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Sat, 18 Oct 2003
Book Review: The Myth of Homeland Security by Marcus Ranum

This is a review I posted to

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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