Best Books On Cyber Security: From Hacking To Real-Life Adventures

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#1

Hacking

BEST OVERALL

Hacking: The Art of Exploitation

#2

The Code Book

The Code Book

#3

Practical

Practical Malware Analysis

#4

Ghost

Ghost in the Wires

#5

Invisibility

The Art of Invisibility

There’s a wealth of information about cyber-security if you wish to learn more about it.

While online resources are always valuable, choosing the best books will help you to gain more in-depth knowledge on how to protect yourself against cyber risks.

What, exactly, is cyber risk? In its simplest terms, cyber risk is the prediction of how frequently you can expect something bad to happen and how bad it will be.

It can include hacking or other violations of privacy

You might not know how to measure cyber risk, but that doesn’t mean you can’t jack up your online security. On the other hand, maybe you wish to enter an exciting career in cyber-security.

Whatever the case, let’s explore five of the best books on cyber-security: from hacking to real-life adventures, you’ll be able to enrich your knowledge and skills with these finds.


Best Overall: Hacking: The Art of Exploitation

Hacking: The Art of Exploitation

While you might not think that a book on hacking will give you information about cyber-security unless you want to become a hacker, this book’s description explains that hacking is all about creative problem-solving.

With that in mind, let’s see what this book has to offer and why it’s the best book on cyber-security. 

Specs

  • Author: Jon Erickson
  • Pages: 488 
  • Cover: Paperback 

Pros 

  • Instead of just showing readers how to run exploits, the author (who works as a security specialist) shows how hacking techniques work, sharing the art and science of this practice.
  • In so doing, the author also introduces to readers the fundamentals of C programming, all from a hacker’s perspective. 
  • The book comes with an included LiveCD which offers complete Linux programming and the debugging environment without making changes to your operating system. This is a useful resource that will help you to explore the hacking practices featured in the book yourself.
  • You’ll be able to explore overflowing buffers, bypassing protections, hijacking network communications, and more. This is valuable if you want to learn how to better increase your online security, such as if you own a business
  • You’ll learn how to program computers with C, shell scripts, and assembly language.
  • You’ll learn how to inspect processor registers and system memory with a debugger as well as outsmart commonly-used security measures. 
  • The text is easy to understand and the book includes diagrams. 

Cons

  • Some people who have read this book have reported that it was a bit difficult to follow the C programming information. A background in this programming would therefore be beneficial and make the book more useful to you.
  • Others have complained that the CD is quite outdated and won’t work on all machines.

Runner Up: The Code Book 

The Code Book

Author Simon Singh provides readers with an interesting history of encryption. Here’s what to know about his book.

Specs

  • Author: Simon Singh
  • Pages: 432
  • Cover: Paperback 

Pros

  • This book shows readers what effects encryption has had on wars, countries, as well as individual lives. There are some fascinating stories, such as how Mary, Queen of Scots, was once trapped by her own code!
  • This is the ideal book to read if you’re looking for history with some entertainment was thrown in.
  • The book contains clear mathematical and technical explanations, as well as features the most fascinating characters in history who created and broke the world’s most complex codes.
  • By the time you’ve read this book, you’ll have a greater understanding of coding and how complex encryption is, as well as how important privacy is online.
  • If you’re interested in learning about cyber-security, this book will give you a good foundation because it teaches you about the history of encryption but also gives it greater relevance to our modern lives.

Cons

  • Some people have said that although the book is very interesting, it can become a bit tedious.
  • Others have complained that the author explains things a little too much, which can be frustrating for those who have knowledge on these topics. 

Alternative: Practical Malware Analysis

Practical Malware Analysis

If you’re looking for a hands-on guide to teach you about how to improve your cyber safety, this is the book to add to your collection. Here’s why it’s one of the best books on cyber-security. 

Specs

  • Author: Michael Sikorski, Andrew Honig
  • Pages: 800
  • Cover: Paperback 

Pros 

  • If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a malware attack, you’ll know how devastating it can be. This book teaches you how to deal with it, providing you with techniques and tools that are used by professional analysts.
  • By studying the material in this book, you’ll be able to study, debug, and take apart malicious software.
  • This book will teach you how to set up a secure virtual environment in which to study malware. You’ll also be taught various analysis tools such as OllyDbg and IDA Pro.
  • You’ll be able to develop a methodology for how to unpack malware as well as gain practical experience by those in the know.
  • This book also teaches you how to analyze unique cases of malware with C++, 64-bit code, and shellcode.
  • The book is filled with labs that challenge you to practice the skills you’ve learned.
  • Since it’s 800 pages in length, this book is sure to provide you with an in-depth cyber-security resource you’ll return to time and time again. 

Cons 

  • One drawback linked to this book is that it recommends the use of Windows XP. This can restrict its use. 

