Cyber security has seen a boom in its requirements over the last decade as the world of interconnected devices is rapidly growing. Even our smartphones have become more powerful than the computers we used to own 10 years back.
According to the reports presented by Cisco, by 2030, more than 500 billion devices are expected to connect to the Internet for the first time. Thus, with the increased number of devices in cyberspace, there are more chances of devices getting attacked by malicious actors. Every business and organization must protect itself from online fraud and data breach attacks. This leads to an increase in job opportunities in the field of cyber security.
Ethical hacking is one of the best fields of computer science that deals with cyber security and network vulnerabilities. In ethical hacking, you will perform several tests on applications and websites to find areas prone to attacks.
But where do you learn ethical hacking? The best place to start learning ethical hacking books. You will find a plethora of ethical hacking books online.
In this blog post, we shall walk you through some of the best ethical hacking books that will help you prosper in the cybersecurity and ethical hacking field. In addition, we will also talk about different types of ethical hacking and what ethical hacking means.
So let’s begin!
What is Ethical Hacking?
Ethical hacking implies performing a security assessment to ensure that an application or website is safe from attackers. It is also known as “white hat” or ethical hackers who do the hacking by keeping themselves in check under the law. Before they hack, they first get approval from the organization or the owner of the IT asset. The whole concept of ethical hacking is the complete opposite of malicious hacking.
To perform ethical hacking, one needs to stay legal, meaning obtain proper approvals before performing security assessments. Secondly, they need to define the scope of assessment, so their work remains legal up to certain approved boundaries. This also helps ethical hackers to know when and where they need to stop to stay under lawful hacking.
After the security assessment is done, they have to make a report and notify the organization about all the vulnerabilities they have found during the assessment. Also, at this stage, ethical hackers will be working together with the development team to make the product more secure and add more security options to make it harder for hackers to penetrate.
Lastly, depending on the data sensitivity, ethical hackers need to agree to a separate non-disclosure agreement before they start the security assessment.
Types of Hackers
There are three types of hackers, and each one performs a somewhat similar set of hacking methods. Here we have explained in detail about each type of hacker.
1. Black Hat Hacker
These are unethical hackers or malicious hackers, and they try to hack the system for their own good. They target banks, companies, and organizations with weak security to steal their money, data, or product code.
In addition to this, once these hackers are in the system, they could completely destroy your data as well as delete essential files from your system. Black hat hacking is illegal, and no one should perform it.
2. White Hat Hacker
These individuals are more like penetration testers, and they follow ethical rules and regulations to hack into the system or an application to find out its vulnerabilities which later will be shared with the developers.
Companies hire these individuals to find how secure their product is, and in short, these are the good guys of the Internet. In most cases, these people will use same hacking techniques that black hat hackers use. But here, they will only hack the system from which they have permission in the first place. White hat hacking is legal.
3. Gray Hat Hacker
These individuals are hybrids between the two we have mentioned above. They will hack any system to test out its security without taking any permission from the organization or the owner of the website. But they will never steal any information or damage the system.
After they are done with the hack, they will notify the organization about the hack and let them know about the areas where security is lacking. Still, it is considered illegal as the person didn’t have permission to take the security assessment.
Top Ethical Hacking Books to Read in 2022
Now that you know the basics of ethical hacking and how it is different from standard hacking, it is time to move on to discussing our list of the best ethical hacking books. Here are some of the handpicked best books on ethical hacking that help you gain knowledge of hacking legally into systems and uncovering security loopholes.
1. Hacking: A Beginners’ Guide to Computer Hacking, Basic Security, And Penetration Testing
By: John Slavio
This book is like the first mini-steps that you will take on your journey to learn the concepts of ethical hacking. It covers topics like the history of hacking, different types of hacking and hackers, essential hacking tools, and how to hide IP addresses when performing a hack.
In addition, you will learn about penetration testing, common attacks and threats, hacking an email address, mobile hacking, and spoofing attacks. So, this is among the best ethical hacking books for beginners.
2. Hacking: The Art of Exploitation
By: Jon Erickson
This is a world-famous book for those who are looking for a way to learn to hack. In addition to this, it has two editions: the first one was released in 2003, and the other one was released in 2008. The book’s primary focus is on providing readers with the basics of network security and computer security.
On the other hand, with the second edition, you will also be introduced to C programming from a hacker’s perspective and how it can be used for penetration testing. You will also get to learn about shell scripts, hijacking TCP connections, cracking the encrypted wireless traffic, exploiting, bypassing security layers, and how to speed up the process of brute-force attacks.
