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HPYN2E shines in many respects. The "laws of security" in chapter 2 are accurate and enlightening. Chapter 4 helps teach secure programming techniques by comparing insecure and secure code snippets. Chapter 4 also demonstrates debugging and disassembling code, usually not seen in security texts. Chapter 8 probably contains the most advanced coverage of buffer overflows I've read in a book. By actually showing and explaining stack traces, the authors share a level of detail sufficient to satisfy all but the most elite coders. Chapters on "diffing" (5) and format strings (9) are robust. Hardware hacking, thoroughly described in chapter 14, is fascinating. The author cared enough to include numerous clear photographs of disassembled equipment, and mentioned many helpful external web references.
While these great chapters comprise more than half of HPYN2E, the remainder is not exceptional. I was not happy with the rambling, wordy chapters on spoofing (12) and tunneling (13). Spare us the quotes from Dante's "Divine Comedy"! Still, this material is easily skimmed.
Because HPYN2E is written more from an intruder's point of view, the title doesn't seem to reflect the material. The book isn't exactly a "how to hack" manual, but it expertly illuminates many facets of compromising information resources.
Still the idea was very interesting (information directly from the real experts), and I kept waiting for a new edition.
Well the second edition is now out, and not only fulfills, but exceeds all my original expectations !!
Let's take a look:
Understanding attacks and vulnerabilities, by understanding 'how to hack' (good hacking of course. . . .ahem )
Rewritten, expanded and improved, the book consists of 800+ pages well structured into 18 chapters (against 450+ pages and 15 chapters of the first edition).
Well written, well presented, with a real fancy table of contents, the chapters include url's, a FAQ section and a SOLUTIONS FAST TRACK one.
A lot of CLEVER code is included as well as helpful 'Tool & Traps' and 'Notes from the Underground. . . ' outlines.
The new sections (all outstanding) include:
- Hardware Hacking (otherwise only found in papers)
- Tunneling (excellent)
- IDS evasion (very easily explained)
- Format strings attacks
The Intended Audience:
People willing to become network security pros.
- Introduction to Security, Attacks and related Methodologies.
- Unexpected Input, Buffer Overflow, Format Strings.
- Sniffing, Hijacking and Spoofing.
- Tunneling, Hardware Hacking, Viruses (et al.).
- IDS Evasion.
- Automated Tools.
- Reporting Security Problems.
The Bottom Line:
It is not just a good book, it is the best book among high level network security books, and the only that compares with specialized papers. Only quite easier.
I got more than 60 papers on buffer overflows. None compares with the classical 'Smashing The Stack For Fun And Profit' by Aleph One. IMHO, however, the corresponding chapter from this book, does compare and is really easier to understand.
Finally, the 'piece de resistance' of the book, is the chapter about Spoofing. Really enjoyed it, and by the way got surprised reading the innovative (to me) technique to 'Spoof Connectivity Through Asymmetric Firewalls'. Good Job Dan ;-)
As an added bonus, as an owner of this book, you'll find a lot of code files, applications and links...
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Who was Samuel Johnson? He was, in one sense, the first literary celebrity. His fabled dictionary of the English language was, a few years down the road, superceded and greatly improved upon by the dictionary written by Noah Webster. His tour of Scotland and the book that ensued from it hardly rank with the other literary giants of English. And his essays, indisputably brilliant, remain sadly that: forms of literature seldom read, and lacking the artistic force of the play, the novel, the poem.
What Boswell shows us about Johnson is that he was the sharpest conversationalist of his time in a society that cultivated the very finest of witty speakers. Living off the beneficence of friends, off a royally-provided pension, and leading what he readily acknowledged to be a life of idleness, Johnson was a sought-after personality invigorated by one of the brightest literary minds ever.
Boswell introduces the genius, his pathos, his melancholy, his piety, his warmth, and most of all his stinging wit. That he loved and respected Johnson, and sought to honor his memory, can only be doubted by an utter cynic or someone serving a lifetime of durance in academia.
"All intellectual improvement arises from leisure..." "You shall retain your superiority by my not knowing it." "Sir, they [Americans] are a parcel of convicts and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them short of hanging." "He was dull in a new way, and that made people think him great." "...it is our duty to maintain the subordination of civilized society..." "It is wonderful, when a calculation is made, how little the mind is actually employed in the discharge of any profession." Boswell: "...you are an idle set of people." Johnson: "Sir, we are a city of philosophers." "We should knock him down first, and pity him afterwards."
And best of all, and immortal to boot, is this: "No man but a blockhead writes, except for money."
Buy this book. Read it. It's humanity at its wittiest and most complex.
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Woven in and among the threads of the fascinating story of THE FIREKEEPER is the even more powerful story of the women in William Johnson's world--the young Palatine girl who pursued her dreams across the sea from bondage to the purchased freedom of a frontier pulsing with the clash of desire and spirit, of the fusing of the sacred and profane in a forest peopled with refugees from her own country and with the magical dreaming women of power of the Six Nations, of the Mohawks, women with names like Island Woman and Sparrow, all of whom would share in the romance and spirit of William Johnson's world, molded from the dreams of many cultures, a magical journey of spirit and soul brought to life by Robert Moss through the pages of THE FIREKEEPER.
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The cockpit of the large, sturdy and power Republic P-47 is the setting for a large portion of the book. Missions flown over Germany against the deadly Luftwaffe pilots and their superb planes are covered in the first person in gripping fashion. Though his recollection of events after ten years cannot be completely accurate, the author nonetheless describes tense battles in remarkable detail, down to the combat technique of each adversary. Besides his own experiences, the author also relates hair raising stories of colleagues who ditched at sea, bailed out over enemy territory, suffered catastrophic equipment failures or were in fact killed.
Though military pilots are often categorized as arrogant and self-centred (necessary traits as the split-second demands of aerial combat require the pilot to be unhindered by self-doubt), Johnson's storytelling is uniquely free of pretense and self-adulation. In fact, using his easy and informal writing style, Johnson has included his misfortunes and blunders for the reader's amusement. It should be said however, that Johnson's descriptions of battle are a little too fond, and he sounds entertained by killing. A disappointment is that Johnson does not tell curious readers what personal qualities, habits, or techniques he thinks caused his spectacular twenty-eight vietories with zero planes lost. The book also lacks the technical content which a nostalgic reader would enjoy.
Thunderbolt! is an enjoyable autobiography of an otherwise ordinary boy who, despite failures, went on to become a very gifted pilot. Perhaps Johnson's story says what kinds of fellows a large number of Air Force youths were, and so gives a more personal description of the military pilot to supplement one's historical knowledge.
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