Review: "Cryptography: A Very Short Introduction,"

R. A. Hettinga rah at
Fri Jan 2 10:19:18 EST 2004


The Online Newspaper for Linux and Open Source

Linux Advisory Watch - January 2, 2004

2004.01.02 8:00



This week, advisories were released for xsok, cvs, and proftpd. The
distributors include Debian, Gentoo, and Mandrake.

One of the best parts of having a profession in information security and
IT, is the opportunity to continue learning. To survive, one must
constantly stay on top of changing technology. The problem with this is
that most of us do not have time to read books, journals, or simply conduct
adequate research on the Internet. We are constantly trying to extinguish
fires and only gather enough information to do a particular job.
Unfortunately, it seems there is never enough time to simply read a little
deeper, just to satisfy our own curiosities.

Being the new year, many of us have made new year's resolutions. For most
of us in IT, this involves learning something new. Perhaps you wish to
learn a new programming language, diagramming technique, or wish to build a
personal server for a particular function. Many of us have no trouble
making personal goals, but following through is a different story.
Something that has worked well for me in the past is starting small, and
trying to accomplish the smallest tasks first. This will give you the
feeling that progress is being made and the momentum will push you through
the larger tasks. For example, if you have seven books you wish to read
this year, read the smallest one first.
For those of you who wish to have a better understanding of cryptography in
2004, I have found the perfect book to get you started. It is,
"Cryptography: A Very Short Introduction," by Fred Piper and Sean Murphy.
This book was published by Oxford press in 2002. Rather than give specific
implementation examples, this book focuses on how several modern algorithms
work, uses of cryptography, and key management. This book will gives the
proper foundation of knowledge necessary to evaluate products and vendor
claims. Also, if you are planning a large crypto software development
project this year, this book is the perfect primer to other more specific
cryptography related books.

The book is only 142 pages long and can fit in a shirt pocket. It is well
written and easy to read. The book is filled with tables, charts, and
examples to explain the concepts. This book should be read by upper
management and all others down the chain. It could serve to demystify the
purpose and uses of cryptography in any organization.

The book can be easily found at for $9.95 USD.

Until next time, cheers!
Benjamin D. Thomas

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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