September 2003
Copernicus Books
296 Pages

ISBN: 0-387-02620-7

ISBN: 1-475-78119-9

Beyond Fear

Thinking Sensibly about Security in an Uncertain World

A book by Bruce Schneier

Talking about security can lead to anxiety, panic, and dread… or cool assessments, common sense and practical planning.

Over the last two years we’ve become obsessed with security, and put in place a whole host of policies and procedures that will do… exactly what? In his latest book, Beyond Fear, security expert Bruce Schneier explains how security really works. The key is to think of security not in absolutes, but in terms of sensible trade-offs, whether on a personal or global scale. Schneier’s practical approach to problem-solving is a refreshing antidote to today’s doomsday pessimism and anxiety. With the technical know-how and common sense that have made him one of the world’s top security experts, Schneier shows how we can move beyond fear to start thinking sensibly and creatively about security.

“He is one of the world’s leading experts on computer security, and arguably the most articulate.”

—The Economist

“…intriguing and thought-provoking…”


“…unquestionably the world’s foremost security technologist….”

—Connections, Canadian Information Processing Society

“Bruce is the first person I call when I need to understand a hard security question.”

—Elinor Abreu, Reuters

Praise for Beyond Fear

“Schneier is a rare creature… Although he made his name as an alpha geek in cryptography… [he] can also speak to laypeople about the general security matters that increasingly touch all of our lives.”

—Business Week

“The questions in this book are not Left, or Right—they are important. Schneier avoids the politics to get to a truth. This extraordinarily clear and powerful analysis by the leading thinker in security of our time gives everyone—from policymakers to citizens—a way of understanding, and resolving, one of the most important issues facing society today.”

—Lawrence Lessig, Stanford Law School

“Once again Schneier proves that he is the one of few people who indeed understands security, and what is more important and more difficult, can explain complex concepts to people not specializing in security. Whatever your trade and whatever your background, go ahead and read it …”


“With a combination of funny yet pointed anecdotes, clear statistics and the occasional Harry Potter reference, Schneier uses his talent for cogent, rational explanation to show how people can think about security in the modern world, instead of simply panicking at every ominous news report.”


“What are we getting in exchange for the liberties that the authorities have taken away from us in the name of security? This is possibly the most important question of this decade, and that makes Schneier’s book one of the most important texts of the decade. This should be required reading for every American….”


More Praise for Beyond Fear

From the Book Cover

Does arming pilots make flying safer?

Will computerized voting machines make election results more accurate?

Is online shopping with credit cards especially risky?

Will a national ID card better protect us from terrorism?

If you read the newspapers or listen to the pundits you might answer “yes” to these questions, but the truth will surprise you. Security expert Bruce Schneier has spent his entire career figuring out how security actually works, and he explains it all in this entertaining and readable book. Beyond Fear goes beyond the hype, and explains how we all can think sensibly about security. In today’s uncertain world, security is too important to be left to others. Drawing from his experience advising world business and political leaders, Schneier demonstrates the practical—and surprisingly simple—steps we can all take to address the real threats faced by our families, our communities, and our nation.

Security is not mysterious, Bruce Schneier tells us, and contrary to popular belief, it is not hard. What is hard is separating the hype from what really matters. You already make security choices every day of your life, from what side of the street you walk on to whether you park your car under a streetlight. You do it naturally. This book guides you, step by step, through the process of making all your security choices just as natural.

Schneier invites us all to move beyond fear and to start thinking sensibly about security. He tells us why security is much more than cameras, guards, and photo IDs, and why expensive gadgets and technological cure-alls often obscure the real security issues. Using anecdotes from history, science, sports, movies, and the evening news, Beyond Fear explains basic rules of thought and action that anyone can understand and, most important of all, anyone can use. The benefits of Schneier’s non-alarmist, common-sense approach to analyzing security will be immediate. You’ll have more confidence about the security decisions you make, and new insights into security decisions that others make on your behalf. Whether your goal is to enhance security at home, at the office, and on the road, or to participate more knowledgeably and confidently in the current debates about security in our communities and the nation at large, this book will change the way you think about security for the rest of your life.

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.