Must-read books on network security

books on network security

Network security is increasingly crucial in an era of frequent data breaches and cyberattacks. These threats, targeting not just corporations but also individuals' private data often stored in the cloud, make network security a concern for all.

Understanding this need, we emphasize the importance of ongoing learning in network security. Knowledge about defending wireless networks and managing network traffic is essential. 

To support this, our selection of books provides key insights suitable for both beginners and seasoned experts in the field.

Network security importance

Network security is vital as it guards the border between external and internal networks and safeguards sensitive data and applications from unauthorized access. With evolving network security threats, having a strong cybersecurity infrastructure is essential for any organization. It's important to understand network vulnerabilities to devise an effective security plan.

In the ever-changing digital landscape, with new storage methods and emerging malware, maintaining strong network security goes beyond protecting the current digital environment. It also involves preparing for future challenges.

Getting started with network security

Starting with network security can be as simple as reading books on the subject, which is a great way to gain foundational knowledge. 

For a more structured approach, NordLayer Learning Centre offers a range of articles, including one on network security basics, guiding beginners through the essentials of the field. It’s an excellent starting point for anyone new to network security.

Best books for beginners in network security

For beginners, the right book can lay a solid foundation and clarify complex concepts. Here are some top picks that offer comprehensive insights for those just starting out in network security.

Titles are listed in no particular order.

  1. Stealing the Network

  2. Cryptography and Network Security: Principles and Practice

  3. TCP/IP Illustrated, Vol. 1: The Protocols

  4. Applied Network Security Monitoring

  5. Networking All-in-One For Dummies

  6. Network Security Essentials: Applications and Standards

  7. CompTIA Security+ Guide to Network Security Fundamentals

Stealing the Network

books on network security-stealing the network

The "Stealing the Network" series, which began with "How to Own the Box," quickly became a bestseller and a favorite in hacker and InfoSec circles. The series stands out for blending fictional stories with realistic technology and creating believable hacking scenarios. The first book came out in the early 2000s and set a benchmark for the series with its authentic depiction of cybercrime, thanks to the expertise of its authors, who are renowned cybersecurity professionals.

Following the success of the first book, the series expanded with titles like "How to Own a Continent" and "How to Own an Identity" and concluded with "How to Own a Shadow." This last edition, a comprehensive collection of all the stories, was published in the mid-2000s and spans over 1000 pages, including a DVD with extra content. 

‘They are definitely dated but still very much worth the read,’ – readers say. They value these books for their unique perspective on the hacking world.

Cryptography and Network Security: Principles and Practice 

books on network security-cryptography and network security

William Stallings' "Cryptography and Network Security: Principles and Practice" is a well-regarded book. It addresses hacking and online fraud and provides a clear understanding of both the theory and practice in these fields. It starts with a basic introduction to network security and then examines practical cybersecurity solutions used in the industry.

This book is widely used in both academic and professional settings. It serves as a textbook for a semester-long undergraduate course, targeting students in computer science and related fields. Now in its 8th edition, Stallings' book stays relevant by updating its content to match the changing landscape of network security. 

TCP/IP Illustrated, Vol. 1: The Protocols

books on network security-TCP/IP illustrated

"TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1: The Protocols" by Kevin R. Fall and W. Richard Stevens is an essential guide for understanding TCP/IP, a fundamental part of internet communication. W. Richard Stevens originally wrote this book, which has helped thousands of networking professionals learn about TCP/IP in detail. Kevin R. Fall updated the second edition, adding the latest in TCP/IP networking technology. This book stands out because it demonstrates protocols’ operation under various scenarios using tools that are available to the public. This method helps readers gain a thorough understanding of how TCP/IP works and why certain design choices were made.

The book is valued for its detailed explanations. The updated edition covers remote procedure calls, identity management, and network security. 

Some readers, however, feel that the newer edition doesn't quite live up to the original's high standards. They suggest that the arrangement of topics and depth of coverage in areas like cybersecurity could be improved. 

Nonetheless, "TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1" remains a valuable book for those wanting to deepen their knowledge of network protocols.

