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Books: A User's Report

Elizabeth Zinkann

For this month's column, I reviewed two Internet and Web directories, New Riders' Official Internet Yellow Pages, Sixth Edition (New Riders Publishing) and New Riders' Official World Wide Web Yellow Pages, Sixth Edition (New Riders Publishing); a software utility package on CD-ROM, Tools for UNIX System Administrators, Edited by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, and Trent R. Hein (Prentice Hall); an outstanding book on security, encryption, and protection, Hacker Proof by Lars Klander (Jamsa Press); and an Internet guide, The Web Navigator by Paul Gilster (Wiley Computer Publishing).

Also, the revised second volume of Donald Knuth's definitive series, The Art of Computer Programming, has now been released. The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 2, Seminumerical Algorithms, Third Edition by Donald E. Knuth (Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-89684-2, $49.44, contains the chapters on Random Numbers and Arithmetic. The algorithms discussed in this part of the series focus on solutions to mathematical problems that will also interface smoothly with the internal structure and processes of the computer. The author's precision and expertise distinguish this series as an outstanding and peerless reference for both systems programmers and numerical analysts.

New Riders' Official Internet Yellow Pages
Sixth Edition
New Riders Publishing
ISBN 1-56205-784-7
CD-ROM Included

New Riders' Official World Wide Web Yellow Pages
Sixth Edition
ISBN 1-56205-785-5
CD-ROM Included

The Internet and its most visible facet, the World Wide Web, evolve at an amazing speed. The most popular topics and sites today may not have existed 6 months ago. Compiling and publishing a printed directory (versus an online guide) presents a daunting task. Fortunately, the staff at New Riders completed the Web and Internet references plus several additional, independent sections. The Introduction addresses some basic concepts and practical instructions regarding the Internet, different types of connections, and how to utilize them. The first feature, "WWW & the Net: What's the Difference?" clarifies a common misconception. "Get Connected to the Web" surveys the hardware essential for an Internet connection, some types of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and software information that may be required for a successful session. The following article, "Web Browsers Go Head to Head", explains a browser and its functions. The author also briefly compares some major browsers and their features. "What the Heck is a Search Engine?" details the most popular search engines and their respective search techniques. "Getting the Most Out of E-mail" outlines the fundamental services that every email program should provide plus some additional capabilities that may be available to the user. The succeeding essay, "Top Ten Ways to Put the Web to Work for You", illustrates possible applications for the user to consider. The concluding review, "WebTV Dazzles the Eyes of Couch Potatoes", discusses the design, expense, and capabilities of WebTV. The Yellow Pages provides entries in 58 interest areas, including Animals, Aviation, Computer Games, Internet Resources, Movies and Videos, Music, Sports, Television, and Travel, to list a few of the topics. New Riders' Official Internet Yellow Pages also presents information for Listservs, Newsgroups, and FTP locations. The New Riders' Official World Wide Web Yellow Pages specializes in Web site entries. Both versions furnish an electronic version of the respective text on CD-ROM for Window 3.x, Windows 95, Windows NT, and Macintosh platforms.

Directories like these perform multiple tasks: they provide listings for readers in search of an obscure or elusive site, they describe a site's content, and they are fun to simply browse. The latest editions by New Riders have an easy-to-read format, contain quotations interspersed throughout the text and sidebars entitled Tips, Notes, Warnings, Jargon, Geek Speak, and Did You Know? (There are also some excellent and appropriate cartoons.) Either version would be an excellent addition to an Internet user's bookshelf, a valuable reference, and will illustrate a snapshot in time both of the Internet and its travelers.

Tools for UNIX System Administrators
Software on CD-ROM
Edited by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, and Trent R. Hein
Prentice Hall
ISBN 0-13-665431-2

This CD-only software package originally accompanied The UNIX System Administration Handbook, Second Edition, by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, Scott Seebass, and Trent R. Hein (Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-151051-7). Since that book's publication, many of the freeware and shareware utilities from the original collection (January, 1995) have either been developed or revised. This is a current version of the CD-ROM. Some of the tools included are Apache, a superior HTTP server; Checksendmail, a Perl script that assists system administrators using sendmail to test the configuration files; Ease, a sendmail configuration compiler; Glimpse, a search utility; and Majordomo, a tool that maintains Internet mailing lists. The CD-ROM also contains Perl, Cron, sendmail, RCS (Revision Control System), and SATAN (Security Administrator Tool for Analyzing Networks).

Tools For UNIX System Administrators provides an excellent way to retain an essential administration guide as a valuable, effective, and productive instrument. Every administrator will appreciate this software revision.

