REVIEW: "Open Source Security Tools", Tony Howlett

From: Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Trevor (
Date: 01/28/05

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    BKOPSOST.RVW 20041203

    "Open Source Security Tools", Tony Howlett, 2005, 0-321-19443-8,
    %A Tony Howlett
    %C One Lake St., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
    %D 2005
    %G 0-321-19443-8
    %I Prentice Hall
    %O U$49.99/C$71.99 +1-201-236-7139 fax: +1-201-236-7131
    %O tl a rl 2 tc 3 ta 3 tv 2 wq 2
    %P 578 p. + CD-ROM
    %T "Open Source Security Tools"

    The tools listed in this book are for network security, almost without
    exception. The preface states that the book is intended primarily for
    systems administrators, although security professionals may find
    useful information as well. Howlett makes an effort to include items
    that have Windows versions, although only about a third do. He has
    also included tutorial materials on detailed aspects of the TCP/IP
    protocols that have a bearing on the operation of security software.

    Chapter one outlines the open source concept, starting with a fairly
    idealized scenario, but continuing with some history, advantages (and
    disadvantages), and a brief look at two of the major open source
    licences. The nominal topic of chapter two is operating systems, and
    so it is rather odd that most of the tools described are network
    utilities. However, the descriptions are better than are given in
    most reviews of software tools, and the details are clear for all who
    may read them. While chapter three does provide a quick overview of
    TCP/IP and filtering, it does not cover the full range of firewall
    types. The programs listed are comprehensively described in terms of
    installation and administration commands. Port scanning is covered in
    chapter four, and, again, while the programs are explained well, other
    details, such as the services that would need to be turned off to
    reduce the danger of open ports, are not. Much the same can be said
    about the discussion of vulnerability scanners, in chapter five.

    Chapter six looks at the most widely used network sniffers. The
    concepts behind, and examples of, both network- and host-based
    intrusion detection systems are given in chapter seven. Logging and
    audit data can accumulate quickly and overwhelm the administrator, so
    chapter eight reviews some common tools to present, analyse, and
    manage the information. Chapter nine lists a variety of encryption
    tools. Wireless tools, primarily for finding networks, are given in
    chapter ten. Forensic tools are examined in chapter eleven, but there
    may not be a sufficient distinction made between the network and data
    recovery tools. Chapter twelve finishes off with some more general
    discussion about open source software, and where to find it.

    There are some helpful appendices: well-known TCP/IP port numbers, and
    a large list of plug-ins for Nessus.

    The tutorial material could have had more depth and care, but there is
    no denying the value of the compilation (particularly with all the
    software included on the CD).

    copyright Robert M. Slade, 2004 BKOPSOST.RVW 20041203

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