Cobb's Guide to PC & LAN Security

Formerly The NCSA Guide to PC & LAN Security

This page provides access to sections of my book, Cobb's Guide to PC and LAN Security, the first version of which appeared in 1992. The book was heavily revised and expanded in 1996 and then reprinted in 2000.

Free Electronic Edition Now Available!

The book has been scanned and converted to a searchable .pdf file complete with original illustrations. The file can be freely downloaded, printed, and shared under a Creative Commons license. Due to the large size of the book (709 pages) the download is in three parts:

While a lot of the book's content is now dated, it still delivers some solid advice and provides a useful historical snapshot of both evolving and enduring issues in computer security. Examples include the "layered approach" to security and the idea of "defense-in-depth" which some people working in security today consider to be recent developments. However, here you can see them illustrated in the 1992 edition:

The author's notes on each chapter of Cobb's Guide to PC & LAN Security are provided here, listed according to the table of contents (below).

Cobb's Guide to PC & LAN Security
Table of Contents with Links to Author Notes

Chapter 1. Security Matters: Assessing the problems, threats, and issues

Chapter 2. Security Solutions: Basic concepts and techniques

Chapter 3. Security Planning: Risk analysis and security policy

Chapter 4. Secure Hardware: Defending and insuring equipment

Chapter 5. Secure Power: Spikes, Sparks, and Electrical Threats

Chapter 6. Secure Sites: Defending sites and systems

Chapter 7. Secure Access: Controls, passwords, and encryption

Chapter 8. Secure Data: Backup, backup, backup

Chapter 9. Secure Code: Defeating viruses, worms and other malicious code

Chapter 10. Secure Software: Piracy, bugs, and other "soft" threats

Chapter 11. Secure Networks I: Generic network defense

Chapter 12. Secure Networks II: Protecting name brand networks

Chapter 13. Secure Communications: WANs, remote access, and the Internet

Chapter 14. Secure People: Hacking and ethical issues

Chapter 15. Security in the Future: How to become and remain secure*

Appendix A: Threat List

Appendix B: A Brief Guide to Batch Files

Appendix C: Computer Security Policy

Appendix D: Notes on EMR

Appendix E: Export Restrictions on Encryption

Appendix F: Further Resources

Appendix G: Glossary

Appendix H: How Public Key Encryption Works

Appendix I: Introduction to LANs

Appendix J: Securing Safe Software

Appendix K: Appraising Microsoft AV