In this post, I’ve listed the best ethical hacking books that got me started as a beginner hacker.
These hacking books will not only expose you to the practical aspect of hacking which is key, but will also teach you the fundamental theories & concepts of hacking which you can build upon going forward.
Not to mention, all of them were written, and are also recommended by industry professionals. You’re going to enjoy this a lot.
Here are the 7 best ethical hacking books for beginners in 2021:
- The Hacker Playbook 2: Practical Guide To Penetration Testing
- Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking
- Linux Basics for Hackers: Getting Started with Networking, Scripting, and Security in Kali
- Real-World Bug Hunting: A Field Guide to Web Hacking
- The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook: Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws
- Counter Hack Reloaded: A Step-by-Step Guide to Computer Attacks and Effective Defenses
- Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker
7 Best Ethical Hacking Books for Beginners
1. The Hacker Playbook 2: Practical Guide To Penetration Testing
by Peter Kim | Level: Beginner
The Hacker Playbook covers a breadth of topics from initial network recon to gaining a foothold/privilege escalation while keeping it practical with comprehensive hands-on labs.
If a beginner were to ask me to pick for them only one of these hacking books on this list, it will be this book 100%.
It’s a great first read for beginner hackers because the labs will give you a good baseline to start off if you’re new in the field.
2. Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking
by Christopher Hadnagy | Level: Beginner
“Real hackers don’t hack computers, they hack the human operator” or something along those lines, was a quote I heard one time from a very senior hacker in the profession, and this book teaches you how to do exactly that and more.
And really you’d have observed that there’s been a paradigm shift from hacking computers to hacking humans if you’ve been in the cybersecurity scene for a while now.
The author is my personal favorite because he is a seasoned professional in social engineering or hacking humans. He’s written several books that bears on this topic and I chose this one to expose you to the rest.
3. Linux Basics for Hackers: Getting Started with Networking, Scripting, and Security in Kali
by OccupyTheWeb | Level: Beginner
If you’re getting started along this exciting path of hacking, cybersecurity, and pentesting, Linux Basics for Hackers is an excellent first step. Using Kali Linux, an advanced penetration testing distribution of Linux, you’ll learn the basics of using the Linux operating system and acquire the tools and techniques you’ll need to take control of a Linux environment.
I have been following the Author, OccupyTheWeb for some years now on the Nullbyte website and I am a huge fan of his work. In this hacking book, he teaches Linux to the aspiring hacker with just the right amount of details and with great formatting. I highly recommend having this book. You’re going to love it.
4. Real-World Bug Hunting: A Field Guide to Web Hacking
by Peter Yaworski | Level: Beginner-Intermediate
Bug bounties are a great way to gain experience in cybersecurity and earn some money too. So if you’re just getting into the field you’ll find this book very useful because the author broke down the bug bounty knowledge in a way that’s good for beginners.
The book also covers and goes in good depth into the important topics of web application security auditing.
Because as you may probably know that the majority of bug bounty programs are on web apps. So if you have eyes to make money from the start of your ethical hacking journey, definitely pick up this book, I highly recommend it.
5. The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook: Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws
by Dafydd Stuttard & Marcus Pinto | Level: Beginner-Intermediate
Written by the same professionals who developed the class-leading vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, and web application testing software Burp Suite, this hacking book is a must-have for anyone in the cybersecurity realms.
The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook will teach you how to discover the many common and not so common security flaws in today’s web applications, and then show you how to exploit them using real-world examples and code extracts.
6. Counter Hack Reloaded: A Step-by-Step Guide to Computer Attacks and Effective Defenses
by Edward Skoudis | Level: All levels
I will recommend this book not just for beginners interested in ethical hacking only but for everyone who knows little or nothing about computer security. This book is packed full of information that will equip you to be able to understand how attacks occur which will then enable you to know how to go about defending yourself.
Now for the aspiring ethical hacker, the book gives an overview of Networking, Linux, and Windows and then goes on to deal with specifics on the different attack phases of an attack. It’s an insightful and fun read. You’ll love it.
7. Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker
by Kevin Mitnick | Level: All levels
Ghost in the Wires is a thrilling true-life story of intrigue, suspense and unbelievable escapes of the world’s most wanted hacker, Kevin Mitnick who is now a professional white-hat hacker helping the same big companies he formerly hacked for fun and profit before he was arrested by the FBI in 1995.
I highly recommend beginners to consume the work of Kevin Mitnick because you’ll learn a ton.
This is just one of his many books, he has authored several other books on hacking which I recommend you check out.
Ok there you have it, the best books for hacking in 2021. You can’t make a mistake going with one or all of the books on this list. Don’t overthink your decision, pick a hacking book and start learning. In no time, you’ll become a master hacker.
Leave me a comment below if you have a question, I’ll get to them ASAP!
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