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Linux (Hacking Exposed) Paperback – March 27, 2001

4.9 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Throw up a Linux box," comes the chorus whenever there's a need to provide some network service or other without impinging upon the boss's martini budget. Fair enough, but by doing so are you opening security holes you don't know how to find or fix? The newest edition of Hacking Linux Exposed helps you answer that question and solve many of the security problems you find. To a certain extent this book is a recipe collection in that it describes weaknesses in Linux (calling attention to specific distributions where appropriate). The authors stop short of explicitly showing you how to wage most kinds of attacks, a reasonable thing to do from an ethical point of view even though the instructions can be found easily on the Internet. Rather than do that, they give step-by-step instructions on how to defend against the attacks they catalog. The point is not, "Here's precisely how to bring down a server by means of an ACK storm," but rather, "Here's how to defend against such problems." They do demonstrate plenty of weaknesses, though, as in their coverage of the conversation that goes back and forth between an FTP server and its client.

This book covers pretty much everything you'd want to do with a Linux machine as a network server. Read it and see some of the weaknesses in your system--and do something about them before someone else does. --David Wall

Topics covered: Security best practices, approached from the perspective of what can go wrong and what can be done about the problems. Specific coverage goes to all major services, including user management, FTP, HTTP, and firewalling. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


I read security books as reference materials, and this book is an awesome reference. Although the authors' primary focus is Linux, many of the terms, techniques, tools and discussions apply across all aspects of information security. (Security Bookshelf) (Computerworld 2001-05-21)

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Product Details

  • Series: Hacking
  • Paperback: 600 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional; 1st edition (March 27, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0072127732
  • ISBN-13: 978-0072127737
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am a senior engineer for network security operations. I read "Hacking Linux Exposed" (HLE) to learn how adversaries compromise Linux hosts. HLE impressed me at every level. I highly recommend system administrators and security personnel read and heed this book's recommendations.
The "Hacking Exposed" series is known for its unique example-driven style. Rather than telling the reader about a technique or problem, the authors demonstrate the issue using command-line examples. I find myself reading with book and laptop at hand, ready to duplicate the authors' sample commands. This process reinforces the authors' message, while the reader learns if a specific problem applies to his situation. Furthermore, by showing exactly how to execute certain commands, the authors impart bits of wisdom and trickery not found elsewhere.
For example, chapter 11 describes attacks and defenses for FTP servers. To explain active and passive FTP sessions, the authors demonstrate running an FTP client with the -d switch to illustrate raw instructions sent by the client over the FTP command channel. I had never seen this switch in use, but as an intrusion detector I constantly see raw FTP instructions like those revealed by the -d switch. These and other tidbits, like using the chattr -i command or setting the "sticky bit", make HLE exceptional.
Beyond these benefits, readers will enjoy clear, thorough explanations of Linux security issues. HLE gives first-rate descriptions of ssh and web man-in-the-middle attacks, race conditions, and FTP data hijacking. HLE also provides great illustrated examples of FTP bounce attacks, giving intrusion detectors the minutiae we need to recognize these techniques.
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By A Customer on May 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
I wasn't a fan of Hacking Exposed, largely because its Unix section was a mere 50 pages of superficial, outdated, and obvious fluff. Hacking Linux Exposed makes up for that lack by digging into Unix in much more depth.Though it is modeled after the attack/countermeasure style of the original HE, this book includes a whole chapter of security measures at the beginning that you can implement instantly to get your machine locked down before getting into the nitty-gritty detail about other things in the hacker's arsenal.I was particularly enthralled with chapter 10, which talks about what the hacker will do after they have gained root access, from simple things like adding accounts to complicated issues like kernel modules, complete with source code. Chapter 7 includes some really wonderful examples of how the hacker can abuse networking protocols themselves, something I haven't seen covered in such depth before.The book is logically organized. The first part covers the way the hackers find and probe your machine. The second talks about getting in from the outside, be it network or physical. The third part talks about gaining additional priveleges, and the last part of the book is dedicated to mail, ftp, web, and firewalls. The appendicies are actually useful. They seem to have dropped the small 1-page case studies from the original book and replaced them with longer hacker-eye-views of real attacks which are an interesting read, and really tie the book together.This book is Linux specific in it's countermeasures, but I'd recommend this to any unix user. They do a good job of discussing differences between Linux variants as well, they don't just assume everyone has a RedHat box on their desk. Very refreshing.This book is great for both the theory and practical uses.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I am in charge of network security for a large firm. We use largely FreeBSD and OpenBSD machines instead of Linux whenever possible. One of the junior folks was trying to convince us that Linux isn't all that bad, and pointed to this book as proof that it can be secured.
Well, we're not about to switch. However this book covered so many unexpected issues that affected our *BSD boxen that we spent a solid week implementing changes on all our systems. The detail of this book was superb, and it was easy to figure out the differences between their Linux-specific solutions and what was needed on our *BSD systems when they weren't exactly the same.
Got Unix? Buy this book.
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Format: Paperback
I'm a big fan of the Hacking Exposed style of writing. All offensive theory is backed up by command line examples, followed by defensive countermeasures. Hacking Exposed: Linux, 2nd Ed (HE:L2E) follows this tradition, updating the content of the first edition and adding 200 pages of new content. Although I reviewed the first edition in Sep 01, reading the second edition reminded me of the challenges posed by securely configuring and deploying Linux systems.

The best way to learn while reading HE:L2E is to try the sample commands. I also recommend visiting the links mentioned and installing many of the tools described by the authors. I found programs like raccess, nsat (ch. 3), sslsniff (ch. 7), nstx, and httptunnel (ch. 15) particularly interesting from an attacker's point of view. From a system administration standpoint, coverage of passlogd (ch. 2), lilo and grub (ch. 5), and X (ch. 6) were very helpful.
The authors share many novel ways to abuse Linux systems, but counter those exploits with little-known features or third-party tools. I never knew I could use bash's HISTCONTROL feature to selectively remove entries from shell history files. HE:L2E goes the extra mile to help secure your system, such as including sample C code in ch. 13 to allow one to compile TCP Wrappers support into one's own programs. Other clear, concise defensive measures were introduced in excellent chapters on keeping the kernel and packages current (appendix B) and pro-active security measures (ch. 2). The last appendix gives a short yet powerful description of the damage an intruder can perform, showing how he hid unauthorized programs and how those programs were discovered.

If you use Linux, you'll find HE:L2E indispensable. I even applied many of the tools and techniques to my FreeBSD system, showing that that good security advice can be a cross-platform endeavor.
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