Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

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Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

Post by parakkafaith on Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:07 pm
([msg=51866]see Digital Fortress - Dan Brown[/msg])

Hey y'all! I just wanted to throw a recommendation out there for one of my favourite books of all time, and I'm sure this community of hackers will get a kick out of it as I did.

Digital Fortress, in a nutshell, follows the story of some rather intriguing personalities of the NSA, including one of their most renowned cryptographers, Susan Fletcher.

The plot (without giving the story away), is essentially about an ex-NSA cryptographer who is a strong advocate for human privacy rights, a super brute-forcing computer called the TRANSLATR, and "the ultimate code"; an unbreakable algorithm called Digital Fortress.

What made this book a lot of fun to read was the familiar language, as well as the thought provoking chapters that will have you wondering what is actually going on at the NSA, and how ridiculously badass it would most likely be to see it. :D

I highly recommend y'all check it out, and let me know what you think! It's a great book, and I know you'll like it :)

Cheers!

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Re: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

Post by s0fa on Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:43 pm
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I read this book a while ago and - to be honest - I did not like it very much. If you have any (And I mean any) knowledge about cryptography, networks and computing in general you will shook your head very soon because the plot is full of logical mistakes and things that are far far away from reality. That alone would not be a big problem when the plot would be well written & fascinating but that's also not the case. Maybe it's just my personal opinion of it, but it's not one of his best books.
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Re: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

Post by Goatboy on Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:14 pm
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I read it in 9th grade, when I was into computers just enough to buy what was in the book, but didn't know enough to verify it. I'll have to go back and re-read it some time. Overall though, the plot was interesting.
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Re: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

Post by parakkafaith on Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:15 pm
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That's fair, and I agree. The community on this website probably know better than most that there are impossible things in this book, and it's not all factually accurate, however this is why it's shelved in the fiction section of your local book store.

If you're interested in learning cryptography, this won't teach you anything. If you are, however, interested in a great author telling a great story that somewhat touches on what you're interested in, then this is a great book to check out. It's fun to believe it's possible while you're reading it; that makes a story interesting after all!
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Re: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

Post by pretentious on Sat Jan 08, 2011 4:28 pm
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I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but this really turns me off.
The book cover is littered with random gibberish, likely meant to represent some kind of message digest. I mean if it's meant to be some sort of code, they would attempt to put it into a readable format, so i have to assume that because the book is about cryptography, the random ASCII characters on the cover, having no apparent meaning or structure, must be the output from cryptographic algorithm. Now if there's one thing I've noticed from my hours playing with Cain, it's that the clear majority of situations that you(meaning me) come across(just realized that Cisco PIX algorithm uses ASCII) are of information digests being displayed in Hexadecimal. I'm obviously over reacting, but i think when people say, "let's add some random stuff in there, just tom make it look sci-ency" they are mocking the people who actually achieve these amazing things. and because of mass media's cheap attempt to make some things look sci-ency, many are unable to appreciate the work that goes into these fields
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Re: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

Post by fashizzlepop on Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:23 pm
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When you walk into a book store do you focus more on the plain looking books? Or do you look at the shiny intriguing ones? Even legitimate non-fiction books need attention in order to sell.

Also, if you want a very interesting book, written by a great author, with a brilliant plot, you would read Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.
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Re: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

Post by s0fa on Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:00 pm
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"Little Brother" is, by the way, under a "Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license" (What a nice word ..) so that it's free to download, share and to change. There is a link on the author's homepage for a direct download in a dozen different formats, but you will also find a lot of mirrors in the net. There has also been an conversion to an audio-book (Again there are hundreds of mirrors, I just picked put a random one out of aunt google!) which is also available for free.

It's not a very well known book which is very sad in my eyes because it's fantasic for young people to get them interested in privacy and IT in general. It combines technical things (Which are kept as realistic as possible with an eye on "unknowing" readers) such as ParanoidLinux, RFID and so on with a thrilling, cool story and some moments were you think as reader - "Yeah, that's just like I feel" or "Yeah, exactly my problems!". Also there is a "human" side of the main character and girls are somewhat interesting for the main character .. but I don't want to tell too much here so, just get yourself a copy of this creation!

That's fair, and I agree. The community on this website probably know better than most that there are impossible things in this book, and it's not all factually accurate, however this is why it's shelved in the fiction section of your local book store.

Maybe you are right with that and I was too hard in judging the book. I will give it another try after finishing the book which is in between my hands at the moment, "Hackers" by Stephen Levy. Which leads me to another idea in my mind - how about starting a thread which contains reviews & tips about books that are about IT, Hacking, Privacy and so on? I think about Clifford Stoll, Bruce Schneier, Stephen Lewy and so on .. would there be an interest about that? If yes I would start typing reviews!
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Re: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

Post by pretentious on Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:22 pm
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fashizzlepop wrote:When you walk into a book store do you focus more on the plain looking books? Or do you look at the shiny intriguing ones?

I get the point you're trying to make, but the few times in my life that I've been to a book store, I think i did tend to avoid the shiny ones :/ the point i was trying to make though, is that i hate it when people who don't truly understand, trying to make it out like they do :| or something like that :lol: . I guess I'm extending the script kiddie flaming to all walks of life
Goatboy wrote:Oh, that's simple. All you need to do is dedicate many years of your life to studying security.

IF you feel like exchanging ASCII arrays, let me know ;)
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Re: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

Post by parakkafaith on Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:35 pm
([msg=51886]see Re: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown[/msg])

Maybe you are right with that and I was too hard in judging the book. I will give it another try after finishing the book which is in between my hands at the moment, "Hackers" by Stephen Levy. Which leads me to another idea in my mind - how about starting a thread which contains reviews & tips about books that are about IT, Hacking, Privacy and so on? I think about Clifford Stoll, Bruce Schneier, Stephen Lewy and so on .. would there be an interest about that? If yes I would start typing reviews!


That sounds like an interesting idea. Let me know if this starts up because I 'd love to get involved!

I get the point you're trying to make, but the few times in my life that I've been to a book store, I think i did tend to avoid the shiny ones :/ the point i was trying to make though, is that i hate it when people who don't truly understand, trying to make it out like they do :| or something like that :lol: . I guess I'm extending the script kiddie flaming to all walks of life


That makes sense as it may reflect your personality. It can be quite a turn off to have somebody throw false information at you, and especially so if they claim it as fact. Considering this, and the fact that I work in a book store (spending close to 5 hours a day shelving every book you could imagine), I can say that covers sell books. Although maybe not to an experienced hacker or cryptographer, the cover of "Digital Fortress" screams digital encryption. This isn't the only time Dan Brown has written a book seemingly full of interesting yet false facts. The point is that regardless of whether or not the cover of the book can be decrypted into something legible, the book is great, and the cover expresses its content.
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Re: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

Post by fashizzlepop on Sun Jan 09, 2011 5:46 am
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Let's also emphasize it being found in the fiction section.
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