After you are done reading this book, you will know precisely what programming does in hacking and its importance in network communications as well.
3. The Web Application Hackers Handbook: Finding And Exploiting Security Flaws
By: Dafydd Stuttard and Marcus Pinto
If you have a little bit of knowledge about hacking or even interest, you might have heard about Burp Site, which is the most successful hacking tool for penetration testing. Well, this book is written by brilliant minds who have developed Burp Site.
The authors have penned this book for those people who are entirely new to the world of hacking and also don’t know much about computer science in general. The start of the book explains the basic information about how the Internet works, and from there, you will be led to how hacking of a website takes place over the Internet.
With this book, you will be able to uncover hidden security vulnerabilities in websites and applications. In addition to this, it also teaches you how to defend yourself from attacks and make a much more secure application. Moreover, you will be aware of a few remoting frameworks, cross-domain integration techniques, HTML5, frame busting, UI redress, hybrid file attacks, and many other concepts.
There are a total of 21 chapters available in this book, and due to its ease of reading, it is considered to be a beginner-friendly book.
4. The Hacker Playbook 2: Practical Guide To Penetration Testing
By: Peter Kim
This ethical hacking book follows a football match in various examples to showcase how penetration testing is done. Here you will learn all the essential elements and principles of penetration testing, such as social engineering, detection of the breach, antivirus software evasion, intelligence collection, and more.
It is among the excellent hacking books for beginners who are looking to gain basic knowledge of penetration testing. The book covers a variety of practical examples that come with valuable tips.
The writer of the book Kim uses soccer-style “plays” to make readers understand the different obstacles they have to face during penetration testing. Some of these obstacles are targeting various networks, pivoting through security controls, and getting out of sight of any antivirus software.
Don’t think about buying the first edition of the book. All the essential aspects of hacking discussed in the first edition are present in the second edition. The second edition also talks about new tools and exploits that are currently taking place on the Internet. So, it’s considered one of the best books on ethical hacking.
5. Hands-on Ethical Hacking And Network Defense
By: James Corley, Kent Backman, And Michael Simpson
This is a solid foundational book for hackers who are about to embark on their journey of learning about various vulnerabilities of networks and the Internet. Those who have no knowledge of networking or even cyber security can start reading this book without any problem.
The author has used quite simple and straightforward language to explain concepts. Also, he used excellent examples for readers to explain different ideas and concepts of ethical hacking.
Moreover, the book covers new security resources, emerging vulnerabilities, and cutting-edge methods to protect networks, crime laws and penalties for illegal hacking, and many more. You will also learn about security testing, hacking tools, different approaches for penetration testing, mobile security, and how to perform network protection tests.
6. Penetration Testing with Kali Linux
By: OffSec (PWK)
The company which developed Kali Linux is Offensive Security, and they have combined more than 300 information gathering, scanning, viability analysis, forensics, wireless hacking, web exploitation, and post-exploitation tools in one Linux distribution.
Now, the officials who work in Offensive Security compiled this book. The content of this book is represented in the form of stories where the reader will be guided through a complete exploitation procedure.
The book offers a basic knowledge of Kali Linux and the tools which are present in it. After that, readers will be tackling concepts of Networking, Reverse & Bind shells, buffer overflows, privilege escalation, and malware evasion.
One of the disadvantages of this book is that you can only get the officially licensed book when you opt for OSCP certification. The other method to get your hands on this volume is by searching for it online in free hacking books and PDF forums. This way, you will get the PDF of the book and won’t have to pay any price for it as well.
7. Practical Malware Analysis: The Hand’s Guide To Dissecting Malicious Software
By: Michael Sikorski And Andrew Honig
If you are ever talking to an expert ethical hacker and ask them about the book they recommend for a beginner. Then you will find most of them will answer one book only, which is Practical Malware Analysis. It is one of the best books on ethical hacking.
This is a step-by-step guide for everyone who is looking for methods to search for malware in their Windows operating system manually. In addition to this, from this hacking book, for a beginner, a reader will get an idea of the overall working of the Windows operating system and what are some of the common qualities which hackers prefer to exploit when targeting it.
This book will help aspiring hackers to have detailed information about each hack that one can do in Windows. If you are someone who is new to Windows hacking or hacking in general, this book is for you.
