10 Best Ethical Hacking Books of All Time

Ethical hacking plays a key role in data security and protection against malicious attackers. The best ethical hacking books are a great way to get a hands-on learning experience of it.

Cybercrime has been increasing exponentially. Thanks to the pandemic, it is up by 600% as compared to pre-pandemic times. It’s obvious to see why ethical hackers, especially, are in such great demand. Cybersecurity Ventures, an industry watchdog, estimates that by 2021, there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity employment openings worldwide.

Ethical hacking is a necessary skill for many specialized professions that involve protecting an organization’s digital assets. A qualification in ethical hacking will open doors to a variety of professional prospects. As a hacker, you need to have great coding and programming skills, which will help you hack passwords and compromise web servers, among other things.

To help you with it, we have compiled a list of the ten best ethical hacking books, that will help you ace the field.

Table of Contents

S.No.
Book Name
Author
1. The hacker playbook 2 Peter Kim
2. Hacking: The art of exploitation Jon Ericson
3. The hacker’s playbook 3 Peter Kim
4. The basics of hacking and penetration testing Peter Engebretson
5. CISSP All-in-one Exam guide Shon Harris, Fernando Maym
6. The web application hacker’s handbook: finding and exploiting security flaws Dafydd Stuttard, Marcus Pinto
7. Penetration testing: A hands-on introduction to hacking Georgia Weidman
8. Social engineering: The science of human hacking Christopher Hadnagy
9. Kali Linus Revealed  Raphael Hertzog
10. Ghost in the Wires: My adventures as the world’s most wanted hacker Kevin Mitnick

10 Best Ethical Hacking Books of All Time

1. The hacker playbook 2

The Hacker Playbook 2 Practical Guide To Penetration Testing

Author: Peter Kim
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Edition: First
Available in: Kindle, paperback

About the author

Peter Kim is the CEO and President of Secure Planet, LLC, a penetration testing firm based in the United States. He has approximately 10 years of experience in the security industry, with the last seven as a penetration tester. His findings have been highlighted on Wired.com, CNN.com, and a number of other websites.

Kim holds many certifications, including Sec+, GCWN, GCIH, GXPN, GWAPT,and GMOB. He founded LETHAL, a local security hackerspace in Santa Monica, California, after teaching vulnerability scanning as well as information security at Howard Community College in Maryland over several years.

About the book

Ethical hackers, IT experts, and security professionals should not go into battle without a proper game strategy, just like a pro athlete. They are given their own game plans in the Hacker Playbook. This step-by-step introduction to the “game” of infiltration hacking is authored by a long-time security specialist and CEO of Secure Planet, LLC, and includes real-world examples and expert guidance.

This simple approach goes to the base of many of the hurdles people may encounter while penetration testing, such as attacking various types of networks, pivoting past security measures, privilege elevation, and dodging antivirus software, using a sequence of football-style “plays.”

The practical plays outlined can be reviewed in order or referred as needed, from “Pregame” study to “The Drive” and “The Lateral Pass.” Irrespective of your profession or degree of expertise, the helpful tips contained within will place you in the mentality of a Fortune 500 tester.

This updated version of The Hacker Playbook includes all of the previous book’s best “plays” as well as the most recent attacks, resources, and lessons gained. This book, which has twice as much information as to its predecessor, goes over how to set up a lab, runs through attack test scenarios, and includes more customizable code.

This book will help you prepare for an interesting new job in IT security, whether you’re gulping down fizzy drinks while anxiously seeking a vulnerability.

Topics covered

  • Open source vs commercial software
  • Setting up your boxes
  • Setting up kali boxes
  • Power up Powershell
  • Metasploitable 2
  • Binary exploitation

You can buy this book from here.

2. Hacking: The art of exploitation

Hacking The Art of Exploitation, 2nd Edition

Author: Jon Ericson
Publisher: No starch press
Edition: Second
Available in: Kindle, paperback

About the author

Jon Erickson holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and talks at computer security events all around the world. In Northern California, he works as a cryptologist and a security expert.

About the book

Hacking: The Art of Exploitation, 2nd Edition, like all good books, pushes you to experiment. Each section concentrates on a set of case studies with Erickson’s expert advice. Book’s also not a difficult read; instead of immersing the user in hacking theory, it focuses on allowing experimentation with the examples.

