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XSS Attacks: Cross Site Scripting Exploits and Defense Paperback – May 9 2007
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About the Author
Seth Fogie is the VP of Dallas-based Airscanner Corporation where he oversees the development of security software for the Window Mobile (Pocket PC) platform. He has co-authored numerous technical books on information security, including the top selling"
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
First, as Tadaka mentioned, ch 3 is the best written part of the book. In fact, the author of ch 3 should have written the entire book. There is a difference between an author of a tool, an author of a blog, and an author of a book. The author of ch 3 clearly knows how to make a clear argument over the course of a long stretch of pages (over 90) and carry the reader. Lucky for non-book-buyers, Syngress posted ch 3 for free on their Web site. You'll get a great foundation on XSS, and learn about CSRF and backdooring Flash and Quicktime.
In terms of readability, ch 2 wasn't bad. I liked trying out various Firefox extensions and the author's examples were good. I think ch 1 should be completely dropped. It mentions terms not defined until ch 2. The language is exceptionally rough, indicating zero editing was done. The DNS pinning examples in ch 5 were confusing; it doesn't help novice readers to discuss [...] and then use [...]. (I think that's an error.) I really didn't get as much from the book past ch 3 as I did from ch 3.
The major take-away from XSS Attacks is that one should never trust clients. Furthermore, far too many vulnerable capabilities exist in applications most people would never dream of fearing, like those that render .pdf or .swf. I really liked the point that browsers constantly interpret and "fix" broken HTML, sometimes to the detriment of the security world. I also liked reading how users can be duped by attacks against the integrity of data, such as adding or removing details of Web sites.
Right now, if you want to learn more about recent XSS attacks in printed form, this book is your main option. Last year I favorably reviewed Lance James' book, Phishing Exposed, which includes some of these techniques. Later this year one of the other book reviewers, Dafydd Stuttard, should be publishing The Web Application Hackers Handbook: Discovering and Exploiting Security Flaws. Syngress claims to be publishing Web Application Vulnerabilities: Detect, Exploit, Prevent by Steven Palmer in the fall. Hacking Exposed Web 2.0 by Himanshu Dwivedi is another option, but I find his security books to be poorly written. I highly recommend visiting the authors' blogs, since they cover a lot of the information in XSS Attacks.
Overall, the book is well-organised, technically accurate, and full of pertinent examples and code extracts to illustrate the different vulnerabilities and attacks being described. There are plenty of tricks that will benefit even experienced web app hackers, including a wealth of filter bypasses, and coverage of offbeat topics such as injection into style sheets and use of non-standard content encoding.
Here and there, the book displays the effects of multiple authorship, notably in the discussion of the best tools for finding XSS flaws. I know that some of the authors have rather opposing views on that question, but it is always good to get different people's perspectives on the tools they find most useful. There are also a few typos and editorial glitches, but that is the price you pay for being quick to market, as they evidently are.
Overall, this is a great book that will benefit a wide range of people, from novices to seasoned hackers. It is fun to read, with plenty of lighter moments punctuating the technical meat. Nothing else currently available is hitting this target - get it while it's hot!
The book is a lot to absorb and I'm still wrapping my mind around it, but it has really given me a new perspective on the scope of the issue. The authors are the experts on XSS and they've done a really good job on the book. If you want to get information straight from the guys doing the research on XSS, then this is the book you want.
- There are a lot of spelling errors (almost one per page)
- There's not a straightforward structure of content
- It's very apparent that this has been written separately by many authors: there doesn't seem to be an effort to provide a single, similar and coherent writing style (e.g. in the same chapter, each section has its own little introduction, repeating things already mentioned in previous sections)
- It has had a very poor technical and editorial review (as shown by the many mistakes)
- It contains some strange things that make you wonder about how much thought was put while making the book (e.g. screenshots of full-black webpages)
Given the fact that there aren't many books on the subject, this is one you'd probably want to buy, but be prepared for a lot of mistakes and oversights.
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