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No Tech Hacking by Johnny Long Book Review

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LSOChris

Post Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:25 pm

No Tech Hacking by Johnny Long Book Review

Solid advice on securing the human vulnerability

4 stars

Johnny Long has a great knack for taking what should be common sense observations on human vulnerabilities and making them unique, entertaining, and most importantly actionable. The book really seems to be a book to go along with his numerous "No Tech Hacking" talks he has given at several security conferences. If you want an example check out the 2007 Shmoocon Archives: http://shmoocon.org/2007/presentations.html

Here are the chapters:

Dumpster Diving
Tailgating
Shoulder Surfing
Physical Security
Social Engineering with Jack Wiles
Google Hacking
P2P Hacking
People Watching
Kiosks
Vehicle Surveillance
Badge Surveillance
Epilogue

All of the chapters are pretty good, I particularly liked the Physical Security, P2P Hacking, and Kiosks (even though it was a short chapter). Again, a lot of what he talks about is common sense and taken from his talks he gives a security conferences. But it comes from a guy that gets paid to break into buildings for a living so you can trust the advice and situations to be pretty close to reality.

Things I liked about the book:
-The Physical Security section talks about defeating different types of locks and security systems. It was good relevant content with good advice on how to fix it. The Kiosk chapter talks a little bit about breaking out of Kiosks and information you can gather. Using P2P to look for sensitive documents is a good idea as well. Really all the chapters had valuable information in them. In plain words he sums up relevant and dangerous security issues that target the human element of security.
-The large font and lots of pictures make the book a quick read. I also like that there were pictures to go along with all the points he was trying to make. His "arrest me face" on page 95 is the best.
-The book is pretty much without typos and editing issues which says a lot for a syngress book.
-The book is useful for both technicians and managers, I feel like i can give the book to both the techies and management and have them both get something out of it.

Some things I didn't like about the book:
-The book has a slight condescending tone. I think this is the author's attempt to be funny, and in person I think he could have pulled it off. But in print it really comes across as a "you are dumb, so dumb I have to write a book about hacking you without technology to show you how dumb you are." It doesn't make the book "bad" its just annoying at times.
-The tailgating section (page 24) slams a person for wearing their badge INSIDE and says she is not security conscious. Why would you NOT where your badge inside? On one hand he complains about people not challenging him because of his fake badge or lack of a badge and then he says that wearing a badge inside is an opportunity for someone who sneaks in to take pictures of it, well guess what, they are already inside, there are other bigger issues now. In my opinion, badge on inside=good, badge on outside at lunch=bad.
-The book suffers a bit from the "Everything must be secure... damn the functionality" problem that a lot of security researchers and hard core security proposals suffer from. What I mean by all that is sometimes security people lose sight of why things are they way they are or the fact that changing the way things are done would hinder actually getting work done. The best example I can come up with from the book is his discussion of DoD decals on cars (in the vehicle surveillance chapter) and how they give away too much information. While not arguing his point on giving away information, I'd like to see his proposal for a better solution to access control on DoD bases. I'd also argue that oil change stickers showing where I got my oil changed (that may give you some information on where I live or work) are far less dangerous than that person just following me to home or work now that they have me and my car associated with one another.
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slimjim100

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EH-Net Columnist
EH-Net Columnist

Posts: 385

Joined: Wed Nov 08, 2006 12:50 pm

Location: Atlanta

Post Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:39 pm

Re: No Tech Hacking by Johnny Long Book Review

Nice review Chris!  Thanks for always taking time to give us strait talk on the books you review. I am sure you have saved a lot of us some cash on books that might not live up to there covers.

Regards,

Brian
CISSP, CCSE, CCNA, CCAI, Network+, Security+, JNCIA, & MCP
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LSOChris

Post Sat Mar 15, 2008 6:44 am

Re: No Tech Hacking by Johnny Long Book Review

cool thanks brian.  its not totally philanthropic though, vowing to review them is about the only way i can make myself finish them :-)

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