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Computer Virus Handbook.

Computer Virus Handbook

Author: Harold Joseph Highland Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers Ltd., 655 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10010; 1990, 375 pages, hardback: $153 Reviewer: George E. Ronne, CPP; Senior Consultant, M & M Protection Consultants; Member of the ASIS Standing Committee on Computer Security

Computer Virus Handbook is one of the most clearly written, comprehensive presentations on computer viruses I have seen. Highland presents viruses as a low-probability but high-risk computer security problem. The book is the most extensive presentation I have found on computer viruses and is valuable to both the newcomer and the experienced programmer and systems analyst. It provides an excellent look at the probability and consequences of the problem, which is not likely to disappear.

The book includes Highland's material as well as contributions by such experts in computer security as William Murray of Ernst and Young, Harry DeMaio of Deloitte and Touche, Jon David of Systems Research and Development Corporation, and William Caelli of Australia's Queensland University of Technology.

Highland starts off with basic definitions and other fundamentals that help readers understand the threat and develop a means of resolving this problem.

Next comes a presentation by Murray that applies epidemiology to computer viruses. He discusses a virus's behavior, its consequences, and defenses against it. Murray shares sound advice, stating, "There does not appear to be a general vaccine that is likely to be effective against all viruses in all environments for all time. Good hygiene helps, but it will not give absolute protection. Most of these measures are so disruptive that they should be used only in the face of a known attack."

Highland goes on to provide detailed reports on major viruses, including several that have not previously been reported in generally available reading material. He describes their structure and performance. The section on reports from virus hunters also describes the Pakistani, Lehigh, and Israeli PC viruses. The section on procedures to reduce the computer virus threat is must reading for those in information processing.

Computer Virus Handbook also includes details on the design and performance of 20 products included in the evaluations. Criteria to use in selecting an antivirus software package are given.

Also included is a warning from DeMaio, who states, "Virus attacks are literally capable of bringing an information processing system to a halt, destroying or hopelessly compromising software and data, or randomly affecting transactions and other processing activities. So, the more dependent an organization is on information processing, the more concerned management should be with potential virus susceptibility."

Highland winds up with a section of previously presented papers by individuals well known in the field such as Dr. Winfried Gleissner, Maria Pozzo, Dr. Terence Gray, and Fred Cohen. These papers, originally presented in Computers and Security, have been quoted by most people discussing computer viruses. Cohen's presentation on models to defend against viruses is another reading must.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Ronne, George E.
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1991
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