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Silence on the Wire: A Field Guide to Passive Reconnaissance and Indirect Attacks Paperback – 25 Apr 2005

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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  • Silence on the Wire: A Field Guide to Passive Reconnaissance and Indirect Attacks
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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: 17.8 x 2.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 334,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
I have only skimmed this book but I will definitely be buying my own copy. I think the Amazon product description is a little misleading as this will not help a system administrator understand security issues.

What it definitely will do is lead anyone with an interest in computing and electronics on an detailed tour of how the technology we use can be manipulated from a very low level. I am not a mathematician or an electronics engineer so I found the topics quite complex but they are very well explained.
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