Best cybersecurity books to read in 2024

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In our digitalized era, cybersecurity has become a crucial aspect of both personal and professional development. 

With the increasing reliance on technology, understanding cybersecurity is not just beneficial, it's necessary. Whether you're a beginner eager to learn the basics or an expert looking to deepen your knowledge, the right resources can be invaluable. 

Thus, opening a book might turn out beneficial. Here's a curated list of recommended books covering various cybersecurity aspects. These books provide insights ranging from foundational concepts to advanced techniques, catering to readers at different skill levels.

Note: titles are listed in no particular order.

Understanding the critical role of cybersecurity today

Digital technologies saturate every aspect of our lives, and the importance of cybersecurity cannot be overstated. 

Cybersecurity is crucial in protecting sensitive information from emerging threats like data breaches, ransomware, and phishing attacks. These threats compromise personal and financial data and pose significant risks to national security and business operations. 

By implementing robust cybersecurity measures, individuals and organizations can safeguard their digital assets, maintain privacy, and ensure the integrity of their systems. 

For a deeper understanding of cybersecurity basics, explore further at NordLayer. This foundational knowledge is key to navigating the complex landscape of digital threats and maintaining a secure online presence.

Best cybersecurity books

If you're a security professional looking to boost your knowledge about protecting computer systems from wireless attacks and other threats, this section is for you. 

Here, we list the best cybersecurity books of 2024. These books are ideal for anyone from beginners to seasoned pros, offering insights into the latest strategies and defenses. They'll give you the know-how you need to tackle the challenges you face in the world of cybersecurity.

Here’s a list in one place for you to navigate through:

  • “The Art of Invisibility" by Kevin Mitnick

  • "Cybersecurity for Dummies" by Joseph Steinberg

  • "Cult of the Dead Cow" by Joseph Menn

  • "The Fifth Domain" by Richard A. Clarke and Robert K. Knake

  • "Ghost in the Wires" by Kevin Mitnick

  • "Hacking: The Art of Exploitation" by Jon Erickson 

  • "Data and Goliath" by Bruce Schneier 

  • "Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers" by Andy Greenberg

  • "Countdown to Zero Day" by Kim Zetter 

  • "Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know" by P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman

“The Art of Invisibility" by Kevin Mitnick

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Kevin Mitnick's "The Art of Invisibility" is a compelling journey into the world of privacy in the digital age. Mitnick, once the world's most wanted hacker, has turned his expertise into a guide for those seeking to understand and navigate the complexities of online security. 

Book overview

  • The book is a masterful blend of storytelling and practical advice, making it an engaging read for both tech enthusiasts and casual readers.

  • The core of "The Art of Invisibility" lies in exploring how our digital footprints are tracked, stored, and used.

  • The author dives into the intricacies of how individuals can protect their personal information in an increasingly connected world. 

  • The book covers various topics, from secure browsing, password management, and encryption to more advanced tactics like creating false trails and evading surveillance.

Key insights

The book highlights that true online anonymity is unattainable, stressing the balance between privacy and convenience. Mitnick advises not on complete digital disconnection but on minimizing digital footprints.

It also emphasizes proactive measures over reactive ones in addressing privacy issues, underlining the need for anticipation in an ever-changing digital threat landscape.

Should you read it?

"The Art of Invisibility" is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding and improving their digital security. Mitnick's expertise and unique perspective transform what could have been a dry technical guide into an enlightening and engaging narrative.

"Cybersecurity for Dummies" by Joseph Steinberg

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"Cybersecurity for Dummies" by Joseph Steinberg is an excellent introduction to the intricate world of cybersecurity. 

Tailored for those who are new to the topic or seeking a refresher, Steinberg's book breaks down the often intimidating subject into easily digestible parts. It's an approachable guide that demystifies the complex aspects of protecting personal and professional digital assets.

Book overview

  • The book tackles a wide range of topics in cybersecurity, beginning with basic definitions and concepts and then gradually moving into more detailed discussions. 

  • It covers essential themes like understanding different types of cyber threats, securing personal and workplace devices, and strategies for safe online behavior. 

  • The content is presented in a straightforward manner, making it accessible even for readers without a technical background.

  • The author sees cybersecurity in various aspects of modern life, from personal data protection to safeguarding business information. 

  • The book is particularly effective in illustrating how cybersecurity is not just a concern for IT professionals but is relevant and crucial for everyone.

Key insights

One of the central insights of "Cybersecurity for Dummies" focuses on proactive cybersecurity, urging constant vigilance and preventive measures. 

