Friday, July 28, 2006

Review of Counter Hack Reloaded Posted

Amazon.com's loss is your gain. I just tried to submit the following for my 200th technical Amazon.com review. I read Counter Hack Reloaded by Ed Skoudis and Tom Liston. I tried to submit the review to Amazon.com, but they refused since I already reviewed Counter Hack.

Man, that bugs me. The second edition could have been garbage, and no one who reviewed the first edition could say so! I'm not going to create a fake account simply to review the book again.

I was able to review the third edition of Anti-Hacker Toolkit without any trouble.

As you might expect, I loved Counter Hack Reloaded. It would get five stars if Amazon.com would let me say so.



Still the best single technical introductory volume for security pros

I read and reviewed the first edition of Counter Hack (CH) almost five years ago, and I put that book on my list of top 10 books of the last 10 years. Counter Hack Reloaded (CHL) is an excellent update to the original book, and it remains the single best technical introductory volume for all security professionals. If you're looking to start a digital security career, CHL is the book you must read and remember.

CHL is a thorough update of CH. The old book was 564 pages. The new book, using the nicer fonts and layout seen in newer Pearson imprints, is 748 pages -- but thinner, due to a different paper type. Both books have 13 chapters covering the same topics, but several have been substantially increased. Ch 7 in CH is 66 pages; the same chapter in CHL is 98. This does not mean that new pages were simply added to old ones. Rather, obsolete discussions are replaced by modern issues. For example, 10 pages on BO2K in CH are replaced by a single screenshot and a URL, making room for talk of Hacker Defender, AFX, Adore-Ng, and FU.

I like CHL because it covers just about all the subjects I would expect of someone with operational security knowledge. Chapters on Windows, Unix, reconnaissance, scanning, application/OS-based attacks, network-based attacks, denial of service, maintaining access, and covering tracks are written clearly and to the appropriate depth. CHL isn't "Hacking Exposed," however; attacks are not demonstrated with syntax and relevant output. CHL instead concentrates on the underlying vulnerabilities or exposures that make exploitation possible.

A few updates are specifically worth mentioning. CHL adds sections on 802.11 wireless security, Google hacking, and recent attacks. I was pleased to see the revised explanation of stack overflows in Ch 7, along with new details on heap overflows. I have one suggestion for future editions: by convention, most coders talk of the stack growing "down" and the heap growing "up." CHL's diagrams are upside-down with respect to this convention, and should be changed.

CHL is a special book, and for that reason I saved it for my 200th technical book review. Congratulations to authors Ed Skoudis and Tim Liston for a job well done.

2 comments:

Secure Ideas said...

I have noticed that most of the online book sites consider CH and CHL the same book. This might explain the problem with this review, and the lack of a problem with the AHT books.

I also agree that this book is incredible!

Kevin

Anonymous said...

It looks like the just linked to the reviews of the first edition and did not count the second edition as a different book even though the ISBN is not the same.

That said, your review for the first edition is listed for the second

Thanks for reviewing these books. I've bought at least 5 or more books (and now this one) just based on your reviews and i was never disappointed.