10 Best Hacking Books Every Ethical Hacker Should Have

Uneasy as it may seem, there are millions of people all over the world or are making real money from hacking legally. Such people practice what is known as ethical hacking and are sometimes paid by big companies to find bugs on their websites or apps. While learning to hack may be hard on its own, there are many hacking books that will help one.

Let’s point out, before anything else, that there are two types of hackers; the ethical hackers and unethical ones. Ethical hackers are those who practice hacking responsibly and in accordance with the law. The main concern of these hackers among other thing is to help improve online safety for businesses and organizations to detect vulnerabilities. On the other hand, the unethical hackers who are also known as the black hat hackers. They look for vulnerabilities and exploit them for personal gains.

If you are interested in becoming an ethical hacker, here are some important books that will help you.

Best Hacking Books

hacking books
Once notorious hacker Kevin Mitnick (Image Source)

1. Computer Hacking Beginners Guide: How to Hack Wireless Network, Basic Security, and Penetration Testing, Kali Linux, Your First Hack- Alan T. Norman

This is the first book anyone should recommend for hacking because it introduces one to the world of hacking in the most basic way possible. However, it may serve one in the intermediate level more.

Alan T. Norman is popular for various books on online security, but this remains top in the rank of those who want to learn to hack. The book is a guide for people who want to focus on wireless hacking without compromising one’s anonymity.

It remains very popular because of its practicality by presenting the different methods that one can carry out some basic hacking with the explanation of the theory behind some attacks that seem basic.

2. The Hackers Playbook 2 and 3- Peter Kim

We decide to bring these two books together as one because they are both great hacking books. Naturally, before the 2 and 3, there is also the 1, but that can easily be skipped as it does not cover much. Hacker Playbook 2 is pretty much a new book and is not necessarily tied to the first book. It teaches hacking as though it were a game, with different methods that one can use to attack networks as well as how to evade security.

The Hackers Playbook 2 is the best place for someone who has never had any experience to start from, but if you have some experience, then Playbook 3 should be good enough for you even though it builds on 2. It introduces one on how to create your penetrating environment and all the steps that follow.

3. Penetration Testing: A Hands-On Introduction to Hacking

Another book that is great for someone new to ethical hacking is this book by Georgia Weidman. It is one of the most important books to read if you are new to Penetration Testing even without any prior knowledge. This book covers a wide range of things including setting up a lab to enumeration, exploitation, and mobile hacking. It also teaches how to have your way through antivirus security easily.

As you continue from learning the basic programming, Georgia takes you to things like exploit development and then client-side attacks. Nonetheless, she has always maintained the work at a beginner level.

4. The Shellcoder’s Handbook: Discovering and Exploiting Security Holes 2nd Edition- Chris Anley, Felix Lindner, and John Heasman

This book is a special one not only because it was written by people who are experienced in terms of security but mostly because of what it has to offer. The work covers a wide range of things including how to discover security gaps in applications and operating systems.

Before thinking to get this book, you will need to have great exposure in programming and a lot of other IT concepts because it does not come with any form of introductions, delving straight into the main business.

 5. RTFM: Red Team Field Manual- Ben Clark

There are not many hacking books that are better than this, even though it is more of a reference guide than one to teach hacking. It is loaded with the basic syntax you will need for Linux and Windows commands as well as Python Scripts and Windows PowerShell tips. It may be a little book, but its value is overwhelming.

6. The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook: Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws- Dafydd Stuttard and Marcus Pinto

Generally, one thing that hacking books come with is a particular section dedicated to Web Application Hacking. While they cover a lot, so much is still left out for anyone who is looking to go deep into Web Application. That is what The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook does and it may be the absolute best web application hacking book out there.

The book is written by Dafydd Stuttard and Marcus Pinto, people that have come up with a Web Application Testing framework, meaning that one cannot bet wrong with it. The importance of understanding Web Application is highly important if you are taking ethical hacking seriously. This is because many applications are poorly designed or they are not updated always, so they leave many doors for being hacked, even though these apps are used by many companies. With this book, you will learn all the steps to take and almost everything else that comes with Web Application hacking.

7. Hacking: The Art of Exploitation- Jon Erickson

This book will always remain special among those who are genuinely interested in learning how to hack ethically. The important thing to know before going for this is that it is not a quick fix for someone looking for a fast way of learning how to hack, neither is it a book for beginners.

The good thing with this book is that rather than just jumping straight to hacking, it will walk you through basic programming before taking on other things and the different hacking techniques and methods used such as Penetration Testing, Wi-Fi hacking, and DoS Attacks, among other things. Basically, it covers all that an ethical hacker should know after one must have got the basic knowledge of hacking somewhere else.

8. Advanced Penetration Testing: Hacking the World’s Most Secure Networks- Wil Allsopp

As far as it has to do with hacking books, this work will always be very important. It is not necessarily the first that one should read most especially when you are starting out as a new hacker. What it does, is to establish all you have learned previously and expand on it some more.

The work covers important things like complex attack simulation and Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) modelling, introducing readers to methods beyond Metasploit and vulnerability scanners. More so, APT modelling is discussed in each chapter taking up different techniques in specific industries.

9. Hacking Exposed 7: Network Security Secrets and Solutions

A collaborative effort of Stuart McClure, Joel Scambray, and George Kurtz, this is one of the most special books not only for people looking to bolster their security and systems against hackers but also for hackers who want to do it ethically. This is because it also exposes you to the various methods black hat hackers adopt in order to have their way through any security and system.  More than just that, it provides some countermeasures.

There are also other books published before this including Hacking Exposed 6 which preceded Hacking Exposed 7.  One will not need to get the previous books before getting this since it is an update of all the previous works.

10. Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker- Kevin Mitnick

Is this a book that will teach you how to hack? No. Still, it is a book that every ethical hacker should read. The work tells the story of one of the most notorious hackers that has ever lived. His road to becoming a hacker began when he was just 12 and by the time he was 16, he had already hacked a computer network when he broke into the computer network of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and copied their software. For this crime, he would later spend 12 months behind bars.

He would later hack dozens of computer networks and remain elusive for many years remaining on FBI’s most wanted list. In 1995, he was finally arrested. In 1999, he pleaded guilty to various crimes and spent time behind bars and then in 2002, he was released. During his trial, prosecutors claimed he could start a nuclear war by simply whistling into a payphone because of how good of a hacker he was.

Now a security expert, his book is a must-read for hackers.

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Inasmuch as all the above are great ethical hacking books, it is important to note that not all of them will be best for everyone. This is mostly because they are all in levels, hence one that will be useful for a hacker that has already started or advanced, may not be best for someone who is about to start. However, it is important that you get one based on your level.

More so, the good news is that most of these books are good enough to see one through learning how to hack effectively without any other help. Nonetheless, if you are fortunate to have other assistance in the form of videos and lectures, that will also be of great help.

Chux Dezman
Chux Dezman
Chux has been writing and editing for several major websites and publications for over 16 years, when he is not crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s, you might catch him at home watching his favourite TV shows


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