It also underscores the human factor in cybersecurity, emphasizing that education and awareness are as crucial as technical solutions in preventing breaches due to human error or negligence.

Should you read it?

"Cybersecurity for Dummies" is an excellent starting point for anyone looking to delve into the world of cybersecurity. Joseph Steinberg succeeds in making a complex subject accessible and engaging, providing a solid foundation for understanding the basics of digital security. 

Whether for personal knowledge or professional development, this book is a valuable asset for navigating the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity.

"Cult of the Dead Cow" by Joseph Menn

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"Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World" by Joseph Menn is a riveting dive into the history of one of the most influential hacking groups in the world. 

Menn's book is not just a history of a group but a chronicle of the evolution of hacking culture and its impact on global cybersecurity and politics.

Book overview

  • The book explores the origins and exploits of the Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc), a group that became famous in the 1990s for its skilled hacking and its commitment to exposing security flaws, all in the interest of forcing companies to improve their systems. 

  • Menn traces the group's journey from its early days of underground BBS (bulletin board systems) to its emergence as a significant force in the tech world.

  • The narrative focuses on key figures in the group, providing insights into their motivations, challenges, and the ethical dilemmas they faced. 

  • Through interviews and extensive research, Menn paints a detailed picture of the cDc's operations, including their most famous release, the Back Orifice tool, which exposed vulnerabilities in Microsoft's Windows operating systems.

Key insights

The book reveals the intricate relationship between hackers and targeted companies, exploring the thin line between malicious and ethical hacking. It illustrates how the cDc's actions led to stronger software security. 

Additionally, it discusses hackers' role in influencing public policy and debates around privacy, security, and online freedom of expression.

Should you read it?

“Cult of the Dead Cow" by Joseph Menn is a fascinating exploration of a pivotal chapter in the history of cybersecurity. It's a compelling read for anyone interested in understanding the roots of hacking culture and its enduring impact on the digital world. 

"The Fifth Domain" by Richard A. Clarke and Robert K. Knake

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"The Fifth Domain: Defending Our Country, Our Companies, and Ourselves in the Age of Cyber Threats" by Richard A. Clarke and Robert K. Knake is a seminal work in the field of cybersecurity. The book, authored by renowned national security and cyber defense experts, delves into the complex landscape of cyber threats and the measures needed to counter them.

Book overview

  • Clarke and Knake, with their extensive experience in government and cybersecurity, provide a comprehensive view of the current state of cyber warfare and defense. 

  • The "fifth domain" refers to cyberspace, which they argue is now a primary battlefield alongside land, air, sea, and space. 

  • The book examines how nations, organizations, and individuals are vulnerable to cyber-attacks and what can be done to mitigate these risks.

  • A significant portion of the book discusses how the United States and other nations have responded to increasing cyber threats, highlighting both successes and shortcomings. 

  • The authors provide detailed insights into major cyber incidents, such as the Sony Pictures hack and the WannaCry ransomware attack, analyzing their implications and the lessons learned.

Key insights

The authors argue that investing in cyber hygiene and defense can greatly lessen organizational and national vulnerabilities. 

It also highlights the crucial role of public-private partnerships in cybersecurity, stressing the need for government and industry collaboration in information and resource sharing to combat cyber threats effectively.

Should you read it?

"The Fifth Domain" is an essential read for anyone interested in cybersecurity, national security, or the future of warfare. It provides a thorough and thought-provoking examination of one of the most critical issues of our time. 

Clarke and Knake's expertise and clear presentation make this book an informative resource and an engaging read that offers valuable perspectives for experts and novices in cybersecurity.

"Ghost in the Wires" by Kevin Mitnick

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"Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker" is a memoir by Kevin Mitnick, chronicling his journey as a notorious hacker who eluded the FBI for years. 

This book is not just a tale of hacking adventures; it's a deep dive into the psychology of one of the most skilled hackers of our time and an eye-opening narrative about the early days of cyber exploration and exploitation.

Book overview

  • Mitnick's book is a first-person account of his life from being a curious youngster fascinated by the magic of social engineering and hacking to becoming the most wanted computer criminal in the United States. 

  • It's a thrilling story of evasion, infiltration, and the thrill of the chase. The book describes how Mitnick breached the defenses of companies like Sun Microsystems and Motorola, showcasing his exceptional skills in social engineering and technical hacking.

  • One of the most compelling aspects of "Ghost in the Wires" is Mitnick's description of social engineering – manipulating people to gain access to systems or information. 

  • His stories are an important lesson in how human psychology is often the weakest link in cybersecurity.

