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Monday, May 21, 2007

OMIGOD! A great review of my book!

Vacation nets great technology reading


I love vacations with unexpected surprises. The rooms at our favorite B&B are filled with books. I've grown accustomed to seeing a range of novels nestled among more serious tomes of local history and folklore.

That's why the title "Net Crimes and Misdemeanors" caught my eye so quickly; I've never seen a technology title there before.

It was my good fortune to stay in a room previously occupied by the author, J.A. Hitchcock, and her husband. Hitchcock had left the book as a gift to the proprietors.

The book is all about staying safe on the Internet, and is as well-written and thorough a treatment of the subject as I have seen anywhere. It covers many topics that I, John McBride, or others have covered in the Observer, but collects all these topics and more into one easily-readable book, generously illustrated with personal experiences.

Hitchcock's concept for the book began with a personal experience involving an "email bomb" incident, the story of which constitutes the first chapter of the book.

Her story began in 1996, when she found very little information available on Internet safety. She decided to extend her knowledge to cover additional avenues of Internet-based attack, and share her insights in this book. Her first edition was published in 2002; an updated, expanded second edition came out just last year.

Most of us would buy the book just for chapter 3, providing extensive coverage of spam, and strategies to avoid and block spam.

Chapter 4 both entertains and educates us about urban legends and Internet hoaxes.

Coverage of online shopping and online banking is concise, but helpful. Hitchcock's research is excellent, so you can trust her technology recommendations. A further stamp of technology approval is in the forward written by Vinton Cerf, widely regarded (along with Bob Kahn) as one of the founding fathers of the Internet.

I was particularly interested to read the chapter on auction frauds, as I do not use online auctions myself and therefore do not write about the subject.

The book continues with chapters on phishing, Nigerian scams, adoption fraud, identity theft, privacy, cyberstalking, protection of children, and corporate Internet usage issues.

Final chapters describe how various police agencies and universities are stepping up to the challenges of fighting cyber-crime and protecting students, and an excellent chapter with easy-to-follow recommendations for protecting your own computer.

If you own a computer, or even if you simply use one at the office, I highly recommend "Net Crimes and Misdemeanors." Last week, the second edition (be sure you're getting that one) was selling for under $20 at online retailers -- less than that for a used copy.

You could end up with an unexpected surprise of your own -- a smoother-running, better-protected computer!

Reboot Rod

Turnham

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