Recommended Reading for Starting Cybersecurity

This page lists books that I have found to be highly relevant and useful for learning topics within computer security, digital forensics, incident response, malware analysis, and reverse engineering, and other related topics. These books range from introductory texts to advanced research works. While some of these books may seem dated, the information contained is still very useful to people learning today, and much of the information is essential to becoming proficient in the information security realm.

Please note that, in order to avoid ranking individual books, each category is listed in alphabetical order and each book is listed in alphabetical order within its category.

If you notice any errors with this page or have books that you think should be listed then please contact me. I will only list books that I have personally read and for which I am willing to vouch.

Application Security - Native

Title Comments Technical Level
The Art of Software Security Assessment The Bible of source code auditing Intermediate-Advanced. Ability to read C/C++ required to get full value.
Secure Coding in C and C++ Arguably the best text for writing secure low-level code Accessible to all that can read/write C and C++

Application Security - Web

Title Comments Technical Level
The Browser Hacker's Handbook Written by the authors of BeEF. A detailed look into many web security topics Covers basic through advanced topics
The Database Hacker's Handbook The most detailed book available for attacking databases Covers basic through advanced topics
The Tangled Web A detailed look at the foundations of web protocols followed by a thorough examination of their weakness. Highly, highly recommended Accessible to all. The beginning chapters cover background needed for later advanced topics
The Web Application Hacker's Handbook Covers a wide range of web security issues Intermediate


Title Comments Technical Level
Cryptography Engineering The (updated) standard for learning cryptography Ranges from background and introduction to deep algorithms and security considerations
Introduction to Modern Cryptography A well-done, formal look at cryptography. Used in many graduate level computer science programs Advanced - full understanding requires deep mathematical knowledge

Database Forensics

Title Comments Technical Level
Microsoft SQL Server Internals Examination of MSSQL akin to the OS-level examination of Windows Internals Intermediate - learn database basics before reading
SQL Server Forensic Analysis A deep look at forensic analysis of MSSQL Systems Intermediate - learn database basics before reading

Digital Forensics and Incident Response

Title Comments Technical Level
File System Forensic Analysis The definitive resource for file system forensics Intermediate-Advanced
Forensic Discovery A foundational text of computer forensics by two of the earliest pioneers Intermediate
Real Digital Forensics A concise introduction to forensic processes Beginner-Intermediate
Windows Forensic Analysis, Second Edition This book, along with the 4th edition, are the best books available for Windows disk forensics Ranges from basic concepts to advanced analysis
Windows Forensic Analysis, Fourth Edition This book, along with the 2nd edition, are the best books available for Windows disk forensics Ranges from basic concepts to advanced analysis

Exploitation / Penetration Testing

Title Comments Technical Level
A Guide to Kernel Exploitation Advanced exploitation of a range of operating systems Advanced
Android Hacker's Handbook A deep dive into exploitation of Android systems Intermediate
The Hacker Playbook A step-by-step guide to breaking into modern networks with a wide array of techniques and tools Access to All
Hacking: The Art of Exploitation, 1st Edition A foundational work of low-level exploitation Intermediate
iOS Hacker's Handbook A deep dive into exploitation of iOS devices Intermediate-Advanced
The Mac Hacker's Handbook A deep dive into exploitation of Mac systems Intermediate-Advanced
Rtfm: Red Team Field Manual A concise, well written guide that should be in every penetration tester's travel bag Accessible to all people with a pen test background
The Shellcoder's Handbook Crafting shellcode and exploits Intermediate-Advanced

Linux Usage

Title Comments Technical Level
Linux in a Nutshell The best text to learn how to use Linux Beginner-Intermediate
Running Linux Another great text from which to learn Linux Beginner-Intermediate

Malware Development and Analysis
Note: Many of these books contain information related to Reverse Engineering

Title Comments Technical Level
The Art of Computer Virus Research and Defense A deep look at many facets of malware analysis Intermediate
Malware Analyst's Cookbook A "recipe" approach to many topics in malware analysis Intermediate-Advanced
Malware Forensics A well done introduction to malware analysis Beginner
Practical Malware Analysis A very approachable book to many topics in malware analysis Intermediate
Rootkits: Subverting the Windows Kernel A study of many rootkit techniques still in use today Intermediate-Advanced
The Rootkit Arsenal An 800 page epic of rootkit development and analysis Intermediate-Advanced

Memory Forensics

Title Comments Technical Level
The Art of Memory Forensics A 900 page exploration of memory forensics across the major operating systems. NOTE: I am a co-author of this book Ranges from introductory material to advanced analysis
What Makes It Page? A deep look into the Windows memory manager Intermediate-Advanced

Network Forensics

Title Comments Technical Level
The Practice of Network Security Monitoring Beyond just packet analysis to how to integrate network forensics into a real world environment Intermediate
Practical Packet Analysis An excellent resource for learning to identify and analyze network traffic Beginner-Intermediate
Wireshark (R) 101 A deep exploration of Wireshark Beginner-Intermediate


