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The Database Hacker's Handbook: Defending Database Servers Paperback – Jul 14 2005


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Inside This Book (Learn More)
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In the introduction, we discussed the reasons why we consider database security to be important. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 7 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
You Really Need the 70 Pages on Your Database July 14 2005
By John Matlock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Here is a book in which you will probably only be interested in 1/7 of the pages. That means that instead of reading 528 pages you only need to read about 70. But, you may really, really need that 70 pages. The reason for this is that the book covers seven of the most common databases: IBM DB2, Oracle, MySQL, PostGreSQL, SQL Server, SyBase, Informix. These programs are so different that what applies to one does not generally apply to the others.

Each section of the book covers one of the databases. It usually begins with some history of both the database and attacks on it. For instance the Slammer worm compromised more than 75,000 SQL Server databases within ten minutes of its release in January 2003.

After that there is a discussion on the database, its architecture, how it handles things like authentication and so on.

Finally it goes into how to defend the database against attack. This includes information on how to remove unncecessary features and services that might serve as gateways to attacks, and talks about how to use the databases own internal security systems to their maximum effectiveness.

As I said, you really need the 70 or so pages that refer to your own database.

PS - What's the most secure database - PostGreSQL, and it goes into why.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Important Book For Database and Security Admins Nov. 20 2005
By sixmonkeyjungle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
David Litchfield is arguably the foremost expert and evangelist when it comes to database security. He, and his team of compatriots from Next Generation Security Software, have written a book that any database or security administrator should be familiar with.

Even if some of the attacks or exploits described in the book were previously obscure or unknown, the fact that they have been outlined in this book means that administrators need to know about them and defend against them before the "bad guys" read this book and take advantage of them.

One of the best aspects of this book is the way it is organized. Splitting the book into sections devoted to specific database systems makes it exceptionally simple and convenient to use. If you only use MySQL, you can skip all of the information regarding Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server, and just focus on the section of the book that applies to you.

Within each section, the authors provide a tremendous wealth of knowledge. Aside from describing weaknesses, potential exploits and protective measures to defend against them, they also look at the general architecture and the methods of authentication used by the database.

Any database admin should have a copy of this on their desk.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Attacking Database Servers July 24 2005
By Tatjana Injac - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review is only for the Oracle parts of the book.

The most interesting chapter is "Attacking Oracle". These guys give phrase "thinking outside of the box" the real meaning. They look for a feature or bug open to the security attack, then they shake it til it breaks. You will see exploits of AUTHID, PL/SQL injections, app. server, dbms_sql.parse bug,... most of them relevant to 9i and 10g versions.

The hacks are mainly in the sections called "Real-World Examples". Most of the exploits are already patched by Oracle and they are also available on hacking forums, but there were some new ones that were quite a revelation.

The security recommendations in the "Securing Oracle" chapter were too general, you can probably find Internet white papers on hardening Oracle that give more details. But, this book is not really about hardening Oracle, even if it says "Defending Database Servers" with small, blue letters on the front cover. This book is about attacking database servers.

I have seen David Litchfield's previous work and I am sure he knows (and has tried) more than what is written here. Can we expect to see that in "The Hacker's Handbook" part II?
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Coverage of many databases, but not as coherent as it should be May 5 2006
By Richard Bejtlich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Database Hacker's Handbook (TDHH) is unique for two reasons. First, it is written by experts who spend their lives breaking database systems. Their depth of knowledge is unparalleled. Second, TDHH addresses security for Oracle, IBM DB2, IBM Informix, Sybase ASE, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and PostgreSQL. No other database security book discusses as many products. For this reason, TDHH merits four stars. If a second edition of the book addresses some of my later suggestions, five stars should be easy to achieve.

The first issue I would like to see addressed in a second edition of TDHH is the removal of the 60 pages of C code scattered throughout the book. The code is already provided on the publisher's Web site, and its appearance in a 500 page book adds little. The three pages of characters (that's the best way to describe it) on pages 313-315 in Ch 19 are really beyond what any person should be expected to type.

The second issue involves general presentation. Many chapters end abruptly with no conclusion or summary. Several times I thought "Is that it?" Chapters 2, 5, 7, 10, 13, 15, 18, 21 and 22 all end suddenly. The editor should have told the authors to end those chapters with summaries, as appear in other chapters. On a related note, some of the "chapters" are exceptionally short; Ch 9 and 12 are each 3 pages, for example. Chapters that short are an indication the book is not organized well.

The final issue involves discussion of various databases. I preferred the "Hacking Exposed" style of the 2003 book SQL Server Security, which included Dave Litchfield and Bill Grindlay as co-authors. That book spent more time introducing the fundamentals of database functions before explaining how to break them. For example, more background on PL/SQL would be helpful. With 60 pages of code removed, that leaves plenty of room for such discussion in the second edition.

On the positive side, I thought TDHH started strong with Ch 1. The Oracle security advice was very strong. I thought the time delay tactic for extracting bit-by-bit information from the database was also exceptionally clever.

Although I have not read it, I believe Implementing Database Security and Auditing by Ron Ben Natan might be a good complement to TDHH. Natan's book appears to take a functional approach, whereas TDHH takes a product-specific approach. The drawback of the product-centric approach is repetition of general security advice, such as enabling encryption, disabling default accounts, etc.

At the end of the day TDHH is still a revealing and powerful book. Anyone responsible for database security should refer to the sections of the book covering their database. I also recommend keeping an eye on the Next Generation Security Software Web site for the latest on database security issues. You should also see the authors speak at security conferences whenever possible.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Just as good as I expected March 18 2006
By Austin Seipp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
So, there I was. I was about to buy a new book and I really had to think hard about what to buy - after reading The Shellcoders Handbook, I was really interested in grabbing a copy of this book, in the end, that's exactly what I did.

I am happy with my decision to the fullest extent. Not only was it a great brother to The Shellcoders Handbook, but it was also just good reading in general. It covers seven of the most popular databases around, and each section of the book goes over it's history, it's flaws, how to propogate after a successful exploit, and finally how to lock down your database. You'd be suprised at how easily and how asinine some of the flaws found in database servers are - it's almost laughable, some of the flaws that many servers have been prone to are ridiculous.

The book, like it's brother, covers information that is somewhat dependent on context, but the general concepts you will see and learn are going to remain relevent to all types of research related to the topic at hand for a long time to come.

If you own the Shellcoders Handbook -- or even if you don't --, you should not at all miss on this, The Database Hacker's Handbook: Defending Database Servers is something security enthusiasts everywhere should have on their shelfs.


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