Exploiting Software: How to Break Code: How to Break Code 1st Edition
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PHP programmers will take issue with the authors' blanket assessment of their language ("PHP is a study in bad security"), much of which seems based on older versions of the language that had some risky default behaviors--but those programmers will also double-check their servers' register_globals settings. Users of insufficiently patched Microsoft and Oracle products will worry about the detailed attack instructions this book contains. Responsible programmers and administrators will appreciate what amounts to documentation of attackers' rootkits for various operating systems, and will raise their eyebrows at the techniques for writing malicious code to unused EEPROM chips in target systems. --David Wall
Topics covered: How to make software fail, either by doing something it wasn't designed to do, or by denying its use to its rightful users. Techniques--including reverse engineering, buffer overflow, and particularly provision of unexpected input--are covered along with the tools needed to carry them out. A section on hardware viruses is detailed and frightening.
From the Back Cover
Praise for Exploiting Software
“Exploiting Software highlights the most critical part of the software quality problem. As it turns out, software quality problems are a major contributing factor to computer security problems. Increasingly, companies large and small depend on software to run their businesses every day. The current approach to software quality and security taken by software companies, system integrators, and internal development organizations is like driving a car on a rainy day with worn-out tires and no air bags. In both cases, the odds are that something bad is going to happen, and there is no protection for the occupant/owner. This book will help the reader understand how to make software quality part of the design—a key change from where we are today!”—Tony Scott
Chief Technology Officer, IS&S
General Motors Corporation
“It’s about time someone wrote a book to teach the good guys what the bad guys already know. As the computer security industry matures, books like Exploiting Software have a critical role to play.”—Bruce Schneier
Chief Technology Officer
Author of Beyond Fear and Secrets and Lies
“Exploiting Software cuts to the heart of the computer security problem, showing why broken software presents a clear and present danger. Getting past the ‘worm of the day’ phenomenon requires that someone other than the bad guys understands how software is attacked. This book is a wake-up call for computer security.”—Elinor Mills Abreu
“Police investigators study how criminals think and act. Military strategists learn about the enemy’s tactics, as well as their weapons and personnel capabilities. Similarly, information security professionals need to study their criminals and enemies, so we can tell the difference between popguns and weapons of mass destruction. This book is a significant advance in helping the ‘white hats’ understand how the ‘black hats’ operate. Through extensive examples and ‘attack patterns,’ this book helps the reader understand how attackers analyze software and use the results of the analysis to attack systems. Hoglund and McGraw explain not only how hackers attack servers, but also how malicious server operators can attack clients (and how each can protect themselves from the other). An excellent book for practicing security engineers, and an ideal book for an undergraduate class in software security.”—Jeremy Epstein
Director, Product Security & Performance
“A provocative and revealing book from two leading security experts and world class software exploiters, Exploiting Software enters the mind of the cleverest and wickedest crackers and shows you how they think. It illustrates general principles for breaking software, and provides you a whirlwind tour of techniques for finding and exploiting software vulnerabilities, along with detailed examples from real software exploits. Exploiting Software is essential reading for anyone responsible for placing software in a hostile environment—that is, everyone who writes or installs programs that run on the Internet.”—Dave Evans, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Computer Science
University of Virginia
“The root cause for most of today’s Internet hacker exploits and malicious software outbreaks are buggy software and faulty security software deployment. In Exploiting Software, Greg Hoglund and Gary McGraw help us in an interesting and provocative way to better defend ourselves against malicious hacker attacks on those software loopholes. The information in this book is an essential reference that needs to be understood, digested, and aggressively addressed by IT and information security professionals everywhere.”—Ken Cutler, CISSP, CISA
Vice President, Curriculum Development & Professional Services,
MIS Training Institute
“This book describes the threats to software in concrete, understandable, and frightening detail. It also discusses how to find these problems before the bad folks do. A valuable addition to every programmer’s and security person’s library!”—Matt Bishop, Ph.D.
Professor of Computer Science
University of California at Davis
Author of Computer Security: Art and Science
“Whether we slept through software engineering classes or paid attention, those of us who build things remain responsible for achieving meaningful and measurable vulnerability reductions. If you can’t afford to stop all software manufacturing to teach your engineers how to build secure software from the ground up, you should at least increase awareness in your organization by demanding that they read Exploiting Software. This book clearly demonstrates what happens to broken software in the wild.”—Ron Moritz, CISSP
Senior Vice President, Chief Security Strategist
“Exploiting Software is the most up-to-date technical treatment of software security I have seen. If you worry about software and application vulnerability, Exploiting Software is a must-read. This book gets at all the timely and important issues surrounding software security in a technical, but still highly readable and engaging, way. Hoglund and McGraw have done an excellent job of picking out the major ideas in software exploit and nicely organizing them to make sense of the software security jungle.”—George Cybenko, Ph.D.
