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Silence on the Wire: A Field Guide to Passive Reconnaissance and Indirect Attacks [Paperback]

Michal Zalewski
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 April 2005 1593270461 978-1593270469 1

There are many ways that a potential attacker can intercept information, or learnmore about the sender, as the information travels over a network. Silence on the Wireuncovers these silent attacks so that system administrators can defend against them,as well as better understand and monitor their systems.

Silence on the Wire dissects several unique and fascinating security andprivacy problems associated with the technologies and protocols used in everydaycomputing, and shows how to use this knowledge to learn more about others or tobetter defend systems. By taking an indepth look at modern computing, from hardwareon up, the book helps the system administrator to better understand security issues,and to approach networking from a new, more creative perspective. The sys admin canapply this knowledge to network monitoring, policy enforcement, evidence analysis,IDS, honeypots, firewalls, and forensics.

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Silence on the Wire: A Field Guide to Passive Reconnaissance and Indirect Attacks + The Tangled Web: A Guide to Securing Modern Web Applications + The Web Application Hacker's Handbook: Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws
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Product details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (25 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593270461
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593270469
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 18 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book every bit as good as it's title 2 Feb 2006
Silence on the Wire is, nominally, about network security. However, while it contains technical information this is far from a technical book. The focus of Zalewski's interest is on the unintended and the unexpected, the places where the systems that bind the internet together are a little ragged, and where the layers of abstraction in every piece of software don't quite match reality.
The book is full of amazingly clever attacks, but explained in a way that makes all the concepts completely clear. Early on for example, the author spends several pages explaining how to build up a computer processor (in wood, should one desire) in order to explain a series of ingenious ways of recovering information, such as code keys, by looking at how long processing them takes. Later he explains the basic protocols that make up the internet, in order to show how much information is placed, unintentionally, on the wire.
Michal Zalewski's love for this strange world of background noise and broken messages is self evident, and his wit and humour lend the book a relaxed air. Still, there is hardly any filler and I think it would be very hard to come away without having your mind opened, at least slightly, to the vast sea of information that there for anyone inquisitive enough to listen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Before I bought this book I had seen some of Zalewski's work: his museum of broken packets and his famous Mozilla Firefox vulnerability reports. Because of that, I suspected Zalewski's book would be worth reading. Well, It actually turned out to be much more than that.

Silence on the wire is an awesome book, clearly targeted for security enthusiasts. In its 18 chapters, it shows many different (and often undetectable) ways in which an attacker can obtain useful information just by watching the way your systems behave. Did you know that in some cases it's possible to determine an attacker's system clock time that is port-scanning one of your boxes? Did you know that there are ways to identify decoys and spoofed packets? Or that you can recover the information being transmitted by a modem just by observing its LEDs? Reading the book you may find that your Ethernet card is leaking kernel-space information, that your system's pseudo-random-number-generator is not that random but totally predictable or that someone is remotely port-scanning your server while all you can see are incoming TCP SYN packets coming from a trusted box.

Every chapter starts with an introduction, then discusses one or more attack vectors and finally gives some "food for thought", this is, ideas for further research or further paranoia. Sometimes those introductions are longer than they should but at the same time they provide the background required to understand what comes next. For every chapter, the book also includes a list of references to relevant papers, specifications or research projects.

It is true that the book is 5 years old, but believe me, I didn't find a single line that was outdated.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looks like sci-fi, but this is the reality! 17 Nov 2006
I bought this book in polish and read it from cover to cover. Michal is not pretending to be one of many 'hackers', he doesn't write about hacking even. What this book explains is about different ways your information may leak out and why this may happen. The book is written in a slightly philosophic way and for sure leaves the reader with many topics to think about. Michal is not trying to build any type of oppinion - what he does by describing his research (yes - he is a researcher, historician, network and software engineer at the same time) is asking questions but all of us have to find our own answers.

It's a real 5 STARS book! Worth the time and money - but don't forget to read the first few chapters to get in the right mood, even if those chapters will seem to be too technical... Believe me, they are not :-)
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