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Part II: Questions Answered About the Book

1. Is it important that the reader knows that you are anonymous, especially when your co-authors are not?

As I related above, I'm a strange person. If everything about me were revealed, some countries might not even carry my books.

2. Is it really easier to manage the security of a computer network, when one has experience in breaking into systems illegally? Shouldn't one be able to acquire this knowledge without running afoul with the law?

Absolutely. The only really important thing is that you know your stuff and stay up-to-date. Most crackers exploit problems that are months old. Be diligent. And besides, an experienced system administrator can never be replaced by anyone or anything. It's easy to break in. What's hard is to secure a system.

3. Why did you change the way the book has been written? Is the cooperation with co-authors an indication that the concept of your approach has changed?

I had other commitments at the time. So, I asked Macmillan (now Pearson) to get some excellent authors to help out - and they did.

4) While one of the basic themes in Maximum Security could be described as RTFM, I wonder if most people would be able to understand the manual. Do you feel that enough is being done in schools around the world to educate children about computers?

The truth is, that's the only way. RTFM and try things. A computer (or a network) is a tool, like a hammer or a saw. The more you use it, the more you learn about it. Use it. Try things. It won't die or break. It will, however, do whatever you tell it to do. So, get creative. Explore. Find out what every driver does, what filesystems it supports....play, experiment, learn. Computers are beautifully complex creatures. The problem with schools (often) is that the teachers know less than the kids. And for kids just starting, half their instructors are new to computers anyway. No, much more should be done, especially in developing nations. If that's not done soon, a two-class society will emerge, and I'm not talking about economically, either. A child who gets her first computer at age 7 will be a million miles ahead of a child who never gets one, and that's a fact. Computers (and the Internet particularly) can quickly identify what a child's best aptitudes and capabilities are. Any 7-year old child that surfs medical web sites is a potential candidate (40 years from now) who will cure cancer. Watch what a child gravitates to on the Net and their destiny (many years from now) will unfold before you like an open book. Once a child realizes that they can learn everything and anything they want online, they go and go and go. Children deprived of that are or will be effectively disabled. That's an ugly fact, and something we need to face - fast.

5. While Maximum Security is a book on how to secure a network, the CD contains many tools which could be used for attacks. Isn't this a bit like saying to the readers, "guns are dangerous and you should not point them at people" but at the same time giving them guns?

Guns? Hahahaha. Oh boy. I'm, like, a HUGE NRA supporter. No, I don't think so. Try it for yourself. The first time you use such a tool (and break into your own system, and see how easy it really is), that has a powerful psychological effect on you. From that point on, you respect code, the same way that when you first fire a gun, you respect firearms. If you want to test your system, sometimes there's no other way but to use cracking tools. And thank goodness, plenty of them exist, and crackers pass them around.

6. What happened to the Plan 9 concept of no root users and why?

Plan 9 (which, by the way, was, at the time of MaxSecI, experimental), is probably something great for huge networks. As a personal OS, it's a little goofy, because it's bare. But root is a bad idea anyway. It's the classic "put your eggs in one basket" deal. (Sidenote: I haven't used Plan 9 in a while....it's come a long way since then. Many enhancements. But why did they ax Mothra?)

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