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Malware: Fighting Malicious Code [Paperback]

by Ed Skoudis, Lenny Zeltser
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 17, 2003 0131014056 978-0131014053
Malicious code is a set of instructions that runs on your computer and makes your system do something that you do not want it to do. For example, it can delete sensitive configuration files from your hard drive, rendering your computer completely inoperable; infect your computer and use it as a jumpingoff point to spread to all of your buddies' computers; and steal files from your machine. Malicious code in the hands of a crafty attacker is indeed powerful. It's becoming even more of a problem because many of the very same factors fueling the evolution of the computer industry are making our systems even more vulnerable to malicious code. Specifically, malicious code writers benefit from the trends toward mixing static data and executable instructions, increasingly homogenous computing environments, unprecedented connectivity, an ever-larger clueless user base, and an unfriendly world. Skoudis addressed malicious code in just one chapter of his previous book. Here, a dozen chapters focus on one of the most interesting and rapidly developing areas of computer attacks. *Chapter 11, "Defender's Toolbox," rolls together the defensive strategies described in the book. As a bonus, Skoudis gives recipes for creating your own malicious code analysis laboratory using cheap hardware and software. *Foreword by Gene Schultz, security inspector for Global Integrity.

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Malware: Fighting Malicious Code + Counter Hack Reloaded: A Step-by-Step Guide to Computer Attacks and Effective Defenses (2nd Edition)
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

  • Reveals how attackers install malicious code and how they evade detection
  • Shows how you can defeat their schemes and keep your computers and network safe!
  • Details viruses, worms, backdoors, Trojan horses, RootKits, and other threats
  • Explains how to handle today's threats, with an eye on handling the threats to come

"This is a truly outstanding book-enormous technical wealth and beautifully written."
—Warwick Ford

"Ed does it again, piercing the veil of mystery surrounding many of the more technical aspects of computer security!"
—Harlan Carvey, CISSP

"This book is entertaining and informative, while justifiably scaring you. Luckily it also tells you how to protect yourself, but makes you realize it's going to be a permanent spy-vs-spy struggle."
—Radia Perlman, Distinguished Engineer, Sun Microsystems

Keep control of your systems out of the hands of unknown attackers

Ignoring the threat of malware is one of the most reckless things you can do in today's increasingly hostile computing environment. Malware is malicious code planted on your computer, and it can give the attacker a truly alarming degree of control over your system, network, and data-all without your knowledge! Written for computer pros and savvy home users by computer security expert Edward Skoudis, Malware: Fighting Malicious Code covers everything you need to know about malware, and how to defeat it!

This book devotes a full chapter to each type of malware-viruses, worms, malicious code delivered through Web browsers and e-mail clients, backdoors, Trojan horses, user-level RootKits, and kernel-level manipulation. You'll learn about the characteristics and methods of attack, evolutionary trends, and how to defend against each type of attack. Real-world examples of malware attacks help you translate thought into action, and a special defender's toolbox chapter shows how to build your own inexpensive code analysis lab to investigate new malware specimens on your own. Throughout, Skoudis' clear, engaging style makes the material approachable and enjoyable to learn. This book includes:

  • Solutions and examples that cover both UNIX® and Windows®
  • Practical, time-tested, real-world actions you can take to secure your systems
  • Instructions for building your own inexpensive malware code analysis lab so you can get familiar with attack and defensive tools harmlessly!

Malware: Fighting Malicious Code is intended for system administrators, network personnel, security personnel, savvy home computer users, and anyone else interested in keeping their systems safe from attackers.

About the Author

Ed Skoudis is a computer security consultant with International Network Services. Ed's expertise includes hacker attacks and defenses, the information security industry, and computer privacy issues. He has performed numerous security assessments, designed secure network architectures, and responded to computer attacks. A frequent speaker on issues associated with hacker tools and effective defenses, Ed has published several articles, as well as the highly acclaimed Counter Attack: A Step-by-Step Guide to Computer Attacks and Effective Defenses (Prentice Hall PTR, 2001).

Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall (November 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131014056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131014053
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.9 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Working with a computer that doesn't want to behave on its own is frustrating enough. Between buggy code and the blue screen of death, many of us have wanted to throw our computers against the wall. Unfortunately, not only do we need to deal with these wonderful, little problems, but we also need to deal with programs that are intentionally trying to inflict problems on or through our computers.
These programs, collectively called "malware", include many different categories; however, we know them best as the "virus", "Trojan horse", "rootkits", "backdoors", and a lot of others. These malware tools (based on "mal", the Latin word for "bad" or "evil") are the bane not only of system administrators but also of the average home user who just doesn't know any better.
"Malware: Fighting Malicious Code" by Ed Skoudis is meant to educate the reader not only of the dangers of malware but also of ways to combat malware.
"To defeat your enemy, you first must know him." - Sun Tzu
This phrase is the core philosophy of this book. This 647-page fighter's manual is the computer-age version of Tzu's "The Art of War", except in this case the war is between you and the low-life morons who create the programs that facilitated the need for Skoudis to write this book.
I found this book to be far more fascinating than I thought it would be. After all, how exciting can a book about virii and Trojan horses really be? "Malware" is written with a surprising amount of detailed, historical facts, real-world examples, and light-hearted humor that help to keep your attention. The author also takes extra steps to differentiate between the various types of malware. After all, how many people do you know who continually (and incorrectly) use "virus", "Trojan horse", and "worm" interchangeably?
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Levels the Playing Field December 13, 2003
Format:Paperback
Utterly fascinating. It comprehensively surveys the field of malware. It clearly explains viruses, worms and Trojans. Plus, given the universal prevalence of browsers on computers these days, careful attention is given to infiltrations via buggy browsers.
The authors write in an easy to follow style, aimed at the programmer. Though if you are not such, but know the rudiments of computers as a user, you can follow most of the discussion.
If you have ever wondered at the brief explanations of viruses or worms that appear in the general media, or even in the technical magazines, then this is an instructive book. For example, you have probably heard of "buffer overflows". But due to the constraints of space or audience type, the explanations left you unsatisfied. Turn instead here.
Some of you may look with askance upon this book. After all, haven't the authors just written a HowTo for new malware wretches? Strictly, perhaps so. But before you berate the authors, consider this. The top malware writers probably devote the bulk of their formidable intellectual creativity to malware. But if you want to guard against it, and you are a programmer or sysadmin, typically this is not your only responsibility. Without a book like this, it is much harder to come up to speed. You then face a very unlevel playing field.
The only strange thing about this book is that there should be more like it, at its level of detail. If you survey the field of computer books, it can seem like there are multiple books on most topics, not matter how obscure. But on THIS topic, which is of broad, pervasive import to most users, there exists little.
Until now.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best available January 27, 2005
Format:Paperback
This book provides the best review of malicious software that is presently available. If you need a comprehensive reference then this is the book for you. The author is a well-known and respected security analyst and this book provides solid information at a level suitable for the system administrator. Unlike so many books of this type, it is not a camouflaged endorsement of some vendor's products or a simplistic and alarmist text.

