Author: Andy Oram, John Viega
Aimed at: The general reader
Pros: Enjoyable read that highlights security
Cons: No real practical details
Reviewed by: Harry Fairhead
Beautiful security is a collection of essays aimed at - well that's reallyt the problem. If you are a security expert then you probably wont want to go over the basics. If you are a security beginner then you wont get too much from the book other than an orientation to security topics. More sepecifically if you are a programmer or a practical implementor of security you wont find anything much that helps in your task. The book is a good and enjoyable read however. The case studies are especially entertaining and you can find out how to steal peoples credit card details by setting up a low cost public WiFi connection and an account of how PGP - Pretty Good Privacy - was invented by Phil Zimmerman.
A number of contributions are also on what you might call management or administration topics - security metrics, the economics of security breaches, the problems of ecommece and making people security aware. There is a lot of waffly pschology and management topics that are important but not really technological in their content. Many of the essays could easily have been written before computers became an issue with a few changes in terminology - security is an age old problem and confidence tricksters use the same psycological approaches irrespective of the current technology.
If you want to a book of general readings on the problems, phillosophy and some case histories of computer security then this is for you - and its an easy and enjoyable read. If you want the nitty gritty technological hack explained then you need a different book.