Hacker Proof: The Ultimate Guide to Network Security
by Lars Klander
Jamsa Press
Gulf Publishing Company
ISBN 1-884133-55-X
CD-ROM Included

Reports of computer hackers, crackers, and viruses infiltrate both the daily news and electronic mail. Some of them are false, but an alarming number of them are true. Each successful invasion erodes a little of our own confidence and a lot of our trust in others. In Hacker Proof, Klander demonstrates when and how computer users encounter security risks, how an intrusion occurs, and what safeguards are effective. He thoroughly explains the following topics (to name a few): Understanding The Risks: An Introduction To Internet-Enabled Networks; Understanding Networks And TCP/IP; Understanding And Using Firewalls; Protecting Your Transmissions With Encryption; Identifying And Defending Against Some Common Hacker Attacks; Protecting Yourself During The Commission of Internet Commerce; Using Audit Trails To Track And Repel Intruders; Security Issues Surrounding The Java Programming Language; Testing Your System's Vulnerabilities; and Putting It All Together: Creating A Network-Security Policy. The accompanying CD-ROM contains program code introduced in the text, SATAN, Perl for Windows and UNIX, and the Java Developers Kit. In addition, the CD-ROM also provides evaluation copies of the Guardian Firewall, The Kane Security Analyst, the Kane Security Monitor, SafeSuite, and Ballista.

Many hackers' temptations or opportunities, such as unprotected email, and their techniques, including sniffing (observing and copying a network's packet transmissions to accumulate information about the network) and spoofing (assuming a trusted client's identity to interface with the server) are examined. The author also discusses Java and Java applets security problems, past and present, and Web browser risks. The browser's design flaws (whether Netscape or Microsoft's Internet Explorer) and ActiveX technology can allow significant damage to a user's computer under certain circumstances. One of the principle advantages to Hacker Proof (before every reader and user becomes paranoid) is the defenses that Klander provides. For each threat or risk inherent in system architectures and application configurations, the author suggests precautions that the user can implement to protect his or her system's integrity.

Klander has thoroughly researched the numerous aspects of security within the book. He demonstrates how extensive an intrusion can be. It can permeate every facet of the network. The author details system concepts and discusses conflicting viewpoints when applicable. Each chapter concludes with a summary, "Putting It All Together." Further Internet resources pertaining to the chapter's topic are illustrated through screen shots. Hacker Proof is an extraordinary book, clearly and precisely written. Klander examines a network's vulnerabilities and analyzes methods to protect it. He also discusses issues that network administrators must consider daily. Hacker Proof is an outstanding and enlightening book; it should be required reading for every administrator. I highly recommend it!

The Web Navigator
by Paul Gilster
Wiley Computer Publishing
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Professional, Reference, and Trade Group
ISBN 0-471-16495-X

The World Wide Web is the most visible segment of the Internet. It can also be the most dazzling, depending on the site. In the style and tradition his earlier books (The New Internet Navigator, ISBN 0-471-12694-2, $24.95; Finding It On the Internet, Second Edition, ISBN 0-471-12695-8, $24.95; and The SLIP/PPP Connection, ISBN 0-471-11712-9, $24.95, all published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), Paul Gilster presents a new book dedicated to the Web traveler. Through the procedures demonstrated by the author, any user can personally customize his or her browser. Gilster addresses the following topics: The World through the Web; The Web Defined: History, Terminology, and Potential; Logging On to the Web; Inside the Browser; Plug-Ins, Add-Ons, and Helper Programs; The Uses of Electronic Mail; Interpreting the Net: Newsgroups, Telnet, and Gopher Through the Browser; Breakthrough Web Technologies; Searching the Internet; Publishing on the Web; and Commerce, Security, and Privacy. The Appendix describes Configuring Windows 95 for the Internet.

Gilster writes for an experienced user. However, every level of user can learn from this book. Theoretically, a more experienced user could skip the introductory chapters. Realistically, the author's sidebar Tips are too enticing to ignore. Chapters 4 and 5 address the central objective of the book. Using Netscape as an example, the author demonstrates how the user can implement his or her own preferences. (The procedures are similar for Microsoft's Internet Explorer or any other browser the reader may encounter.) The chapter entitled Plug-Ins, Add-Ons, and Helper Programs examines MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) formats, Macromedia Shockwave, Audio, Video, Teleconferencing, and Adobe Acrobat. The chapter on electronic mail discusses the capabilities currently available with most email services. The final chapters feature some of the other Internet utilities, such as Telnet and Gopher, diverse new technologies including Java, ActiveX, Internet Telephony, Virtual Reality, and Agents, searching the Internet, Web publishing tools and techniques, business, and privacy.

In The Web Navigator, Gilster illustrates how to use your Internet connection to its best advantage and your comfort. The author employs an abundant amount of figures, diagrams, and screen shots to clarify the procedures and information described. Gilster's excellent writing style and proficient expertise make this a superb addition to any Internet user's library.

About the Author

Elizabeth Zinkann has been involved in the UNIX and C environment for the past 12 years. She is currently a UNIX and C consultant, and one of her specialties is UNIX education. In addition to her computer science background, she also has a degree in English. Elizabeth can be reached via America Online (