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The Shellcoder's Handbook: Discovering and Exploiting Security Holes

The Shellcoder's Handbook: Discovering and Exploiting Security Holes

by Jack Koziol, David Litchfield, Dave Aitel, Chris Anley, Sinan "noir" Eren

  • Examines where security holes come from, how to discover them, how hackers exploit them and take control of systems on a daily basis, and most importantly, how to close these security holes so they never occur again
  • A unique author team-a blend of industry and underground experts- explain the techniques that readers can use to uncover security


  • Examines where security holes come from, how to discover them, how hackers exploit them and take control of systems on a daily basis, and most importantly, how to close these security holes so they never occur again
  • A unique author team-a blend of industry and underground experts- explain the techniques that readers can use to uncover security holes in any software or operating system
  • Shows how to pinpoint vulnerabilities in popular operating systems (including Windows, Linux, and Solaris) and applications (including MS SQL Server and Oracle databases)
  • Details how to deal with discovered vulnerabilities, sharing some previously unpublished advanced exploits and techniques

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“…80%…anyone developing their own software may be surprised by how easily flaws can be exploited and fixed…” (PC Utilities, July 2004)

“…essential for administrators who want to secure computer systems under their management…” (Computer Weekly, March 2004)

"...has caused some raised eyebrows in the technical community..." (www.infoworld.com, 17 March 2004)

The Barnes & Noble Review
Every day, someone discovers a critical new security flaw in software you depend on. Quite often, those flaws appear first on Bugtraq, the world’s No. 1 vulnerability tracking maillist. Now, some of Bugtraq’s leading contributors show you exactly how they discover those holes -- and how to exploit them. Along the way, they reveal some never-before-published bugs -- including holes they claim are big enough to “take down the Internet.”

The authors cover platforms ranging from Windows to Solaris. They start with Linux on x86, where it’s easiest to understand the hacks because you can get inside the source code. Here, they introduce memory management and stack buffer overflows, format string overflows, and heap-based overflows. They also introduce basic shellcoding: how to write instructions that directly manipulate registers and a program’s functions. This can’t be done with high-level languages: We’re talking hexadecimal opcodes.

Next, the authors move on to Windows. Here, until recently, shellcoding was a true black art. Win32 doesn’t provide direct access to system calls, so more complex techniques are required. (As an example, the authors show how to bypass the vaunted stack protection Microsoft added to Windows 2003 Server.)

The authors then turn to the tools and techniques of vulnerability discovery: fault injection, fuzzing, source code auditing in C-based languages, instrumented investigation, tracing, and binary auditing of closed-source software. The book concludes with several especially sophisticated techniques, ranging from alternative payload strategies and database attacks to Unix kernel exploits. This stuff’s the real deal. Bill Camarda

Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2003 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.25(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.37(d)

Meet the Author

Jack Koziol, the lead author of The Shellcoder’s Handbook, is a Senior Instructor and Security Program Manager at InfoSec Institute, a provider of advanced ethical hacking training. He regularly is called upon to train members of the United States intelligence community, military, and federal law enforcement agencies. Additionally, Jack provides training for Fortune 500 companies, such as Microsoft, HP, and Citibank, on how to better secure their networks and applications. When not teaching hacking classes, Jack regularly performs penetration tests and application security assessments for a number of clients. He has years of private vulnerability development and exploitation experience for his customers and himself.
Jack is also the author of Intrusion Detection with Snort, one of the best-selling security books in its first year of publication (2003). The book has been translated into several languages, including French and Japanese, and has received rave reviews from Linux Journal, Slashdot, and Information Security magazine.
Jack has appeared in USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, First Business, and other media outlets for his expert opinions on information security. He lives in Oak Park, Illinois, in the shadow of Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio, with his girlfriend Tracy and dog Quasi.

David Litchfield is the world’s leading computer security vulnerability researcher and one of the five founding members of NGSSoftware. David has discovered and published over 100 major security vulnerabilities in many different products, including most notably Apache, Microsoft Internet Information Server, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server. With his vast experience of network and application penetration testing, David is a permanent presenter to the Black Hat Briefings. He is also the lead author of SQL Security (Osborne/ McGraw-Hill).

Dave Aitel is the author of SPIKE and the founder of the NYC-based Internet security company Immunity, Inc. His research has incorporated exploitation of both Windows and Unix vulnerabilities, and advanced methodologies for finding new vulnerabilities.

Chris Anley is a Director of Next Generation Security Software, a U.K.-based security consulting, research, and software company. Chris is actively involved in vulnerability research and has published several white papers and security advisories on a number of products, including PGP, Windows, SQL Server, and Oracle. He splits his time evenly between research, coding, consulting, and drinking, and hopes at some point to add sleeping to the list.

Sinan Eren is a security researcher based in the Bay Area. He has done extensive work regarding exploitation of Unix vulnerabilities, developed advanced and robust methodologies for exploiting Kernel-level holes, and found many high-profile bugs in commercial and open source Unix software.

Neel Mehta works as an application vulnerability researcher at ISS X-Force, and, like many other security researchers, comes from a reverse-engineering background. His reverse-engineering experience was cultivated through extensive consulting work in the copy protection field, and has more recently been focused on application security. Neel has done extensive research into binary and source-code auditing and has applied this knowledge to find many vulnerabilities in critical and widely deployed network applications.

Riley Hassell, a Senior Researcher Engineer at eEye Digital Security, is responsible for the design and implementation of eEye Digital Security’s QA and research tool suite. He is responsible for the discovery of several highly exposed vulnerabilities released by eEye Digital Security.

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