A Taste of Computer Security© Amit Singh. All Rights Reserved. Written in June 2004
There are miscreants everywhere — in all domains — from vandals in a representative parking lot to high-profile terrorists on the international scene.
Today, computers are used in all walks of life: they are in your homes, and in various critical domains such as defense, education, finance, government, health care, and so on. This reliance of the world's infrastructure on computer systems, and the consequent pervasiveness of the latter, makes their "security" an issue of great importance.
The security of computer systems is a unique aspect of computing in that it enjoys remarkable attention from all quarters: at least everybody who uses computers cares about security. If you research or design systems, you care about creating mechanisms for providing security. If you are a marketeer or a salesman selling a system, you would need as many security-related bullet-points as you can gather (preferably backed by real technology). If you are an operating system holy warrior, you might find demonstrable security flaws in "other" systems to be excellent warfare tools. Popular media likes the negative, and they have been especially fond of computer security (its downfall, usually), a topic that has been romanticized consistently.
Given the nature and scope of the field, it would require one or more books to even briefly touch upon all that is known about computer security. This document's goal is only to give you a taste of (a subset of) the subject. The various sections are not uniform in their depth or breadth, and the document's overall structure is not pedagogical. I could have titled it Thinking Aloud On Computer Security, if not for the somewhat pompous undertone.