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Counter Hack Reloaded: A Step-by-Step Guide to Computer Attacks and Effective Defenses (2nd Edition) Paperback – Dec 23 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 2 edition (Dec 23 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131481045
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131481046
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 4.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #184,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From the Inside Flap

My flight had just landed, it was around midnight. The flight attendant announced that we could turn on our cell phones. As soon as mine booted up, it started buzzing...a frantic call from a newspaper reporter I had recently met. He quickly explained that he had obtained a copy of a manifesto, written by a terrorist who had launched some pretty horrific attacks killing hundreds of innocent people a few months back. The reporter had the text professionally translated so he could get some folks to analyze it. In this thirty-page document, this very evil guy was urging his followers to alter the tactics in their struggle. To augment their physical terrorism, the plan was to start including cyber attacks to maximize the impact on countries opposed to their terrorist agenda. The reporter wanted me to analyze the technical underpinnings of the manifesto, to determine whether it was all smoke and mirrors or a legitimate cause for concern.

I got to my hotel room and snagged a copy of the manifesto from my e-mail. The document I read startled me. Although not technically deep, it was quite astute. Its author emphasized that the terrorist group could enhance their stature and influence and cause more terror by undermining their enemies’ economic well-being through the use of computer attacks. After this really eerie “motivational speech” introduction, the manifesto described how different categories of cyber attacks could be used to achieve terrorist goals. While the author didn’t include technical details, he did provide a huge number of technical references on computer attacks, pressing his faithful followers to study hard the technologies of the “infidels” so they could undermine them.

The following day I received an unrelated call, this time from a lawyer friend of mine. He explained that a computer attacker had broken into the network of a company and stolen over a million credit card numbers. Because the attacker had pilfered the entire magnetic stripe data stored on the company’s servers, the bad guy could create very convincing counterfeit cards and begin selling them on the black market. My lawyer friend wanted me to look over the details of the heist and explain in nontechnical terms how the thief was able to pull this off. I carefully reviewed the case, analyzing the bad guy’s moves, noting sadly that he or she had used some pretty standard attack techniques to perpetrate this big-time crime.

Given those cases on back-to-back days, I re-read the preface to the original Counter Hack book I wrote almost five years ago. While it described a real-world attack against an Internet service provider, it still had a fun feeling to it. The biggest worry then was the defacing of some Web sites and my buddy’s boss getting mad—certainly cause for concern, but not the end of the world. I was struck by how much things have changed in computer attacks, and not at all for the better. Five years back, we faced a threat, but it was often manifested in leisurely attacks by kids looking to have some fun. We did face a hardened criminal here and there, of course, but there was a certain whimsy to our work. Today, with organized crime and, yes, even terrorists mastering their computer attack skills, things have become more dark and sinister. Sure, the technology has evolved, but increasingly, so has the nature of the threat.

That’s why it’s even more important than ever before for computer professionals (system administrators, network administrators, and security personnel), and even laypeople, to have knowledge of how the bad guys attack and how to defend against each of their moves. If we don’t understand the bad guys’ tactics and how to thwart them, they’ll continue to have their way with our machines, resulting in some major damage. They know how to attack and are learning more all the time. We defenders must also be equally if not more well-equipped. This new edition, Counter Hack Reloaded, represents a massive update to the original book; a lot has happened in the last five years in the evolution of computer attack technology. However, the book retains the same format and goal: to describe the attacks in a step-by-step manner and to demonstrate how to defend against each attack using time-tested, real-world techniques.

Oh, and one final note: While the nature of the threat has gown far more sinister, don’t let that get you down in the dumps. A depressed or frightened attitude might make you frustrated and less agile when dealing with attacks, lowering your capabilities. If we are to be effective in defending our systems, we must keep in mind that this information security work we all do is inherently interesting and even fun. Don’ get me wrong—it’s incredibly important to be diligent in the face of these evolving threats. But, at the same time, we must strive to keep a positive attitude, fighting the good fight and making our systems more secure.


