Recommended reading

Here are four security-related books I recently acquired that I really like and wanted to share with you.

Rtfm: Red Team Field Manual, by Ben Clark

This little book is a quick reference for Linux, Unix, and Windows commands. It is apparently named for the Red Teams in the Capture The Flag (CTF) exercises that are held at security conferences, where the Red Team tries to penetrate a sandbox system while the Blue Team tries to defend it. While aimed at Red Teams and penetration testers, it is an excellent reference for the commands you might need when doing any kind of system maintenance or administration.

The chapters are:

  • *NIX
  • Windows
  • Networking
  • Tips & Tricks
  • Tool Syntax
  • Web
  • Databases
  • Programming
  • Wireless
  • References

There is not a lot of detail; sometimes there is just a single line to jog your memory. It reminds me a bit of one of my favorite cooking books, Hering’s Dictionary of Classical and Modern Cookery, by Walter Bickel and Richard Hering, which has entries that assume you know how to cook, but just need to be reminded of what you are cooking:

Beef Wellington: sautéd blood rare, cooled off, coated with duxelles, wrapped in puff paste, brushed with egg yolk, baked in oven, truffle sauce served separately.

I find that sometimes, when scanning the one-line command entries, I see one and I say “Hmmm…I didn’t know there was a  command to do that,” and I look it up, and now I have a new tool at my disposal.

At just under 100 pages and 6 mm thick, it can easily find a spot in your carry bag, and is great, especially for those of us “of a certain age,” whose memories may not be quite as razor-sharp as they used to be. When you are in the middle of doing something and you say “Hmmm…what was the shell command to….”, this is the book for you.

You can get it here.

Blue Team Field Manual (BTFM), by Alan J White and Ben Clark

The Blue Team counterpart to the Red Team Field Manual is more specifically tailored to defending systems and analyzing attacks. There are chapters for each phase of dealing with attacks:

  • Preparation (Documentation Review)
  • Identify (Scope)
  • Protect (Defend)
  • Detect (Visibility)
  • Respond (Analysis)
  • Recover (Remediate)
  • Tactics (Tips & Tricks)
  • Incident Management (Checklist)
  • Security Incident Identification (Schema)

Within each chapter, it lists actions you might need to take, along with the commands to perform them.

The book is about 150 pages and is 9 mm thick. It can easily fit in your carry bag next to the Red Team Field Manual. It will be especially useful for amateur incident responders, which is to say those whose main responsibility is not security incident response, but who sometimes discover that their systems are under attack. And, as with the Red Team Field Manual, it is great when you are in the middle of a response and you cannot remember the command you want.

You can get it here.

Google Hacking for Penetration Testers, by Johnny Long, Bill Gardner, and Justin Brown

As the title indicates, this book is intended for penetration testers who want to use Google to find out all they can about their intended target. Actually, the first few chapters will be useful for researchers, or anyone who wants to become a Google power user. And if you are defending a system, the rest of the book will give you a good idea what you are up against.

Here is the list of chapters:

  • Google Search Basics
  • Advanced Operators
  • Google Hacking Basics
  • Document Grinding and Database Digging
  • Google’s Part in an Information Collection Framework
  • Locating Exploits and Finding Targets
  • Ten Simple Security Searches That Work
  • Tracking Down Web Servers, Logon Portals, and Network Hardware
  • Usernames, Passwords, and Secret Stuff, Oh My!
  • Hacking Google Services
  • Hacking Google Showcase
  • Protecting Yourself From Google Hackers

The book is about 225 pages, and you can get it here.

Open Source Intelligence Techniques: Resources for Searching and Analyzing Online Information, by Michael Bazzell

Open-source intelligence (OSINT) refers to intelligence collected from publicly available, or open, sources. (The term is unrelated to open-source software, although open-source software may be involved in collecting OSINT.)

The author spent 18 years as a government computer crime investigator, mostly with the FBI Cyber Crimes Task Force, and the perspective is that of a Law Enforcement officer trying to identify criminals. But the same techniques will be useful in trying to figure out who is attacking your system. And as with the previous book, this is an excellent resource for penetration testers, but also for general researchers.

Here is the list of chapters:

  • Prepare Your Computer
  • Buscador Linux Virtual Machine
  • Search Engines
  • Social Networks: Facebook
  • Social Networks: Twitter
  • Social Networks: Others
  • Online Communities
  • Email Addresses
  • User Names
  • People Search Engines
  • Telephone Numbers
  • Online Maps
  • Documents
  • Photographs
  • Videos
  • Domain Names
  • IP Addresses
  • Government Records
  • Software Applications
  • Application Programming Interfaces
  • Android Emulation
  • Recon-ng
  • Radio Frequency Monitoring
  • OSINT Workflow Processes

I’ve been working with the Internet and social media for decades, so I am a bit jaded about how much personal information is leaked to the Internet. Nonetheless, I still found this book a bit frightening. Both amount of personal information and the tools that are available to harvest it are much greater than I realized.

The book is about 450 pages long, and you can get it here.

I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do.


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