on May 24, 2011
This book is not just about learning a bunch of command line tools for p0wning a few poorly-maintained systems. In this book, the authors do a good job exposing the reader to the many facets of pen testing, and present the readers with the opportunity to try a few new things along the way, including virtualization, Linux, and BackTrack itself.
The authors introduce the idea that pen testing is not about randomly using a collection of tools to plink around a network. Instead, a structured, procedural methodology should be used to achieve timely, thorough, and reportable results. The authors also provide a detailed description of a security testing methodology to be used with BackTrack itself.
Each step in this methodology represents an element in the penetration testing life cycle management performed for each customer. The authors describe how this organized progression allows pen testers to determine their course of action, plan for needed resources, and not waste time and resources by duplicating effort. My only complaint is that this section is too small, and deserves expanding using actual case studies.
A considerable number of pen testing tools for each step in the methodology are covered with examples and instruction. Popular tools covered include Metasploit (Meterpreter), Maltego, NMap, NetXpose, and Nessus. Tools for exploiting (uh, testing) Web servers, databases, applications, and even Cisco devices are also covered.
I was very happy to see a chapter on Social Engineering. Experienced pen testers often remark that the most penetrable area of any system are the people who use and control it. The authors provide a detailed description of the psychology, tactics, and objectives of social engineering and how it is used to penetrate the "fleshy" parts of information systems.
This book is intended to educate both novice and experienced pen testers on how to successfully use BackTrack 4. I am sure not every professional pen testing will agree with everything in this book, as it represents the personal experience of only a few people in the profession. However, novices will find a tremendous amount of hands-on practice and enlightening information related to the pen testing profession in clear and readable instructions. Pros should a few things about becoming an even more efficient and versatile pen tester too.
on May 11, 2011
I suppose these tools are going to be in the public domain anyway, so we might as well educate white hats as well as the black hats that may know them already. This book is a complete guide to penetration testing, aimed at potential security consultants. (That's the good part.) The bad part is that this book in the wrong hands can wreak all kinds of havoc-- it makes hacking way too easy. The authors do a good job of providing the right level of detail in all sorts of IT disciplines (networking, protocols, remote access, etc.), not spending too much time because there's just too many tools to introduce.
Frightening, yet useful in the right hands. If you are a security testing professional, you really need a copy of this book.
on April 27, 2011
The authors tackle a persistent danger to many websites and networks that hang off the Internet, where often the complexity of the operating systems and applications and the interactions between these can open doors to attackers. So the basic idea of penetration testing is to preemptively probe ('attack') your system. Find the weaknesses first, before others do so.
In part, the text offers a good overview of the field, separate from the usages of BackTrack. So you get a summary of several common security testing methodologies. Including the Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual. If you have a background in science experiments, you'll see clear parallels in how this OSSTMM approach investigates an unknown system.
As far as BackTrack is concerned, its capabilities are explored in depth through most of the text. It does seem to have covered all the bases. Like checking/scanning for open TCP and UDP ports on target machines. Or looking for live machines on a network. One thing that becomes clear is that you can treat BackTrack as a repertoire of free tools. And you can pick just a subset of these tools to initially use against your network, if you have specific needs or suspicions,
To be sure, the recommended usage is a top down one, where you treat BackTrack as an integrated whole and you systematically first plan out your entire testing. No argument from me. You should do this, if you decide to use BackTrack in the first place. But a pragmatic incremental approach might still have some merit. Where you can just choose a tool and look up its usage in the text and run it. Easy to get some experience and confidence.
on July 21, 2011
It is one of the best penetration testing guides that helps you to understand and plan the security assessments in accordance with BackTrack testing process. It also provides powerful and practical insights of various security standards such as OWASP, OSSTMM, WASC-TC, and ISSAF. The book also allows an open alignment for test execution with any of the chosen methodological approach. This brings "BackTrack 4: Assuring Security By Penetration Testing" to be the best manual written so far. The chapters gradually covers each and every single piece of information that is must to know for professional penetration testers. I would highly recommend this book to industry professionals working either as a security consultant, architect or analyst. The book itself is an open call for BlackHat, GrayHat and WhiteHat pros to learn an extra mile.