The Complete Hacker's Handbook: Everything You Need to Know about Hacking in the Age of the Web

Overview

For the first time in the 90s, The Hacker's Handbook looks at the whole phenomenon of computer hacking, from its beginning in the computer networks of the early 80s, through the basic tools that hacker's use today.

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Overview

For the first time in the 90s, The Hacker's Handbook looks at the whole phenomenon of computer hacking, from its beginning in the computer networks of the early 80s, through the basic tools that hacker's use today.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781858684062
  • Publisher: Carlton Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 8.43 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Introduction to Hacking

Welcome to the endlessly fascinating exploration of computers, networks, phones and technology that is the world of hacking. Whether you are an Internet newbie curious to know what all the media headlines are really about, a computer enthusiast wanting to know more about how the Internet works, or an average Internet user, this book will demystify the subject of hacking by describing how it works.

You might be worrying that, in describing how hacking works, this book might encourage hordes of "wannabe" hackers to create mayhem on the Internet by looting computer systems, pillaging credit cards and killing networks with Denial of Service attacks. If you think this, then it is likely you have been placed into a state of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) by media hysteria.

This book aims to show you, the reader, that most hacking is responsible exploration of computers and computer networks with very little emphasis on breaking system security, stealing credit cards or crashing Internet systems.

Hopefully you will find something of interest in A Complete Hacker's Handbook - at the very least you should gain a greater understanding of computers and networks. If you try out a few of the things described here, you should understand hacking better and as a consequence have less fear of hackers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

When I started playing with computers, it was a subject that I had previously had no interest in, and no desire to learn. When I became a newbie I still knew very little, but had an insatiable desire to learn. Later on I was a computer enthusiast, a hacker with several years' experience, but I still hadthat desire to learn. Finally I made my living from computers, but I never lost that insatiable desire to learn.

Above all else, hacking is about that insatiable desire to learn, to understand, to know, and then to learn even more about computers and technology. Hacking is just exploration and it is up to you to do it in a legal and responsible fashion.

WHAT IS A HACKER?

So, what is a hacker? Let's try the Concise Oxford English Dictionary's definition - ignoring the pronunciation jargon - to find out.

hacker / n.

1. A person who or thing that hacks or cuts roughly.
2. A person whose uses computers for a hobby, esp. to gain unauthorized access to data.

Definition of "hacker". Not really very helpful, is it? The relevant part of the OED definition is split between two different types of hacker.
  • An enthusiastic computer programmer or user.

This is the original meaning of the word hacker. A hacker is someone who enjoys learning and exploring computer and network systems, and consequently gains a deep understanding of the subject. Such people often go on to become systems programmers or administrators, website administrators, or system security consultants. Hackers such as these, because they spend most of their time pointing out and securing against system security holes, are sometimes referred to as white-hat hackers.

  • A person who tries to gain unauthorized access to a computer or to data held on one.

This is the most conventionally understood meaning of the word hacker as propagated in Hollywood films and tabloid newspapers. A lot of people who are quite happy to call themselves hackers by the first definition regard the second group with suspicion, calling them "crackers", as they specialize in "cracking" system security. Such crackers, who spend all their time finding and exploiting system security holes, are often known as black-hat hackers.

The reality is full of grey areas. As a white-hat hacker I have legally broken into systems to further my understanding of system security, but I did not specialize in cracking systems security in general. Many of the black-hat hackers I have known are computer enthusiasts who just happen to be most enthusiastic about breaking into systems, and whose knowledge of computers and networking protocols is second to none. At the end of the day, which type of hacker you are depends on your ethics, and whether you are breaking the law or not (see Legal Issues pp. 11-12).

MEDIA MISINFORMATION AND MEDIA HYSTERIA

Of course, none of this is helped by the tabloid hysteria which accompanies each new breach of security. Headlines such as the two above do nothing to reassure the general public that hackers are responsible citizens. Each time a new movie such as War Games or Hackers is released, the scene is inundated with newbies who think that it is cool to break into systems but can't be bothered to learn anything for themselves. These "script kiddies", so called because all they can do is run scripts and exploits prepared by someone else, are looked upon with derision by both hackers and crackers alike. Very few of them stick with computers long enough to gain the skills needed to become a real hacker, and even fewer take the time and effort to contribute something to the hacking community and gain real status in the eyes of other hackers.

The media misrepresentation is not helped by the members of law enforcement agencies, IT security consultants and other bodies who have a vested interest in promoting the "hacker menace" as a threat to all cleanliving, god-fearing, decent people. According to these, the Internet is overrun with hackers out to read your email, steal your credit card numbers, break into your computer, run up your phone bill and generally create more mayhem than Genghis Khan on a good day.

