Security Power Tools

  • ISBN13: 9780596009632
  • Condition: USED – Very Good
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Product Description
What if you could sit down with some of the most talented security engineers in the world and ask any network security question you wanted? Security Power Tools lets you do exactly that! Members of Juniper Networks’ Security Engineering team and a few guest experts reveal how to use, tweak, and push the most popular network security applications, utilities, and tools available using Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and Unix platforms.

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Security Power Tools

5 replies
  1. Todd Dailey says:

    I haven’t quite digested all 800+ pages yet, but I’ve found this book to be a useful reference and I believe this book is useful for beginners and experts alike.

    Beginners will like the logical structure, beginning with ethical issues and progressing through Reconnaissance, Penetration, Control, Defense, Monitoring and Discovery. This is a logical sequence that closely follows how a new security analyst would actually learn security topics. In particular I thought part II, Reconnaissance, was well-written and clear, covering all the major tools and explaining the complex topics in a way that should be very clear to the newbie.

    Experts will like it as a good, and very up-to-date, survey of all the major tools and techniques. I learned quite a bit in the Penetration section that I didn’t know before, such as the section on MOSDEF and Canvas. The index is very good, so even if you don’t read through this cover-to-cover it’s a good reference on tools and common techniques.

    The book is edited well and meets my high expectations for an O’Reilly book. Graphics and screenshots are liberally shown throughout, and callout boxes explain advanced topics in many sections. Although there are a bunch of authors the editorial style is pretty consistent and it doesn’t feel like a mishmash.

    Overall this is a great book for security researchers at any level, and it compares well with my favorite O’Reilly security book, the venerable Building Internet Firewalls.

    If you like this book you’d probably also like the excellent Network Warrior by Gary Donahue. This book is a good general survey of everything in security, while Gary’s book is a more of a personal testimonial from a professional security researcher about how he does his job. Both are useful in their own way.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  2. Richard Bejtlich says:

    I am probably the first reviewer to have read the vast majority of Security Power Tools (SPT). I do not think the other reviewers are familiar with similar books like Anti-Hacker Toolkit, first published in 2002 and most recently updated in a third edition (AHT3E) in Feb 2006. (I doubt the SPT authors read or even were aware of AHT3E.) SPT has enough original material that I expect at least some of it will appeal to many readers, justifying four stars. On the other hand, a good portion of the material (reviewed previously as “the most up-to-date tools”) offers nothing new and in some cases is several years old.

    I’ll begin with my favorite sections. SPT started very strongly with Jennifer Grannick’s chapter on law as it pertains to security issues. She is an excellent writer and I would like to see her create her own book on the same subject. I liked Philippe Biondi’s work in Ch 6 (Custom Packet Generation) although his coverage of Scapy (while great) is not for the beginner. (Just try as many examples as you can — Scapy is cool.) Ch 7 (Metasploit) provided a great discussion of Metasploit 3; I learned quite a bit. I was pleasantly surprised by Ch 15 (Securing Communications). It was very practical. I should mention that some of the chapters appeared to be good, but they were outside my expertise and beyond my skill level. These included Ch 10 (Custom Exploitation), Ch 22 (Application Fuzzing) and Ch 23 (Binary Reverse Engineering). I was initially inclined to skip the section on BO2k in Ch 11 (Backdoors), but I didn’t know the tool had been updated in Mar 07 and could be considered “viable” in the age of botnets.

    Readers may also like SPT because it mixes coverage of open source and commercial tools. For example, Ch 9 (Exploitation Framework Applications) covers CORE IMPACT and Immunity CANVAS. Ch 3 (Vulnerability Scanning) describes WebInspect. Ch 17 (Device Security Testing) describes Traffic IQ Pro. Other commercial tools are mentioned in SPT but these were covered with more than a cursory overview.

    The major problems I had with SPT involved indications of old material and lack of originality. Ch 20 (Host Monitoring) doesn’t include any URLs for the tools it mentions. Tool versions are incredibly out-of-date, with references to 2006 or even 2005, despite versions from early 2007 (pre-publication) being available. (Examples: Afick 2.10-1, 17 May 07; Samhain 2.3.4, 1 May 07; Tripware Open Source 2.4.1.2, 18 Apr 07). Ch 19 (Network Monitoring) mentions ACID as a Snort console; BASE replaced ACID in Sep 04! The script to download and update Snort rules uses snortrules.tar.gz, which also (besides not working now) dates it to late 2004. Ch 22 says @Stake’s WebProxy is a great tool, but it’s been unavailable for several years. Ch 23 mentions SoftIce, but it was discontinued in Apr 06. (Unfortunately the same chapter neglects covering PaiMei “since it will probably change” — although the Web page lists 22 May 07 as the last update.) Ch 2 (Network Scanning) lists PortSentry, but that tool hasn’t been supported since ’03 and is now replaced by Mike Rash’s Psad. Ch 13 spends a lot of time talking about IPFW as a BSD firewall, even though Pf has been the preferred tool for several years. Ch 5 (Wireless Reconnaissance) seems to ignore that AirPcap is a viable solution for wireless sniffing on Windows. Ch 21 (Forensics) offered absolutely nothing new or advanced.

