Computer Security Literacy

Staying Safe in a Digital World

By Douglas Jacobson, Joseph Idziorek

© 2013 – Chapman and Hall/CRC

368 pages | 186 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9781439856185
pub: 2012-11-27
US Dollars$54.95

e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

Computer users have a significant impact on the security of their computer and personal information as a result of the actions they perform (or do not perform). Helping the average user of computers, or more broadly information technology, make sound security decisions, Computer Security Literacy: Staying Safe in a Digital World focuses on practical security topics that users are likely to encounter on a regular basis.

Written for nontechnical readers, the book provides context to routine computing tasks so that readers better understand the function and impact of security in everyday life. The authors offer practical computer security knowledge on a range of topics, including social engineering, email, and online shopping, and present best practices pertaining to passwords, wireless networks, and suspicious emails. They also explain how security mechanisms, such as antivirus software and firewalls, protect against the threats of hackers and malware.

While information technology has become interwoven into almost every aspect of daily life, many computer users do not have practical computer security knowledge. This hands-on, in-depth guide helps anyone interested in information technology to better understand the practical aspects of computer security and successfully navigate the dangers of the digital world.


"… a practical, application-oriented introduction to security education and literacy. While the information is technical enough to provide value to information systems professionals, the organization around specific topics makes it accessible to non-technical users looking for information on specific issues. … the book would be appropriate for an upper-division introductory course on information security … a good book for use in educational training programs developed by corporate information security managers. Technical information security professionals could also benefit from reading the book. … the material is well-written and effectively organized."

—W.T. Neumann, Computing Reviews, March 2013

"User error was manifest last week when it was detailed that the New York Times was penetrated over the course of four months by Chinese hackers who infiltrated its network and obtained passwords for a significant amount of the Times reporters and employees. Attempting to alleviate such user error issues, Computer Security Literacy: Staying Safe in a Digital World is a helpful security awareness book. … The book provides information about essential security topics in an easy-to-read manner. … a worthwhile guide for an organization to have in their information security awareness program. It provides the reader with an understanding and appreciation for the magnitude of computer security. Had the New York Times employees been aware of the risks and taken actions as written in Computer Security Literacy, odds are that the effects would have been much less, and they wouldn’t have been a cover story in their own periodical."

—Ben Rothke, RSA, February 2013

"… a good primer for laypersons who use computers, giving this audience a broad understanding of important points. … Recommended"

—S.A. Patton, Indiana State University in CHOICE Magazine, June 2013

Table of Contents

What Is Information Security?


How Much of Our Daily Lives Relies on Computers?

Security Truisms

Basic Security Terminology

Cyber Ethics

The Perception of Security

Threat Model

Security Is a Multidisciplinary Topic

Introduction to Computers and the Internet



Operation of a Computer

Overview of the Internet

Computers and the Internet

Security Role-Playing Characters

Passwords under Attack


Authentication Process

Password Threats

Strong Passwords

Password Management: Let’s Be Practical

Email Security


Email Systems

Email Security and Privacy

Malware: The Dark Side of Software


What Is Malware?

How Do I Get Malware?

What Does Malware Do?

Malware: Defense in Depth


Data Backup


Software Patches

Antivirus Software

User Education

Securely Surfing the World Wide Web


Web Browser

"HTTP Secure"

Web Browser History

Online Shopping


Consumer Decisions

Spyware and Key-Loggers

Wireless Sniffing

Scams and Phishing Websites

Misuse and Exposure of Information

Wireless Internet Security


How Wireless Networks Work

Wireless Security Threats

Public Wi-Fi Security

Wireless Network Administration

Social Networking


Choose Your Friends Wisely

Information Sharing

Malware and Phishing

Social Engineering: Phishing for Suckers


Social Engineering: Malware Distribution


Detecting a Phishing URL

Application of Knowledge

Staying Safe Online: The Human Threat


The Differences between Cyberspace and the Physical World

Consider the Context: Watch What You Say and How It Is Communicated

What You Do on the Internet Lasts Forever

Nothing Is Private, Now or in the Future

Can You Really Tell Who You Are Talking with?

Cameras and Photo Sharing

I Am a Good Person, That Would Never Happen to Me

Is There Anything I Can Do to Make the Internet a Safer Place for My Child?

Case Studies


Unable to Remove Malware: Help!

Securely Handling Suspicious Email Attachments

Recovering from a Phishing Attack

Email Account Hacked? Now What?

Smart Phones and Malware

Hey! You! Get off My Wireless Network

Bad Breakup? Sever Your Digital Ties

"Display Images Below"? The Meaning behind the Question

Phishing Email Forensics

It’s on the Internet, So It Must Be True

Buying and Selling Online

Moving Forward with Security and Book Summary


After the Completion of the Book

Defense-in-Depth Tasks

Chapter Summaries


Appendix A: Reading List

Appendix B: Basics of Cryptography

Appendix C: Web Surfing Security Technologies

A Summary and Bibliography appear at the end of each chapter.

About the Originator

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
COMPUTERS / Security / General
COMPUTERS / Security / Cryptography