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UnixReview.com: Hacking Linux Exposed: Linux Security Secrets & Solutions

Jun 02, 2001, 21:15 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Joe Brockmeier)

Gripes with the title aside ('hacking' used to refer 'cracking'), this review says "Hacking Linux Exposed" is a good overall beginner's guide to Linux security, offering useful tips on securing essential services and shutting down the non-essentials, and much more.

"I have one big gripe with this book: the misuse of the term "hacker." For people who should know better to use the term "hacker" when describing those who attack systems is very disappointing. The proper term is "cracker," which may seem like nitpicking, but to many people, it's like calling an arsonist a "fireman." I've learned to tolerate this mistake and not grit my teeth when it is made by marketing folks or reporters who don't usually cover computer stories--but from security experts, I expect better.

However, overall, I like this book. It's a great beginner's book to Linux security, and doesn't assume that you have a mastery of the system. The book does have some flaws that keep it from being a great book, which I imagine are due to the fast pace of technical publishing and the fact that it's a product of a team of authors instead one or two authors. Other than the hacker faux pas, I also noticed a number of small errors throughout the book. For instance, in the discussion of package managers for Linux, they refer to "TuxTops" as a distribution. This isn't critical, but it is sloppy. (For those who aren't familiar, TuxTops was a company that manufactured Linux laptops, and also made a go at customizing distros for laptops. They don't, however, make a distinct Linux distro.)

On the plus side, I'm glad to see a book that discusses Linux security without glossing over the basics or assuming that everyone in the world knows what a buffer overflow is. Sure, if you've been using Linux for a while, you already know how to turn off services and install packages, and if you follow security, you've heard of buffer overflows. However, the Linux community is growing at a rapid pace with newbies who want to learn. This book will be of great help to them, despite its small flaws."

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