REVIEW: "A Practical Guide to Managing Information Security", Steve Purser

From: Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Trevor (
Date: 10/11/04

Date: Mon, 11 Oct 2004 17:18:11 GMT


"A Practical Guide to Managing Information Security", Steve Purser,
2004, 1-58053-702-2, C$120.50
%A Steve Purser
%C 685 Canton St., Norwood, MA 02062
%D 2004
%G 1-58053-702-2
%I Artech House/Horizon
%O C$120.50 800-225-9977 fax: 617-769-6334
%P 259 p.
%T "A Practical Guide to Managing Information Security"

After years of reviewing security books there were a number of red
warning flags in the preface: the perception that a book was needed to
address the "entire" subject of security, an insistence on a
"pragmatic" and management oriented approach, and the use of a
"fictitious but realistic case study" to support the arguments in the
work. The final omen came in the author's bio on the back cover: he's
a banker.

Chapter one is a vague statement that the information technology world
is getting riskier, but states outright the irresponsible notion that
it is better to provide a less secure product to customers as long as
that reduces your "time to market." This is backed up by a great deal
of waffling managementspeak that boils down to the idea that we have
to learn to work faster *and* cheaper *and* better *and* smarter. The
footnotes and references intended to demonstrate that this is a
scholarly and researched effort are, instead, a grab bag of varying
origin and quality, indicating that the author isn't really familiar
with security literature, and used whatever he happened to read. A
few security information sources and generic advice on planning is in
chapter two. The taxonomy of technical tools, in chapter three,
contains no entries for accounting, application development,
operations, physical security, assurance, or business continuity, thus
indicating the enormous gaps in this work. The artificial structure
imposed on the list works against an integrated view of the tools:
Purser obviously doesn't understand intrusion detection divisions, or
that host-based and net-based systems both provide details--but of
differing views.

In chapter four, Purser obviously thinks that he is giving us new
insight into security assessment, when all that is really being
delivered is a generic project planning cycle. Similarly, chapter
five deals with business and threat analysis. A vague review of
policy documents is in chapter six. Chapter seven takes on that
wonderful buzzphrase, "process re-engineering," having almost nothing
to do with security at all. A planning cycle comes up again when
chapter eight supposedly looks at security architecture. Chapter nine
covers security training, in an overly formal way.

This book adds almost nothing to the existing security literature,
except for a lot of management directed verbiage.

copyright Robert M. Slade, 2004 BKPGTMIS.RVW 20040514

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