Editor: Chris Roerden
Illustrator: Ken Tango
Disclaimer: I "virtually" know Robert Siciliano through email contact over the last 2-3 years. During that time, he has shown wit and charm in his responses to our questions and observations. However, my opinion as to his actual experience / expertise with security as it relates to computers and networks will not be touched on in this review; do your own research and come to your own conclusions.
Backstory to this review: Robert sent a message to his LinkedIn contacts regarding the possible rental of his home on the east coast, and offered a copy of his book to anyone willing to repost it on other forums. Lyger was a recipient of the message and responded:
From: lyger (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: "Robert Siciliano Robert@IDTheftSecurity.com" Date: Sun, 14 Jun 2009 20:30:21 +0000 (UTC) Subject: Re: 3br Ocean Front Apt For Rent, Boston Area, SAVE THIS EMAIL if we post this on attrition, can we have a book?
On Sun, Jun 14, 2009 at 4:37 PM, lyger (email@example.com) wrote: > CMON WE HAVE A MAIL LIST TOO > > attrition mailing list administration > Membership Management... Section > > 472 members total > > > On Sun, 14 Jun 2009, Robert Siciliano wrote: > > ": " oh god > ": " > ": " Robert Siciliano > ": " http://IDTheftSecurity.com
Robert agreed to send us TWO books in a side-deal arangement even more slutty than organizing DefCon 17. The books were supposed to be autographed, and upon arrival, they were not:
From: Robert Siciliano (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: lyger (email@example.com) Date: Fri, 31 Jul 2009 21:12:49 -0400 Subject: Re: books Im weeping. That book is old. 2004. I'm a different person and the content is dated. I could have swore I signed them. Just use the pages to wipe your ass when doing poopies. Robert Siciliano http://IDTheftSecurity.com On Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 8:10 PM, lyger
wrote: > Got the books, thanks. Jake brought them to DefCon in Vegas for us, so we > just got them today. HOWEVER, they weren't autographed as promised! I > thought we were tight, cuz. > > Sooooo... driving back from the OG, we decided to do a book review on it > (after we read it, of course). Will send link when finished, and will only > use quotes and excerpts as applicable under fair use laws. Because of our > awesome journalistic integrity, we thought we'd let you know ahead of time > so you can sweat it ou^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H be prepared. > > Thinking of you, > > Lyger
From: Robert Siciliano (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: lyger (email@example.com) Date: Sat, 1 Aug 2009 06:33:06 -0400 Subject: Re: books Please ad a footnote that the author was recently found swinging from a rope in the gallows. Robert Siciliano http://IDTheftSecurity.com On Sat, Aug 1, 2009 at 1:48 AM, lyger (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote: > Actually, the copyright is 2003. We shall begin the review with "It was a > dark and stormy night"; after that, probably a cross between Shakespeare > and Borat. > > P.S. If you didn't beat up your illustrator, you should have.
So... Robert's body was recently found swinging from a rope in the gallows. Thus, we have implied permission to review his book post-mortem. We haven't had a decent legal threat in the last couple of years, might as well kick off the next one right here and now.
The Safety Minute :01 is geared to be a guide to personal safety over many different realms. Physical safety, with an emphasis on home and physical defense, appear to be the overall goals to reach the reader, but they often stray a bit into areas that might come from a "movie of the week". As you read through it, your judgement is the best one to use, not anyone else's (as Siciliano points out, to his credit.) The self-assessment on pages 4 and 5 are a big of an early warning red flag, especially #13. "Do you use alcohol or drugs? Even occasionally?" smacks slightly of self-righteousness, and I can think of at least one person (hi, hellnbak) who could probably kick my ass, your ass and Robert's ass all at once while high and drunk... and while getting blown by a stripper.
On page 6, Robert speaks of "model mugging", which "teaches self-defense utilizing adrenal stress training." In some cases, "the "attacker" offends the student with verbal abuse, thereby creating an adrenalized state". While I see how this could be utilized as a self-defense technique, we call this "normal behavior" for attrition staff. After several years, verbal abuse doesn't give us a rush... it gives us unpleasant flashbacks to times when someone rm'd /etc. I hear he still cries himself to sleep about it on occasion.
Lyger (8/3/2009 6:37:26 PM): "actually, weapons are used in fewer than 5 percent of crime situations. This means that 95 percent of the time no weapon is involved." Lyger (8/3/2009 6:37:28 PM): ...
