[ISN] Book Review: The Mezonic Agenda: Hacking the Presidency

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Wed Feb 23 02:07:24 EST 2005

Forwarded from: Doctor Spook <dr.spook at gmail.com>

Title: The Mezonic Agenda: Hacking the Presidency
Author: Dr. Herbert Thompson & Spyros Nomikos 
Pages: 387 pages 
Publisher: Syngress; 1 edition (September 14, 2004)  
Reviewer: Dr. Spook
ISBN: 1931836833 
Buy From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1931836833/c4iorg

I really wanted to like this book. It's always good to see interesting
fiction by practitioners in the field. Unfortunately, this isn't it.
The authors would have been better served by an editor, something that
seems to have been lacking from start to finish. From page 6 onward,
the typographical errors are shameful. The grammar needs work, and I'm
surprised at the effort by someone who professes a Phd. in Applied
Math, Florida (update).

It's an entertaining thought, enclosing a CD, creating a "hacking"
contest, with the prize being free admission to the Black Hat
Conference held annually in Las Vegas (and its bad older brother,
Defcon, held right after). I offer the following limited analysis of
the software:

The enclosed CD is meant for a MS Windows operating system, and needs
flash enabled for the full glory. Needless to say, in a security
conscious world, the investigations my group made had more to do with
hex editors and unix tools than in allowing the program to install on
a defenseless computer. My favorite moment with strings?

Type the full path to the output file:
Type the full path to the encrypted file:
     (   )
     \   /
     /   \
    I_   _I
    I     I
[] ::::::::: []
[] ::*****:: []
[] :|:::::|: []
[] :| (_) |: []
/      _      \
Success...the key is yours!
What is the key:

Well, there you go.

On another note, for someone who wants a good read of fiction, by
someone in the field, let me recommend "The Bug," by Ellen Ullman,
noted Wired columnist, and author of that memoir of the very recent
past, "Close to the Machine." Both books give you a glimpse into the
real world of programming and programmers, and are a thoughtful gaze
into the passion that eats at the heart of most computer afficionados.

The Bug; ISBN: 0-385-50860-3

Close to the Machine; ISBN: 0-87286-332-8


Dr. Spook is a security researcher, currently employed in the defense
industry, who prefers anonymity. The good doctor has associates in
most TLAs, and in some security groups as well.

When not absorbed with the latest debacles from a wide array of
software and hardware vendors, Dr. Spook is amused by the interesting
puzzles left in the works of such notables as Elias Ashmole and John

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