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Coding for Penetration Testers: Building Better Tools Paperback – 23 Sep 2011
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"This book is definitely not for rookie coders, but rather a good starting point for people with a medium level of programming experience. It is also not suited well as a reference to quickly look things up in. But if what you’re looking for is a very practical guide with tons of pointers to further (and recommended) reading material and exercises Coding for Penetration Testers delivers what it promises."--Computers and Security
"Penetration testing is a profession that requires the mastery of dozens of tools; every job poses challenges that require these tools to be mixed, matched, and automated. The master penetration tester not only excels at using his or her toolbox, but also expands it with custom scripts and unique programs to solve the challenge of the day. This book provides a solid introduction to custom scripting and tool development, using multiple languages, with a penetration tester's goals in mind. This background can transform penetration testing from a manual, often repetitive task, to an efficient process that is not just faster, but also more accurate and consistent across large engagements."--HD Moore, Metasploit Founder and CSO of Rapid7
"Penetration testing requires that the tester understand the target as much as possible, and know how to perform various attacks while being as efficient as possible. Having the skill set to create and use a variety of scripts increases the penetration tester's efficiency and elevates him or her from the script kiddie to the professional realm. Ryan Linn and Jason Andress have created a guide that explores and introduces the techniques that are necessary to build the scripts used during a test. No matter the platform, this book provides the information required to learn scripting and become a world-class penetration tester. This is definitely a book that will remain close at hand for every test I perform!"--Kevin Johnson, Senior Consultant, Secure Ideas
"At 175 pages, the book does not kill many trees, but does give the reader an overview of all of the key principles around information security…For those looking to get their feet wet in the deep waters of information security, The Basics of Information Security: Understanding the Fundamentals of InfoSec in Theory and Practice is a great place to start."--RSAConference.com
"Overall this is an excellent book, which offers some clear and effective tutorials on the different languages and on efficient and effective penetration testing. It’s highly recommended for any testers who want to broaden their skills and move to the next level."--BCS.org
About the Author
Jason Andress (ISSAP, CISSP, GPEN, CEH) is a seasoned security professional with a depth of experience in both the academic and business worlds. Presently he carries out information security oversight duties, performing penetration testing, risk assessment, and compliance functions to ensure that critical assets are protected. Jason has taught undergraduate and graduate security courses since 2005 and holds a doctorate in computer science, researching in the area of data protection. He has authored several publications and books, writing on topics including data security, network security, penetration testing, and digital forensics.
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To give an example, Python is mentioned on 33 pages (that includes a few pages for scapy) where you'll be shown how to (hold your breath) send an ICMP packet. (I will not talk about PEP8 here).
To drill a bit further, the chapter about Python lists is about (wait for it) - bitwise operations. Lists are only mentioned as a way of storing data for the given example which shows how you can use Python to calculate net & broadcast address from a CIDR notation (why would you want to use lists for that?). There is no meaningful mention of list indexing or slicing.
The chapter about Python exceptions is just appaling.
There is no explanation of "why" anywhere, just "what" and a little bit of "how". Also, no hint on where to look for further information.
Real beginners might find this book interesting for getting a basic idea of how are scripting languages used (bash, Python, Perl, Ruby and PowerShell all get a really quick intro). But then they would get really confused towards the end of the book when they suddenly find authors throwing shellcode at vulnerable FTP server and using some terms that are mentioned very briefly: "EIP is called the Instruction pointer", "ESP points to stack area where you can see the stack", "as you can see, the EIP is now overwritten with 41414141 so the server is vulnerable". Is any beginner expected to understand this?
I'm really struggling to see who is the intended audience. It does not give any explanation to beginners and is way too shallow for any penetration tester.
1) It is plagued with technical errors. Try the exercises in the Python section for example. One such exercise glaringly fails to use the string function when adding a string and an integer, forcing the reader to scratch their head as errors get thrown until they realize after googling and researching that you cannot add a string and an integer without proper usage of the syntax. For a beginner (the target of a book that is filled with beginner's exercises and explanations), this is unacceptable. I gave up on using it as an intro to scripting and purchased better books for each language.
2) The exercises and topics are horribly designed. Obviously space is an issue and the authors wanted to get through each language quickly. However, you don't accomplish this by cramming everything into a couple scripts, so the reader can barely decipher the subtle changes in the output. Also, for example, the section on bash scripts barely covers anything at all. I found an online guide withe more information on bash scripting in a single section than the whole treatment available in this book.
3) The book really doesn't cover much even when you consider how many topics they try to cover.
4) Kind of going off 2, this is a very poor intro to scripting. It is actually counter-productive as it neither provides a strong foundation nor builds on existing knowledge to do something different. I have decided not to really look too much deeper into the book as the previous issues seem endemic
As another review has said, who is the audience? It's not a good beginner's book and it's not a good intermediate source. I really am losing my respect for Syngress. They're churning out books like cheap romance novels with about the same level of writing. Avoid this book and get books for the separate codes instead.