From the Back Cover

“I finally get it! I used to hear words likerootkit, buffer overflow,andidle scanning,and they just didn’t make any sense. I asked other people and they didn’t seem to know how these things work, or at least they couldn’t explain them in a way that I could understand.Counter Hack Reloadedis the clearest explanation of these tools I have ever seen. Thank you!”
—Stephen Northcutt, CEO, SANS Institute
“Ed Skoudis does it again! With this new edition, Ed takes a phenomenal work to the next level! This book is a ‘must-have’ and a ‘must-read’ for anyone remotely associated with computers and computer security.”
—Harlan Carvey, CISSP, author ofWindows Forensics and Incident Recovery
“Ed Skoudis is a rare individual. He knows the innards of all the various systems, knows all the latest exploits and defenses, and yet is able to explain everything at just the right level. The first edition of Counter Hack was a fascinating read. It’s technically intriguing and very clear. . . . A book on vulnerabilities, though, will get out of date, and so we definitely needed this updated and significantly rewritten second edition. This book is a wonderful overview of the field.”
—From the Foreword by Radia Perlman, series editor, The Radia Perlman Series in Computer Networking and Security; author ofInterconnections; and coauthor ofNetwork Security: Private Communications in a Public World
“What a great partnership! Ed Skoudis and Tom Liston share an uncanny talent for explaining even the most challenging security concepts in a clear and enjoyable manner. Counter Hack Reloaded is an indispensable resource for those who want to improve their defenses and understand the mechanics of computer attacks.”
—Lenny Zeltser, coauthor ofMalware: Fighting Malicious Code
“Ed Skoudis does it again! With this new edition, Ed takes a phenomenal work to the next level! This book is a ‘must-have’ and a ‘must-read’ for anyone remotely associated with computers and computer security.”
—Harlan Carvey, CISSP, author ofWindows Forensics and Incident Recovery
“In addition to having breadth of knowledge about and probing insights into network security, Ed Skoudis’s real strength is in his ability to show complex topics in an understandable form. By the time he’s done, what started off as a hopeless conglomeration of acronyms starts to sound comfortable and familiar. This book is your best source for understanding attack strategies, attack tools, and the defenses against both.”
—William Stearns, network security expert,
“This book is a must-have for anyone in the Internet security game. It covers everything from the basic principles to the fine details of online attack methods and counter-strategies and is very engagingly written.”
—Warwick Ford, coauthor ofSecure Electronic Commerce

For years,Counter Hackhas been the primary resource for every network/system administrator and security professional who needs a deep, hands-on understanding of hacker attacks and countermeasures. Now, leading network security expert Ed Skoudis, with Tom Liston, has thoroughly updated this best-selling guide, showing how to defeat today’s newest, most sophisticated, and most destructive attacks.

For this second edition, more than half the content is new and updated, including coverage of the latest hacker techniques for scanning networks, gaining and maintaining access, and preventing detection. The authors walk you through each attack and demystify every tool and tactic. You’ll learn exactly how to establish effective defenses, recognize attacks in progress, and respond quickly and effectively in both UNIX/Linux and Windows environments.

Important features of this new edition include

  • All-new “anatomy-of-an-attack” scenarios and tools
  • An all-new section on wireless hacking: war driving, wireless sniffing attacks, and more
  • Fully updated coverage of reconnaissance tools, including Nmap port scanning and “Google hacking”
  • New coverage of tools for gaining access, including uncovering Windows and Linux vulnerabilities with Metasploit
  • New information on dangerous, hard-to-detect, kernel-mode rootkits

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is required reading for at least one of my information security management courses at my college. I haven't even read half of it, but I can say, with confidence, that it's already proven more useful than anything I learned in my five years of doing university-level computer science. The only thing it does not do is teach you how to hack a computer, at least not in the sense of what being a hacker means. It would definitely help you on your way of becoming a script kiddie, though!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's taken me a while to work through this book, but it's turning out
to be well worth the purchase price. I've been in high tech for 32 years
and in networking for half of that and this book is teaching me lots of new
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used for school
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa6013678) out of 5 stars 41 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa598bed0) out of 5 stars Great 2nd edition to a classic book on hacking exploits Feb. 11 2006
By Sean E. Connelly - Published on
Format: Paperback
Please note this review is for the 2nd Edition of this book
While "Counter Hack Reloaded" by Skoudis is an `Updated Edition of the Best-Seller' (per the book's cover), Counter Hack Reloaded (CHR) is really a new book in it's own right. CHR has gone through an extensive revision and is fully updated to meet today and tomorrow's emerging threats (i.e. wireless attacks). While 50% of the tools/exploits that are discussed in this book can be found in other `hack' books, the tools/exploits have been fully updated and document the latest commands. See page 21 of for a detailed explanation of CHR's updates.

Some quick points of interest for me:
* Page 228 - excellent, quick description of DNS's characteristics (when DNS uses UDP vs TCP).
* Page 264 - good explanation of UDP vs ICMP pings (something to remember when troubleshooting connectivity from different platforms).
* Chapter 7 - Gaining Access at the OS and App level - very good discussion of buffer overflows. The chapter also provides an updated list of access tools (i.e. WebGoat & password crackers).
* Chapter 8 - Gaining Access via Network Attacks - great explanation of man-in-the-middle attacks by DSniff and Ettercap. I also enjoyed the explanation of NetCat (everyone's friend).
* Chapter 9 - Denial of Service Attacks - the discussion on SYN cookies was new to me.

While I thought chapter 2, Networking, deserved it's place, I thought that chapter 3, UNIX, went a little off course. I also thought that the 2nd half of chapter 5, Reconnaissance, was of much more value than the first half of chapter 5. Page 138 had a weak description of salting. All these demotions are trivial issues, and do not distract from the overall supremacy of CHR.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed "Counter Hack Reloaded" by Skoudis. It is an update to a classic, that like the first edition, does not disappoint.

