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10 Best Ethical Hacking Books

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In 2019, Facebook went through the biggest crisis when its user data was breached. Data stemming from the Cultura Colectiva breach was 145GB. It consisted of more than 540 million records including 22,000 unencrypted passwords. Yes, your data might have been breached as well. But how did it happen? The due credit goes to black hat hackers or in simple words, ethical hackers who infiltrated websites and gain unauthorized access into a network to compromise security systems, shut down systems, and alter website functions.

Best Ethical Hacking Books


What is Ethical Hacking?

Ethical hacking is a kind of authorized or legal hacking practice where professionals (ethical hackers) are given special permission in order to gain authorized access for hacking a computer, file, system, application, or data. It is usually done to detect vulnerabilities in software, network system, infrastructure, etc., and to subsequently identify potential data breaches & cyber attacks.

With the digital world changing at such a quick pace, there is a growing concern about data breaches at every level. Because everything – personal information, financial information, friends, family, and so on – is shared online, data must be protected at all times. Many hackers are seeking ways to steal personal data for a variety of reasons, such as conflict of interest, national security breaches, terrorist operations, etc. 

According to a study done by IBM, data breaches cost Indian businesses an average of Rs 17.6 crore in 2022—the highest amount ever recorded. The cost increased 6.6 percent from last year when the average cost of a breach was Rs 16.5 crore. It is up 25 percent from Rs 14 crore in 2020. The same report covered that the global average cost of a data breach reached an all-time high of $4.35 million for surveyed organizations.

So, to curb cybercriminal activities, you also need to be thorough with the subject and be an expert white hat hacker in this field. There are primarily 5 types of ethical hacking that you need to be familiar with:

  1. Web application hacking
  2. Web server hacking
  3. System hacking
  4. Wireless network hacking
  5. Social engineering

Types of Hackers:

  • White Hat Hackers – The good hackers who exploit security systems to find weaknesses so that the ‘bad guys’ don’t. They are authorized to do so by their respective firms for the express purpose of spotting potential security concerns. Companies that keep sensitive data, such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, recruit white-hat hackers.
  • Grey Hat Hackers – Grey-hat hackers are one game ahead of white-hat hackers. They breach networks left and right in order to uncover and rectify flaws in order to steal money from the company. They have no hostile intent and warn authorities and intelligence agencies about security flaws that might be hazardous.
  • Black Hat Hackers – A black hat hacker attempts to obtain illegal access to a network in order to breach security systems, shut down systems, or change website operations. These hackers attempt to get access to personal information, financial information, and passwords.

Each type of hacking necessitates certain talents, tools, and procedures, and ethical hackers must think like vicious hackers to tackle problems at full throttle. They must find flaws, understand penetration testing, employ proper tools to carry out the hack, and be prepared. Even if an attack occurs, the damage is relatively low.

Best Ethical Hacking Books for Beginner to Advanced Hackers:

So, if you want to be an ethical hacker, these 10 ethical hacking books will introduce you to the world of ethical hacking and will help you solve your questions on cybersecurity.

1. Hacking: A Beginners’ Guide to Computer Hacking, Basic Security, And Penetration Testing by John Slavio

Hacking: A Beginners’ Guide to Computer Hacking, Basic Security, And Penetration Testing will teach you all you need to know about hacking, including the history of hacking, the many forms of ethical hacking, and the security precautions you should take. It can also help you get started on your path to becoming an ethical hacker, which is a rapidly developing and in-demand area.

The author John Slavio guides you on who and what to watch for in order to prevent hackers from gaining access to your most sensitive information. He discusses the many forms of viruses that may be sent to your computers by crooks breaking into your systems and also informs you about the most prevalent malware, computer viruses, and trojans that can crash your computer or infect it with a virus that can spread to other computers.

The author discusses why it is critical to have security software installed on your computer and other systems. This is “the book” for you if you’re a newbie in ethical hacking. 

2. Hands-on Ethical Hacking and Network Defense by James Corley, Kent Backman, and Michael Simpson 

Hands-on Ethical Hacking and Network Defense is a strong foundational book for beginners and the best book to learn hacking, including freshers with no knowledge of networking, security, or hacking. The author employs straightforward language and provides extensive explanations of the main ideas. It is mostly a theory book with little application or technical explanation. It is a useful book for a high-level review of hacking ideas such as security testing, various tools, penetration testing approaches, mobile security, and network protection.

3. CEH v11 Certified Ethical Hacker Study Guide by Ric Messier

The CEH v11 Certified Ethical Hacker Study Guide provides a thorough understanding of the CEH certification criteria through brief and simple instructions. The chapters are divided by exam objectives, and there is a helpful section that connects each objective to its related chapter. 

The book covers all themes thoroughly, including difficult chapter review problems and Exam Essentials, a significant feature that indicates essential study areas. Common attack techniques such as reconnaissance and scanning are covered. Intrusion detection, DoS attacks, buffer overflows, wireless assaults, mobile attacks, the Internet of Things (IoT), and other issues are also discussed.

