on June 7, 2008
Initially I hoped Nmap in the Enterprise (NITE) would live up to its title. I was excited to see "Automate Tasks with the Nmap Scripting Engine (NSE)" on the cover, in addition to the "Enterprise" focus. It turns out that beyond a few command line options of which I was not previously aware, and some good info on interpreting OS fingerprinting output in Ch 6, I didn't learn much by reading NITE. If you are new to Nmap or network scanning you will probably like NITE, but if you want a real enterprise focus or information on NSE you will be disappointed.
If you're going to make "Enterprise" part of the title for NITE, I would expect more attention paid to one of the biggest problems in enterprise scanning: data management. You can scan all you want, but the real problem is doing something intelligent with the output. With about 21 pages of text, Ch 7 (Tooling Around With Nmap) is the closest NITE comes to saying something about managing Nmap output beyond the single, smallish scan scenario. Unfortunately, the chapter is not up to the task.
Some might consider it unfair to criticize the book if there really is no enterprise-quality Nmap support application available. If that is the case, I have two replies. First, change the focus. Second, implement that application, and include it in the book. If you think the second is too much work, consider my reviews of the Hacking Exposed titles on Wireless, VoIP, or Cisco. All three author teams wrote specific tools to address shortcomings in each of their subject areas, and then included them in their three books. Not all authors can do this, but that level of effort really contributes to an outstanding book.
Turning to NSE, I hoped to learn about how to use Lua scripting with Nmap. The section on NSE is less than three full pages (pp 116-118) and basically concludes with a reference to the Nmap home page for more information. In the one place where the newest book on Nmap could have differentiated itself from its predecessors (many other Syngress books, Osborne's Anti-Hacker Toolkit or Hacking Exposed, and so on), NITE avoids the issue.
Aside from these issues, NITE is a good book for those with basic or perhaps intermediate experience with Nmap. Most of the items I found useful could have been gleaned from the Nmap man page or changelog, but I'll mention a few here. P 96 shows using the --reason switch to give more detail on responses from targets. PP 97-99 show using the -sL switch for list scans and -PN as the replacement for -P0. Note that Table 4.2 says -sN replaces -P0; it should say -PN replaces -P0 due to confusion with -PO (used for Internet Protocol enumeration). I liked the --osscan-limit switch on p 111 to only perform OS identification against targets offering at least one open and one closed port. P 127 reminded me of runtime interaction commands, like v/V for verbosity, d/D for debugging, and p/P for packet tracing. P 129 demonstrated the value of using --log-errors.
Ch 6 (Nmap OS Fingerprinting) was my favorite chapter. I liked the explanation of the components of an OS fingerprint. I hadn't seen this so thoroughly explained elsewhere, although it might exist. Overall, I should mention that the book was much better written than the average Syngress title. I credit the two (and only) authors for this level of quality.
If you have no other references for Nmap, and you use the tool in limited engagements, you should buy this book. If you're looking for help with real enterprise use or advanced Nmap usage, keep looking. Perhaps a second edition will address these issues?
on August 8, 2008
For a book that's roughly 200 pages long (and it's a smaller book in terms of overall dimensions--near "pamphlet" size) I was somewhat disappointed with the book. Many IT related books are far less expensive! The contents of the book matched much of the information found on Nmap's site (insecure.org). The number of URL links in this book (pointing to this site) made me feel like I should have saved my 40 bucks and gone straight to the website. If you're looking for comprehensive information on Nmap just buy Fyodor's/Insecure.org's book (which should be out in the next month). Of course, if you prefer to have your bank account 'hacked' (losing 40 some dollars) feel free to buy this book instead.
on March 17, 2008
I've been using Nmap for a few years now as a basic scanner, not needing more that the little that I have needed it. This book give a great overview to the basics of nmap and good ways to log your scans. it's very current, they use nmap 4.50 in the book and 4.60 just came out so it's very current. For any network administrators out there that haven't used nmap or were scared of the command line, get this book. nmap is the best, you'll learn a great deal about using it in your network to map your network out. The authors show you how to log, do some assessment tests, scan, etc.
it's funny that ethereal/wireshark, snort...etc all have many books written about them, but there's only 2 that i know of for nmap, this one, Professor Messer has a whole site dedicated to nmap and he has written an ebook (also own it, great! and he has webinars). I know Fyodor is compiling a book but who knows when that'll be out.
Do yourself a favor if you administer any network, get this book because nmap will be your new best friend!!!