7 Best Ethical Hacking Books of 2022 (Ranks and Reviews)

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Want to get right to the best ethical hacking books? My top recommendations are Ghost in the Wires and The Art of Invisibility.

Hackers are controversial figures.

On the one hand, they can be seen as criminals who violate the law and prey on unsuspecting web users. On the other hand, though, they have also been credited with being among the first coders and innovators of our generation.

Nowadays, you rarely read or hear of a high-profile incident without someone blaming it on hackers – with one major attack happening almost every day!

Whether you consider them heroes or villains, there’s no denying their importance. That’s why I wanted to write this article about the best ethical hacking books of 2022.

The popularity of ethical hacking has increased as more people have started to explore the world of computer security. Several ethical hacking books have hit the market and found their way into the hands of eager readers who want to learn about hacking and how to protect their devices and networks.

Testing can be a scary activity. Even nerdy computer geeks who are normally hands-on with technology get unnerved when their websites are modified on their behalf.

A good hacker is one who understands the gravity of his actions and chooses to use them for the betterment of humanity. That’s why I’m here to guide you by helping you learn how to become an ethical hacker and share a passion for learning with you.

Please note: This site is reader-supported, and may receive affiliate commissions from Amazon LLC if you make purchases through links available on this site. However, these commissions are absolutely at no extra cost to you and my goal is to give you the very best review and recommendations when it comes to choosing the best hacking books.

Let’s get to the list.

What are the Best Ethical Hacking Books?

Here are my top picks for the best ethical hacking books:

1. Ghost in the Wires.

Hackers, computer crackers are damned. A true story of intrigue, suspense, and unbelievable escapes. This book offers a peep into the dangerous world of cybercrime, the challenges of working in hell, the search for peace and freedom in our real-time world where everything is being hacked.

The book shares the vision of a visionary who forced the authorities to rethink the way they pursued him and forced companies to rethink the way they protect their most sensitive information. A book that will grab you from start to finish.

It lets you experience the dramatic and dangerous journey of famous hacker Kevin Mitnick in this thrilling true story. Beginning with detailed descriptions of his capture, the book then tells his story of how he became one of the most notorious hackers in history.

From an early age, Kevin was different. Little could he imagine that his extraordinary intellect could lead him to such notoriety as both a computer security expert and a wanted criminal. 

Told in Mitnick’s own words, Ghost in the Wires is a truly amazing account of intrigue and suspense — and a brilliant portrait of a visionary who forced companies to rethink how they protect their information, and law enforcement to rethink the way they pursue a criminal.

For readers who like their true crime with a dose of high-tech intrigue and cyber-geekiness, Ghost in the Wires is for you. Wiretapping, corporate espionage, and high-stakes international intrigue combine for a nonstop hacker thrill ride of more than sixty frantic hours crammed into this one book.

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2. The Art of Invisibility.

Are you being watched? Millions are and they have no idea. Whether you’re a government whistleblower or just someone who suspects they’re being watched, this book is for you.

Keven Mitnick — the world’s most famous hacker — teaches you “the art of invisibility” so that no one can see what you’re doing. You’ll learn how to choose the right technology, create multiple layers of privacy, and remain anonymous in the digital world.

He’s spent the last 20 years teaching everyone else how to be safe, and The Art of Invisibility is his first book in a decade.

This explosive yet practical discussion on security — using easy step-by-step instructions — shows exactly what is happening without your knowledge, teaching you “the art of invisibility” — both online and offline tactics (inside the digital world) to protect you and your family.

The Art of Invisibility reveals the dangers and vulnerabilities that exist in today’s connected world. Through eye-opening, true stories, Mitnick offers practical, counterintuitive tactics for protecting yourself, your family, and your company from would-be aggressors.

This book is an eye-opener for anyone that doesn’t believe they are being tracked or watched. Yes, it has some cool examples that are sometimes hard to believe, but give it a shot. Kevin Mitnick is the real deal. 

The art of invisibility isn’t just for hackers anymore. If you are one of the people out there that don’t think your day-to-day life is being monitored by big brother, then go back and read this book again — you might be surprised how many ways you are being watched in your everyday life.

Being the most wanted computer criminal in United States history, he hacked into some of the country’s biggest and most powerful companies and institutions (including Motorola, NEC, and Nokia) and caused tens of millions of dollars in damages.  

His fascinating story is told in the first book in this list, Ghost in the Wires. Now Mitnick teaches you how to lock down your personal and professional information to ensure nobody can follow in your footsteps.

This is particularly true when you consider his pre-book writing career as a highly-skilled social engineer. If there was anyone who could make me care about such topics, it is Kevin.

I highly recommend reading this book to everyone who is 24/7 online.

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3. Social Engineering.

