I am a computer jockey by profession. I've been working with UNIX and TCP/IP for nearly 25 years. Windows for 8 years. I'm also a sometime auto mechanic. Basically, I just like getting things to work.
How long have you been working with Linux, and how did you get interested in it?
I started fooling with Linux in 1995. I was intrigued by an open source UNIX-like operating system - having source code made figuring things out so much easier! By 1996, I was using Linux for a variety of purposes, it is such an inexpensive way to get a UNIX-like box. Beginning in 1997, I was using it for firewalling, routing, education, and a variety of similar uses.
How did you gain interest in computer security?
In the mid-80's, I was a programmer who had an interest in how operating systems worked. At that time, the UNIX administrators I worked with also had the responsibility for either mainframes or VMS systems or both. Often, I needed to get things done and couldn't get the administrator to do what I needed (either because he didn't know how or didn't have time). So, I'd figure out ways to gain root access and do it myself. Of course, today, such behavior is unacceptable. But then, the admin didn't even know what I had done. In 1987, I officially became a UNIX administrator in a University environment. I became "interested" in security because I got tired of all the tricks students were playing on me! I had to figure things out and put things in place to stop their activities. At the time, I really didn't think of it as "security". By 1993, I was involved with all sorts of activities specific to limiting access, hardening systems, and monitoring networks.
How long did it take you to co-write "Linux System Security: The Administrator's Guide to Open Source Security Tools, 2/e" and what was it like?
It took about 6 months. I find writing about technology to be interesting, challenging, fun, and tedious. It is interesting because I always learn something new. It is challenging because I really want to write in a "how-to" style and it takes a lot of work to get it to a point where people can both use a "how-to" and learn from it. It is fun when people read it and figure things out from it. The tedium comes from the copyediting, the re-reading, the re-writing...
In your opinion, where does Linux need the most development at the moment?
I still think that there are two major areas. The first is application support. Application developers (everything from word processing to databases to games) have been slow to adopt Linux as a platform. A lot of this can be attributed to the economic climate over the last three years, but at least some of it is attributable to the second area of development need.
By subscribing to our early morning news update, you will receive a daily digest of the latest security news published on Help Net Security.
With over 500 issues so far, reading our newsletter every Monday morning will keep you up-to-date with security risks out there.