Yet again Cisco has churned out an over priced book for one of its courses and filled it out with acronyms and confusing explanations. Nice diagrams though.
Fundamentals of Network Security is a companion guide for the online Cisco Networking Academy Program (CNAP). It says it is aimed at CCNA or equivalent level readers, training staff and 'general users', which would include pretty much anyone. According to Cisco Press, this is the only authorized textbook for the CNAP, which is a shame because it costs £62.50, and it's all in black and white.
It is interesting to note that the authors of the book are also the Networking Academy course developers.
When used alone, this book, like many others from Cisco Press, was boring and difficult to read. It was full of hard-to-follow tables and laborious examples. The structure of learning was time consuming and a chore, and the layout was colourless. Perhaps the best merit of design was the multiple-choice test at the end of each chapter where you can see what you have learned.
However, for those who remain faithful to Cisco, the book covers some important security topics (explained in Cisco terms) and contains a well-stocked CD-ROM, which includes videos, simulations, lab activities, and practice test questions. The labs were particularly useful and in the context of an online companion guide, brought the book to life. The CD-ROM also includes a mock exam, photos and diagrams of Cisco equipment, and exercises and demonstrations.
The book covers security in two parts; Cisco IOS router security and PIX security appliances. The chapters start with the basics, such as an overview of security, and zoom into the specifics, such as the OSI model and TCP/IP weaknesses. Other topics covered include installation, configuration, monitoring, and maintenance using Cisco products. It teaches web-based device management on routers and firewalls, configuring network address translation (NAT), access lists, traffic inspection, application filtering, and configuring identity management using authentication and authorization.
The most interesting chapter was on IPSec virtual private networks, which details topologies, configurations, testing, and installations on remote access clients and site-to-site networks.
Fundamentals of Network Security is a better reference guide than a companion, but does contain useful information if you use Cisco. It is expensive however.