From the book lists at Adware Report:

All information current as of 14:16:37 Pacific Time, Monday, 21 February 2005.

Virtual Private Networks for Dummies

   by Mark S. Merkow

    For Dummies
    15 November, 2000


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Editorial description(s):
Shockingly short on implementation details, Virtual Private Networks for Dummies tries to craft a scattershot collection of facts and references into an introduction to virtual private networks (VPNs). That's not to say that this book is insubstantial, because it's not; probably, you'll learn something about networking, cryptography, authentication infrastructures, and other aspects of VPN engineering. Also, it's done a good job of compiling references to VPN resources on the Internet, so you'll have plenty of surfing to do. But it never explains how to build a VPN--or even the simplest laboratory simulation of one--and that's precisely the kind of how-to information that buyers of this book will want.

True enough: every situation that calls for a VPN is different; and, if the book had shown how to implement a VPN with one turnkey solution, users of the others would complain. But even the narrowest example would have been better than some of the stuff that fills these pages. At one point, the reader is walked through the process of encoding and decoding a plain-text message--by hand--by using a shared private key. Spare us, please. The book gives the vital Layer 2 Transport Protocol all of two short paragraphs. Sections on public-key encryption and digital certificates do a good job of unraveling perennially misunderstood processes, but they don't offset the lack of details on VPN. --David Wall

Topics covered: Aspects of virtual private networks (VPNs), organized to get potential VPN implementers thinking about security and other design issues. Specifically, Public-Key Infrastructure (PKI); digital certificates; turnkey VPN packages; and a lot of general stuff about what VPNs are good for, and how to design a good one.

Book Info
Discusses how to make the Internet secure for business, link remote sites and customers to your network, maximize speed and reliability, understand encryption and authentication issues and choosing the right hardware, software, and partners. Softcover.

From the Back Cover
Includes tips on e-commerce and extranets

Packed with real-world Virtual Private Networks case studies

Save time and money with the hot new remote networking solution Virtual private networks let you create a secure business network over the Internet -- and avoid the expense of dedicated access lines. This friendly guide walks you through this complex technology and leads you to a VPN solution that's just right for your business.

Discover how to: Make the Internet secure for business Link remote sites and customers to your network Maximize speed and reliability Understand encryption and authentication issues Choose the right hardware, software, and partners

The Dummies Way Explanations in plain English "Get in, get out" information Icons and other navigational aids Tear-out cheat sheet Top ten lists A dash of humor and fun

Get smart! Register to win cool prizes Browse exclusive articles and excerpts Get a free Dummies Daily e-mail newsletter Chat with authors and preview other books Talk to us, ask questions, get answers

About the Author
Mark Merkow, an e-commerce and network security expert, writes a column for and is the coauthor of Building SET Applications for Secure Transactions.

Book Description
Let’s face it: the information age makes dummies of us all at some point. One thing we can say for sure, though, about things related to the Internet is that their best strengths are often also their worst weaknesses. This goes for virtual private networks (VPNs). They may reach a wide base of customers – but can also be vulnerable to viruses, hackers, spoofers, and other shady online characters and entities. VPNs may allow for super-efficient communication between customer and company – but they rely on information which, if compromised, can cause huge losses. The Internet is still a frontier – sometimes so wide open it leaves us bewildered – and, like any frontier, the risks go hand in hand with potentially huge rewards.

Virtual Private Networks for Dummies offers you a no-nonsense, practical guide to evaluating your company’s need for a VPN, understanding what it takes to implement one, and undertaking the challenging quest to set it up, make it work, and keep it safe. Whether you’re the resident expert leading the project team, or you just want to learn what makes e-commerce tick, this detailed, from-the-ground-up guide will soon have you comfortably conceptualizing:

With new products and technologies offering supposedly revolutionary solutions to IT departments every day, this book focuses on the real world – you know, the one full of obstacles, mishaps, threats, delays, and errors – and gives you the background knowledge to make decisions for yourself about your VPN needs. Written with a dash of humor, Virtual Private Networks for Dummies contains both technical detail (standards, protocols, etc.) and more general concepts (such as conducting cost-benefit analyses). This clear, authoritative guide will have you securely and cost-effectively networking over the Internet in no time.

Reader review(s):

A little to simplistic, March 13, 2000
I know the "for dummies" series is meant to be a jumping off point for people with no experience, but this was a little too simplistic for me. I expected that since the topic was pretty advanced, the material would be more advanced than something like, say, "PC's for Dummies". It wasn't.

This book gave a very basic primer on encryption. If you have ever used PGP, you understand most of the concepts covered in the first two chapters. I guess if you are not a network administrator or other computer professional, this would be good for covering the basics without jargon. But if you are at all familiar with any kind of encryption and networking concepts, start with something like O'Reilly's "Virtual Private Networks" by Scott, Wolfe, and Erwin.

As It Promises, An Introduction, March 16, 2000
As part of the For Dummies series, this book delivers what it sets out to do: provide an introduction to the technically complex world of VPNs. I searched other titles and found them all starting at a higher level of competence than I possessed. This book provides the beginning primer that leaves me ready to move to those other available volumes. This book focuses upon security issues (the author is a security specialist), but also provides useful historical information, steps to plan, implement and test your VPN, and illustrative case studies of those who have been there before. The book also includes helpful appendices about other available resources (a buyer's guide), and even includes hints on how to justify a VPN to your boss...

Not too bad, but vague..., January 20, 2003
I found the book average. The majority of it is spent explaining the concepts and theories of VPN, but nothing about set-up or troubleshooting.
Where'a a list of VPN errors? How would I configure a VPN session on my server? What sort of browsers work best? Some good information on encryption, but I found it all very 20th century...

Disappointing at best., November 27, 2004
I found this book to be a largely random collection of superficial comments about VPN's. There seems to be no coherent flow or direction and the few items of value, while interesting, are completely tangential to the implementation of an actual VPN. Even one well presented example of an actual implementation would have been welcome.

One doesn't expect in depth analyses in the "Dummies" series, but they generally present some introductory level and quite usable "how to's" that can get you started in the right direction. Unfortunately, this book falls woefully short of providing a useful starting point.

This book has set a new speed record in moving from my mail box to my recycling box. I honestly cannot give it even one star.

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