Alternative: Ghost In The Wires

Ghost in the Wires

The title of this book alone is probably enough to intrigue you to want to read it, but what does it offer if you want to enrich your knowledge of cyber-security? Let’s find out.

Specs

  • Author: Kevin Mitnick, William L. Simon 
  • Pages: 432
  • Cover: Hardcover

Pros 

  • Kevin Mitnick was a computer break-in artist and is known as the most elusive one in history. He was able to gain access to computers and networks belonging to the biggest companies in the world. This book follows his exciting adventures as he tries to escape the FBI, which involved using fake identities and city-hopping to stay off their radar.
  • One of the best things you’ll gain from this true story is how companies and people have had to rethink the ways in which they protect their data, which is something that certainly applies today.
  • Seeing the issue of privacy from the perspective of a break-in artist is useful while providing you with a riveting story that you won’t want to put down.
  • By reading this book, you’ll be able to see how important cyber-security is and how to protect yourself by preventing any weak spots in your privacy. 
  • This book does become quite technical at times, which is good because it provides you with an in-depth analysis of cyber-security.

Cons

  • Some people who read this true story have reported that they didn’t like the character’s personality.
  • Others said that the book had the tendency to be a bit repetitive.

Alternative: The Art of Invisibility

The Art of Invisibility

This is another book by Kevin Mitnick and it’s recommended for you if you want a resource that’s more focused on being a guide to data privacy and how you can protect yourself. With that in mind, let’s explore what this book has to offer.

Specs

  • Author: Kevin Mitnick 
  • Pages: 320
  • Cover: Hardcover

Pros 

  • In this book, you’ll gain real-life stories from ex-hacker Mitnick who shows you what can happen to you regarding online privacy and security, and how both of these are important to safeguard. He provides strategies you can adopt to protect yourself.
  • The book is easy to follow and apply, thanks to its step-by-step instructions, which offer a practical and useful guide to anyone worried about their online privacy. 
  • This book will teach you many useful things, such as how to better protect your passwords and how to use Wi-Fi in smarter ways so that you can become more anonymous online.
  • This hacker-turned-security-expert has loads of valuable information to impart to his readers, helping them to become more careful when using the internet so that they don’t become a target for hackers. This is the best book on cyber-security because it’s designed for anyone who wants to boost their online privacy, thanks to its accessible information and strategies.
  • However, despite being user-friendly for beginners, this book has also been reviewed by people in the security industry as providing them with even more skills to boost their knowledge.

Cons

  • Some people who have purchased this book have reported that it’s not suitable for advanced computer users as it doesn’t provide enough technical and detailed information. 

Books On Cyber Security FAQ 

Cyber security books offer useful and practical information to help you learn how to boost your online privacy and prevent becoming a target for hackers. Read on to discover more about privacy and security in books. 

What Books Do Hackers Read?

What Books Do Hackers Read?

In order to become a hacker, one needs to commit to many years of learning and developing their craft. This is why books can be so useful to help hackers get started and increase their skills along the way.

Learning from books might seem outdated because there are so many resources online, such as YouTube videos, but books still have their place.

This is because of how the authors who compiled the books have a wealth of knowledge and, as a bonus, have condensed it so that it provides readers with the information they need while eliminating unnecessary info.

With that in mind, here are some books that are said to be read by, or recommended to, hackers: 

  • The Hackers Playbook 2 and The Hackers Playbook 3 by Peter Kim are both guides that seem to be quite popular as a result of the information that they provide for wannabe hackers. The Hackers Playbook 2 offers beginner-friendly information, such as password cracking, web application security, and vulnerability scanning. As you move onto The Hackers Playbook 3, you’ll learn more sophisticated information to up your game and increase your skill level.
  • Ghost In The Wires: My Adventures As The World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin Mitnick, which we’ve featured in our best books on cyber-security and hacking reviews. This book is recommended because it offers real-life stories by someone who’s been a famous hacker and obviously learned a lot during his time spent breaking into computers and evading the FBI. His adventures are not just informative but they’re also enjoyable to read, so that’s probably why this book would appeal to those interested in hacking.

If you’re someone who wants to improve their knowledge on cyber security, knowing what books would appeal to hackers is useful so you can get into their minds and explore their ways of thinking, in a similar way to how you’d want to know what criminals who break into your home are looking for and what weak spots they can take advantage of on your property.

Having this information will therefore help you to improve your security and stay safe.  

How Can I Teach Myself Cyber-Security?

Cyber-security can definitely be self-taught. This is thanks to how there are a variety of resources available to help you increase your knowledge and skills. Here are some tips on how to start teaching yourself cyber-security.

