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Hacking Linux Exposed, Second Edition

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Spotlight Customer Reviews

Average Customer Rating: 4.89

Customer Rating: 5
Summary: The best hands-on Linux security book just got better
Comment: I'm a big fan of the Hacking Exposed style of writing. All offensive theory is backed up by command line examples, followed by defensive countermeasures. Hacking Exposed: Linux, 2nd Ed (HE:L2E) follows this tradition, updating the content of the first edition and adding 200 pages of new content. Although I reviewed the first edition in Sep 01, reading the second edition reminded me of the challenges posed by securely configuring and deploying Linux systems.

The best way to learn while reading HE:L2E is to try the sample commands. I also recommend visiting the links mentioned and installing many of the tools described by the authors. I found programs like raccess, nsat (ch. 3), sslsniff (ch. 7), nstx, and httptunnel (ch. 15) particularly interesting from an attacker's point of view. From a system administration standpoint, coverage of passlogd (ch. 2), lilo and grub (ch. 5), and X (ch. 6) were very helpful.

The authors share many novel ways to abuse Linux systems, but counter those exploits with little-known features or third-party tools. I never knew I could use bash's HISTCONTROL feature to selectively remove entries from shell history files. HE:L2E goes the extra mile to help secure your system, such as including sample C code in ch. 13 to allow one to compile TCP Wrappers support into one's own programs. Other clear, concise defensive measures were introduced in excellent chapters on keeping the kernel and packages current (appendix B) and pro-active security measures (ch. 2). The last appendix gives a short yet powerful description of the damage an intruder can perform, showing how he hid unauthorized programs and how those programs were discovered.

If you use Linux, you'll find HE:L2E indispensable. I even applied many of the tools and techniques to my FreeBSD system, showing that that good security advice can be a cross-platform endeavor.

Customer Rating: 5
Summary: Excellence through examples
Comment: I am a senior engineer for network security operations. I read "Hacking Linux Exposed" (HLE) to learn how adversaries compromise Linux hosts. HLE impressed me at every level. I highly recommend system administrators and security personnel read and heed this book's recommendations.

The "Hacking Exposed" series is known for its unique example-driven style. Rather than telling the reader about a technique or problem, the authors demonstrate the issue using command-line examples. I find myself reading with book and laptop at hand, ready to duplicate the authors' sample commands. This process reinforces the authors' message, while the reader learns if a specific problem applies to his situation. Furthermore, by showing exactly how to execute certain commands, the authors impart bits of wisdom and trickery not found elsewhere.

For example, chapter 11 describes attacks and defenses for FTP servers. To explain active and passive FTP sessions, the authors demonstrate running an FTP client with the -d switch to illustrate raw instructions sent by the client over the FTP command channel. I had never seen this switch in use, but as an intrusion detector I constantly see raw FTP instructions like those revealed by the -d switch. These and other tidbits, like using the chattr -i command or setting the "sticky bit", make HLE exceptional.

Beyond these benefits, readers will enjoy clear, thorough explanations of Linux security issues. HLE gives first-rate descriptions of ssh and web man-in-the-middle attacks, race conditions, and FTP data hijacking. HLE also provides great illustrated examples of FTP bounce attacks, giving intrusion detectors the minutiae we need to recognize these techniques. I had heard of most of the compromise methods offered by HLE, but never seen them discussed in such practical detail.

If the material in chapters 1-13 of HLE don't prompt you to verify your Linux host's integrity, then the case studies in appendix D will. The security community needs more of these narratives. These stories, based on true events, show the lengths to which some attacks will go to penetrate target machines.

"Hacking Linux Exposed" is another strong addition to the "Hacking Exposed" series, and the security community will benefit as a result.

(Disclaimer: I received a free review copy from the publisher.)

Customer Rating: 5
Summary: Don't have this book? You're BEGGING for trouble...
Comment: When I first starting using Linux systems and putting them online I had NO idea what sort of grief I was in for. The reason for that grief: I had NO clue how to 'harden' a system or what that term even meant. By not knowing that I put up systems that were quickly exploited by script kiddies and SPAM houses looking for open relays to use for SPAM and for 'zombies' to use in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. I bought this book, read it, and haven't had those problems since. If you are going to do *anything* with Linux on the internet then GET THIS BOOK NOW. Unless, of course, you *want* to have your computers destroyed on a weekly basis...