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The Basics of Information Security: Understanding the Fundamentals of InfoSec in Theory and Practice

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Boring, boring, boring. Isn’t this what immediately comes to mind when one sees books on foundational concepts of information security? Monotonous coverage of theory, dry details of history, brief yet inadequate coverage of every topic known to man, even though you know that you’ll never be hired by the NSA as a cryptographer. All you really want is a book that makes you fall asleep every 30 minutes instead of every five. It’s all the “necessary evil” that must be endured, right? Not this time, my budding security professional.

So let’s be honest. You actually do have a strong interest in making security a career and not just a hobby. Why else would you have this book in your hand? But like many of you, I didn’t know (and sometimes still wonder to this day) what I wanted to be when I grew up. So why this book? What’s so great about another extensive volume on information security? How does it help me not only to learn the basics but also to push my career aspirations in the right direction?

When my son was 4, I took him to the park down the road from our house. There were kids playing baseball, others chasing their friends through the plastic and metal jungle, and even a few climbing the fake rock-climbing wall. Then he saw the boys at the skateboard park. He had a board of his own but never knew someone could do that! Of course, he wanted to try it immediately. As a responsible Dad, I couldn’t let him launch himself off the top of a 6-foot ramp only to end up unconscious waiting to be run over by the next prepubescent wannabe Tony Hawk. But what I could do is require him to show me that he could do something basic like stand on the board and ride it all the way down the driveway at home. As a reward, he could go to the skate park. Once there, he didn’t feel quite as comfortable as when on the driveway, so he rode down the ramp while sitting. Eventually, he dictated his own path; he set his own goals; he controlled the time it took to get where he wanted to be.

His path was different from many others at the park that day. But imagine if we never went to the park. How about if he only saw a baseball being tossed and no home runs? What if he didn’t even get to see the skate park, much less the kids airing the gap? Knowing what is possible can drastically change one’s destiny. And so it is with a profession in security.

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