  • First, you need to pick a focus. This will help you to hone in on a specific area of cyber-security and gain knowledge that’s more specialized. Common areas of focus include cloud security, programming, website security, and hacking computers. Once you have a better idea of what you want to focus on, explore some of these resources to help you gain more information and boost your skill level.
  • Udemy. This is a learning platform that offers courses in a variety of fields. You can find cybersecurity courses too, such as those on programming, malware analysis, and computer hacking. 
  • YouTube. There are YouTube tutorials available that can teach you a lot about cyber-security. This is because many security researchers make YouTube video tutorials that show people how they hack into computers, so you get first-hand, practical information. Check out useful YouTube channels such as zSecurity, which provides ethical hacking and cyber-security tutorials, and Hackersploit, which gives you cyber-security training in ways that are easy to understand.  
  • Books. As we’ve seen in our review of the top books on cyber-security, there are a variety of books that will teach you about cyber-security. Some of them provide strategies for improving your cyber-security, while others are real-life stories about people who have hacking experience. Some of the books even come with practical step-by-step instructions on how to unpack malware or how to boost your online security, depending on what areas of cyber-security interest you the most. If you don’t want printed books, you can often purchase the books in ebook format for even greater convenience.  
  • Linux Academy. This is a useful platform to explore as it offers courses in a variety of technology areas. You’ll be able to sign up for security courses such as those relating to Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. Therefore, Linux is a valuable resource especially if you’re interested in cloud security. 
  • Try Hack Me. This is a website that teaches cyber-security to beginners. It strives to make learning easier, such as by offering guides that will teach you via video content and hands-on, practical tasks. It also makes use of games that will give you the chance to test your mettle in real-life cyber-security challenges. 

How Do You Measure Cyber Risk?

How Do You Measure Cyber Risk?

Earlier, we mentioned what cyber risk is. But how can we measure it?

This is where Qualitative Cyber Risk Measurement comes in handy. It offers a method for measuring cyber risk without the use of numbers.

How it works is that events will be plotted and rated to discover if they’re going to have a low or high likelihood of occurrence and a low or high impact.

There’s also a useful formula you can use when measuring risk: 

Risk = likelihood of data breach X impact of a data breach/cost.

However, it’s not always easy to figure out what the likelihood of a breach actually is. Therefore, it’s recommended that organizations make use of metrics such as the following:

  • The company’s level of preparedness. This looks at how many endpoints are up to date to offer more security. 
  • The company’s time of detection. When new software is released, how many days does it take to start the update for the latest, most secure, version? 
  • The company’s time to respond. This refers to how many days it takes to adopt the new software or practices and increase the overall level of security.  

Here are other tips to help you calculate risk:

Identify the common threats. 

These are important to know so that you can deal with them. They include the following:

  • Unauthorized access to your system, such as in the form of hacking. 
  • Misuse of information, such as in the form of use of data or changes that have been made to data without approval.
  • Loss of data. The latter can be caused by unsatisfactory backup processes.

Identify your risk rating. 

  • A severe rating means that there’s an urgent threat to the company and remediation needs to happen immediately. 
  • An elevated rating means a threat exists and risk reduction remediation needs to occur within a reasonable amount of time. 
  • A low rating means that the threat has a low impact on the company. By implementing extra security enhancements, should provide a greater amount of security against it.

By discovering what online risks to privacy are present, people and companies can better protect themselves. 

What Math Is Needed For Cyber-Security?

If you want to get involved in cyber security, such as by being qualified to work in a career in the field, you will need to have a strong background in math.

You will require skills in statistical analysis and analytics, and you will also have to study programming as well as encryption

For careers in entry-level cyber security, you will only need basic math concepts as these are used in programming, binary, and cryptography tasks.

When it comes to higher-level math concepts, such as calculus, these are sometimes required in cyber-security degree programs or more advanced careers in the field. 

Conclusion

Cyber security is a fascinating field of study, but even if you don’t intend on pursuing a career in it, knowing more about it will be useful to increase your cyber privacy.

That’s why books are so useful to teach you about cyber-security.

If you want to learn more about it, such as when it comes to hacking and analyzing malware, we’ve featured five of the best books on cyber-security, looking at their pros and cons so you can spend your money on the ones that will enrich your knowledge the most. 

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Paul Stephens

Paul Stephens

Paul Stephens is a veteran internet security expert who has worked with many security research companies across the world. During his career, he has helped thousands of individuals and organizations to retrieve their infected devices and stay away from potential threats. He wants to continue his legacy via ComputerPrivacy.org, focusing on privacy-related news, how-to guides, and hands-on reviews. With the core objective of making the internet a safer space, Paul Stephens keeps himself up to date about everything related to digital security and privacy. When he is not checking out new hardware or doing some research, Paul can be found with his favorite piano lessons.

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