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Helping you to secure your computer and your data, using plain English, with step by step instructions.
54 backers pledged $3,180 to help bring this project to life.

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$3,180

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Quick poll: Do you think your computer's security is more like Fort Knox or a Paper Bag? If you're like most people, you're probably closer to the paper bag - and this book is for you!

This is a book about computer security for normal people! In this book I lay out a wide range of professional tips for greatly increasing your security, using language that everyone can follow and a style that’s easy to read. I will use helpful analogies to explain technical topics and throw in some fascinating, real-life stories to drive the points home.

If you’re short on time, you can skip straight to the step-by-step checklists; but if you want to actually understand why you’re doing it, I explain that, too!

This book really is about the bare minimum stuff that everyone should do to keep themselves safe - like wearing a seat belt, installing smoke alarms, and putting on sunscreen.

Covers: PC's (Windows) & Macs (OSX), including some tips on mobile devices (smart phones, tablets)

Non-Techie Version (for regular people)

This book is for my mother, my friends, my neighbors, and all the other totally normal, everyday people like them: people who use computers, but don’t really know (or frankly care) how they work. This book is for people who just want to know what they need to do to protect themselves - step by step, without lots of jargon, and without judgment. I’ve structured this book to give you the maximum benefit with the smallest amount of effort (and cost). The purpose of this book is to cut to the chase and clearly explain the bare minimum things you need to do to protect yourself in this increasingly-connected world of ours. Along the way, if you want to learn a little of the ‘why’ and ‘how’, in language you can understand, I’ve included a good bit of that, too.

So, what will this book really do for me, you ask? To put it simply, it’s going to make you safer - significantly safer, if you follow most of the advice. In fact, it will not only make you safer, it will make those around you safer, even if they don’t do any of the things I recommend in this book. If you read the book cover to cover (though you don’t have to), you will be armed with enough knowledge to see through the hype from the media, government and corporations and understand the real risks. And finally, it will help you be an informed citizen when it comes time to vote - either at the ballot box or at the cash register.

But can’t I find all of this information on the web, you ask? Sure you can! The problem is not lack of information - the problem is that there is too much. How do you find what you need and weed out the stuff you don’t? Most people wouldn’t even know what to search for. Even if you knew some of the technical terms, you’d still have to collect all the info and figure out what parts are relevant to you. To make matters worse, the common news sources that most people turn to have done a horrible job covering these topics (when they cover them at all). They tend to focus on the wrong things and generally give poor advice. There are lots of good sites that get it right, but you’ve probably never heard of them and they tend to be very technical. If only someone could find all the most important stuff, break it down into manageable pieces, and explain it so anyone can get it… well, for a small investment, I will deliver just that!

Techie Version (for computer nerds)

If you’re a techie person, then you’re probably the go-to “IT guy” (or gal) in the family. Your friends constantly ask you for advice when buying a computer. Your relatives email you whenever their Mac is “acting funny”. And your college-aged niece who downloads tons of “free” music and movies can’t understand why her PC is riddled with viruses. If you’re a real softie, you probably forward them emails about scams to watch out for, web sites to avoid, and suggestions on how to protect their privacy. Most of the time, your advice is never followed, unless you give them detailed, step-by-step instructions or just do it for them. Remote desktop sharing has saved you much time and effort, but it’s still frustrating trying to keep your friends and loved ones safe and up to date.

This book isn’t for you. It’s for them. You already know most of this stuff, or at least know where to find it. But the rest of humanity is just not getting it, despite your heroic efforts. This book is going to be the stocking stuffer you give to everyone in your family. It’s the book you issue to each friend that buys a new computer. It’s the book that’s going to save you countless hours explaining to Aunt May why she needs to have more than one password, or answering your neighbor’s constant questions about which anti-virus software he should be using, or helping your mom remove ten different Internet Explorer toolbar “helpers” so that she can actually see more web page than buttons.

The purpose of this book is to walk the average, non-techie person through the basic things that everyone should do to protect their computers and their data. It also takes the time to explain why these things are important and how they work, at a high level. This is the stuff you wish you had time to explain to all your friends and family. With a small donation, you can help me to help you!

About Me

I’m a software engineer and I’ve been doing computer stuff professionally for over 20 years now (and unprofessionally since I was a kid). I was sending emails before AOL was filling your mailbox with CDs and I’ve been surfing the world wide web since it began in the early 90s. I use multiple computers on a daily basis, for a living and for fun. I personally own six computers at this very moment: one running Windows, two running Linux, and three running Mac OSX. Basically, when it comes to computers and the internet, I’ve been there, done that. In recent years, I've become extremely interested in computer security and privacy. I find myself constantly sending emails to my friends and family, giving them a heads up on the latest scams and viruses, keeping their systems updated, and generally trying to educate them about the dangers as well as the hype. I’ve always got my ear to the ground, following techie blogs, listening to security podcasts, and even reading books on encryption and cryptography - for fun! But honestly, there are plenty of people with more geek cred than me. The final qualities that set me apart are a) the ability to explain technical stuff to non-technical people, and b) the desire and patience to actually do so.

Working Title

The title is still a work in progress and may yet change. I will probably at least add a subtitle. (I'm open to suggestions!) Throughout the book I will use analogies to explain technical topics, and explaining the many layers of castle defenses is an excellent analogy for computer security. The idea that spawned the title is that security is about trade offs: time, cost, effort and convenience versus risk of attack and consequences of a breach. Trying to make a castle dragon-proof makes no sense - the cost would bankrupt the kingdom! So you focus on the more common risks (i.e., people).

Risks and challenges

This is my first book and my first foray into KickStarter. However, I've found myself a mentor who has successfully authored two very popular books via KickStarter, and I've always been a prolific writer. My problem will probably be keeping the book short!

My goal is to publish the book by December and that's an aggressive goal. I have 14 chapters outlined and 16,000 words written already, but there's a lot more to do. For example, I plan to personally verify the steps in every checklist for each operating system version. However, I really want to get this book out in time for Christmas, so that's my prime motivation for hitting this deadline.

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    Moat level. Early Adopter! Digital copy of book.

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    Castle Guard level. Signed copy of paperback. Includes preview drafts as I go, with opportunity to provide direct feedback and influence the book content!

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    Tower Keep level. One hour remote consultation via TeamViewer or similar. May be given as a gift, too! Includes signed paperback copy of the book.

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- (30 days)