Shostack + Friends Blog


Worthwhile Books Q4 2022

Books that I read in the fourth quater that are worth your time include several about safety with lessons for cybersecurity a big pile of books


Both of my so-called cyber books are not about cyber — if you judge a book by its cover. But both have some pretty important lessons for us.

  • Do Safety Differently, Sidney Dekker and Todd E Conklin. This book is about safety and the tension between form and function, between bureaucracy and work, and it’s beautiful. Almost everything in it makes sense for cybersecurity. Substitute ‘security’ for ‘safety,’ and almost all the critiques and suggestions hold.
  • Into the Raging Sea, Rachel Slade. The story of how over-confidence, bad information, cost cutting and pressure to put business over safety led to the first American-flagged merchant ship to sink in decades. Each of these has direct analogies in cybersecurity. The excellent book by Ms. Slade is complemented by a formal NTSB report, described and linked by GCaptian. I am optimistic that the CSRB will be giving us such reports for cybersecurity.


  • Index, A History of the. Duncan, Dennis. A delightful little history.
  • Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto, Alan Stern and David Grinspoon. A really well told story of the first Pluto mission. Inexplicably, the authors spend time explaining why the vote to demote Pluto was academic politics. But also convincingly. I especially enjoyed the engineering and risk management discussions, which were accessible and went to good depth.
  • Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, Avi Loeb, chair of Harvard’s Astronomy department. Makes an interesting case that Oumuamua was the product of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. Sadly, we also learn that Dr. Loeb doesn’t like science fiction, and he somehow missed that von Neumann proposed self-replicating machinery, which seem relevant to probabilities and origins.


  • Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse. A rare choice for me to anti-recommend, but the exceptionally graphically violent opening pages were too much for me. I was looking forward to the setting, and I enjoyed her Resistance Reborn (in the Star Wars universe).
  • Strangest of all: Anthology of Astrobiological SF from the Auropean Astrobiology Institute, stories that explore unexpected biological possibilities. In the strongest of the hard-SF tradition.