Hacking: the Art of Exploitation

Author: Jon Erickson
Publisher: No Starch Press, 2008
Pages: 488
ISBN: 978-1593271442
Aimed at: Hackers
Rating: 3
Pros: Some practical advice on using programming flaws and hence how to avoid them
Cons: A lot of irrelevant material included
Reviewed by: Harry Fairhead


Books on hacking all seem to suffer from a common fault and this one is no exception. The fault in question is trying to cater for the complete beginner while dealing with material that is far too difficult.

Author: Jon Erickson
Publisher: No Starch Press, 2008
Pages: 488
ISBN: 978-1593271442
Aimed at: Hackers
Rating: 3
Pros: Some practical advice on using programming flaws and hence how to avoid them
Cons: A lot of irrelevant material included
Reviewed by: Harry Fairhead

Books on hacking all seem to suffer from a common fault and this one is no exception. The fault in question is trying to cater for the complete beginner while dealing with material that is far too difficult for the self same beginner. The reason for this fault seems to be the desire to latch onto the enthusiasm, or supposed enthusiasm, for hacking that the young, innocent and impressionable might have.

This is silly and misguided as hacking is a serious business that takes a lot of top grade knowledge before you can even begin. Rather than trying to explain the basic concepts of programming this book would be better off assuming them and telling any reader who hasn't got them to come back later.

If you are interested in hacking techniques that go beyond the social engineering approach of tricking people into revealing their passwords or using trojans then this might well be a book for you. However it's heavily into Intel architecture assembler, Linux and, in particular, the C programming language.

The book starts off with a discussion of how to exploit overflow bugs. If you can make an application overflow its stack then you can get it to run a program of your design. Similarly, but more difficult, are heap overflows and C-style format string errors. This is the most interesting part of the book, but once you have even the vaguest hint of the idea it's obvious what you have to do and how you could elaborate it to make it better. If these ideas are new then you will find yourself constantly saying "of course".

From this point the book is all down hill. We have chapters dealing with network hacking, cryptography and wireless network hacks. Much of this part of the book is very well-known and available information. There is also a good deal of unnecessary theoretical speculation on quantum cryptography. This, and the over-long listings of outputs, gives the impression that padding was necessary to reach the final size of this book. If the extraneous material were cut and the ideas presented in a concise form you would probably have one or two magazine articles that would make good reading.

So for the few nuggets of information that it contains, this is a good book but it is it worth the price? Probably not.

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Content Is Cash

Author: Wendy Montes de Oca
Publisher: Que
Pages: 240
ISBN: 978-0789741080
Aimed at: Wide audience of web entrepreneurs
Rating: 4
Pros: Some good internet marketing ideas
Cons: Occationally repetitive and self-promotional
Reviewed by: Sue Gee

The subtitle "Leveraging Great Content and the Web for Increased [ ... ]



Pro T-SQL 2012 Programmer’s Guide

Author: Jay Natarajan et al
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 696
ISBN: 978-1430245964
Audience: SQL Developers
Rating: 4.5
Reviewer: Ian Stirk

This book aims to provide SQL developers with knowledge to get the most out of SQL Server 2012. How does it fare?


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