Title Comments Technical Level/th>
CCNA Cisco Certified Network Associate Study Guide A primer on real world networking and networks Intermediate
CompTIA Network+ All-In-One Exam Guide An essential book for those looking to learn networking Beginner
TCP/IP Illustrated The Bible of networking protocols. A must read Intermediate

Operating Systems Internals - Android

Title Comments Technical Level
Android Security Internals A deep look at Android from both the operating system internals and security perspective. Intermediate

Operating Systems Internals - General

Title Comments Technical Level
Intel Architecture Manuals Very well done documentation on the hardware architecture. Free to download Intermediate-Advanced
Modern Operating Systems The classic book from Tanenbaum Intermediate-Advanced
Operating System Concepts "The dinosaur book" of OS internals. Intermediate-Advanced

Operating Systems Internals - Linux

Title Comments Technical Level
Linux Device Drivers, 3rd Edition Best resource to learn Linux's driver architecture Intermediate-Advanced
Linux Kernel Development, 3rd Edition Rob Love on programming in the Linux kernel Intermediate-Advanced
The Linux Programming Interface Excellent book on programming the Linux environment Intermediate-Advanced
Understanding the Linux Kernel, Third Edition The equivalent of Windows Internals for Linux Intermediate-Advanced

Operating Systems Internals - Mac

Title Comments Technical Level
Mac OS X Internals: A Systems Approach Windows Internals for Mac Intermediate-Advanced
Mac OS X and iOS Internals Read this after reading Mac OS X Internals Intermediate-Advanced

Operating Systems Internals - Windows

Title Comments Skill Level
Windows Internals Read this book if you want to understand Windows Intermediate-Advanced
Windows System Programming (4th Edition) A step-by-step guide through the Windows API Intermediate

Programming - Concepts and Algorithms

Title Comments Technical Level
Compilers: Principles, Techniques, and Tools The famous dragon book on compilers Advanced - Don't read until you have a solid understanding of programming and runtime environments
Design Patterns Required reading for any serious programmer Intermediate
Linkers and Loaders Required reading for understanding program linking and runtime loading Intermediate

Programming - Language Specific
Note: The reason there are few books here is due to languages having amazing learning resources online

Title Comments Technical Level
Advanced Programming in the UNIX(R) Environment Deep exploration of programming related to Linux, Mac, and BSD Beginner-Intermediate
Black Hat Python Great book using Python for offensive security purposes Beginner-Intermediate
The C Programming Language, 2nd Edition "K and R" - required if you want to be proficient with C Intermediate-Advanced
Violent Python Learn Python programming and directly apply it to forensics and security Basic to advanced topics

Reverse Engineering

Title Comments Technical Level
Assembly Language Step-by-step The best resource to learn assembly. Later books focused on "high level" assembly as opposed to actual instructions Intermediate-Advanced
Hacker Disassembling Uncovered A great resource for advanced topics in reverse engineering Intermediate-Advanced
Hacking the Xbox A well written and fun book from which to learn reversing Intermediate
The IDA Pro Book The best resource to learn IDA Intermediate
Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering One of my favorite books. A chapter is dedicated to reversing a Windows API back to C so perfectly that compiling it matches the hash of the Windows DLL Intermediate-Advanced
Practical Reverse Engineering Reversing across Intel and ARM Intermediate

Tradecraft - Digital

Title Comments Technical Level
Silence on the Wire lcamtuf's exploration of vulnerabilities and attacks that most people would never think of. Strongly recommended Beginner-Advanced

Tradecraft - Traditional
Note: I originally found several of these books from The Grugq's list

Title Comments Technical Level
Agent Storm Real life story of a European convert who joined Al Qaeda while working for the CIA Accessible to all
The Art of Intelligence Tradecraft and real-world analysis from Henry Crumpton Beginner-Intermediate
Black Banners Deep coverage of FBI tradecraft while investing the USS Cole bombings, 9/11, and other events in the Middle East Accessible to all
Chinese Intelligence Operations A well-written, deep study of Chinese intelligence services Advanced
The Main Enemy An incredibly detailed history of the CIA vs the KGB during the Cold War Accessible to All
Nine Lives: My time as the West's top spy inside al-Qaeda Hardcover The story of an Al-Qaeda member who became Britain's most important spy in the Middle East Accessible to All
See No Evil Tradecraft and lessons from a former CIA analyst in the Middle East Intermediate
Spy Handler: Memoir of a KGB Officer Written by the KGB officer whom handled Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames. A great text to learn real world tactics and techniques Beginner-Intermediate
Terrorism and Counterintelligence: How Terrorist Groups Elude Detection A deep examination of modern terrorist groups and counterintelligence use Intermediate
Thwarting Enemies at Home and Abroad: How to Be a Counterintelligence Officer Read this first - a textbook on how to be a counter intel officer along with terms, techniques, and tactics Beginner - make this your first book