Applied Network Security Monitoring

books on network security-applied network security monitoring

"Applied Network Security Monitoring" by Chris Sanders and Jason Smith is a basic guide for anyone interested in specializing in network security monitoring. This book provides a basic approach, filled with real-world examples, to teach essential NSM concepts. Through collection, detection, and analysis stages, it offers insights and practical scenarios from NSM professionals.

The author, Chris Sanders, brings a wealth of experience in systems administration and cybersecurity analysis to the book, including his work with the US Department of Defense. 

The book is noted for its clear explanation of NSM tools and its hands-on approach to topics like Snort rules and packet analysis. It's structured for ease of use with tools such as SecurityOnion, making it both a theoretical resource and a practical guide.

Networking All-in-One For Dummies

books on network security-networking all-in-one for dummies

"Networking All-in-One For Dummies" by Doug Lowe is a go-to guide for network administrators and IT newcomers. It combines the content of multiple books, covering everything from basic networking to network security, TCP/IP, and mobile device management. It is an excellent resource for network engineers and IT beginners, offering a comprehensive look at computer networking and internet security principles.

This book is popular for its straightforward approach and extensive scope, making it a perfect introduction for those new to IT and networking. While some parts may be slightly outdated, the core principles it discusses are still pertinent and helpful. It's a good first step for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of IT and networking.

"Networking All-in-One For Dummies" by Doug Lowe is one of the main books I'd recommend for beginners. It's mainly for a better understanding of networking basics, how and why network architectures appear as they do, and how to create and maintain network infrastructure.

Carlos Salas Head of Platform Engineering at NordLayer

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Network Security Essentials: Applications and Standards

books on network security-network security essentials

"Network Security Essentials: Applications and Standards (6th Edition)" stands out for its clarity in explaining how to secure data, safeguard operating systems, and verify resources.

What sets this sixth edition apart is its up-to-date coverage of cryptography and network security, with a practical look at essential tools and protocols. The book is unique for its focus on applications and standards critical for both Internet and corporate network security. Its practical, clear approach to complex cybersecurity topics makes it a preferred choice for students.

CompTIA Security+ Guide to Network Security Fundamentals

books on network security-compTIA security+

"CompTIA Security+ Guide to Network Security Fundamentals" by Mark Ciampa, notable for its alignment with the CompTIA Security+ SY0-401 Certification Exam, offers a targeted and thorough preparation for cybersecurity certification. 

The fifth edition of the book is unique, introducing a new structure focusing on key domains and including a chapter on mobile device security. It stands out for its expanded coverage of contemporary topics like virtualization and its practical approach, featuring hands-on activities and case studies. 

"The second book I'd recommend for beginners is “CompTIA Security+ Guide to Network Security Fundamentals.” It's a bit more focused on network security. Given that it touches on the basics of CompTIA Security+ certification, it’s also a great starting point for further training and certification paths."

Carlos Salas, Head of Platform Engineering at NordLayer

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Network security books for experts

For professionals in network security, deepening knowledge and staying updated with advanced concepts is key. 

Here's a selection of books that offer expert insights and techniques for those well-versed in the field.

  1. Serious Cryptography: A Practical Introduction to Modern Encryption

  2. Network Security Assessment: Know Your Network

  3. Practical Packet Analysis: Using Wireshark to Solve Real-World Network Problems

  4. Network Security Through Data Analysis

  5. Counter Hack Reloaded: A Step-by-Step Guide to Computer Attacks and Effective Defenses

  6. The Tao of Network Security Monitoring: Beyond Intrusion Detection

Serious Cryptography: A Practical Introduction to Modern Encryption

books on network security-serious cryptography

"Serious Cryptography: A Practical Introduction to Modern Encryption" by Jean-Philippe Aumasson stands out in cryptography literature for its practical, clear explanation of complex concepts. It covers topics like authenticated encryption and public-key techniques, making it a valuable resource for understanding modern encryption. This book is unique for its blend of in-depth content and accessibility, appealing to both experts and beginners in the field.

Jean-Philippe Aumasson's real-world experience enriches the book, making it more than a theoretical guide. He focuses on practical aspects, such as common implementation errors and their avoidance, crucial for network engineers. The book's comprehensive coverage, including quantum computation, makes it a key resource for network engineers and anyone interested in current encryption and authentication methods.