8. Gray Hat Hacking: The Ethical Hacker’s Handbook
By: Daniel Regalado, Ryan Linn, Dr. Allen Harper, Stephen Sims, Branko Spasojevic, Michael Baucom, Linda Martinez, Chris Eagle, and The late Shon Harris
This book has more than 9 co-authors working together to give you the best explanation of each and every hacking concept. It has proven techniques that security professionals currently use to keep their networks secure and mitigate any form of digital catastrophe that could ruin an organization’s trust, respect, brand, and marketing.
You will learn the necessary skills and tactics that are in trend right now in the ethical hacking field. While at the same time, you will also have field-tested solutions as well, case studies about effective hacks and leaks of the previous decade, and ready-to-use testing labs.
Besides this, here you get to know how to gain entry into a system, overtake a number of network equipment, write down the malicious code and inject it into the network, and exploit various web applications.
Moreover, this book also mentions the latest vulnerabilities which could be found in Android, how to perform reverse engineering and what cyber laws one needs to know about. Keep in mind this book is like a hidden treasure that contains most of the information in the context of hacking. It is one of the most comprehensive ethical hacking books for intermediate and advanced learners.
9. Social Engineering: The Science of Human Hacking
By: Christopher Hadnagy
Social engineering is the concept of cyber security, which deals with the errors created or made by humans. A hacker exploits social engineering to gain confidential information which is protected by the system in the first place. There is no code written which can help an organization keep itself safe from human errors.
With this book in our list of best ethical books for beginners, you will learn the concepts of social engineering and how they were used in the past. Here, you will find all the common tips and tricks which are used for the exploitation of social engineering. Apart from this, this ethical hacking book also describes methods to prevent your system from getting hacked.
10. Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering
By: Eldad Eilam
Deconstructing software is one of the most common ways to find out vulnerabilities that are present in its development. This book focuses on the innermost details of how one can reverse engineer any web application or software to discover its weak security points. You will know how to retrieve the information by digging deep into binaries and then retrieving the information.
Apart from this, you will also learn how to develop an application that can’t be reversed, engineer. The book puts a lot of emphasis on decompilers, and examples written in this book work on Microsoft Windows Environment.
Free Ethical Hacking Books
Here are a few free hacking books that you can download easily and read them anytime.
1. The Basics of Hacking and Penetration Testing, Second Edition: Ethical Hacking and Penetration
By: Patrick Engebretson
2. Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing Guide
By: Baloch, Rafay
3. Gray Hat Hacking the Ethical Hacker’s Handbook
By: Daniel Regalado
4. Web Hacking 101
By: Peter Yaworski
5. Certified Ethical Hacker
So these are some of the best ethical hacking textbooks which you should definitely have if you are looking to make a career in ethical hacking and cyber security. We know there are a number of books out there, but we have narrowed down the list to the 10 best ones to help you advance in the journey of cyber security.
In the end, it is up to you to choose which one suits your learning requirement the best and make the decision to purchase it. You may also find a number of these ethical hacking books to be converted into PDF and found online. In that case, the total cost of the book will be relatively less than the original paper or hardcover.
If you have any questions regarding these ethical hacking books or you want to add a book to this list. Then comment it down, and we will see where we can adjust it.
Till then, happy learning!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why should you learn ethical hacking?
When you are creating a web application, you should know the different tactics that are followed by hackers. In addition to this, with the knowledge of ethical hacking, you can take better security measures to protect your application from data breaches. Apart from this, an ethical hacker makes a good amount of money by working as a cyber security consultant.
2. What books should I read to become an ethical hacker?
With the knowledge of ethical hacking, you have the freedom to work in whichever industry you like. Every single company which has an online product or a website needs an ethical hacker for their cyber security. You can work for Fortune 500 companies, or you can start your own company to provide consultation to clients. Ethical hacking in the booming field of computer science and its knowledge will open the door for thousands of job opportunities for you around the world.
3. What qualifications do I need to become an ethical hacker?
One of the first things you need to learn if you want to be ethical is the working knowledge of wired and wireless networks. But the most important thing that one needs to have is high ethical standards to become an ethical hacker. Ethics are what puts a line between a good hacker and a bad hacker. Apart from this, you require strong coding skills.
4. How much do ethical hackers earn?
When you become an ethical hacker, you don’t need to worry about paying your bills and credit because the amount of money you will be making is going to be huge. The average salary of an ethical hacker in India is Rs 70,000 per month. If you move to more developed countries, this will go as high as Rs 1,15,000 per month for the person having 2 to 3 years of working experience.
Has an A.S Degree in Information Security, and has worked at many IT jobs. He eventually found a love for Marketing and now does SEO for a living. Franco enjoys writing about Technology, Ethical hacking and growth marketing and more.