Key insights

A critical takeaway from Mitnick’s story is the pivotal role of social engineering in cybersecurity breaches, showing that technical defenses can fail against human manipulation. 

It also sheds light on the evolution of hacking culture and cybersecurity, reflecting significant security protocols and ethical standards advancements since the 1980s and 1990s.

Should you read it?

"Ghost in the Wires" is a fascinating memoir that offers a unique insight into a hacker's mind and the cyber world's early days. It’s an essential read for anyone interested in cybersecurity, providing both thrilling stories and important lessons about the ever-evolving landscape of digital security. 

"Hacking: The Art of Exploitation" by Jon Erickson 

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"Hacking: The Art of Exploitation" by Jon Erickson is a comprehensive guide that dives into the technical, philosophical, and ethical aspects of hacking. Unlike many other texts in the field, Erickson's book goes beyond surface-level explanations and provides readers with a deep understanding of how hacking works at a fundamental level.

Book overview

  • Erickson's book uniquely bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application. 

  • It begins with a primer on basic programming concepts and gradually moves into more advanced topics such as network communications, cryptography, and exploitation techniques. 

  • This book is renowned for its hands-on approach, including a LiveCD that allows readers to experiment with code and hacking techniques safely.

  • The book is not just about hacking in the conventional sense—it’s about understanding systems deeply enough to find creative ways to manipulate them. 

  • Erickson emphasizes the importance of understanding the underlying principles behind security systems to effectively identify and exploit their weaknesses.

Key insights

Erickson emphasizes the importance of adopting a hacker's mindset, encouraging a questioning approach to system functionalities crucial for both offense and defense in cybersecurity. 

He also explains hacking techniques, including buffer overflows and cryptographic attacks, simplifying these complex concepts for interested readers.

Should you read it?

"Hacking: The Art of Exploitation" is a seminal work in the field of cybersecurity education. It's a must-read for anyone serious about understanding the inner workings of hacking and cybersecurity. Erickson’s book stands out for its thoroughness, technical depth, and hands-on approach, making it a valuable resource for both aspiring and experienced cybersecurity professionals.

"Data and Goliath" by Bruce Schneier

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"Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World" by Bruce Schneier is a thought-provoking exploration of the modern surveillance and data collection landscape. In this work, Schneier, a renowned security expert, dissects the intricate ways in which governments and corporations collect, analyze, and utilize vast amounts of personal data.

Book overview

  • Schneier's book delves into the multifaceted world of digital data, addressing how various entities gather and use our personal information. 

  • He examines the trade-offs between privacy and security, providing insights into the complex dynamics of surveillance, data mining, and the power structures they create.

  • The book covers various topics, from the NSA's surveillance activities to how companies like Google and Facebook use personal data for advertising and profit. 

  • Schneier doesn't just present the problems; he also explores potential solutions and strategies for protecting privacy in the digital age.

Key insights

"Data and Goliath" highlights the pervasive nature of data collection and surveillance, underscoring it as a critical issue of power and control beyond just privacy concerns. 

Schneier also introduces the concept of "data as a shadow," suggesting that our personal data forms a digital profile that can reveal detailed personal information, often without our awareness or consent.

Should you read it?

"Data and Goliath" is a crucial read for anyone interested in understanding the implications of living in a data-driven world. Schneier’s expert analysis provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of digital surveillance and offers a nuanced perspective on what is often a polarizing topic. 

The book is not just informative—it's a call to action, encouraging readers to consider their role in the data ecosystem and the steps they can take to protect their privacy and data sovereignty.

"Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers" by Andy Greenberg

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"Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers" by Andy Greenberg is a gripping and deeply researched account of one of the most sophisticated and dangerous hacking groups in recent history. 

Greenberg, a senior writer at Wired, explores the murky world of cyber warfare through the lens of Sandworm, a group believed to be tied to the Russian government.

Book overview

  • The book traces the emergence and evolution of Sandworm, detailing its involvement in various high-profile cyber attacks, including the blackouts in Ukraine, the interference in the US 2016 elections, and the devastating NotPetya attack. 

  • Greenberg combines meticulous research with a narrative style that makes the complex subject of cybersecurity engaging and accessible.

  • A significant strength of "Sandworm" is its ability to place these cyber attacks in a broader geopolitical context, examining how they fit into Russia's hybrid warfare strategy. 

  • Greenberg also digs into the international efforts to track and combat this group, highlighting the challenges and complexities of attributing and responding to state-sponsored cyber attacks.

