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Book Review: Everyday Cryptography 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes "When Bruce Schneier first published Applied Cryptography in 1994, it was a watershed event, given that is was one of the first comprehensive texts on the topic that existed outside of the military. In the nearly 20 years since the book came out, a lot has changed in the world of encryption and cryptography. A number of books have been written to fill that gap and Everyday Cryptography: Fundamental Principles and Applications is one of them. While the title may give the impression that this is an introductory text; that is not the case. Author Keith Martin is the director of the information security group at Royal Holloway, a division of the University of London, and the book is meant for information security professionals in addition to being used as a main reference for a principles of cryptography course. The book is also a great reference for those studying for the CISSP exam." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
Everyday Cryptography: Fundamental Principles and Applications
author Keith M. Martin
pages 592
publisher Oxford University Press
rating 9/10
reviewer Ben Rothke
ISBN 978-0199695591
summary Excellent fundamental text on essentials of cryptography
While the book notes that almost no prior knowledge of mathematics is required since the book deliberately avoids the details of the mathematical techniques underpinning cryptographic mechanisms. That might be a bit of a misnomer as the book does get into the mathematics of cryptography. While the mathematics in the book is not overwhelming, they are certainly not underwhelming. For those that want a deeper look, the book includes an appendix for many of the mathematical concepts detailed in the book.

Two benefits of the book are that it stresses practical aspects of cryptography and real-world scenarios. The mathematics detailed avoids number throaty with a focus on practicability. It also shows how cryptography is used as the underlying technology behind information security, rather than simply focusing on the abstracts of the potential of cryptography.

With that, the books 13 (made up of 4 parts) chapters provide a comprehensive overview of the theory and practice around all as aspects of contemporary cryptography. Each of the chapters end with a summary, detailed lists of items for further reading, and sets of penetration questions that challenge the reader. Readers are advised to spend time on these questions as it is often easy for the reader to feel that they understand the material. The questions can quickly humble the reader and show them that it may not be the case.

Part 1 is titled Setting the Scene and provides a comprehensive introduction to the fundamental of cryptography. Chapter 1 (freely available here) details the basic principles about cryptography and provides a high-level introduction.

Chapter 2 provides a good overview of the history of cryptography. It details a number of obsolete, yet historically relevant ciphers, such as the Vigenère cipher from the 1500's, to the Playfair cipher from the mid-1800's and others. Martin provides a good overview of the cryptanalysis of the Vigenère cipher and lessons learned from it.

Chapters 4-9 comprise part 2, and provide a thorough overview of the various forms of encryption (symmetric and asymmetric) and digital signatures. This section gets into some of the deeper mathematics of cryptography. While the author states that almost no prior knowledge of mathematics is needed; those without a background will surely be confused by some of the material.

Chapter 7 closes with a good overview of the relationship between digital signatures and handwritten signatures. The author notes the importance of resisting any temptation to consider digital signatures as a direct electronic equivalent of handwritten signatures. He then provides a detailed outline of the environmental, security, practical and flexibility differences between them.

Key management is one of the most important aspects of cryptography and often the most difficult to execute on. Part of the difficulty around key management is at the user level, with key updates, passphrase management and more. Ultimately, effective key management is essential to the underlying security of the crypto system. The 2 chapters in part 3 provide a thorough synopsis of the fundamentals of key management.

Part 4 closes the book with two chapters on practical cryptographic applications. Chapter 12 details how cryptography can be used on the internet, secure payment cards, video broadcasting and more.

The book concludes with an appendix on the mathematics of cryptography, which takes a look at the basic mathematical concepts the underlie some of the material in the book.

This book is not for the fainthearted and is not an introductory text on the topic. It is meant for the advanced reader or someone taking a college level course. For such a reader serious about a significant overview of the essentials on the topic, Everyday Cryptography: Fundamental Principles and Applications is an excellent reference.

Ben Rothke is the author of Computer Security: 20 Things Every Employee Should Know.

You can purchase Everyday Cryptography: Fundamental Principles and Applications from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Book Review: Everyday Cryptography

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    While the book notes that almost no prior knowledge of mathematics is required since the book deliberately avoids the details of the mathematical techniques underpinning cryptographic mechanisms. That might be a bit of a misnomer as the book does get into the mathematics of cryptography

    While the review makes no claim as to the reviewer's grasp of the English language. That might be a blatantly obvious conclusion as it is nigh unreadable.