You can enter any building without trying. You can access any computer without leaving a trace. And you’ll never get caught.

How?

Today’s threat landscape is rapidly evolving — both malicious and unwanted software is becoming ubiquitous. 

But, the concept of social engineering shatters the security of every cyber system and hacks into the system in a reliable, and credible way.

The book states: Why hack when you can just ask for access?

In the simplest form, social engineering is hacking into humans’ minds through the cyber world with psychological tactics that influence the victim.

Psychology and social engineering collide at the intersection of computer science and human nature. 

Using real-life cases as case studies, the authors expose how behavioral techniques such as stereotype threat, altruism, and forgiveness can be used by attackers to swiftly establish control over web operations. 

Case studies also disclose how managed security technologies such as static analysis can actually exacerbate threats instead of ensuring safe passage. 

By showing common everyday attacks as ethical hacking cases, Social Engineering: The Science of Human Hacking teaches readers how to stop human nature from making them vulnerable to exploitation by applying behaviorally-based security.

Ask yourself: The hacker is always looking for something — how can you break-in? When you see the question through the lens of social engineering, you’re subtly working to break in. 

The hacker determines how to break in and then uses social engineering as a tool. This book constantly and constantly tries to teach you and me how to stop it: side effects like increased security, ability to develop lessons learned, and eradication of often-undetected root causes.

Social engineering is the craftier cousin of your everyday phishing trick. While phishing is about stealing information through deception, social engineering involves building immense trust. 

It’s simple science: tap into the human’s most trusted tool — their intuition — and use it against them to gain access. By understanding how to learn, understand, and manipulate emotions, people will leave themselves far more vulnerable to follow your lead.

The basic idea is to recognize and exploit a weakness in someone’s social situation. For example, “whack-a-mole” is a common term used when attempting to gain access to a closed network. 

In the case of social engineering, computer security hackers watch for significant changes in behavior from their victim, such as an employee suddenly calling off from work without providing a legitimate reason. 

The targeted group comes under pressure from colleagues and commonly grows tired or frustrated by the incident which may lead them to choose to grant access. This type of social engineering has been used for decades by shady characters.

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4. Hacking: The Art of Exploitation.

Ever wonder how to hack a program or a computer? Or perhaps you’ve hacked something before, and want to learn what trade secrets the process contains.

Hacking: The Art of Exploitation, Second Edition will teach you everything you need to know about exploitation, whether your interest is in breaking into computers or protecting them from others trying to do the same.

Picking up where the first edition left off, this significantly expanded second edition covers today’s cutting-edge hacking techniques, tools, and exploits.

Author Jon Erickson guides you through the required mindset of a hacker, details the programming fundamentals every aspiring hacker needs to know and shows how basic C programming logic can be used in advanced exploits.

You’ll learn how common buffer overflows work and how hackers take advantage of them to gain complete control of system memory with just a single command. 

This book also teaches you how to detect malware hiding on your system by looking for patterns in network traffic that are commonly used by hackers.

Hacking: The Art of Exploitation, takes you through the journey of acquiring the knowledge necessary to become a hacker. Author Jon Erickson explains several levels of understanding required to become really good at hacking computer systems. 

To do this, the book progresses in an almost story-like fashion with each chapter building off concepts learned in previous chapters. With enough information to help anyone find vulnerabilities in almost any computer system, this book provides enough material for years of informative reading.

This practical instructional text begins with a review of programming fundamentals, proceeding into the C language, and on to compiling, linking, debugging, and executing code. 

It then launches into an overview of operating system fundamentals before presenting detailed information on system calls, process memory layout, and ELF binaries. 

Next, this book moves on to an introduction to machine architecture that allows students to fully understand how their systems operate at the most basic level. 

From there it delves into more advanced topics such as:

  • Creating user-space applications with SUID binaries. 
  • Fork bombs. 
  • Binary protections bypasses. 
  • Signal tracing. 
  • Environment variable manipulation using Python types bindings. 
  • Sockets programming with TCP forwarding shellcode. 
  • Stack-smashing protection (Canary Puzzle).
  • And, a lot more.
  • Also, the most interesting thing: The Password Probability Matrix.

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5. The Cyber Weapons Arms Race.

The Global Cyber Arms Race is a threat to humanity, and Nicole Perlroth has done an invaluable job in documenting it. Her book is a thrilling read that lets you see inside the secretive world of cyber weapons, while also providing clear explanations of how they work. 

This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyber Weapons Arms Race reads like a thriller and is filled with compelling first-hand reporting, but also puts into context how geopolitical tensions can make our digital lives more fragile than we thought. 

In This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends, Nicole Perlroth brings to life the fascinating world of cyber conflict. 

