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4.4 out of 5 stars
Exploiting Software: How to Break Code
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Showing 1-4 of 4 reviews(4 star)show all reviews
on April 13, 2004
Chapter 1 - Software - The Root of the Problem
Software is indeed the root of the problem and this chapter makes that case and point. This chapter is a good introduction to software vulnerabilities (which make up all CERT advisories) and why this book is relevant.
Chapter 2 - Attack Patterns
This chapter provides and overview of types of attacks. It includes history of vulnerability types and predictions of future vulnerabilities.
Chapter 3 - Reverse Engineering and Program Understanding
This chapter begins with a good introduction to reverse engineering tools and techniquies. It then zooms into writing plugins for the IDA disassembler along with batch analysis with IDA disassembler. It also discusses writing your own cracking tools.
Chapter 4 - Exploiting Server Software
This chapter provides and over view of techniques for exploiting any server software. It is filled with real examples and loads of fun. Many attack patterns are covered in various levels of detail. Numerous tools are highlighted for finding injection points.
Chapter 5 - Exploiting Client Software
The logic of exploiting client software is different than exploiting server software, so there's and extra chapter. Again the focus is on techniques to look for exploitable bugs.
Chapter 6 - Crafting (Malicious) Input
This chapter discusses many different methods for crafing input to locate bugs. Many tools and professional techniques are highlighted. I didn't know a lot of this stuff was out there.
Chapter 7 - Buffer Overflows
It starts with a high level overview of traditional buffer overflows, then some non tradiditional buffer overflows are discussed. This chapter also covers format strings. One of the longer chapters in the book, it highlighes a lot of problem areas.
Chapter 8 - Rootkits
Alas, one of the authors is the creator of the first rootkit for windows, and he details some of his techniques here. Not only does he discuss root kit techniques, but he also discusses techniques that apply to malware in general.
In summary, I rate this book 4 stars. It's certainly enjoyable and pretty easy to read despite it's technical nature. The authors sprinkle There's a lot of useful information in here to shed some light on how vulnerability researches do what they do. Chapters 4-6 were very, very good.
This book has a pretty useful index. I've used it for reference a couple of times since I finished reading it which is always a measure of a worthwhile book. There's not a lot written about some of the contents of this book, and this work is definitely needed and relevant.
On the downside, I have some minor complaints. Some of the tools mentioned in the book were no where to be found. Some were named without references, and Google searches revealed little about them or how to find them. Another tool was supposed to be available at one of the authors website, but I couldn't find it. The authors seem cover some things at a very high level, and really get into the depth on some others. There's not always an apparent reason for this, and I don't think their approach was as consistent could have been. Chapter 3 started out great, but I lost during the heavy focus on IDA pro.
I can see no reason that one interested in this subject matter wouldn't pick up this book. The price is right and it covers material in a provoking way that many of us may not be exposed to otherwise. I also suggest the sister book "Building Secure Software"; the one with the white hat on the cover. The two books compliment each other well introducing both sides of the coin in some detail.
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on April 9, 2004
Let me first say that I generally tend to be suspicious of a book that starts out with several pages of testimonials before it gets to the title page. But this book deserves it. It's written in a style that's as riveting as any suspense novel, while the material is as horrifying as Stephen King, and as useful as a roll of duct tape. This is a book for knowledgeable IT people who may still be arrogant enough to believe that "it can't happen to me." While many books work from the premise that hackers use back doors and other ways to enter into your system to do their damage, this book explains how it's your software, itself, that is really the weakest link in your security. It takes you through a brief history of some spectacular software failures. Then, it explains how hackers find the bad code that exists, with black, grey and white box techniques and then exploit the vulnerabilities they find.
We all know, there is plenty of bad code out there, for a variety of reasons that are explained quite well in this book. Given market pressures and other factors, there is every reason to believe that the situation isn't going to improve significantly any time soon. This book shows you real examples, albeit sometime code fragments of examples, of how to find and get into those "holes" in your software to do all kinds of damage. Some people will ask, "But why would we want to have a text book out there to teach people how to do this stuff?" The "bad-guys" know all this stuff, already. If you don't, how can you possibly expect to avoid falling victim to them? This is the information you need to fix what's wrong in software you are already using, and a glimpse into ways to help avoid problems in code that you write. This is a good book, I think we will see better, more complete and pragmatic books in the future that take you through shell code exploits and repairing the heap step by step, but until then what a fun read!
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I suppose any book about how to hack software is going to be controversial, but think about it, unless you know what the holes in software are how are you supposed to fix them. Using the right framework isn't enough because every framework is going to have security issues. You actually need to understand what is going on and this is the true value of the book.
The coverage is not just at the bits and bytes level. The authors cover the theory of each exploit and then dig down into what happens at the processor and virtual machine level to complete the exploit. The problem that I find with the book is that it doesn't complete the cycle by bringing the reader back through the process to identify a robust fix for the hole.
I'm still giving the book four stars though because it does present the vulnerabilities in a qualified way, which makes for interesting read and for cool thought puzzles in how to fix the security problem, or to extend the attack method to other vulnerable areas.
For anyone tasked with securing a complex application, especially one that is connected to, or serving on, the Internet, you should read this book. Both to understand the scope of the security problems and to see how you can fix the vulnerabilities in your own code.
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on May 18, 2004
Like all other books on "how to hack," this one starts out with a history of computing back to the beginning of time, then jumps into advanced techniques requiring some pretty advanced knowledge of assembly code and network protocols. Why do all these books do this? They implicitly assume that their readers understand computer systems in later chapters, but still feel the need to go over basic material in early chapters.
Anyway, the content of this book is pretty good. How could you not like a book that includes the line "think of a server as a public restroom?"
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