    • I guess it's true; everyone's a critic.
    • by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday October 15, 2012 @03:09PM (#41661583)

      Seriously, this review reads like something I might have written in middle school. All the sentences are short and factual with abrupt endings and poor transitions, composed into overly short paragraphs. It's more like the outline notes for a review than a review itself. In fact, I think it might be, since there isn't any actual "review" at all, just a list of "he says x at point y."

      And I'm not even going to touch the "number throaty" he appears to be glad the author avoided.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      While the book notes that almost no prior knowledge of mathematics is required since the book deliberately avoids the details of the mathematical techniques underpinning cryptographic mechanisms. That might be a bit of a misnomer as the book does get into the mathematics of cryptography

      While the review makes no claim as to the reviewer's grasp of the English language. That might be a blatantly obvious conclusion as it is nigh unreadable.

      No he's just demonstrating how something can be encrypted without mathematics

  • What the frack does that even mean?

    • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Monday October 15, 2012 @02:47PM (#41661277)

      It means he should have gotten a third party to help proof his review.

      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        It means he should have gotten a third party to help proof his review.

        Ben Rothke is the author of Computer Security: 20 Things Every Employee Should Know.

        You would think he would know one or two...

        • by localman57 (1340533) on Monday October 15, 2012 @03:12PM (#41661635)
          The Amazon reviews are a bit of a riot:

          One can read this book in a short time, and I think doing so is a good idea for those of us who use computers, especially at work. ”

          This is a great book to give to every corporate user who quickly needs to come up to seeped on what they need to do.

          • OMG. Undoing moderation in this thread to post more gems from those reviews:

            5.0 out of 5 stars. A *must* for Iall computer users! ... Companies should be buying this book by the boxload. It will save them a world of aggravation.

            If a company wishes to survive in the current environment where predators of all types are everywhere, then they must protect their assets. It only takes one mistake to open the protective dikes and let a person with malicious intent to gain access to important company information ..

    • My best guess is he meant "number theory" and made a typo that got spell corrected about as badly as it could be.
    • by Stavr0 (35032)

      Motormouthing?
      Verbiage?

      In any case, 'some strange usage of the word "throaty" that I wasn't previously aware of'.

    • theory...... you know MS Word always confuses theory and throaty :)
    • by N Monkey (313423)

      The mathematics avoids number throaty??

      What the frack does that even mean?

      It means that the mathematics isn't too deep. 8P

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Some examples of "Everyday Cryptography":

    C24ECA6EBF46867514A111761CC08 - compare at $3.88!

    E589967E4C2CCFA1888AD29C16CB - compare at $4.77!

    1904ECB28EF98C7FB11715226452E - compare at $2.93!

    F7B098C3998C58B36D9ABE8DB653 - compare at $4.13!

    8C9721A45F3FB355DCB56F2EED86 - compare at $6.32!

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday October 15, 2012 @03:48PM (#41662137)

    Message: bka mtn lke lwp hga me

    Key: pfrbeoxqasthnmlyjkigdwcvzu

  • A very good teacher (Score:5, Informative)

    by mattpalmer1086 (707360) on Monday October 15, 2012 @06:58PM (#41664271)

    I haven't read the book, but I studied cryptography under Professor Keith Martin at RHUL. He was never anything but encouraging of my attempts to design cryptographic protocols. On one occasion I was trying to invent a new symmetric key exchange protocol, reducing the trust required in the trusted third party. He gave me some good pointers, but did observe that the protocol required in the assignment was, by definition, supposed to be a *trusted* third party protocol. Nevertheless, he allowed me to work some of the ideas out a bit more. It was a lot of fun (but a terrible protocol!).

    Anyway, I must get a copy of this book. It it's anything at all like his teaching it will be money well spent.

  • I'd also recommend Introduction to Modern Cryptography [amazon.com], for those interested in the subject. I've had to use it for a class, and though cryptography is pretty complex (at least for me, anyway), this book does a great job at presenting the material.

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