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CYBERJUTSU

CYBERSECURITY FOR THE MODERN NINJA

A thoughtful, original, and thorough guide to cybersecurity.

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McCarty draws from the techniques of feudal Japan’s ninja warriors in order to develop a complete cybersecurity plan.

The debut author, who once worked as a developer for the National Security Agency and was among the first class of Cyber Warfare Specialists to serve in the Army Network Warfare Battalion, observes that tight cybersecurity has never been more necessary or more difficult, as security specialists and their criminal counterparts are both constantly innovating—locked in what Accenture security research and development lead Malek Ben Salem, in a foreword, calls a “cyber arms race.” McCarty’s approach to the issue is as novel as it is illuminating, as it looks deep into the past. Deeply impressed by “ninja scrolls” written in the 17th century, which were essentially tactical manuals for espionage, he decided that the basic philosophy contained within them could be converted into a “practical cybersecurity field guide.” After more research, he concluded that ninja techniques were “essentially on-the-ground training in information assurance, security, infiltration, espionage, and destructive attacks that relied on covert access to heavily fortified organizations,” which, as a cybersecurity expert, he found highly familiar. At the heart of his strategy is what he calls the “castle theory thought exercise,” in which one pretends to be “the ruler of a medieval castle with valuable assets” and imagines various ways to defend the castle and anticipate invaders’ assaults. He provides a remarkably comprehensive tour of his subject, which is especially impressive for such a concise work that’s well under 300 pages. In it, he covers such topics as mapping networks and authentication and provides unconventional tips, as well; for example, he advises that one be wary of possible “hours of infiltration”—overly predictable routines that provide opportunities for attack.

The author has decades of credentialed experience in cybersecurity, and his professional background is evident throughout the book, which manages to convey his expertise in language that will be generally accessible to laypeople and immediately actionable. The running conceit of the work at first appears implausible—that warriors from a pre-technological era could teach modern readers something about cutting-edge cybersecurity. However, McCarty will convince skeptics, as he provides an elastic and forethoughtful approach to defense based on the warrior philosophy—one that involves constant improvisation and imagination to reveal every conceivable weakness in one’s cyberfortress. As he puts it in the book’s concluding chapter, his overriding message is that it’s always “critical to consume threat intelligence and respond against dynamic threats in innovative ways.” Along the way, he describes something far more aggressive than passive vigilance—a defensive approach that makes extensive use of historical anecdotes, such as a chapter that uses a small medieval village’s distrust of outsiders as an analogy for how permissions are established in a computer system. McCarty not only articulates the elements of his overall philosophy, but also explains its practical applications in rigorous detail, recommending “security controls and mitigations” and concluding every chapter with a helpful synopsis, or “debrief.”

A thoughtful, original, and thorough guide to cybersecurity.

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-71850-054-9

Page Count: 264

Publisher: No Starch Press

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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CALYPSO

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

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In which the veteran humorist enters middle age with fine snark but some trepidation as well.

Mortality is weighing on Sedaris (Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, 2017, etc.), much of it his own, professional narcissist that he is. Watching an elderly man have a bowel accident on a plane, he dreaded the day when he would be the target of teenagers’ jokes “as they raise their phones to take my picture from behind.” A skin tumor troubled him, but so did the doctor who told him he couldn’t keep it once it was removed. “But it’s my tumor,” he insisted. “I made it.” (Eventually, he found a semitrained doctor to remove and give him the lipoma, which he proceeded to feed to a turtle.) The deaths of others are much on the author’s mind as well: He contemplates the suicide of his sister Tiffany, his alcoholic mother’s death, and his cantankerous father’s erratic behavior. His contemplation of his mother’s drinking—and his family’s denial of it—makes for some of the most poignant writing in the book: The sound of her putting ice in a rocks glass increasingly sounded “like a trigger being cocked.” Despite the gloom, however, frivolity still abides in the Sedaris clan. His summer home on the Carolina coast, which he dubbed the Sea Section, overspills with irreverent bantering between him and his siblings as his long-suffering partner, Hugh, looks on. Sedaris hasn’t lost his capacity for bemused observations of the people he encounters. For example, cashiers who say “have a blessed day” make him feel “like you’ve been sprayed against your will with God cologne.” But bad news has sharpened the author’s humor, and this book is defined by a persistent, engaging bafflement over how seriously or unseriously to take life when it’s increasingly filled with Trump and funerals.

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-39238-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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