Every day we are introduced to new security vulnerabilities, successful hacking stories and predictions that things will go from bad to worse. The continuing growth of the Internet, as seen from ever growing number of new Internet users and companies doing their business online, is creating a new line of possible victims susceptible to Internet attacks. As the author notes, the primary objective of this book is to lay a solid foundation from which to explore the world of security.
About the author
John Chirillo is Senior Inter-networking Engineer at ValCom, a technology management company. John holds numerous certifications including CCNA, CCDA, CCNP, CISSP, Intel Certified Solutions Consultant, Compaq ASE Enterprise Storage, and Master UNIX certifications, among others. He has more than ten years of experience on various computer systems and more than five years of training experience. John is the author of five Wiley books, including the Hack Attacks Series.
An interview with John Chirillo is available here.
Inside the book
If you are the owner of the first edition, you are surely interested in what are the new additions to the second edition of the book we are talking about. Chirillo notes that the main difference, besides the rectified errata, is more then 170 new security issues, advanced discovery techniques and the coverage of the infamous malicious pests such as Code Red, BadTrans, Nimda, Sircam and Goner. There is also an extensive coverage of the latest vulnerabilities, server software daemons, operating systems (Windows 2000/Pro and XP, Linux and Solaris) and a new special chapter dealing with "The Top 75 Hack Attacks". As yet another extra, the CD-ROM accompanying this publication includes a special release of TigerSuite Pro 3.5. This kit contains software tools that will offer you the possibility of testing a number of hack attacks mentioned throughout the book. I'll mention some of the most interesting functionalities of this toolkit - flooding (TCP, UDP, FTP, HTTP, Ping), scanning (port, CGI, proxy, trojan), password cracking, spoofing and collecting system and network information. Altought you have your own favorite tools for these kind of purposes, maybe you will find this Windows based combo kit a valuable helper.
The book spreads over 900 pages divided into five thematical parts, each covering an important step concentrated to the ways "hack" attacks work on. At the beginning of the second part of the book the author goes deeper into terminology describing hackers, crackers, phreakers, script kiddies and cyberpunks. From his point of view, a hacker is a positive technological guru, but for the purpose of conciseness throughout the book, a single entity is given all the characteristics from both hackers, crackers and phreakers.
The book opens with an technological overview on OSI Reference Model and various protocols. These include Internet Protocol, Address Resolution Protocol, User Datagram Protocol and Internet Control Message Protocol. Afterwards the author addresses two topics important when talking about communication protocols - NetWare and NetBIOS technologies. To summarize the initial technology overview, the reader is presented with the technologies the mentioned protocols traverse through. These include Ethernet, Token Rings, Fiber Distributed Data Interface Technology (FDDI), Frame Relays, DSL, Cable and ISDN. Altought these technologies are just mentioned over few pages each, it is nice to see some techie details, such as ISDN Basic Rate Interface cable specifications and frame relay WAN diagrams.
After the mentioned opening detailing on hacker terminology, the second part of the book introduces the readers with the well-known ports running on computer systems, their functions, services and vulnerabilities. Nicely done in-depth overview of the most common open TCP and UDP ports, comprises of the information detailing the services and intruder strategies related to the ports in question. As some of the ports don't offer valid system services, but are rather used for malware trojan installations, the author describes some of the well known trojans and provides the screenshots of their graphical user interfaces. Next, Mr. Chirillo discusses discovery and scanning techniques, guiding the readers through different types of scanning and various scanning tools.
Part three of the book, entitled "Penetration" follows the discovery and site scan phase of the security analysis. The author discusses various topics including common backdoor methods, flooding, mail bombing, keyloggers, password crackers and spoofing. The famous Mitnick-Shimomura IP spoofing attack is presented as a case study with the excerpts from the actual system logs. What I dislike about this part of the book is the categorization of the topics. They are presented alphabetically, which makes the content look little bit mixed up. This part of the book hosts a nice overview of trojan ports and Cisco password recovery, but the Wireless LAN hacking section should be a bit broader. I expect that the possible third edition will cover WLAN hacking in more details as WLAN security is becoming a very hot topic.
For each successful system penetration, the attacker needs to exploit some of the security issues on the target machine. As scanning and penetration methods received their spotlight in this publication, what follows next is a part dealing with the vulnerabilities. This section is organized through several thematical chapters - "Gateways and Routers and HTTPd", "Operating systems" and "Proxies and Firewalls". Each of the chapters offers information on a large number of vulnerabilities, presented in the standardized way (title, synopsis, hack state, vulnerable systems/daemons and breach information). The vulnerabilities related part of the "Hack Attacks Revealed" ends with the mentioned list of "Top 75 Hack Attack". These attacks concentrate on multiple operating systems and networking environments and start with the SANS list of twenty most critical Internet security vulnerabilities.
The last part of the book goes a little bit further into the technology issues surrounding hack attacks. Here the author discusses networking concepts and technologies, routing protocols and methods, virtual local area networks and the coding fundamentals. The part dedicated to coding gives an refreshing point of the view to this kind of publication, as the 100 pages long chapter guides the readers through the fundamentals of the C programming language. Appendixes to the book include IP reference table and subnetting charts, lists of both well known and all-inclusive ports and services and the glossary of terms used throughout the book.
About the CD-ROM
The CD-ROM is an expected addition to the book detailing hack attacks. It offers the full license of TigerSuite Professional 3.5, TigerTools 2000 information repository, a collection of security related tools and exploit source codes discussed and used within the book and lists of the most common viruses and MAC address vendor codes.
What I think of it
The content provided inside the book should please several categories of users varying from novice to intermediate from one hand, and from technical personnel to management staff members on the other hand. Because of the trojans, worms and visual hacking topics, the book will also be of interested to, as the author mentions in the introduction, "admirers of such films as Sneakers, The Matrix, Hackers and Swordfish".
The second edition of Chirillo's "Hack Attacks Revealed" is a worthy upgrade to the initial publication as it is once again packed with loads of useful information on various hacking related topics. The book goes much further from what the title says, as it provides a scope on both the actual "hacking" attacks, as well as the technology perspectives related to networking, operating systems and basic programming.