Book Review: Protect Your Windows Network from Perimeter to Data

Let me start off with a confession. I would have never have read this book were it not on Richard Bejtlich’s recommended reading list. The reason is simple, it was written by two Microsoft employees.

I have been burnt by Microsoft books in the past. When studying for my NT4 MSCE I wasted a lot of time reading the “Official Curriculum” for the tests. I found the information presented in these books to be too technical and unrelated to the actual tests.

Luckily I switched to non-Microsoft material and passed the tests on the first try.

Also, it doesn’t take long to abandon material when you are trying to troubleshoot a critical server issue late in the day, find it in the official support text, only to see the solution as “See your Network Administrator”.

Needless to say, I have not picked up a Microsoft Press or any book written by Microsoft employees in ages. So when Bejtlich placed this book on a list with such titles as “Hacking Exposed 5th Edition” and “Counter Hack Reloaded” I really thought he made a mistake. I was wrong.

“Protect Your Windows Network from Perimeter to Data” by Jesper M. Johansson and Steve Riley is one of the best IT books I have ever read. The authors, experts on security tools, policy and penetration testing take you on an amazing trip from the introduction of computer security, to how to secure your system from almost every avenue of attack.

Along the way you will learn about corporate security policies, how to educate your users (and CEO’s) and how attacking hackers can go from having just a toe hold in your network to owning the keys to the castle.

But mostly you will learn how to protect your windows network, literally from the perimeter to data, from server to workstation, hardware to software, and server applications to user applications.

The wit and humor of the author is very refreshing and makes the book easy to read and understand. Also, the authors’ years in the trenches protecting Microsoft, military and large corporate systems makes the book incredibly informative and enlightening.

After reading this book you will thoroughly understand how a completely secure network relates to unicorns, how a bar of chocolate could undo the best authentication practices and numerous things not to do that will help you stay gainfully employed.

My only negative about the book (as with all security based books) is that the material is starting to get a bit dated. It was written in 2005 and focuses on Server 2000, 2003 and Windows XP. Many of the security issues mentioned have been patched and a lot of the security wish list type material is already in Windows 7 & Server 2008. I would really love to see these guys release an updated version.

If you are involved with computer security at all, “Protect your Windows Network from Perimeter to Data” is incredibly informative and a must read. I highly recommend this book!


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