Secrets & Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World (Review)

Book explains risks and strategies for protecting digital information

  • Kathleen Doler
  • Electronic Business
  • October 2000

Rarely does an author start out telling you about the mistakes he made in his previous book. But that’s exactly what Bruce Schneier does in Secrets & Lies: Digital Security In A Networked World.

Schneier is chief technology officer and co-founder of Counterpane Internet Security Inc., San Jose, CA. He also is the author of Applied Cryptography (John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1994), which he says mistakenly stated that cryptography, based on logical mathematics, was the great technological equalizer that could provide individuals and businesses with data security. At the beginning of Secrets & Lies, Schneier says that he was naive because he didn’t acknowledge that real-world security involves computers and people and that “computers are ornery” and “people are erratic, capricious and barely comprehensible.” He then states that the complex interconnections of any real-world system make foolproof security impossible. He writes “No system is perfect; no technology is The Answer.”

Then the book goes into great detail describing digital security threats attacks and as well as security technologies and how to develop complete security systems that despite their imperfections can reduce the chances of your digital information being stolen or misused It’s compelling reading, which he spices up with humor and historical tidbits about all kinds of security breaches.

Schneier is obviously an expert in cryptography and computer security, but this knowledge is both a blessing and a problem. For managers, Secrets & Lies is the equivalent of a textbook for a year-long course on computer security, but because of his insider knowledge of the topic Schneier sometimes has trouble explaining complex security technologies in an easily understandable manner.

Nonetheless, any executive studying up on digital security would do well to take the time to work through this book.

Categories: Secrets & Lies, Text

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.