This is a great book for understanding x86 microcomputer architecture, but it isn’t appropriate for a beginner. There are several topics that only dedicated aficionados will be able to grasp, and there are a few points in the reading where the author delves a little too far into the weeds. Overall, it’s well-written, but the second edition, which came out in 2008, is in desperate need of an update.

There are a few topics in the book that, in my opinion, might have benefited from somewhat better explanations and perhaps more specificity, as you may need to obtain more updates from various sources in a few cases. Overall, this is a must-read for anyone interested in working in the realm of cybersecurity.

Topics covered

  • C, assembly code, and shell scripts
  • Use buffer overflows and format strings, corrupt system memory to execute arbitrary code
  • Use a debugger to examine processor registers and system memory to acquire a thorough grasp of what is going on
  • Outwit standard security techniques such as nonexecutable stacks and intrusion detection systems
  • Gain access to a remote server by port-binding or connect-back shellcode, then change a server’s logging behavior to conceal your presence
  • Hijack TCP connections, redirect network traffic, and conceal open ports

You can buy this book from here.

3. The hacker’s playbook 3

The Hacker Playbook 3 Practical Guide to Penetration Testing

Author: Peter Kim
Publisher: No starch press
Edition: First
Available in: Kindle, paperback

About the author

Peter Kim has more than 14 years of experience in the information security business, including more than 12 years of leading Penetration Testing/Red Teams. He has worked for a variety of industries including utilities, Fortune 1000 entertainment corporations, government agencies, and significant financial institutions. His hobbies include creating a secure security community, mentoring students, and teaching others, despite being best known for The Hacker Playbook series.

About the book

Peter walks you through the entire penetration testing process. He walks you through the processes of a penetration test, including reconnaissance, web app exploitation, network compromise, social engineering methods, physical attacks, evading antivirus and intrusion detection systems, and, of course, exploit.

This book provides an excellent introduction to web application testing, as well as a sensitive web application that shows you some of the most recent methodologies. There are also NodeJS attacks, SQL Injection, and sophisticated XSS methods to consider. We suggest it to anyone who is just starting out.

Topics covered

  • real-world campaigns and attacks
  • various initial entry points, exploitation, bespoke malware, persistence
  • lateral movement-all without being detected

You can buy this book from here.

4. The basics of hacking and penetration testing

The Basics of Hacking and Penetration Testing Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing Made Easy

Author: Peter Engebretson
Publisher: No starch press
Edition: Second
Available in: Kindle, paperback

About the author

Jon Erickson holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and talks at computer security events all around the world. In Northern California, he works as a cryptologist and a security expert.

About the book

The book The Basics of Hacking and Penetration Testing was written by Patrick Engebretson. It covers everything you need to know about doing a penetration test and an ethical hack from start to finish. The book teaches readers how to use and understand the hacking tools required to conduct a penetration test. This book provides illustrations and tasks in every chapter to teach readers how to assess and apply data.

It explains how to utilize these tools effectively, as well as a four-step process for conducting a penetration test or hack, letting learners jumpstart their careers and gain a better understanding of offensive security.

Each chapter includes hands-on examples and tasks that educate students on how to analyze results and apply them in subsequent phases.

Topics covered

  • Backtrack and Kali Linux
  • Google reconnaissance
  • MetaGooFil
  • DNS interrogation
  • Nmap
  • Nessus
  • Metasploit
  • Social Engineer Toolkit (SET)
  • w3af
  • Netcat
  • post-exploitation methods
  • the Hacker Defender rootkit

You can buy this book from here.

5. CISSP All-in-one Exam guide

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide, Eighth Edition (CERTIFICATION & CAREER - OMG)

Author: Shon Harris, Fernando Maym
Publisher: McGraw Hill
Edition: Ninth
Available in: Kindle, paperback

About the author

Shon Harris, CISSP, was the founder and CEO of Logical Security LLC, as well as an information security consultant, educator, and author. She’s the author of many international best-selling information security publications that have sold over a million copies and been translated into six languages.

Fernando Maym, PhD, CISSP, is a security consultant and the former Deputy Director of the Army Cyber Institute at West Point. He is also the Lead Cyber Scientist with Soar Technology, Inc. Over the last 28 years, he has addressed the security demands of clients on five continents through academic, government, and business research, as well as operational and leadership responsibilities.

