• Twitter
  • FaceBook

Security Forums

Log in

FAQ | Search | Usergroups | Profile | Register | RSS | Posting Guidelines | Recent Posts

Book Review - Gray Hat Hacking

Users browsing this topic:0 Security Fans, 0 Stealth Security Fans
Registered Security Fans: None
Post new topic   Reply to topic   Printer-friendly version    Networking/Security Forums Index -> News // Columns // Articles

View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
SF Boss
SF Boss

Joined: 04 Mar 2003
Posts: 16777079


PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 9:46 pm    Post subject: Book Review - Gray Hat Hacking Reply with quote

Gray Hat Hacking

Author(s): Shon Harris, Allen Harper, Chris Eagle, Jonathan Ness, Michael Lester
Publisher: Osborne McGraw-Hill
Book Specifications: Soft-Cover, 434 Pages
Category: Ethical Hacking
User Level: Familiarity with TCP/IP, and programming concepts
Suggested Publisher Price: $49.99 USA/ $72.95 CAN/ £36.99 Net UK (inc of VAT)
ISBN: 0-07-225709-1
Amazon.co.uk: Gray Hat Hacking
Amazon.com: Gray Hat Hacking

Info from Back: "Detect, ethically disclose, and repair security flaws before malicious hackers wreak havoc. Avoid devastating network attacks by acquiring the advanced skills malicious hackers and computer criminals are using today. Gray Hat Hacking: The Ethical Hacker’s Handbook takes you to the next level by explaining, line-by-line , the code behind the latest and most insidious hacking techniques, as well as their countermeasures. Many of the attacks described have been used to successfully carry our online fraud, identity theft, extortion, denial of service attacks, and access to critical and confidential data. Malicious hackers are dedicated to bringing about mayhem and destruction—this book will teach you how to indentify and stop them.”


Putting aside the various shades of hacking whether they be white, grey, or black it all comes down to learning about computers. It is up to the individual to decide what they are going to do with their newfound knowledge of computers, and their vulnerabilities. What this book will show you are the tools that a malicious hacker may use against you and your computer networks. There is a razor sharp edge between using a tool for legitimate security purposes, and using it to break into a computer network. To that end the authors of the book will also show you how to take an organized approach to probing your network for soft spots. It does not end there though as you will also be shown the true hacking aspect of computer security; reverse engineering code, debugging code, and various exploit vectors such as stack and heap overflows.

Content & Overview

This book has a plethora of tools and concepts covered in it. All of the necessary themes are covered that you would actually use in real life, or have used against you. You will be shown how various aspects of the security world relate. Aspects such as; vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, and the present day controversy of hacking classes. Following this is how various laws enacted in the United States of America can impact you. One should not forget this as the powerful lobby groups in the US have prevailed with the passing of such legislation as DMCA. You most definitely don’t want to be on the receiving end of that type of litigation. Wrapping up part one of this book is just what is “proper and ethical disclosure”. Pretty much every angle of this contentious debate is covered.

Part two of this book is where you will hit the meat of it. Starting here is where you will learn about pen-testing and its various aspects. How do you put a team together, and also a lab environment. From there you will also read about the all important aspect of contracts which are required to spell out the scope of your pen test. Rather important as this can you save you from lawsuits, and potential jail time. Now with that important subject material out of the way you will begin to look at some of the tools that a pen tester will use. Tools for active and passive OS fingerprinting, a program ident add-on for NMap (amap), amongst others are covered.

Another series of tools such as packet sniffers; both active and passive are explained by the authors. Many of these tools may or may not be familiar to you, but they are all worth learning which is probably why the authors included them. From there you will go on to look at some automated pen testing tools; both commercial and open source. The best known offerings are shown; CANVAS, Core IMPACT, and the outstanding Metasploit Framework which is open-source. It would behoove all of you to download and play with Metapsloit. Fear not as well for Metasploit was written in Perl so it can used in both win32 and linux. All you need is to have Perl installed.

Detailed in part three of this book is the true part of hacking; programming. To get the most out of this book you need a decent familiarity with a programming language. You are quickly walked through the creation of a C “hello world” program. How it is written, and how it is compiled with gcc. Then memory, buffers, strings, and pointers are also covered in quick succession. I say quick because this is not a book on programming, which is why it is covered quickly. After this is where the boogey man of programming is shown; ASM. Glossed over are such things as Intel processors, nasm, AT&T syntax, and the use of gdb to debug your code. With this information in hand you are then shown linux exploits and how they are done. To see a complete listing of the books contents give link a look for there still remains a fairly dizzying list of subjects that are covered.

Style and Detail

When it comes to a book of this nature you require a fair amount of diagrams, code snippets, and command line syntax shown. These are all quite nicely done by the authors as each one shown clearly illustrates the point at hand. From the beginning of the book to the end all of the pertinent topics are covered. Nothing is left out as seen by the treatment of various laws and how they pertain to the security professional. Each and every aspect is shown such as contracts and how to approach a pen test. It is this overall attention to detail and logical progression that makes this book a truly excellent resource. Nothing is left out.


I was very impressed with this book for it left nothing out as it pertains to gray hat hacking. The well versed authors also took a very structured approach to laying out the books contents. No mean feat as there is a tremendous amount of information that has to be covered. It bears revisiting though that to get the most out of this book you need a good grounding in a programming language. If you don’t, you may not understand the latter part of the book; which also happens to be the best part of it. With that said I really liked this book, and it was a pleasure to read. Kudos to the authors, and I for one highly recommend it.

Security Forums Discount

The publishers Mcgraw Hill have kindly setup a discount section for Security Forums' users. Discounts can be up to 30% off the RRP and postage is free on all orders over £20 in the UK & Central Europe.


Keywords for this post: Gray Hat Hacking

This review is copyright 2005 by the author and Security-Forums Dot Com, and may not be reproduced in any form in any media without the express permission of the author, or Security-Forums Dot Com.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Just Arrived
Just Arrived

Joined: 20 Oct 2004
Posts: 5


PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me it was the best book i bought last year closely followed by The Shellcoders Handbook. Chapters 1-3 have an emphasis on ethics which i believe many will find very interesting and there is also the Q & A at the end of each chapter for a bit of fun.

What I also liked about this book was how the authors emphasised the importance of Python by adding the Python survival skills before the automated pen testing tools (Metasploit, Core Impact and Canvas). These are great tools and the fact that you can customize them using Python makes them more special. It’s different to other hacking books that I have read and I recommend this for pen testers and vulnerability researchers. Wink
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 14 Aug 2003
Posts: 14
Location: Scotland


PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice review potentialy another book im going to have to get by the sounds of it Smile I would be interested to hear any thoughts you have to the level of detail in the Setting up a lab for pen testing section. Can you confirm if its a high level statement "you need to set up a lab to practice this kind of thing" or if it provides much more detail in the "Whys ? and What fors? " of the setup and contents of the lab, more detail is what im hoping for as id like to know how the professional does it... That said if this book is of the same standard as the other Shon Harris books then im sure i wont be disappointed.

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   

Post new topic   Reply to topic   Printer-friendly version    Networking/Security Forums Index -> News // Columns // Articles All times are GMT + 2 Hours
Page 1 of 1

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Community Area

Log in | Register