject of an open and informed national discussion. With a well-deserved reputation for original and sometimes iconoclastic thought, Schneier has a lot to say that is provocative, counter-intuitive, and just plain good sense. He explains in detail, for example, why we need to design security systems that don't just work well, but fail well, and why secrecy on the part of government often undermines security. He also believes, for instance, that national ID cards are an exceptionally bad idea: technically unsound, and even destructive of security. And, contrary to a lot of current nay-sayers, he thinks online shopping is fundamentally safe, and that many of the new airline security measure (though by no means all) are actually quite effective. A skeptic of much that's promised by highly touted technologies like biometrics, Schneier is also a refreshingly positive, problem-solving force in the often self-dramatizing and fear-mongering world of security pundits. Schneier helps the reader to understand the issues at stake, and how to best come to one's own conclusions, including the vast infrastructure we already have in place, and the vaster systems--some useful, others useless or worse--that we're being asked to submit to and pay for. Bruce Schneier is the author of seven books, including Applied Cryptography (which Wired called "the one book the National Security Agency wanted never to be published") and Secrets and Lies (described in Fortune as "startlingly lively...¦[a] jewel box of little surprises you can actually use."). He is also Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Counterpane Internet Security, Inc., and publishes Crypto-Gram, one of the most widely read newsletters in the field of online security.… (more)
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» See also 4 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Had this on the shelf for years, but never picked it up until recently as it's a pretty hefty book. A quick skim showed it was quite readable though - pages flick by quickly. Schneier sets out a logical approach to thinking about all the stuff which worries us, in an attempt to think "beyond fear", and turn defence into something we understand better.

The first couple of chapters and the last are the interesting bits, setting out a rough guide to thinking about risk, and ending with a more philosophical approach to what we can achieve at a societal level. The main chunk of the book is a crash course in security and risk - lots of quick running through all the different aspects of it, and sentence after sentence of quick-fire examples.

I didn't learn anything new, but that depends on what you already think about, I guess. Also, obviously dated by a lot of references to 9/11, but the approach to terrorism is still valid today. What I did learn was that you can be logical and rational about the world, rather than overly emotional and worried about it. Which is the point of the book, really.

Worth a look if you're really interested in defending yourself against threats. Probably 3.5 stars, but upping to 4 as it deserves it simply for comprehensiveness. ( )
  6loss | Nov 7, 2019 |
out of date, not all that helpful, but some interesting asides ( )
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
out of date, not all that helpful, but some interesting asides ( )
  BakuDreamer | Sep 7, 2013 |
His usual excellence sense.
  mulliner | Oct 17, 2009 |
I highly recommend the book for the reason that a lot of people are starting off from a basis of little knowledge about security. For such readers, it’ll be eye-opening and informative. Schneier is a good writer. He knows how to explain security to the non-security conscious. He doesn’t get bogged down in technical jargon. He uses easy to understand examples with which people will be familiar. He explains things in digestible pieces.

(Full review at my blog) ( )
  KingRat | Jun 17, 2008 |
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To My Parents
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In the wake of 9/11, many of us want to reinvent our ideas about security.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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