October 20, 2005


The Symantec Guide to Home Internet Security.  By Andrew Conry-Murray and Vincent Weafer.  Symantec Press/Addison-Wesley. $19.99.

     Calling this “the only home Internet security book you’ll ever need,” as the subtitle does, is a bit of a stretch – after all, security issues will continue to change over time, so you’ll need to know more in the future than now.  But this is certainly a top-notch guide to self-protection when using the Internet as it currently exists – a fine introduction to viruses, spyware, online identity theft, firewalls, spam and much more.

     The authors are experts who are able to write for a wide audience without talking down to people – a rare and welcome trait in the highly technical Internet-security world.  Andrew Conry-Murray is technology editor of a professionally oriented publication called IT Architect.  Vincent Weafer is operational leader of the Symantec Global Security Response Team.  Incidentally, despite the authorship and publication connections to Symantec, which makes a variety of Internet-protection products, the book does not in any way urge purchase of those products, simply mentioning them and others in its various chapters and leaving it up to readers to decide what to do.  Special kudos to the authors for their anti-virus discussion: Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus is the dominant product in the field, but Conry-Murray and Weafer note that the free AVG product from GriSoft “includes all the common features of paid products,” and they provide a Web address from which to download it.

     There are really two parts to this book, but they are intermingled: understanding the problems of Internet security and doing things to protect yourself.  If you already know about the many forms of malware, you can skip the chapters that differentiate, for instance, between adware and spyware, explaining what each does and how they differ.  But additional knowledge may help you fight back: you can find out exactly how spyware, adware and Trojan horses infect your computer, or how spammers operate and why the amount of spam keeps increasing (the section called “Spamonomics” is concise and excellent).  If your focus is on protection rather than understanding threats in more depth, you can skip the explanatory material and read about spam filtering approaches, methods of removing malware, firewalls and other protective software, operating-system patches, browser fixes and alternatives, and much more.  Everything is carefully and clearly explained, with numerous illustrations showing what you will see on-screen while performing certain tasks; tables and lists of available free and paid protective software; and resources to learn more about specific topics.  You will not be an expert on all existing forms of Internet threats after reading this book – or be able to predict what new threats will emerge in future months and years – but you will know a great deal more about what’s out there, why it’s out there, and what exactly you can do to keep it out there…or get rid of it if it has already compromised your computer’s security.

No comments:

Post a Comment