|High-Tech Crimes Revealed|
|summary||Cyberwar Stories from the Digital Front|
The book is a collection of high-tech investigations performed by Branigan in cooperation with the police force and sometimes the Feds. Generally Branigan would be involved in forensic research of the evidence and be on the scene as the "computer expert" that cops would refer to when dealing with cybercrime.
Twelve chapters take us through some of the high-tech crimes that the Western world faces today. An attack on the telephone network (unauthorized access to the switches), backdoors left at the former employer, hacking into university networks and the well-publicized identity theft are all covered in the book. Branigan brings up anecdotal evidence from his own career, describes some of his cases in great detail, and provides advice for practitioners in the forensics field.
The author is a Linux/Unix/BSD guru, and he shares his methods for retrieving telltale data from the equipment that the criminals leave behind. He also talks about the generic problems that law enforcement faces when investigating a high-tech crime - how do you obtain a warrant, what's a proper way to conduct searches, how do you work with the confiscated computer so that all the data is left intact?
However, don't expect some secrets to pop-up in regards to data collection - Branigan uses commonly available Linux tools like grep for searching the suspect's hard drive for needed data. More often that not, the investigator, it turns out, depends on his experience, not the book knowledge - one has to recognize the network sniffer log when they see it, and be capable of recognizing the tools freely downloadable from security sites.
Thus it's not surprising that there are some chapters in the book dedicated purely to the author's experience in the field. He describes working with the hackers who have been arrested, discusses how rootkits are spread around, discusses the motivation behind the network attacks (it's not always money, to say the least), describes the structure of a hacking ring and their potential revenues and also talks about ways to unravel the networks. His motto? No crime is too small, and sometimes things so little as missing the rent can lead to more discoveries and tie-ins into bigger crimes.
If you're thinking about becoming a security consultant, a law enforcement officer or just a sysadmin with better than average knowledge of security, this book is an interesting read. It's not a textbook, nor it is technical by nature. It reads more like a detective story, except the stories are real, the culprits are real and so are the victims. One can read the book on two levels - as a forensics tutorial (however, don't expect extended technical tutorials and tools overview) or as an autobiography of a cop, who had to deal with high-tech crimes all his life. If you liked Art of Deception or Hacking: The Art of Exploitation , this title would be a perfect complement.
Chapter 3, If Only He Had Paid the Rent, is available online from Addison-Wesley.
Alex enjoys reading programming, technology and business tech books in his spare time. He also keeps a list of free books available on the Internet for tech readers on a budget. You can purchase High-Tech Crimes Revealed from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, carefully read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.