For this reason it is best not to tell anyone that you are a hacker. Letting it slip to your boss is a good way of getting fired, and mentioning it to anyone will get many responses along the lines of, "Can you transfer money into my bank account for me?" This is the main reason why hackers use "handles" instead of their real name, to maintain anonymity in a world where the media hysteria has surrounded the word "hacker" with negative connotations. Letting someone know that you are a hacker can elicit much the same response as if you were to inform them that you are a leper. Keep it under your hat, black or white.

WHY HACK?

When people asked me why I hacked, I had a standard response: "Because it's there. Because I can. Because it's fun." Reasons for hacking are personal, and most people hack because of one or more of the following reasons.

Access

This is not so common a motivation these days, with free ISPs coming out of our ears, and every man, woman, child and dog having their own webpage, but once upon a time the Internet was restricted to students, academic researchers and the military. If you didn't belong to one of those groups, you had to hack your own access via a university dial-up or similar. An understanding of this technique can be useful in a variety of circumstances.

Exploration

This is the one that motivates a very large group of hackers. The exploration of computer systems and networks, roaming the Internet, the X25 system or the phone network, and discovering new and interesting facts about how they work, helps to satisfy the insatiable beast called hacker curiosity. The only problem with this is that the more you learn, the more you realize that you have so much more to learn, and the exploration never stops.

Fun

Hacking is fun. If it isn't, then why are you bothering? If you are going to spend long hours mastering computers and network protocols, cutting code for your latest masterpiece late into the night, it helps if you really enjoy it. The best hackers I've ever met loved computers and loved working on them, many hours, days, weeks or even months to solve problems.

Showing Off

This is the worst reason to hack, but it motivates a lot of younger hackers and "phreakers". Hacking skills can increase your standing in a social group, but can also lead to anti-social behaviour, cracking, and an attitude that can basically be described as "in your face". Most hackers whom I have met in this group have either been caught very quickly, have gone on to become MP3 or warez pirates, or just lost interest as they became more interested in the opposite sex. Very few hackers with this attitude go on to become the truly elite hackers who exhibit a deep appreciation and understanding of computer systems and networks...

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction to Hacking 6
Chapter 2 Newbie Corner 16
Chapter 3 Hacker History, Publications and Groups 28
Chapter 4 The Hacker's Toolbox 40
Chapter 5 First Principles and Basic Techniques 52
Chapter 6 The Direct Approach 74
Chapter 7 Hacking the Web 86
Chapter 8 Tips for Specific Systems 110
Chapter 9 Phone Phreaking in the US & UK 128
Chapter 10 Viruses 140
Chapter 11 MP3s and Warez 148
Chapter 12 The Elements of Cracking 158
Chapter 13 Maximizing Security 170
Chapter 14 Learning More 180
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2002

    BEST BOOK FOR HACKING

    Ok this is the best book for newbies,and the people that are want to enjoy learning more of Hacking this book is fun chapter by chapter must own it..

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2002

    Excellent book for system administrators

    This is an excellent book, easy to understand and it gives you a great background if you are interested on becoming a hacker. If you are new at computers and the web this is a most book to read. I highly recommmend it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2001

    Great book!

    This is a good book for all types of administrators and for those that would like to learn more about hacking. What is it? How does it work? and of course its legality. This book had some mispelling/typos is most of the chapters, that I hope the publisher can fix that up for the next revision. I hope that the readers do not get confuse.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2001

    hacker

    it is one of the best books that i have ever read. it rulz.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2000

    BEST BOOK TO START HACKING

    Alright, this book is very good for a newbie to a intermediate hacker. It is also good for stupid users(all you computer illiterates out there) and lamers, for it gives them a chance to improve themselves. It helps to remove the misconception that hackers are evil. Also gives some general concepts and info on hacking culture and some techniques.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2000

    A Hacker Book for non-nerds

    Ok, at first I thought this book was a bit lame, but I am a network & security admin with a large non-profit organisation. Later I realised that this was the perfect introduction to the ordinary 'man on the internet' and lent it to some friends who we somewhat less 'computer literate'. They loved it, one saying that 'now i understand computers' and another saying about how they had been 'trying to understand the internet' but 'everything they read was gibberish' until they read this book. So this book is great. Buy it if you want to understand computer security but don't understand computers. With sections on MP3s, Virus, Warez and a good section on Prevention, this book is worth every cent of the money it costs.

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