Key insights

The book reveals a key insight that cyber warfare is evolving, with attacks now extending beyond data theft to cause physical damage and disrupt key services, merging digital and traditional warfare. 

It also highlights the challenges in attributing cyber attacks and the complexities in responding, especially to state-sponsored groups like Sandworm, stressing the strategic and diplomatic intricacies involved.

Should you read it?

"Sandworm" is a must-read for anyone interested in cybersecurity, international relations, or the future of warfare. Andy Greenberg's meticulous research and engaging narrative style provide a fascinating and alarming insight into one of the most significant threats of our time. 

The book is not just an account of a particular hacking group—it's a window into the new era of cyberwarfare that affects us all.

"Countdown to Zero Day" by Kim Zetter 

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"Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon" by Kim Zetter is a detailed and captivating account of one of the most groundbreaking events in the history of cybersecurity, the discovery and analysis of the Stuxnet computer worm. 

Zetter, a renowned cybersecurity journalist, meticulously chronicles the story of Stuxnet, a sophisticated malware specifically designed to sabotage Iran's nuclear program.

Book overview

  • The book unfolds like a high-stakes techno-thriller, but it's all factual. It begins with the discovery of the Stuxnet worm by cybersecurity experts and tracks the subsequent investigation that revealed its true purpose and sophistication. 

  • Zetter explains how Stuxnet was uniquely designed to infect and damage specific types of industrial control systems used in Iran's uranium enrichment facilities, highlighting its role as a cyber weapon rather than just another piece of malware.

  • "Countdown to Zero Day" goes beyond the technical aspects of Stuxnet, delving into the geopolitical ramifications of this cyber-attack. 

  • Zetter explores how Stuxnet opened a Pandora's box in international relations, setting a precedent for nations using cyber weapons to pursue their geopolitical goals.

Key insights

The book underscores how Stuxnet blurred the lines between digital and physical warfare, redefining acts of war by showing that cyber attacks can cause physical damage. 

It also points out the global reach of cybersecurity threats, as demonstrated by Stuxnet's spread, highlighting our interconnected digital vulnerability and the potential unintended consequences of cyber weapons.

Should you read it?

"Countdown to Zero Day" is a fascinating and important book for anyone interested in understanding the new era of warfare in the digital age. This book is not just a story about a cyber attack; it's a critical examination of the future landscape of international conflict and security.

"Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know" by P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman 

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"Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know," authored by P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman, stands out for its accessible approach to a topic that is often shrouded in technical jargon and complexity, making it a valuable resource for both experts and laypeople.

Book overview

  • The book is structured in a question-and-answer format, effectively breaking down intricate concepts into manageable segments. 

  • Singer and Friedman cover a broad range of topics, from cybersecurity basics to cyberwar's implications on national and global security.

  • One of the book’s strengths is its holistic approach. The authors discuss various aspects of cybersecurity, including the technical challenges, the policy environment, the legal landscape, and the ethical considerations. 

  • They delve into historical cyber incidents, providing context and insights into how cybersecurity has evolved and where it might be headed.

Key insights

The book emphasizes the interconnected nature of the digital world and its wide-ranging implications for cybersecurity, affecting individuals, businesses, and governments alike. 

It also stresses the crucial role of policy and legislation in cybersecurity, noting the gap between technological progress and policy development and the necessity for informed, prompt decision-making in this domain.

Should you read it?

The book’s clear and accessible style and comprehensive coverage of the topic make it a valuable resource for understanding the often intimidating world of cybersecurity. Singer and Friedman have crafted a guide that is informative and crucial in helping readers navigate and understand the complexities of the digital age.

Extra reading resources

It is not quite a book, but NordLayer’s Cybersecurity Learning Center (CLC) is an extensive resource to get to know cybersecurity from the basics to the in-depth levels. Read and learn about:

The CLC includes various guides, how-to and best practices articles, checklists, explanatory schemes, and illustrations to help you understand complex topics more easily.

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In addition to these resources, it's important to recognize the role of cybersecurity solutions in protecting businesses. 

NordLayer offers a robust solution for managing your business's online activities securely. Its advanced security measures are pivotal in protecting against cyber threats. This ensures your business's digital infrastructure stays safe and resilient against potential cyber-attacks. 

For larger organizations, explore cybersecurity for enterprises to understand how NordLayer tailors its solutions for complex needs. Additionally, smaller businesses can benefit from specific solutions as well—discover more about SMB cybersecurity to see how NordLayer addresses unique challenges small and medium-sized businesses face. 

Embracing such solutions is a step forward in fortifying your professional growth in the cyber world.

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