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Stealing the Network: How to Own the Box Paperback – Illustrated, May 29, 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Stealing the Network is a book of science fiction. It's a series of short stories about characters who gain unauthorized access to equipment and information, or deny use of those resources to the people who are meant to have access to them. The characters, though sometimes well described, are not the stars of these stories. That honor belongs to the tools that the black-hat hackers use in their attacks, and also to the defensive measures arrayed against them by the hapless sysadmins who, in this volume, always lose. Consider this book, with its plentiful detail, the answer to every pretty but functionally half-baked user interface ever shown in a feature film.

One can read this book for entertainment, though its writing falls well short of cyberpunk classics like Burning Chrome and Snow Crash. Its value is in its explicit references to current technologies--Cisco routers, OpenSSH, Windows 2000--and specific techniques for hacking them (the heroes and heroines of this book are always generous with command-history dumps). The specific detail may open your eyes to weaknesses in your own systems (or give you some ideas for, ahem, looking around on the network). Alternately, you can just enjoy the extra realism that the detail adds to these stories of packetized adventure. --David Wall


"Stealing the Network: How to Own the Box is a unique book in the fiction department. It combines stories that are false, with technology that is real. While none of the stories have happened, there is no reason why they could not. You could argue it provides a road map for criminal hackers, but I say it does something else; it provides a glimpse into the creative minds of some of today's best hackers, and even the best hackers will tell you that the game is a mental one." - from the foreword by Jeff Moss, President & CEO, BlackHat, Inc.

"...the reader will find this an informative, instructive and even entertaining book." - Managing Risk magazine

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Product Details

  • Series: Cyber-Fiction
  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Syngress; 1 edition (May 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931836876
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931836876
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #888,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher Byrne on May 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
You may be asking yourself why I am writing a review of "Stealing The Network - How to Own the Box" (Ryan Russell, Tim Mullen, et al, Syngress Press, 2003, 429 Pages) two years after it came out in 2003. The reason is that next month, the third book in this series, "Stealing The Network - How to Own an Identity", is being released by Syngress. So in anticipation of this new title, I wanted to read this book, as well as "Stealing The Network - How To Own a Continent" (review to be written later this week). I did not expect to be drawn in as quickly as I was by this book, but I found myself being drawn in by the totally unique style in which technical content is presented and the fast pace the narrative took.

Each chapter presents a mini-scenario that demonstrates how specific network vulnerabilities can be exploited, causing potential problems and losses from organizations. What sets this apart from many of these books that I have read is that is kind of set up in the style employed by the television serial "Law and Order: Criminal Intent": a focus on narrative and knowledge from the point of view of the bad guys. While this is a work of "techno-fiction", the level of detail suggests that only the names were changed to prevent the innocent (or the guilty system administrators who fail to lock systems down as well as they should or could).

Another interesting point throughout this book is the emphasis on "social engineering", an oft overlooked weakness that has only started gaining true visibility in the evaluation and education of system administrators, managers, and end-users through highly visible incidents. It is kind of refreshing to read a detailed tale of what led a hacker to jump in a dumpster to find out information, and what led him to that point.
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Format: Paperback
I saw this book on the shelves and started flipping through it. Next thing I know it was a half hour later and I was still sitting on the floor with the same book in my lap.
In particular I wanted to read the chapter about H3x's adventure in networkland, since it seemed the most intriguing. She's a sexy female hacker that hits nightclubs and has a neon social life - so already we know the story is fiction, right?
I noticed that the author of one of the chapters posted a review. I didn't pay attention to which chapter and don't have the book in front of me, but he states that all the methods used are possible. Well, you can't have a technical book without subjecting it to technical scrutiny. Here's where the meat of my review weighs in: H3x's adventures sometimes make no sense, and other times are technically wrong. Let me explain.
First she realizes the changes she made on the routers at a university were logged to a syslog server, so she hacks that to cover her tracks by taking out the network address she used. Nevermind that she configured the routers to point a GRE tunnel to her home network, and then set "0wn3d" (or something similar) as the interface desription. Isn't that like sneaking tiptoe through a house late at night with a blaring stereo on your shoulders? And what kind of pipe would be going into her home to be able to keep up with an ethernet connection on a campus network? At this point everything is still technically possible, although somewhat unbelievable. Still - this is fiction after all.
The administrators catch wind of this and do all the obligatory password and community string changes, tightening of security with access lists and pant-wetting.
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Format: Paperback
"Stealing the Network" (STN) is an entertaining and informative look at the weapons and tactics employed by those who attack and defend digital systems. STN is similar to the "Hacker's Challenge" books published by Osborne, although the stories are not separated into evidence and resolution sections. Rather, a collection of authors use mildly fictional tales to introduce readers to tactics and techniques used by black and white hat hackers.
My favorite chapter was written by FX of Phenoelit, where a female black hat battles white hat defenders. The playing field includes HP printers, GRE tunnels between routers, and other novel tricks. Reading both sides of the story was fun and educational. I also liked Joe "Kingpin" Grand's insider theft case (ch 3), featuring Palm hacks and Blackberry sniffing. The worm disassembly chapter by Ryan Russell and Tim Mullen is worth reading as well.

This book is worth reading, but it's $... cover price is steep. While the stories are fictional, much of it is probably based on the author's experiences either consulting or studying similar incidents. This book can best be used by security professionals to test how they would have responded to the threats presented by the fictional adversaries profiled in STN. There's plenty to be learned by reading STN, and I hope to see sequels.
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Format: Paperback
As an admitted Slashotdot-reading, command-line geek, I looked forward to this book, but as a finicky reader and former English Lit major I was skeptical. Turns out it's great on both levels: as a topical, informative text and as a downright compelling collection of short thriller-type stories.

For those who have some familiarity with the subject matter, this book rings completely true and for those who do not, it's still fun and understandable.

It's an expensive book, so I waited a while, but in retrospect it delivers on the high price. Unlike most of the novels I read which wind up on my living room shelves for a while or are passed along to friends, this one wound up on the reference shelf in my computer room along with other network security books (and with a few post-it bookmarks sticking out to boot).

If you are hesitating because of the price or are worried that the writing will disappoint, I can assure you that you will be pleasantly rewarded for your investment. Best thing I've read in the genre since Stoll's superb "The Cuckoo's Egg."
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