4. The Basics of Hacking and Penetration Testing by Patrick Engebretson

If you want to be a penetration tester (pen-tester), here is a fantastic place to start. Backtrack and Kall Linux, Nmap, Social-Engineer Toolkit, Netcat, and many more technologies are covered in the book. The book is well-organized and covers each topic in detail for a full grasp. The author’s tone is lighthearted and engaging. It is a comprehensive ethical hacking training course for novices.

5. Hacking: The Art of Exploitation by Jon Erickson

This intermediate hacking book takes a distinct approach to hacking. Apart from knowing networking and security, the author urges you to have a good technological basis and explains how obscure hacking tactics function. This is a hands-on and practical book that explores numerous hacking topics through examples. The author highlights the need of thinking like a hacker, be innovative, and investigate areas that have never been explored before.

6. Advanced Penetration Testing: Hacking the world’s most Secure Networks

The book discusses several challenging problems as well as ways for dealing with them. This course is designed for people who wish to think like professional hackers and do pen-testing on highly protected networks. Many examples in the book make use of C, Java, JavaScript, VBA, Windows Scripting Host, Flash, and other programming languages. In these languages, the author exposes you to a variety of scanning tools and common library programs.

7. Exploiting Software: How to Break Code by Greg Hoglund and Gary R. McGraw

The book is very technical and is written in a knowledgeable and informative manner. It is intended for people who have a basic understanding of reverse engineering and exploitation but wish to go deeper into black hat techniques for exploiting software vulnerabilities. The book stresses assault patterns in great depth, something we have not seen in any other literature. The author provides several examples and case studies that are current in nature.

8. Penetration Testing – A Hands-On Introduction to Hacking

The book begins by outlining the core skills and procedures that every pentester should be familiar with. The book includes many examples, practical teaching using tools, and a machine-based lab, as the title indicates. You’ll be able to grasp how a hacker obtains access to security systems, cracks network keys and passwords, and create your own exploits for all of the above and more. Despite the fact that the lab setup is quite outdated in the 1st edition, all of the important material can still be obtained on the web (for example, exploit-DB)- the book is still worthwhile!

9. The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook: Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws

One of the commercially successful and popular books for hacking the Web Application Hacker’s Handbook is an efficient approach for people who want to learn about ethical hacking. Here the author has given numerous facts to support his explanations and does not spoon-feed anything. You will learn things by trying several examples and numerous practices and scenarios. The book has many well-organized chapters that provide deep knowledge regarding every topic. Here you will also learn various techniques mentioned for attacking and protecting web applications. The book is good for both beginners and intermediate-level learners. 

10. Gray Hat Hacking: The Ethical Hacker’s Handbook, Fifth Edition 5th Edition

The book gives the basic knowledge and moves forward towards intermediate level so if you are a fresher or not you will gain benefit from this book. Gray Hat Hacking is an interesting book with crisp and neat examples with all the concepts covered properly which are important for you to start networking, cybersecurity, and ethical hacking. The book has been divided into 5 parts, the first part talks about preparatory work, the second part about core concepts of hacking and penetration testing, the third is about exploiting the system left and right, the fourth covers the advanced analysis of malware and the fifth part is all about IoT which can be hacked. 


Without a doubt, ethical hacking is a difficult and responsible task. It entails keeping hostile hackers from circumventing security measures and anti-virus software technology. Large corporations spend large sums of money on security specialists and ethical hackers to simulate the exploitation of security system weaknesses. So, have fun learning ethical hacking from these 10 books and start your journey as an ethical hacker in the near future if you haven’t yet. 

Frequently Asked Questions? (FAQs)

Q1: Which book is best for ethical hacking for beginners?

Ans: Some of the best books for ethical hacking for beginners are listed below:

  • Hacking: A Beginners’ Guide to Computer Hacking, Basic Security, And Penetration Testing
  • Hacking: The Art Of Exploitation
  • Metasploit: The Penetration Tester’s Guide
  • Penetration Testing: A Hands-On Introduction to Hacking.
  • The Hacker Playbook 3: Practical Guide To Penetration Testing.

Q2: Can I self-study ethical hacking? 

Ans: The short answer is that, yes you can learn hacking by yourself. When you learn any technology by yourself, you tend to explore more deeper resulting in clear concepts. Also, self-taught hackers also ace jobs quickly with their learning skills. You can also get into deeper concepts by registering through some best courses for ethical hacking. Reading good books related to ethical hacking will also help.

Q3: What are the types of hackers? 

Ans: There are generally three types of hackers:

  1. White hat hackers
  2. Black hat hackers
  3. Grey hat hackers

Q4: Why Learn Hacking?

Ans: Hacking excites young professionals and thus it has become an important aspect of your career as you can get to play a vital role in some companies securing their data and systems. Also, hacking jobs are very high paying (median base pay of $80,413) due to the credibility of the position. Also, the biggest motivation is financial gain. 

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Last Updated : 07 Dec, 2022
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