A Reading List
Computer security is not merely a technical field. Knowing about
people, and about societies, guides the application of the technical
material. During this class we'll often refer to an eclectic
collection of books that teach lessons we can apply to computer
security. Here's a list of those books, and some others you might
find fun. Please let us know if you know of other books we should
add (especially non-technical ones)!
- Saul Alinsky, Reveille for Radicals, Vintage Books
The classic analysis of organization for social improvement. Many
of the techniques Alinsky discusses can be adapted to attacking
systems--or defending them.
- Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, Vintage Books
How the Have-Nots can organize to change society. Like Alinsky's
other book, the rules are applicable to computer security.
- James Bamford, The Puzzle Palace, Viking Press
A book on the history of the NSA.
- Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man, Vintage Books
The struggle between the killer Ben Reich, the 24th century's
richest man, and Lincoln Powell, the police prefect with ESP, is
like a cat-and-mouse game between an attacker and computer security
folks. This classic science fiction book won the first Hugo for
Best Novel. Bester was named a Grand Master of science fiction.
- John Brunner, The Shockwave Rider, Ballantine Books
A science fiction novel about a future in which data about everyone
is stored in a ubiquitous information network. Many of the terms
used with malicious logic, such as virus, were first used here.
- James Burton, The Pentagon Wars, United States Naval
A study of how a group of reformers tried to test and improve some
weaponry, and what happened. A wonderful and eye-opening description
of bureaucratic in-fighting.
- Dorothy Denning, Information Warfare and Security,
Addison-Wesley Publishing Company
Good background on issues we discuss in class, nice presentation.
Jean Guisnel, Cyberwars: Espionage on the Internet, Plenum
Written by a Frenchman, so an interesting non-US perspective.
- Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, Penguin Books
Its study of rulers applies not only to princes, but also to
organizations and environments in general.
- Eric Frank Russell, Wasp, Tor Books
A science fiction novel in which a lone agent is dropped on an
enemy planet. His job: cause chaos. He does.
- Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon, Avon Books
Good discussion of World War II cryptography, and real world/wartime
issues involving security of communications, etc. Great mathematical
- Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash, Spectra Books
This one's more marginally computer security related, but it has
a virtual reality interface figuring prominently into the plot,
and deals with issues of networking through metaphor.
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Delta
A classic text on warfare. Many of its principles can be translated
- Vernor Vinge, Fire Upon the Deep, Tor Books
Superb science fiction book with computer security applications.
- Vernor Vinge, True Names, Tor Books
First real cyberpunk book; Gibson got credit for this sort of work.
- Bruce Schneier, Applied Cryptography, Second Edition,
John Wiley and Sons
A comprehensive introduction to cryptography. The mathematics is
basic, but the book presents sophisticated algorithms. It's also
well written and easy to understand.
- Simson Garfinkel, Gene Spafford, ad Alan Schwartz, Practical
UNIX and Internet Security, Third Edition, O'Reilly and
An excellent book on UNIX security.
- Charlie Kaufman, Radia Perlman, Mike Speciner, Network
Security: Private Communications in a Public World, Prentice-Hall
Excellent examples of DES and a very readable textbook, without
skimping too terribly much on details.
Contributors to the List
- Matt Bishop, ECS 153 instructor (numerous times)
- Tom Walcott, ECS 153 teaching assistant (Fall 1999, Fall 2000)
Here is a PDF version of this document.