Topics covered include:

- viruses, with a brief history and description of the various types and their mechanisms;

- worms, again with a brief history and description of the various types and their mechanisms;

- mobile code, including browser scripts, ActiveX controls, Java applets and mobile code as it occurs in email clients and distributed applications. Given the increasing amount of mobile code, this is particularly valuable;

- backdoors, particularly Netcat and VNC but covering some others as well;

- trojans inlcuding wrappers, source poisoning and browser co-option;

- rootkits for Unix andWindows;

- kernel-mode rotkits for linux and Windows;

- possible modes, including BIOS and microcode attacks.

"Encyclopediac" is the only description I can give, but be warned that it's not for the general reader, or for newbies.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I reviewed Ed's "Counter Hack" in Nov 2001, giving it five stars as the perfect introduction for newcomers to the security field. 2 1/2 years later I'm happy to say "Malware" delivers the same quality, clarity, and insight that made "Counter Hack" a winner. My only regret is not having read and reviewed "Malware" sooner!
One of the impressive aspects of this book is the degree to which it is "future-proofed." Ed looks at current threats like worms, viruses, trojans, and user- and kernel-mode rootkits, like any author might. He then takes malicious software to the next level, from the kernel to BIOS and finally to CPU microcode. These BIOS- and microcode-level attacks are still largely theoretical (aside from BIOS-destroying code), at least as far as the public knows. When the world sees these threats emerge, "Malware" will be waiting to explain their capabilities.
Ed writes exceptionally well, bringing coverage of Linux and Windows kernel internals to the masses. I enjoyed learning about the trojaned Tcpdump distribution, anti-forensics, DLL injection, and API hooking. Lenny Zeltser's chapters on malware analysis were helpful as well, and I recommend attending his reverse engineering classes. The book also shines with respect to skillful use of tables and diagrams to explain key points.
The only technical inaccuracy I found was the proposition that UNIX filesystems maintain a c_time as "creation time" (p. 319 and elsewhere). c_time is "change of inode time," like changing permissions on a file. Windows' NTFS "c_time" is indeed "creation time," however. I also found myself skipping many of the author's analogies, like the king, knights, castle, etc.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Boring, but hey it was a textbook
I know textbooks are boring, but this one is pretty rough. As with most computer security books it's kind of getting outdated as soon as it was published. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Tommy K
5.0 out of 5 stars great condition
I am a Cybersecurity student at SEMO and am using this as a reference book. Excellent condition when advertised as "very good".
Published 15 months ago by R. E. Franke
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book--Learned a ton even 7 years later
Bought this book as a textbook for a graduate level malware class. Easy read, full of great advice (and a few dead-on predictions). Read more
Published on December 10, 2011 by Yvette
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth its Price
Malware- Fighting Malicious Code is a required reading for a graduate course I am currently taking. At first, when I saw the publication date, I wasn't entirely excited about its... Read more
Published on January 16, 2011 by Amazonian Member
5.0 out of 5 stars still seems up-to-date although 3 years old.
Great book explaining all the different types of malware out there. Skoudis helps to understand the technical details of each malware type without going into too much detail. Read more
Published on July 23, 2006 by Christian Seifert
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book and worth a read
This is a good book. Ed has become a master in this filed and he put tons of good stuff in the book.
Published on April 14, 2005 by Sherman
5.0 out of 5 stars Many "big names" in infosec give this a 5 and they're right!
I am fortunate to have an autographed copy from when Mr. Skoudis taught a SANS class I attended; and have had to take a lot of time getting it read in the meantime. Read more
Published on March 9, 2005 by K. Shaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent treatment of the subject matter...
One of the most comprehensive books I've seen lately on malware is the title Malware: Fighting Malicious Code by Ed Skoudis with Lenny Zeltser (Prentice Hall). Read more
Published on October 9, 2004 by Thomas Duff
5.0 out of 5 stars best of it's kind
I've read a few books on viruses, worms, and malware. This is the best by far. Prior to reading this text I considered myself pretty well versed in the subject area of all but a... Read more
Published on March 8, 2004 by Jeff Pike
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Book on Understanding and Fighting Malware
"Malware: Fighting Malicious Code" is the most comprehensive book to date on malicious code. The book devotes a full chapter to each type of malware: viruses, worms, malicious... Read more
Published on March 8, 2004 by Amazon Customer
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