Network Security Assessment: Know Your Network

books on network security-network security assessment

"Network Security Assessment: Know Your Network" by Chris McNab stands out for its unique blend of offensive techniques and defensive strategies in network security. This combination provides a balanced view, making it a notable resource for understanding and assessing network vulnerabilities. The book's practical nature, with detailed commands and links, is especially useful for those seeking hands-on experience in network security. It’s an essential guide for professionals focusing on protecting networks against evolving cyber threats and implementing defensive strategies. However, its focus on specific technologies rather than theoretical concepts is a noted limitation.

While the book is an accessible introduction to network security, some of its content may not be fully up-to-date with the latest trends in penetration testing. Despite this, its clear, hands-on approach remains valuable, particularly for beginners or those looking for practical guidance in network security assessment.

"It's always good to have a full picture of what's happening in your network infrastructure, and “Network Security Assessment: Know Your Network” will guide cybersecurity experts on their journey to fully and successfully assess their infrastructure and take security measures wherever needed."

Carlos Salas, Head of Platform Engineering at NordLayer

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Practical Packet Analysis: Using Wireshark to Solve Real-World Network Problems

books on network security-practical packet analysis

"Network Security Assessment: Know Your Network" by Chris McNab excels in practical network packet analysis using Wireshark. Experts appreciate its hands-on approach, simplifying complex tools for effective troubleshooting of network traffic, including wireless networks. While it helps beginners, some find the wireless network analysis section lacking. In summary, it's a valuable resource for honing expert network analysis skills.

Network Security Through Data Analysis

books on network security-network security through data analysis

"Network Security Through Data Analysis: Building Situational Awareness" by Michael S. Collins, authored by a renowned cybersecurity researcher, distinguishes itself with a focus on advanced network monitoring techniques for complex networks. Collins introduces essential techniques and tools for enhanced network security.

Readers commend the book for its practical insights into building customized monitoring systems for networks and organizations, especially suitable for extensive network management. However, some readers sought more in-depth data analysis content and noted the absence of specific tools like the ELK stack, favoring alternatives like pandas, python notebooks, and sci-kit-learn.

Counter Hack Reloaded: A Step-by-Step Guide to Computer Attacks and Effective Defenses

books on network security-counter hack reloaded

"Counter Hack Reloaded" by Edward Skoudis and Tom Liston is known for clear explanations of terms like rootkits and buffer overflows which sets it apart as a valuable resource for those new to network security. This book simplifies security jargon and is essential for anyone interested in computer and network security.

The updated edition stands out for its detailed coverage of contemporary hacking techniques and network defense strategies. Skoudis and Liston effectively walk readers through various attack types, elucidating the tools and tactics involved. This edition is crucial for building strong defenses and responding adeptly to attacks, making it a key guide for understanding and countering online threats.

"I have always believed that to know how to protect your assets, you need to understand how malicious actors would attack them—the so-called Offensive Security. With “Counter Hack Reloaded,” you can track potential attack vectors and ensure that, if exploitable, they are swiftly patched and secured."

Carlos Salas, Head of Platform Engineering at NordLayer

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The Tao of Network Security Monitoring: Beyond Intrusion Detection

books on network security-the tao of network security monitoring

"The Tao of Network Security Monitoring: Beyond Intrusion Detection" by Richard Bejtlich stands out for its clear and practical approach to network security. Ideal for both beginners and those with some experience, the book simplifies complex cybersecurity concepts, making them easily understandable. Bejtlich's work is a hands-on guide for understanding how to defend networks effectively.

This book is unique in its comprehensive view, blending network security and monitoring perspectives. Essential for cybersecurity professionals, it offers valuable insights into developing robust intrusion detection strategies. Despite some aging content, its thorough coverage offers relevant knowledge, particularly beneficial for SOC analysts and similar roles.

In addition to expanding knowledge through these books, consider NordLayer network security solutions. Our technology helps monitor user behavior and reduce exposure by identifying and isolating threats. Contact our sales to safeguard your business network.

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