About the book

This book was written by Shon Harris for those studying for the Certified Information Systems Security Professional test, which is required to obtain cybersecurity certifications. The book discusses an ethical hacker’s platform, network, regulatory, and governance concerns.

Security and risk management, security architecture and engineering, Communication and network security, asset security, security assessment, and testing, identity and access management (IAM), security operations, and Software development security are only a few of the topics covered.

Topics covered

  • Asset security
  • Security architecture and engineering
  • Communication and network security
  • Identity and access management
  • Security assessment and testing
  • IT operations
  • Security operations
  • Software development security

You can buy this book from here.

6. The web application hacker’s handbook: finding and exploiting security flaws

The Web Application Hacker's Handbook Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws

Author: Dafydd Stuttard, Marcus Pinto
Publisher: No starch press
Edition: Second
Available in: Kindle, paperback

About the author

Dafydd Stuttard is a Principal Security Consultant at Next Generation Security Software, where he oversees online application security. He has nine years of security consulting expertise, specializing in web applications and compiled software penetration testing.

Marcus Pinto is a Principal Security Consultant at Next Generation Security Software, where he heads the database competence development team and has overseen the creation of NGS’ core training courses. He has eight years of security consulting expertise and specializes in web application and supporting architecture penetration testing.

About the book

Web Application Hacking has been treated as a separate section in all works thus far. This is the only book on the subject. The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook is one of the best hacking publications for web application testing currently available. The book’s authors created Burp Suite, the most extensively used Web application testing framework.

If you acquire a book authored by folks that created a real Web Application Toolkit, you can just guess how much value you’ll gain out of it. With 912 pages, this is a massive book. The content is still highly relevant today, even if it was last updated in 2011.

However, if you are determined to work in Cyber Security, you would not be able to resist reading this book. This book guides you step by step through Web Application Security, from the beginning to the end, until you have a firm grasp on the subject. A must-have addition to your library of Ethical Hacking Books.

Topics covered

  • Describes how to overcome new technologies and approaches for protecting web applications from assaults that have emerged since the last version
  • New remoting frameworks, HTML5, cross-domain integration techniques, UI redress, frame busting, HTTP parameter pollution, hybrid file attacks
  • Features a companion website hosted by the authors that allow readers to try out the attacks discussed, answers questions posed at the end of each chapter and provides a simplified methodology and task checklist

You can buy this book from here.

7. Penetration testing: A hands-on introduction to hacking

Penetration testing A hands-on introduction to hacking

Author: Georgia Weidman
Publisher: No starch press
Edition: First
Available in: Kindle, paperback

About the author

Georgia Weidman is the founder of Bulb Security, a security consulting business, and a penetration tester and researcher. She gives talks at conferences including Black Hat, ShmooCon, and DerbyCon and offers seminars on topics like penetration testing, mobile hacking, and exploit building. She received a DARPA Cyber Fast Track grant to continue working on mobile device security.

About the book

Penetration testers use software to mimic cyber attacks in order to uncover security flaws in operating systems, networks, and apps. Penetration techniques are used by information security professionals all around the world to assess corporate defenses.

Georgia Weidman, a security specialist, developer, and instructor, teaches you to the basic skills and practices that every pentester requires in Penetration Testing. You’ll go through a number of practical exercises using tools like Wireshark, Nmap, and Burp Suite in a virtual machine-based laboratory that comprises Kali Linux and vulnerable OS systems.

You’ll discover the essential steps of an accurate evaluation as you go along with the laboratories and execute attacks, including collecting information, identifying exploitable vulnerabilities, getting access to systems, post-exploitation, and much more.

Topics covered

  • Brute-forcing and wordlists are used to crack passwords and wireless network keys
  • Examine web applications for flaws
  • To launch exploits and create your own Metasploit modules, use the Metasploit Framework
  • Social-engineering attacks should be automated
  • Avoid using antivirus software
  • In the post-exploitation phase, convert access to one system into absolute control of the organization

You can buy this book from here.

