Book Review - Know Your Enemy: Learning About Security Threats

by Ron Powell

Title: Know Your Enemy: Learning About Security Threats

Authors: The Honeynet Project


ISBN: 0-321-16646-9

A honeypot is the term used for a single computer placed on the Internet for the sole purpose of being compromised. A Honeynet, the subject of this book, essentially is a honeypot writ large. Instead of deploying a single computer to attract the more nefarious elements of computing society, you deploy several computers--an entire network of computers--whose sole purpose is to entice someone into attacking and compromising your systems. The end result of this exercise is to learn more about what kind of attacks you will see "in the wild" and how to defend against them.

The authors of Know Your Enemy: Learning About Security Threats have done a spectacular job of covering both the deployment of a honeynet and the analysis of captured data. One of the book's major strengths is providing an extraordinary amount of examples, sample code and advice on deployment and data analysis. I especially liked that the book uses real data from actual attacks to educate the reader. The authors cover Windows and Linux/UNIX environments, and they are specific about which tools to use and why those are the recommended tools.

This book even brings attention to the legal considerations of running a honeynet, which is a subject that needs serious attention. Perhaps the most entertaining chapter of the book is Chapter 16, "Profiling", essentially a psychological profile of black hat hackers. Hacker, however, is not the proper term to use for someone who illegally attacks and/or gains access to computer systems, and Chapter 16 offers a thorough explanation of proper terminology.

Although I didn't have the resources to test most of the code, examples and advice offered in this book, I believe it is remarkably thorough. The CD-ROM included with the book contains the tools the authors use throughout the text, as well as some sample data with which the reader can interact.

I absolutely would put this book at the top of the reading list for anyone about to deploy a honeynet. It might be a little too advanced for someone without a basic understanding of what a honeypot or honeynet is, but the book provides a wealth of information and is an excellent reference for anyone thinking about planning and deploying a honeynet.

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