The Basics of Hacking and Penetration Testing: Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing Made Easy Paperback – Aug 4 2011
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"...an introduction to what ethical hacking involves, and a primer for more indepth technical volumes...it does get its hands dirty with guides to using the main tools. But each technique or piece of software is only covered to the depth required to give you a good feel for what’s going on..."--Network Security, December 1 2011
From the Back Cover
The Basics of Hacking and Penetration Testing serves as an introduction to the steps required to complete a penetration test or perform an ethical hack from beginning to end. No prior hacking experience is needed. You learn how to properly utilize and interpret the results of modern day hacking tools, which are required to complete a penetration test. Tool coverage includes Backtrack Linux, Google reconnaissance, MetaGooFil, dig, Nmap, Nessus, Metasploit, Fast Track Autopwn, Netcat, Hacker Defender rootkit, and more. A simple and clean explanation of how to effectively utilize these tools as well as the introduction to a four-step methodology for conducting a penetration test or hack, will provide you with know-how required to jump start your career or gain a better understanding of offensive security. The book serves as an introduction to penetration testing and hacking and will provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge. After completing the book readers will be prepared to take on in-depth and advanced topics in hacking and penetration testing. The book walks through each of the steps and tools in a structured, orderly manner allowing readers to understand how the output from each tool can be fully utilized in the subsequent phases of the penetration test. This process allows readers to clearly see how the tools and phases relate.
- Each chapter contains hands-on examples and exercises that are designed to teach you how to interpret the results and utilize those results in later phases
- Written by an author who works in the field as a Penetration Tester and who teaches Offensive Security, Penetration Testing, and Ethical Hacking, and Exploitation classes at Dakota State University
- Utilizes the Backtrack Linux distribution and focuses on the seminal tools required to complete a penetration test
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The book takes the reader on a quick step-by-step journey through a penetration test beginning with Information Gathering, moving into Scanning, then Exploitation, and concluding with Report Writing. While the book does not cover any particular methodology like OSSTM or PTES it does a nice job of laying out each step in an orderly and straightforward manner. The book covers all of the major tools, in an appropriate order so the reader gets a good sense of how to run the tools and how they relate to each other.
The book gets down to business in chapter 1 and wastes no time in bringing the reader up to speed on the latest tools and techniques. One of the greatest strengths of the book is its size. Most people will be able to read through the entire book in just a few days. Another benefit of covering only the basics is that the book should have a longer shelf life. As the author points out, a Nmap Syn scan has been the same for the past 10 years.
If you're looking for an in-depth coverage of any particular tool like Nmap, Metasploit, or the like, this is not the book for you. You're better off buying a book dedicated to the tool you're interested in.
On the flip side, if you're interested in seeing the whole picture and getting a feel for how to run and use the major tools used in a basic penetration test this is a good buy.
Finally, I enjoyed the laidback and casual writing style of the author. This made the chapters easier to digest and kept me interested while still delivering enough technical meat to satisfy my knowledge and process requirements.
All chapters are very coherent, meticously structured and nicely integrated between each other thanks to the PEN test process it follows. There are even suggestions about how to test all the examples in a secure and practical way. Of course, a virtual lab using any of the virtualization technologies is highly advised. The author suggests VMware, I used Parallels, but there are several free tools out there including Virtual PC or VirtualBox, both are free as well.
The book uses Metasploit framework/software for its examples but makes strong emphasize on concepts rather than tools, which it is very good in my opinion because whatever is being taught can be later extrapolated using other tools. PEN test is more a process than mere scripts and tools. I also like the fact that you don't need a very strong knowledge on networking, cryptography or C++ in order to understand this book. Instead It relies on easy vocabulary with lot of examples and screen-shoots that help almost anyone who is new into this field (a basic knowledge of Linux won't hurt though, that made it easy for me to understand some commands)
-- Additional bibliography --
Once you're done with this one I recommend these two books: Metasploit: The Penetration Tester's Guide, by David Kennedy and Nmap Cookbook: The Fat-free Guide to Network Scanning. The 1st one expands a bit more on the Metasploit software and its components, which are briefly explained on the Syngress book. The Nmap cookbook, talks about nmap scanning tool and different switches you can use when working on the scanning phase; nmap cookbook is not a theory book, but visual examples of how to use the tool depending of the target or desired goal
Some good introductions to ideas and tools of penetration testing.
Not coherent or consistent at times.
This book starts and finishes well, but the middle is insufficient in information and lacks consistency. More than once in the penetration/exploit sections I had to check to see if I was missing a page. The biggest problem with coherence in the book has to do with the fact that the author explains that most pen tests will be done from the outside, but then out of nowhere switches from penetration testing to hacking a machine while actually sitting at it! The author would talk about what could be done from the outside, but then go on to how it is done from the inside (physically at the machine) with no explanation for the jump. I more than once had to check to see if I was missing a page, because the jumps were that drastic. Also many of the screen shots are not placed well, to the point where you have to stop reading and find the reference screenshot.
While there is a decent amount of good introductive information for those looking to get into or just learn about penetration testing, this book falls horribly short of what it could and should be. Bottom line, if you have no or little knowledge of penetration testing there is enough in this book to introduce you to some concepts and tools used in penetration testing. However this book is seriously lacking for anyone that is more than a novice.
Here's a couple of tips:
1. Acquire a copy of Windows XP with no Service Pack (They are difficult to find, but keep looking. It is worth the wait). A pre Service Pack XP is an easy target using the steps outlined in the book. If you can't find a pre-SP XP, at least try to find one that doesn't yet have patch MS08-067. This patch makes for an easy win, which will motivate you to learn more. I think this is the patch used in the book for the example.
2. Get a computer capable of running Backtrack as the Host OS, and then proceed to load multiple Guest OSes into VMWare Player. VMWare Player is a free download from VMWare, and the best choice I have found for running virtual machines (Virtual Box is good but doesn't run multiple VMs at once). Also, you can make copies of the parent folder of the VM in order to keep a fresh, untainted copy for incredibly easy restoration after you've jacked it up.
3. Do all of the exercises in the book! It isn't enough to just read about it. You need to do it. This will make reading the book take 4 times longer but you will get 10 times more out of it. It's ok to read through the book and then go back, but my experience has shown that doing while reading is by far the more productive/efficient approach.
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