This is the second edition of a well known book about hacking and contains a lot about hacking. Jon Erickson has expanded the book from the first edition doubling the number of pages to 450 pages and a Linux based Live-CD is also included.
I don't own the first edition, since I had to choose between Hacking by Jon Erickson and The Shellcoders Handbook (first edition, it is also in 2nd ed. now). I choose the Shellcoders handbook, which I have considered my bible for buffer overflows and hacking.
Now that I have read Jon Ericksons book about hacking I have two bibles, both excellent and well written, both covering some of the same stuff - but in very different ways.
This book details the steps done to perform buffer overflows on Linux on the x86 architecture. So detailed that any computer science student can do it, and they should. Every computer science student or aspiring programmer should be forced to read this book along with another book called 19 deadly sins of software programming.
That alone would improve internet security and program reliability in the future. Why you may ask, because this book teaches hacking, and how you can get started hacking.
Not hacking as doing criminal computer break ins, but thinking like an old-school hacker - doing clever stuff, seeing the things others don't. This book contains the missing link back to the old days, where hackers were not necessarily bad guys. Unfortunately today the term hacker IS dead in the public eye, it HAS been maimed, mutilated and the war about changing it back to the old meaning is over. (Actually this war was fought in the 1990's but some youngsters new to hacking still think it can be won, don't waste your time.) The word hacking can still be used in both ways, just make sure the receiver knows what you are talking about :-)
This book teaches hacking in the old sense of the word and contains the explanation that most others books don't - and at the same time it introduces all the basic skills for performing various types of overflow attacks. Then the book also digress into some wireless security and even WEP cracking, but this part is pretty slim, not bad, just only a few pages. This is OK, since I think of this more as an example of extending the hacking into new areas and hopefully inspires more people to look into wireless security.
The best part about this book is that it is not just a book with a random Live-CD. It is an inspiration and your fingers will itch to get started trying the examples explained and experiment with the programs. This alone is the single feature that makes this book worth it, you will do the exercises and learn from them. Learn a lot.
To sum it up this books contains clever tricks and easy to follow exercises, so you can learn to apply them.
This book is for anyone interested in hacking and developing exploits. While the primary target audience is newcomers to this field I benefitted from the thorough walkthrough of the basics once again. This book kept reminding me about things I have forgotten and also some new things and tricks I hadn't thought of myself.
If you are a beginning hacker and want to get started, but was confused
by various text files found on the internet, this is the book to buy.
If you want to learn how to do basic stuff and get started thinking like a hacker, this is the book to buy.
If you are a software programmer that has started to think about software security, this is the book to buy.
This book goes from beginning hacker to inspired intermediate hacker and explains everything in depth and is well planned and you will be able to extract an awful lot of information about the way programs really work after reading this book.
If you read this book from cover to cover you will be able to follow most other references about hacking, books, papers, zines etc. from the internet.
So this book is recommended for anyone interested in hacking and could be a nice start to having your own library about hacking. Reading this book first will also help you understand other books about hacking better and get more information from them by thinking in the right way.
Then later you could expand this library with books like, Steven Levy Hackers, Steven Levy Crypto, Shellcoders Handbook, Clifford Stoll Cuckoos Egg and other references.
I am not missing much from this book, but a short explanation how you could run this CD along with your usual operating system, using something like VMware Player would have been nice.
The home page for this book is: http://www.nostarch.com/hacking2.htm