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10 Cyber Security Books That Everyone Should Read

Cyber Security Books
Cyber Security Books

In this piece we will be listing top 10 cyber security books that tells the story about general cyber security. These 10 cyber security books are story specific books, meaning these books are fairly technical. There are not so high level technical concepts to grasp in these books. You can learn a lot about from these cyber security books even if they are dumbed down to certain extent.

If you are security enthusiast, then you can also check our list of: Best Ethical Hacking Books

Cyber Security Books That Everyone Should Read

Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know

This book is a good high level overview of cybersecurity issues. The book is divided into three main sections: an overview of the internet, its history, and how it works, an examination of the various threats (from criminals to states to patriotic hackers) and both how and why attacks are performed, and then finally a section on what can be done from both a personal and policy level. All the information in the book is from a high level with only a basic amount of technical information. There are several sections that give some detail on particular incidents of hacking (such as stuxnet), but these too only give enough technical detail to help the reader understand what happened.

I found the most interesting aspect of the book to be the policy-level discussions of hacking. If a state hacks another state and shuts down a power plant, what constitutes an appropriate response? Does it make sense for the victim state to move the conflict to the “real” world and bomb an attacker’s power plant in retaliation? Also, the difficulties of determining just who initiated an attack are explored. All in all, I recommend this book for the reader who want a good overview of an issue that will likely dominate geopolitics in the coming decades.

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

An eye opening read from someone who was at the beginning of the computer revolution. Kevin Mitnicks exploits from those early days are simply astounding. His great technical skill and likeable personality makes him a much more relatable hero. After numerous successful exploits and evading the authorities until his ultimate capture show the reader his great expertise at defeating secure networks and computer systems as well as the complexity of such hacks. As someone pursuing bachelor in Computer Science, this book was of great interest to me. For anyone with a passing interest in computing this is a must read.

Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon

This book tells the story – or at least part of the story – of Stuxnet, the malware that was employed allegedly by the US and Israeli intelligence services to disrupt Iran’s nuclear enrichment program in the late 2000s. Some have described it as the first case of cyberwar, but actually, it was more the first spectacular case of international state-on-state cybersabotage, and part of a wider campaign against the Iranian program that also included the targeted assassination of Iranian physicists and the imposition of sanctions. In the end, Stuxnet was only one piece in the jigsaw puzzle that led to the June 2015 diplomatic accord temporarily closing the road to an Iranian nuclear bomb.

Future Crimes: Inside the Digital Underground and the Battle for Our Connected World

Important cyber security book to read as it provides a comprehensive overview of the types of “attacks” that are occurring on the internet, many of which you have never heard of (I consider myself a tech-saavy person, but was surprised how little I knew). Marc does a great job of explaining how the antivirus software companies are always a step behind the hackers and what we as citizens can be doing to better protect ourselves online (e.g. password management programs, two-factor authentication, etc). Also includes fascinating anecdotes and stories from the government (e.g. hacking the Iranian nuclear program). Should be required reading for all adults given the amount of time we spend “connected” and online

The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security

Kevin Mitnick is well known to those in the security field; he is notorious for the efforts that he made to find ways around security systems, sometimes by hacking, but often by social engineering. I was a bit ambivalent about reading the book; did I want to “reward” someone that had been responsible for a number of security breaches.

However, I am glad that I did; the book highlights the methods used to gain illegal access to sites, systems and processes. These can be used by the astute security professional to understand how hackers think and to than be able to consider their options for improving their own security.

Security is not a destination, it is a journey. No matter how good a job you do, someone will find a way to get around the most hardened of processes. It is necessary to constantly question if the specific process that you have introduced are working and if they are doing the job that you think they should. Books like this reveal just how important it is to be able to take that outsider’s view to ensure that you do not become one of the victims.

It’s a very readable book and I feel that it should be read by anyone involved at any level in the field of IT security.

Spam Nation

A well-researched, in-depth analysis of a problem that’s been plaguing the internet for twenty years or so. Krebs does a great job at peeling back the various layers of the spam problem, introducing us to the players in the field, and tracing the connections through a shadowy network of organized crime.

The book’s only flaw is that it can’t quite decide who its intended audience is, and it can’t quite decide if it wants to be investigative journalism, tech journalism, or pop-science when it grows up. The author vacillates between genres a little too often for my taste, and can’t decide if he needs to explain the fundamentals of the internet to a readership of non-tech people or if he can spare a few pages to geek out about the details that are only interesting to people in the tech industry. One chapter will feel like gonzo journalism, while another will be pop science and a third will be technical explanation.

Still, if you’ve ever gotten tired of banging your head against your keyboard because your loved ones just will NOT stop clicking links in spam email they get and you’re tired of having to clean their PC for them, buy them a copy of this book and give it to them. It’s probably the best possible reference for why they really should just stop doing that, even if it doesn’t include much on how that Nigerian prince really doesn’t exist, and even if he did, wouldn’t need your help moving millions of dollars.

Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World

If you want to know how little privacy you have and how quickly the US Government, the NSA, the FBI and large corporations, particularly the hi-tech companies, have joined together to surveil you 24/7, then read this cyber security book. You will be knocked over. It made me ill when I discovered we have no privacy at all. What is creepier is the hi-tech barons saying things along the lines of, “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to be afraid of.” This is almost word for word what the Nazis said. Deeply disturbing and few of us know much of what this guy writes about. This isn’t an expose using “leaked documents”. This is a clear, concise book sourced from public documents, meticulously footnoted and well written.

The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage

This book should be an essential read for anyone interested in Cyber security. Its a great read and I just could not put the book down. Whether your a student, hacker, black hat, white hat, computer security professional or law enforcement its a must read. The story remains extremely relevant to present day. The general modus operandi of today hackers remains the same. To me this book is up there with 1984 and Animal Farm. But this is not satirical its a true story.
If i was a teacher, lecturer or mentor in Cyber security/Network Security this would be a compulsory read!

The Art of Invisibility: The World’s Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data

This book is great for someone who thinks that passwords like “Trump2020” or “password321” aren’t going to be cracked. This is a book I would recommend to someone like my parent’s that don’t understand much about privacy on the internet. It covers all the basics such as setting up VPNs, using password managers, using privacy OS’s like Tails, making untraceable transactions, encryption, MFA, etc. With that being said, anyone who doesn’t understand much regarding cyber security and how easy it is for someone to hijack your identity should definitely read this book. Mitnick does an excellent job bringing everything down to layman terms

Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War

This is a thoroughly-researched book that provides a look into the incidents and personalities that shaped American policy on cybersecurity and government-sponsored cyber attacks. It starts in the pre-Reagan era and ends with events from the past few years that are still fresh in memory (Stuxnet, Snowden, Sony data breach related to The Interview, etc.)

One of the conclusions is tragic: we seem no closer to securing vulnerable critical infrastructure than we were in the 1970s. This book is worth a read if you’re interested in cybersecurity or in modern state surveillance.

Conclusion: Top 10 Cyber Security books

So these are our top picks for Cyber security books that everyone should read. It’s a good mix of stories, actual life experience and technical information. If you have any other book recommendation that should be on this list of cyber security books please let know in the comments.

About the author

Ajay Verma

A Computer Science Graduate, who works extensively on open source projects. His Areas Of interest are: Network Security, Linux Administration, FOSS, Python, and C programming.

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