I give this book 5 pings out of 5:
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa598bf24) out of 5 stars highly recommended July 8 2006
By Brian Bex Huff - Published on
Format: Paperback
I highly recommend Counter Hack Reloaded to anyone who wants to better understand the technical details of computer hacking / security / defense.

This book covers all the bases. It dives into details about networking, windows security, unix security, firewalls, google hacking, wireless security, the works!

It does a particularly excellent job of explaining the nitty gritty details of a hack attack, but in a way that's engaging and fun... not dry and pedantic. It explains all the tools that hackers use to break into systems, their methodology, and why your system probably will not stop them.

The author is, like many people these days, very pessimistic about the current state of computer security. Just as people are relying on computers more and more, they are becoming less and less secure. Skoudis calls this the golden age of hacking. And frankly, after reading this book I doubt anybody would disagree with him.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5991378) out of 5 stars Counter Hack is a must have for anyones library! Jan. 25 2006
By Charles Hornat - - Published on
Format: Paperback
Ed Skoudis is a recognized expert in host and network security. This is an update to Ed's previous book, Counter Hack. This time, he has enlisted the help of Tom Liston, known for his tarpit work ([...]

For those unfamiliar with the Counter Hack book, it includes details and examples on everything a security professional should know. This includes ports and protocols, UNIX need to knows, Windows need to knows, Reconnaissance, application attacks, Operating System attacks, Network attacks, Denial of Service attacks, Trojans, Backdoors, Rootkits, altering logs, covert channels, and examples of real world attacks.

For those who have not taken the Advanced hacking course at SANS, this book is the closest you will come to experiencing Ed's expertise without taking the course. Ed gives relevant, detailed examples with diagrams and charts, explains how attacks occur, what to look for, and how to defend against them. Ed's experience as a teacher allows him to explain how it all comes together in such a way that beginners and experts alike will learn.

For those familiar with Counter Hack, this book offers several updates. While there are updates throughout the entire book, the first major update is the addition of wireless hacking and war driving. Then follows a section dedicated to Bots, an expanded Web Application Attack section including new charts and graphs such as a "Web Application Manipulation Proxies" list, SQL injection attacks, and other more modern day threats. Also added are sections on Google hacking and updated sites and tools as some have changed over the years.

While the book may appear to not have changed, after reading a chapter or two, one will clearly see Ed has gone through it with a fine tooth comb and updated quit a bit and where necessary. This provides a great resource for anyone interested in learning today's threats and tools. The approach Ed takes with understanding how attackers get to know your network first, how they stage attacks, how they keep their access and hide their tracks, is valuable knowledge to anyone with the responsibility of securing systems and networks.

As most who read my reviews know, I am not a fan of books that try to satisfy the beginners and the advanced, but Counter Hack Reloaded has a nice balance. I would have liked to have seen some more updates in terms of some of the tools and malware discussed, such as replacing BO with a newer threat, but all in all, this is a valuable book worth checking out! Counter Hack Reloaded provides a foundation that is a must know in today's Information Security realm.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5991738) out of 5 stars Insightful and Informative Dec 3 2006
By Jay - Published on
Format: Paperback
As a student studying information technology with goals of having a career in the information systems security field, Mr. Skoudis' book "Counter Hack Reloaded" provides me with an amazing resource that is helping me obtain the knowledge and skills I need to succeed in the Infosec field. His book is insightful and explains the complexity and workings of varius threats and risks to our networks and computer systems in a way that makes them easy to understand. The steps attackers usually take are broken down and analyzed along with ways to secure your systems from such attacks.

The book is broken down into different phases after the few first chapters go over the basics of networking and the major operating systems (Windows and Linux/Unix). Phase One covers Reconnaissance which includes tactics such as social engineering. Phase Two is scanning and the different methods of scanning networks, both wired and wireless. Phase Three covers gaining access to the network through attacks on applications, OSs, DoS attacks, and other network attacks. Phase Four covers maintaining access, which includes information on varius threats such as backdoors, trojans, rootkits, etc. Phase Five reviews covering one's tracks and hiding evidence of network intrusions, etc.

I recommend this book to anyone in my position of currently obtaining an education in any field having to deal with information systems. Even if security is not your main focus, the knowledge this book provides is valuable as a reference and as a way of better understanding the current threats to our organizations and the networks that make them up, both the technical and personnel networks.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa599181c) out of 5 stars Still amazingly accurate in 2012 Jan. 29 2012
By Jim Johnson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There's really nothing to say about the quality that hasn't been said already in other reviews. This is an excellent, well-written, informative, and entertaining read! I am amazed at how accurate this book still is, despite being several years old. There are a few things that have changed since this book was released such as the Nessus vulnerability scanner licenses, and the availability of some tools. Also the section on wireless attacks could use a little updating to include newer strategies and tools, and there is no mention (that I can recall anyway) of either Cross Site Scripting (XSS) or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Poisoning, as those are relatively new. Overall though this is an excellent place to start and a fascinating read. Highly recommended for everyone, not just aspiring security professionals. This book will open your eyes and drastically improve your personal security practices while entertaining you at the same time. Highly recommended!