Note to Robert: please hire an editor with at least 3rd grade math skills AND a sense of the obvious for the next book.
Quite a bit of the middle sections of the book should be considered to be common sense, and is almost too easy to read (it appears to be geared to a 5th grade reading level, which, unfortunately, is all too typical these days.) Given that thought, it is admitted later in the book that "repetition is the mother of skill", which may make this one of the most "skillful" books ever written. In addition, the book was written only a couple of years after the World Trade Center attacks (I refuse to use the "9/11" marketing phrase; have you ever heard anyone refer to Pearl Harbor as "12/7"?), so most remarks concerning "terrorism" should be taken with a grain of salt. Labeling every violent assault as "terrorism" is a bit concerning given the most recent (media-driven) understanding of the term.
For what it's worth, the best parts of the book (for our amusement) lie in the second half:
Page 75 (fair use laws apply): "See him striking you. Visualize a knife in his hand. And the see yourself exploding with rage, ducking the knife, and tearing his throat out!". This seems to contradict the other sections that mention yelling, blowing a whistle, and using pepper spray (which all come later in the book). Yes, by all means, visualize yourself tearing someone's throat out. Then visualize yourself standing in a hallway at the Riviera in Las Vegas in July waiting to get into a Defcon talk. The throat-tearing will suddenly become less violent and more appealing to you. Promise.
Sensory awareness is also a recurring theme in the book, which does make sense from a personal security standpoint. Being alert to surroundings is a base animal instinct, but does need to be practiced and honed. Our cats are extremely aware when new people are around, and prepare themselves to flee whenever possible. However, I left the copy of Robert's book open on the table one night; Fuzz was found unconscious on the floor the next morning with his throat ripped open and a can of pepper spray shoved up his ass. Taki was sleeping next to him with a steel whistle in her mouth. We still think it was a home invasion, but the investigation is ongoing.
Quick notes here:
Robert's dad calls him "Rob", but Robert calls himself "Bouncer Bob" at one point in the book. Which is it? We gotta know... and will you kick our asses if we call you "Bobby"? THIS IS A SERIOUS QUESTION. Really. It is. BFF, right?
Screaming profanites at an attacker is OK. We learned that years ago.
Page 89: We would like to have seen more attribution to statistics used throughout the book (60 percent here, 20 percent there, but no footnotes to back up the numbers)
Page 94: Adopt the fighting stance:
Page 95 - Robert, that bitch is UGLY. Please see the "beat up your illustrator" comment earlier.
Page 98 - There are apparently 26 bones in human foot - you'll break at least one if you stomp on someone's foot really hard. (If not, you might die painfully, so you better get it right the first time.)
At this point, we can simply say that all other illustrations (hand thrust to crotch, side hand to throat, and digital-anal insertion) are simple attrition foreplay techniques. While they may disable your attacker, please use at your own risk. Any harm or injury from using these techniques will either require immediate medical attention or make d2d really, REALLY hot.
Page 103: Refering to a kick to the groin: "Does it really hurt that badly?" Ask cji, he gets it daily. And yes, it's cheaper than a vasectomy, so only *slightly* recommended.
Page 117 - When mentioning a wide variety of products you can use, I cringed, expecting a full blown product endorsement. Given Robert's recent history with laptop GPS products, I didn't consider that to be out of the question, but luckily product endorsement was minimal.
Chapter 6 on identity theft is a basic primer. There's not much good or bad to say about the information, but many of these vectors are covered in basic awareness courses. You can also go to DataLossDB.org for over 2,000 examples of how some of these situations can happen (hey... he can shill, so can I.)
Page 147: "About the Author": Robert, Rob, Bob, Bobby, we hope you take this as intended, and we understand the book was written in 2003, but "night club security" and "street confrontation" probably need to exit the bio. Understood that you had to build street cred, but that suit you wore on Montel might have killed it for you, cuz. We know, old clip. One Hail Mary and twenty shots of Jager for repentance.
Overall, not a terrible book, despite Robert's own comments (shown above), but it was definitely a raw effort that could have used better editing, illustrating, and publishing. Then again, we got it for free, no autographs, and homeslice has a house to rent.
Overall grade: D+ (but if he beats me up, I'll give it a solid C, swear).