Followup: What’s wrong with the Zone-Based Firewalls book

I’d like to thank all the readers that took time and responded to my question about the failure of my Deploying Zone-Based Firewalls book. The sad short conclusion is: while everyone would love to have an electronic copy of the book, the technology and the mindsets are simply not ready yet. Here are the details:

You hate DRM. So do I. Every DRM scheme treats you like a common criminal that has to be severely restricted so that he can do the least damage to the “high-value” property the DRM is trying to protect (not to mention the risks of DRM failures, sellers going bankrupt etc.). For example, the Adobe Digital Editions (if it works at all … I was never able to get it running properly on my laptop) allow you to install the same book on a few machines, but you can’t carry it with you as you could a paper copy.

DRM on books is either too restricted or useless. As someone wrote in his comment, he prints the every digital book the moment he receives it (and you can always print it to a PDF printer). If the DRM protection doesn’t allow you to print the book, it’s probably too restricted; if it does, it’s useless.

Everyone loves downloadable PDF. Pirates included. Let’s be realistic: if you can view protected PDF files within an open-source viewer on Linux (and copy “protected” material from them), anyone with enough time can unprotect them, remove downloading user indication (PDF is not so hard to modify) and post them.

Safari is no protection. The digital books available on Safari in HTML and PDF format can be pirated as easily as anything else. For example, I’ve found the complete MPLS and VPN Security book from Cisco Press available “for free” in HTML format. I doubt Cisco Press released it that way; it was probably scraped from Safari (or some other HTML source).

Other issues

The fact that Cisco was giving away copies in non-DRM PDF format, the stealth marketing the book received (numerous comments indicated the readers using the zone-based firewalls were not aware the book exists) and problems with the ordering platform (you can’t order the DRM-protected PDF from Amazon, you have to do it through Cisco Press web site) didn’t help either.

The title of this post is “what’s wrong with my book”, so I’ll stop here. Many readers made very positive comment and offered useful suggestions that I’ll definitely follow. I would also recommend that you buy your copy of the book on Kindle or through Safari to avoid the Adobe DRM hassle.


  1. Ivan,

    Kudos to you for asking the question. Naturally there is a morass of middle-people between you and your readers: publishers, lawyers, marketers, etc. and some of these issues are not under your direct control. It is nice to know that the author also can see the frustrations of DRM.

    The content of your book is excellent. And of course with the inclusion of the R&S 4.0 blueprint this book will extremely useful for R&S candidates. Also, I would like to say thank you to you and NIL for the IP Corner articles.
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