10/18/03

Book Review: The Myth of Homeland Security by Marcus Ranum

[This is a review I posted to Amazon.com.]

Ranum's book is engaging, unsettling, entertaining, and disturbing. Yet, I
think it is an accurate assessment of the morass that is "homeland
security." MJR may not make any friends in the FBI, INS, or DHS, but as he
turns his keen analytical mind towards security issues broader than an area
for which he is world-renowned—computer and network security—he brings
clarity to this seemingly unfathomable topic.

Many security practitioners have recognized the "when you don't know what to
do, do something" aspect of some homeland security initiatives. Ranum
identifies the agencies and actions that shape homeland security, and makes
suggestions for change. Warning: Not everything is fixable, and he makes
that clear also. But the beginning of any solution is to first recognize the
real problems—the real risks. The next step is to assess what you are
already doing. The third is to toss out what is not working, reform what is
marginal, and implement what is missing. In this book, Ranum suggests
solutions.

The security of the US homeland, and all that it entails, affects Americans,
certainly, as well as the whole world. Mr. Ranum is a skilled writer and
instructor. Never satisfied to merely lecture, he endeavors to "cause one to
learn." Though he is famous in a highly technical field, the "techie" as
well as the "artsy" will be able to read this book, as Ranum makes the
subject matter accessible and—although the subject matter is "life and
death"—enjoyable.

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