    Overall, you will probably find something to really like about SPT. I would take a much different approach in the future. Trying to coordinate so many authors probably resulted in some authors finishing their sections in late ’05 or early ’06. They waited until the remainder finished so the book could be published in Aug 07. I am not convinced another mammoth book is needed — maybe smaller books on focused topics would be worthwhile. I would also not bother to cover tools addressed elsewhere –especially in other O’Reilly books.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  3. R. S. Shyaam Sundhar says:

    I guess there is a misconception in the field of pentesting that everything is about tools. People started considering pentesting as mere collection of tools. This books is not about that. This book does not only help with knowing the various tools, it helps you to understand them, to tune them according to your need or your customer’s need. The real skill is not to write a tool of your own when you already have the same tool out there. The real skill in this field is to take an existing tool and modify it based on your need.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  4. Ben Rothke says:

    A classic ad for Snap-on brand tools featured the tagline, “I own the best, please don’t ask to borrow them.” In the new, complex world of IT security, picking the best tool for the job is no easy task. An indispensable reference on the subject, Security Power Tools, brings together a slew of expert authors who detail the best security tools available.

    The main portion of the book is divided into six sections comprising 23 chapters that cover the following aspects of network security: reconnaissance, penetration, control, defense, monitoring, and discovery. The chapters cover tools for major operating systems from Unix/Linux, to Windows and Macintosh. The book is organized and progresses in a logical sequence that parallels real-world security scenarios and application of the tools.

    Each section and subsection covers the subjects at hand, and then lists the appropriate tool for the job. The book not only lists and evaluates top tools but also explains how to access all of them, many for free, by downloading them from the Internet.

    Many of the hacking countermeasures listed in the book may, however, require specific legal permission before use. Perhaps for this reason, the book opens with a chapter on legal and ethical issues. Yet the chapter does not read like a legal disclaimer–quite the contrary–it’s both engaging and fascinating.

    This book is written for experienced security professionals who need an authoritative resource for finding the best IT security tool for the job. At nearly 800 pages, the text covers nearly every available security tool known, making it the de facto reference to such tool selection. Readers will find it an invaluable guide

    Rating: 5 / 5

  5. bnell says:

    Security Power Tools (SPT) is O’Reilly Publishing’s sister manual to their popular Unix Power Tools […]. It is written as a primer to various security tools, organized within seven sections, covering Legal and Ethics, Reconnaissance, Penetration, Control, Defense, Monitoring, and Discovery. While the target audience of SPT is security professionals, the book weighs in at just over 800 pages and probably has something for everyone working in a technical facet of IT.

    Having said that, I really enjoyed reading this book. I read it nearly cover-to-cover, and while I was at least familiar with most of the material in the book, I was still able to find gems of knowledge, even in tools that I work with on a daily basis. Expect to read about some tools that you may already know about, like Nmap, Nessus, and The Metasploit Framework, but keep reading for a heap of other useful applications that you may not be familiar with.

    One of the strengths of the book is the varying backgrounds of its contributing authors; just as the book covers a diverse tool set, the expertise of the authors is also diverse. The book was written collaboratively by twelve individuals, made up primarily of Juniper Networks’ J-Security team […]. Despite an opportunity for vendor-bias towards Juniper products, the book remained vendor-neutral. The majority of the book focuses on open-source and free-ware applications, although there is commercial software covered as well. In fact, Chapter 9 – Exploitation Framework Applications covers Canvas […] and Core Impact […] exclusively; both commercial applications.

    One of the chapters that makes this book unique is the chapter on Law and Ethics, written by Jennifer Stisa Granick. You may recognize Ms Granick from her representation of Michael Lynn in during the Cisco Gate ordeal at Black Hat 2005 (coincidentally, Michael Lynn is also one of the contributing authors of this book). She provides an insightful discussion on not only the legal implications of security work, but also the role that ethics plays in some of those “gray” areas that security professionals may find themselves in.

    Another chapter that sets this book apart is Chapter 6 – Custom Packet Generation, which primarily focuses on the use of Scapy. The chapter is written by Phillipe Biondi, the author of Scapy, and he provides an excellent argument to “Decode, Do Not Interpret”. He discusses the advantages of writing tools that will provide you with raw decoded information, without an interpretation of that information. For instance, if you scanned a port on a remote host, Biondi would argue that it would be better for your tool to tell you that the remote host returned a RST packet rather than telling you that the port is closed. Beyond this valuable discussion, Biondi provides a very thorough discussion of the uses of Scapy, along with several good examples. This chapter alone makes this book worth buying.

    While I liked this book, there were also some problems that prevented me from giving it a 5-star rating. For starters, the preface describes the overwhelming amount of content that was edited out of this book to keep it within size constraints, yet there was quite a bit of content that detracted from the value-density of the book. As I mentioned previously, the majority of SPT is a security primer and should not be considered a reference. Given this position, I believe that there was too much step-by-step installation and setup content. As an example, Chapter 16 – E-Mail Security and Anti-Spam covered the installation and management of the Norton Anti-Virus client. I can appreciate the security-related value of anti-virus software, but I felt that a step-by-step walk through of a Norton product was irrelevant.

    Additionally, while I previously stated that the diverse expertise of the authors was a benefit, the varied writing style detracted from the readability of the book. Content aside, I found some chapters to be fun to read while others were boring, due to a particular author’s writing style.

    In summary, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in an overview of where to get started in researching security tools for a particular purpose. While none of the discussions in the book are exhaustive, they will definitely get you started and arm you with enough information to know what you want and where to get it.

    Rating: 4 / 5

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