Dorothy and Walter Gramm Professor of Engineering, Dartmouth
Founding Editor-in-Chief, IEEE Security and Privacy
“This is a seductive book. It starts with a simple story, telling about hacks and cracks. It draws you in with anecdotes, but builds from there. In a few chapters you find yourself deep in the intimate details of software security. It is the rare technical book that is a readable and enjoyable primer but has the substance to remain on your shelf as a reference. Wonderful stuff.”—Craig Miller, Ph.D.
Chief Technology Officer for North America
“It’s hard to protect yourself if you don’t know what you’re up against. This book has the details you need to know about how attackers find software holes and exploit them—details that will help you secure your own systems.”—Ed Felten, Ph.D.
Professor of Computer Science
“If you worry about software and application vulnerability, Exploiting Software is a must-read. This book gets at all the timely and important issues surrounding software security in a technical, but still highly readable and engaging way.”
—George Cybenko, Ph.D.
Dorothy and Walter Gramm Professor of Engineering, Dartmouth
Founding Editor-in-Chief, IEEE Security and Privacy Magazine
“Exploiting Software is the best treatment of any kind that I have seen on the topic of software vulnerabilities.”
—From the Foreword by Aviel D. Rubin
Associate Professor, Computer Science
Technical Director, Information Security Institute, Johns Hopkins University
How does software break? How do attackers make software break on purpose? Why are firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and antivirus software not keeping out the bad guys? What tools can be used to break software? This book provides the answers.
Exploiting Software is loaded with examples of real attacks, attack patterns, tools, and techniques used by bad guys to break software. If you want to protect your software from attack, you must first learn how real attacks are really carried out.
This must-have book may shock you--and it will certainly educate you.Getting beyond the script kiddie treatment found in many hacking books, you will learn about
- Why software exploit will continue to be a serious problem
- When network security mechanisms do not work
- Attack patterns
- Reverse engineering
- Classic attacks against server software
- Surprising attacks against client software
- Techniques for crafting malicious input
- The technical details of buffer overflows
Exploiting Software is filled with the tools, concepts, and knowledge necessary to break software.
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I find myself deeply conflicted by this book: it's hard to square how genuinely useful and informative it is with how atrociously it is written. While it is chock full of concrete nuggets for analyzing code and developing exploits, the good bits are embedded in pages and pages of repetitive, sometimes irrelevant, sometimes even contradictory padding.
Techies frequently dismiss "word-smithing" as frivolous. But if you have trouble making sense of a book, or if it misinforms - if it lacks clarity, accuracy, succinctness, and readability - then why bother with it? Not including the references and index, my edition is 445 pages. I would love to read the worthwhile content extracted from the surrounding cruft, which I imagine would be a booklet of about 50 pages.
On a minor note, the book is now a bit long in the tooth. At the time it was written, the authors referred to 2010 as "the far future", a point where predictions would be hazardous. Yet despite the frequent references to "NT", I think that the approaches it shows to software cracking remain viable.
So, with these reservations, I think that this is a book that should be read by black hats and white hats alike. My advice is to skim through it quickly until a concrete example is found. Work through that, then skim on to the next example.
On the positive side, I appreciate three aspects of ES. First, I like the attention paid to attack patterns. This concept makes sense and should be used by other authors who want to describe a means to exploit a target. Second, I am impressed that ES features a whole chapter (5) on attacking client software. When ES was published, client-side attacks were just becoming popular. Discussing this problem shows great insights on the part of the authors. Third, several of the examples in ES are great case studies on exploiting software. When explained in sufficient detail they make for educational reading.
On the down side, I agree with several other reviewers that the book seems somewhat erratic. Attack patterns that are two sentences long are probably candidates for inclusion in a chart, not listed in the main text. I don't think the predictions found in ch 1 were necessary, and I think some of the criticism of detection methods in ch 6 border on the ignorant. I agree that perfect detection is impossible, but there are plenty of methods that work in the real world. They may not be real-time, but no intruder is perfectly stealthy in all aspects of an attack.
Regarding chapters 7 and 8, on buffer overflows and rootkits -- at 170 pages, those could almost have been their own book. The material doesn't seem to match the rest of the book, and it's obviously Hoglund's work. Add in a like-minded chapter on reverse engineering (3) at 74 pages and you definitely have a stand-alone book!
It's probably sufficient to read Building Secure Software, Software Security, and Rookits if you like the McGraw/Hoglund approach to attacking and defending software. Take a quick look at the attack pattern material to get a feel for that concept.