From the offices of Russian hackers to the halls of Congress; from Wall Street boardrooms to military think tanks, this book gives us a rare view into a secret arena where the future of war is being waged. 

The Cyberwar Arms Race is unlike anything you have ever seen before. Computers, servers, and phones around the world are being attacked every single day by foreign governments and criminals alike in order to steal secrets, sabotage infrastructure, and wreak havoc on whatever they can.

This is all done with a keyboard, a mouse, and sometimes, no more than curiosity. This cyber arms race might not be so dangerous if it weren’t for one incredibly frightening fact: all of these attacks are making us more vulnerable to one another and have already led to disastrous results.

We’ve already seen how the plunging of a stock market can send ripple effects around the world — how much worse could the plunge of an entire country be? Russia attacked Georgia in 2008, driving its stock exchange into an economic depression which led to protests that toppled the government.

South Korea was crippled by denial-of-service attacks during a military stand-off with North Korea in 2009. Iran has been hit by several devastating waves of attacks, most notably against its nuclear program.

This is no drill. Today there are more than a dozen countries that are said to be actively probing us for weaknesses, looking for ways in. The people who know the most about these attacks — the hackers and the targets — tell us that this is only the beginning. 

In an era when nuclear weapons have been traded, like baseball cards, among superpowers, cyberweapons offer a cheaper way to wreak havoc.

They are so potentially destructive that they could destabilize an entire region, alter the global balance of power, and reset the button on our society. As we enter this digital age of escalating conflict, two things are clear: what happens online doesn’t just stay online and privacy is just a myth!

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6. Sandworm.

The digital hunt for members of the most notorious cyber gang in the Russian underground has taken investigators around the globe as they attempt to infiltrate an extraordinary network of crime and deception. 

The technical sophistication of the threat even extends to false documents and fake identities, but this is just one small part of a much bigger story. 

For Sandworm is not just a group of hackers, it is also the name used by a GRU Highly Mobile Amphibious Special Operations unit to describe its covert campaign against Western targets. Its true purpose is a mystery.

The Kremlin has unleashed a new kind of weapon—information war. In August 2014, it invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea; in the run-up to November 2016, it subverted the presidential elections. Sandworm is one of many teams of hackers that the Kremlin employs to help it wage information war.

But Sandworm is different from the pack: They hit Western critical infrastructure. They use computer code as a weapon. 

And they have access to zero-day vulnerabilities, which can be used to penetrate even the most hardened targets and cause damage before anyone knows there’s been an assault.

The first lesson is that the nature of cyber threats has changed: what had once been thought of as something small and contained — an act of espionage, meant to gather strategic information or disrupt a few systems — is now a tool of aggressive power projection on a global scale.

Russia’s new generation of cyber warriors is attacking national interests in the most public and destructive ways possible, using the most aggressive weapon they have at their disposal.

“Sandworm” uncovers the nature of what makes this crew so effective: methodical and painstaking preparation, access to some of the world’s most impressive malware, a cunning understanding of what it takes cyberwarriors to win.

That combination of talent and vision isn’t something easily duplicated; it’s not even something openly discussed with other cybercrime groups. And that might just make it all the more dangerous. 

Overall, “Sandworm” can also serve as a good example of the difficulties faced by journalists in trying to make sense of a new cyber threat. 

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7. The Innovators.

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution highlights the collaborative and integrative processes that led to many of today’s technological breakthroughs.

This book offers fresh insight into what factors lead to innovation, why individuals are often more creative in groups rather than as lone inventors, and how the implementation of innovation can eventually lead to new challenges and changes for its originators.

The book is definitely an intellectual page-turner, revealing the attitudes and perspectives that drive the way innovation unfolds in world-changing technologies such as computers, the internet, and even search engines.

Innovators such as Alan Turing and Ada Lovelace certainly make appearances, but more well-known inventors such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are also present to heighten this book’s prominence.

The Innovators doesn’t only showcase the technical ideas and concepts that drove the digital revolution, but it also explores the motivations behind them.

This novel is a great read for any writer or designer who’s interested in learning more about how innovation works. The innovators not only changed the industry, but their work has changed our culture.

They broke down barriers, expanded what’s possible, and made previous technological limits obsolete. If you want to be an innovator yourself, this book is a good place to start.

The history of the Internet has not been well-documented, even though it is so important. Many people are products of the internet, and it has reached such a point in the world where new innovation is inevitable.

However, this is only possible through harnessing the best minds in their respective fields to change the way we do things. Reading this book will give you a broad knowledge of where this technology came from, how it changed over time, and how it developed into what it is today.

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Summary.

And that’s it. With that being said, I hope you have enjoyed this list of the best ethical hacking books to buy in 2022! Good luck out there and happy reading!

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