Reading for Security Pros: Schneier Or Sagan?

Reading for Security Pros: Schneier Or Sagan?

In one of the more famous episodes of the original "Star Trek" series - "The Trouble With Tribbles" - Capt. Kirk confines Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott to his personal quarters for getting into a bar fight.


* Lanier combines these two as one choice: "Neuromancer" (Gibson) and "Snow Crash" (Stephenson): "Neuromancer," what many might call a defining novel for the cyberpunk subculture, is a dystopic tale of where we're probably headed. "Snow Crash," on the other hand, is a semi-humorous tale much the same."

* "The Tao of Network Security Monitoring" (Bejtlich): "Though some of the choices of software are now *slightly* dated, the principles still apply -- and Bejtlich's NSM model is by-and-large a respected, effective means of intelligently monitoring the security posture and health of a given network: culling data from IDS alerts [signature or pattern matching], network flows and sessions, statistical data, etc. to get a holistic view of intrusions (and even extrusions!)."

For good measure, Lanier throws in two more that aren't really books, but "should be considered so," he says:

* "The Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual" (Herzog; ISECOM): "The OSSTMM is a thorough, well-structured guide for assessing the security of a given organization, including the network, systems, people, processes, and more. I've relied on it in the past with great success, and it's been well-received by my clients that I've got something against which they can audit my testing procedure."

* "OWASP Testing Guide": "Short of the OSSTMM, I can't think of another open guide that's as meticulous about hitting so many points during a security assessment. The OWASP Testing Guide is the definitive source for how to perform security testing against a web application. Period."

Security pro: Mari Kirby Nichols, IT security administrator at Portfolio Recovery Associates

* The Bible

* "War and Peace"

* Homer's "Odyssey"

* "The Complete Worse Case Scenario Survival Guide"

* "Lady Chatterly's Lover"

"Personally," Nichols says, "I would like the literature over the technical" if trapped on a desert island.

Security pro: Kevin Nixon, owner and senior principal at KMN LLC and security editor at

* "Multi-Service Field Manual 21-76-1 Survival Evasion and Recovery" (106 Pages) a step-by-step guide on how to survive in a hostile environment. "It's considered so important by the DOD that a copy of this book is always inside all branches of the military Aviator vests," Nixon says. "With Knowledge one can survive anything."

* "22 Radio and Receiver Projects for the Evil Genius" (264 Pages) by Thomas Petruzzellis, a book that explains how to cannibalize various electronic devices and reassemble them into a shortwave radio. Says Nixon: "I wouldn't choose to be stranded so I am making a logical and conditional cause for becoming stranded. Most likely some type of mechanical failure caused my stranding."

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