apcmag.com: article

Wednesday, 23 November, 2005

Book review: SPIES AMONG US
Thursday 25, August 2005 | By David Emberton

A US spook says you can easily stop security attacks if you just wake up to yourself.

Spies Among Us asserts that 99% of successful security attacks are preventable. Author Ira Winkler tests and breaks security for a living, having gotten his start in undercover work with the US National Security Agency. He claims that today’s victims are often too caught up with media-hyped boogie men to see who or what is really harming them.

The book promises to help us protect ourselves from the world’s “super spies”, as well as the burglar next door. Typical recommendations of installing spyware and virus detection are given, but the advice goes far beyond locking down a PC -- all information is valuable, whether it’s stored on a computer or not, and yours is there for the taking.

A cover shot of the book, 'Spies Among Us' Winkler doesn’t propose to eliminate all security threats. Rather, he gives measured suggestions about assessing risk, deciding the value of what’s likely to be stolen at any given time and then setting security expenditure accordingly. The ideas work on an individual and company level, although the focus of Spies Among Us is decidedly corporate.

The book comes in three parts. In the first, Winkler pimps his experience in the world of espionage to explain how spying works. The second part features Winkler on safari, stealing nuclear power plans and other fancy items from his rich clients. The third and final section gets down to the details of creating and implementing a security program, in broad but shallow detail.

Probably the weakest aspect of Spies Among Us is the theme of post-911 “terror hype.” The publisher had asked that this be de-emphasised for fear of dating the rest of the material, but apparently the author didn’t listen. However, if you can endure the occasional rant against popular culture, Winkler’s information and stories of true spying are well worth the cover price and a few quiet evenings.

Local Price: $42.95
Publisher: Wiley
ISBN: 0-7645-8468-5
Rating: 4


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