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REVIEW: "Hacking Exposed", Stuart McClure/Joel Scambray/George Kurtz

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    BKHCKEXP.RVW 20020911 Hacking Exposed , Stuart McClure/Joel Scambray/George Kurtz, 2001, 0-07-219381-6, U$49.99 %A Stuart McClure
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 10, 2002
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      BKHCKEXP.RVW 20020911

      "Hacking Exposed", Stuart McClure/Joel Scambray/George Kurtz, 2001,
      0-07-219381-6, U$49.99
      %A Stuart McClure stuart@...
      %A Joel Scambray joel@...
      %A George Kurtz george@...
      %C 300 Water Street, Whitby, Ontario L1N 9B6
      %D 2001
      %G 0-07-219381-6
      %I McGraw-Hill Ryerson/Osborne
      %O U$49.99 905-430-5000 fax: 905-430-5020
      %P 729 p. + CD-ROM
      %T "Hacking Exposed: Network Security Secrets and Solutions, 3rd Ed"

      Yes, I know that this book has the most sales for any security work,
      ever. And, for the life of me, I still can't figure out why.

      Part one looks at gathering data for an attack. Chapter one discusses
      company information that is generally available. However, while it
      may alert some to the fact that a lot of information can be obtained
      about them, most of the material deals with facts that you either want
      to make available, or that you must make available. Some suggested
      countermeasures are useful, while others strain the topic, such as the
      protection against domain hijacking. Scanning for weaknesses and
      loopholes, mostly with individual tools, in this edition, is the topic
      of chapter two. Enumeration, or finding weak user accounts and
      unprotected system resources (mostly on Windows 2000) is covered in
      chapter three.

      Part two looks at details of specific systems. Chapter four touches
      on Windows 9x. NT gets a fair amount of detail in chapter five, but
      such vital and standard topics as disabling the Administrator account
      and setting up auditing are barely mentioned. Windows 2000 now has
      its own chapter: six. Some common NetWare attacks are listed in
      chapter seven. UNIX has the most extensive coverage, in chapter
      eight, but it is hardly comprehensive.

      Part three deals with network weaknesses. Most of chapter nine
      discusses wardialling and dial-up, but there is a brief mention of
      Virtual Private Networks (VPN). Some device weaknesses (vendor
      specific bugs, that is) are listed in chapter ten. (There is also a
      very brief mention of wardriving and detecting wireless networks.)
      Firewalls, in chapter eleven, are primarily addressed in terms of
      scanning to (for identification) or through. Chapter twelve describes
      a few denial of service attacks. (Something has been lost in the
      update: a discussion of IP fragmentation attacks refers to "earlier"
      material on teardrop that no longer appears in the book.)

      Part four looks at software. Chapter thirteen deals with remote
      access software in fair detail. Hijacking and backdoors are discussed
      in chapter fourteen. Miscellaneous Web site bugs are reviewed in
      chapter fifteen. Chapter sixteen is a confusing amalgam of ActiveX
      design flaws, Internet Explorer implementation bugs, and random
      discussions of malware.

      The original preface (which no longer appears in the work) stated that
      the book was intended for system administrators, but it did, and still
      does, read more like a cookbook for security breaking. The authors
      defend themselves against this charge in advance, and certainly "keep
      quiet" versus "let it all hang out" is a constant debate in security
      circles. However, the attack descriptions are far more detailed than
      the countermeasures sections, and many attacks are presented without
      any specific protections being mentioned. There are a number of
      points in the book that can be helpful in identifying specific
      security weaknesses. However, the book can't be comprehensive in that
      regard, and what it fails to do is give an overall concept of, or
      framework for, security on an ongoing basis. The examples given are
      frightening and stimulating, but the authors present them as the
      entire picture. In fact, even the picture as presented is not entire.
      A number of descriptions given in the book either do not mention, or
      gloss over, the fact that, for example, sniffers must be placed on a
      local, promiscuous, network, and session hijacking requires that the
      attackers somehow get "between" two systems.

      On the other hand, the book is quite readable and can give you some
      tips. And, I wouldn't mind seeing a few sysadmins a little more
      scared than they are at the moment. As long as they don't think that
      this is *all* you need to do.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2000, 2002 BKHCKEXP.RVW 20020911


      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... rslade@... slade@... p1@...
      If you have responsibility for security, but have no authority to
      set rules or punish violators, your own role in the organization
      is to take the blame when something big goes wrong.
      - Spaf's First Principle of Security Administration
      Practical UNIX and Internet Security, Garfinkel & Spafford
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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