Secrets of Computer Espionage: Tactics and Countermeasures
McNamara, Joel

Wiley, 2003
ISBN 0-7645-3710-5. 362 pages. Index. $35.00.

Reviewed by  Robert Bruen   August 1, 2003 

Forensics, privacy, vulnerabilities and black bag jobs all meet in this practical and comprehensive spy oriented security book. The spies we are used to seeing in movies from years past had a tendency to meet in dark alleys and exotic places. They met to exchange secrets. Today's spies can sit at a computer almost anywhere there is net access to do their work, just like the rest of us. The difference is that the spies want something. They are not hackers and crackers per se, but they will use whatever they need to use to get what they want. Hackers may want to use your system as a team member in a DDoS attack, but the spy really wants to get from you is information.

Spies come from a wide range of motivations, some from governments, both friendly and unfriendly, some come from businesses trying to discover trade secrets and other useful business information and some are just nosy neighbors. While we have all read about the people who are trying to pry into our private affairs and how to protect ourselves, we now can read how to go about doing the spying. There is a lot a familiar material in Secrets, such as recovering erased files, protecting your laptop on while on the road, packet sniffers and keyloggers, there is new material as well. The wi-fi world is covered, including topics like the Pringle can antenna, MAC spoofing and WEP attacks.

The chapter on electronic spy devices runs the gamut from fax machines and digital cameras, with a few good stories like the cameras inside of Xerox photocopy machines which kept copies of what was copied. It seems that most of the spy gear is now in the consumer electronic marketplace. The homing devices stuck on your car by the some spy agency can be purchased by anyone. Moreover, a do-it-yourself jamming device to defeat is available on the net.

The last chapter covers advanced espionage, for example, Echelon, Carnivore and Magic Lantern on the Fed side and the latest worms used for intelligence gathering on the spy side. Given the latest bank robberies techniques used in South Africa and Nebraska, this use of worms is particularly insightful.

This book is full of interesting and useful digital spy techniques. It provides some extra points for security and forensics professionals, as well. It is comprehensive, well written and up-to-date. It is easily worth the price to extend your knowledge in a practical way. Recommended.