Cyber Canon Book Review: "Cybersecurity for Dummies,” by Joseph Steinberg

Posted: December 8, 2020
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cybersecurity for dummies

“Cybersecurity for Dummies” (2019) by Joseph Steinberg


Reviewer: Daniel Dotson 

Bottom Line

Hall of Fame Candidate
I recommend this nonfiction book for the Cybersecurity Canon Hall of Fame.

Review

Cybersecurity for Dummies is a simply-designed book that is aimed at the novice. It begins with a basic introduction to cybersecurity concepts, to give the reader a grounding for applied concepts related to personal cybersecurity, workplace (both small and big businesses) concepts, dealing with incidents, careers in the field, and future trends. The book ends with some “top 10” style recommendations and lessons.

Case studies are provided throughout the book to provide real-world examples of cybersecurity incidents so that the reader can see how the topic at hand has occurred. Examples of how to perform certain tasks mention several device types (PCs, laptops, tablets, cell phones, etc.) and operating systems (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, etc.). Notably absent are UNIX or Linux, but this book seems very unlikely to be needed by someone using either of those.

The book flows from a very basic overview of cybersecurity into elements of maintaining security for personal devices. It does not shy away from dealing with the more social or psychological aspects of security issues. It goes over the ways in which people fall for or open themselves up to threats via their behaviors and human nature. Technology is not the only component to good cybersecurity, a point that is consistently made. No matter how good your technical security is, someone falling for a phishing email or a custodial worker unplugging a server to plug in a vacuum cleaner can result in a major problem.

Some elements of business cybersecurity are covered, with a focus on small business. While not a major focus, big business security issues are covered, with significant (at the level of making the news) security breaches at major businesses. One of the most interesting chapters is probably Chapter 19, which has famous cybersecurity incidents. What happened and more importantly lessons learned are shared for incidents involving Anthem, Marriot, Sony Pictures, Target, and the United States Office of Personnel Management. Nothing drives home a point like a real-world example.

The careers section may be of particular use to those interested in any number of careers in this field. The book shares a wide range of career options, pathways (including degrees, certifications, etc.) to those careers, and related advice. This section also showcases the field is quite broad and there are many potential options for those interested in this area.

The book contains consistent symbols and styling that allow readers to see elements like warnings, tips, reminders, cases, examples, etc. These are key elements for the reader to be able to focus on important segments of the section. Glossary-style definitions are presented throughout the book. Some readers may find this particularly useful, although those that prefer a more flowing prose style may not care for this format.

Cybersecurity for Dummies is designed to be a very basic introduction to concepts in cybersecurity. No previous knowledge in cybersecurity is needed for this title, but an understanding of basic computer terminology is useful. It can serve as an introduction to those considering a career in cybersecurity – indeed the book has an entire section focused on careers in the field. While likely not of much use for a seasoned cybersecurity professional, it can serve as a great introduction for those just entering or interested in the field.

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