8. Social engineering: The science of human hacking

Social Engineering The Science of Human Hacking

Author: Christopher Hadnagy
Publisher: No starch press
Edition: First
Available in: Kindle, paperback

About the author

Social-Engineer, LLC was founded and is led by Christopher Hadnagy. In his sixteen years in the field, he has established the world’s first social engineering-based podcast and newsletter, as well as four books on the subject.

About the book

Why hack into something when you can just ask for access? Social Engineering: The Science of Human Hacking uncovers the craftier side of the hacker’s repertory. Social engineering relies on human error to gain access to sensitive spaces, and it is undetectable by firewalls and antivirus software. In this book, renowned expert Christopher Hadnagy explains the most common techniques that fool even the most vigilant security personnel, as well as how these techniques have been used in the past.

Everything from our emotions to our security is influenced by how we make decisions as people.

Hackers have known how to manipulate your decision-making process since the dawn of time to get you to do something that isn’t in your best interests. Networks and systems can be hacked, but they can also be safeguarded; when the “system” in question is a human individual, there is no software to rely on, no hardware update, and no code that can keep information locked down permanently. The malicious social engineer’s hidden weapon is human nature and emotion, and this book teaches you how to spot, predict, and avoid this form of manipulation by putting you inside the social engineer’s toolbox.

Topics covered

  • Investigate the most prevalent social engineering techniques used to acquire access
  • Find out which popular approaches don’t work in the real world
  • Examine how social engineers can apply our grasp of the science behind emotions and decisions
  • Discover how social engineering plays a role in some of the most recent news
  • Learn how to apply these skills as a professional social engineer to protect your business
  • Adopt efficient anti-hacking methods to keep hackers at bay

You can buy this book from here.

9. Kali Linus Revealed  (BoNUS BOOK)

Kali Linux Revealed Mastering the Penetration Testing Distribution

Author: Raphael Hertzog
Publisher: Offsec press
Edition: First
Available in: Kindle, paperback

About the author

Raphael Hertzog, a Debian contributor for almost 20 years and author of the Debian Administrator’s Handbook, is the Kali team’s Debian expert. When he’s not working with Kali, he runs Freexian, a firm he started, where he shares his Debian knowledge. He assists others by developing derivatives and custom installers, packaging Debian software, and upgrading existing packages (by correcting bugs and adding new features).

About the book

This is a Kali Linux book. The most common penetration testing distribution is Kali Linux, previously known as Backtrack. As a result, learning it is a no-brainer for you. Although I do not advocate Kali Linux for novices, if you do decide to use it, I strongly advise you to read Kali Linux Revealed first.

The Kali developers will guide you through the operating system and show you how to get the most out of Kali Linux in this book. You’ll learn all of Kali Linux’s principles, as well as Linux’s principles and fundamentals, and how to run Kali Linux in a variety of circumstances (laptop, desktop, server, virtual, and so on).

You can buy this book from here.

10. Ghost in the Wires: My adventures as the world’s most wanted hacker

Ghost in the Wires My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker

Author: Kevin Mitnick
Publisher: No starch press
Edition: First
Available in: Kindle, paperback

About the author

KEVIN MITNICK is the subject of innumerable news and magazine articles, the hero of thousands of aspiring hackers, and a former “most sought” cybercriminal. He has talked to crowds at conferences all over the world, appeared on dozens of major national television and radio shows, and even testified in front of Congress as a security expert. The Art of Deception and The Art of Intrusion are his books.

About the book

If you are here looking for the best hacking books, you surely know the legend, Kevin Mitnick. This book is based on the true account of Kevin Mitnick, a cyber hacker who was at his peak between 1979 and 1995 when he was finally apprehended by the FBI after years in exile.

Kevin hacked his first computer system when he was 16 years old, and there was no turning back. This book does an excellent job of explaining how the mind of a hacker works and what motivates them. It provides an in-depth peek into the Hacker’s thoughts, which is why we considered this book to be quite useful.

We are not sure how much of this book is exaggerated on Kevin’s part, but most of the events he relates appear to be true and plausible, especially since most of them were validated either by the Feds or by his previous friends/foes.

Topics covered

You can buy this book from here.

Conclusion

We have come to the end of this article. Hopefully, you have decided on the best ethical hacking book to use. Ethical hacking is in great demand these days and learning it will create immense job opportunities for you. Which of these are you planning on reading first? Let us know via the comments.

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