I recommend these books because I’ve read them myself and found them to be transformative in either the way I work or think. There’s fiction as well as non-fiction, as people should think and operate based not just on what is real, but what could become real.
- Art of Deception by Kevin Mitnick
The story of Kevin Mitcnick and his legal fights regarding computer hacking is fascinating and should be required reading for anyone interested in InfoSec or just hacking in general. Kevin wrote this book after his release in 2000 and it details the fundamentals of social engineering from one of the people most grounded in that way of thinking.
- Applied Cryptography by Bruce Schneier
Pretty much the bible of how to implement cryptography in computer systems, and a mandatory read for anyone wanting to learn encryption. Warning: This is not a light read and features dense math and logic concepts. If you’re intimidated, start with Secrets and Lies (below) for an overall look at information security and how it applies to businesses. It’s more approachable for the layman.
- Secrets & Lies by Bruce Schneier
A very approachable read to computer and information security and how it applies to the world of business, if not our daily lives. For those unfamiliar with crytography, access controls, AAA and more, this will be a welcome read as Bruce avoids buzzwords and jabber to provide clear and well-thought explanations. This is no “Security for Dummies” book, though.
- Practical Packet Analysis by Chris Sanders
This book shows how analyzing network traffic has many practical applications, for troubleshooting, software development and more. Focusing on Wireshark as the tool of choice, you get a complete rundown of how to use it for capturing traffic, reviewing contents and understanding network layers. There’s an entire chapter on the fundamentals of network communication, packet analysis and what it means. Great book to start with if you want to learn more about networking, network security or digital network forensics.
- The C Programming Language by Kernighan and Ritchie
If you’ve seen people refer to “K&R” or “K&R C” in on-line discussions, this is the standard being refered to. Written originally in 1978, the C Programming Language book documents the fundamentals of the entire programming language developed to write the early unix operating systems on PDP computers at MIT and Bell Labs. While C programming language standards have advanced since then and there’s not qutie so much heavy lifting needing upfront, this is a good book to read as it provides insight into the fundamentals of the language and it’s original design.
- Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos
Written in the 1980’s but re-published many times, “Innumeracy”
- Aha! Insight. by Martin Gardner
One of many books by Mr. Gardner, this excellent short read explores the realm of discovering the solution to a problem.
- Hackers by Steven Levy
Despite the name, this book isn’t really about hacking, not as we think of it today. Mr. Levy wrote a fascinating and detailed history of the young people who formed the first generation of technology hackers, obsessively programming on PDP-11’s and other early mainframes. Operating systems were created. 8-bit computer platforms fabricated. Future Bill Gates exposed to software piracy (literally!). Hackers is, frankly, a must-read purely for it’s amazing historical value. Highly recommended.
- The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner
Brunner’s science fiction novels have been very hit or miss. Shockwave Rider is certainly a hit. Written in the mid-1970’s, the book starts with the concept of future shock for the basis of a dystopian future overrun with corrupt governments and corporations, overwhelming information and ubiquitous computer networks. The protagonist is a computer hacker who uses a touch-tone phone (!). This book is credited with coining the term “worm” to refer to a self-replicating program trasversing computer networks.
Reading this book 40 years later you realize how utterly prescient Brunner was, and how much worse things may still get for us.
- Cryptonomicon by Neil Stephenson
Perhaps Neil Stephenson’s most seminal work, this fictional story follows a set of characters over several time periods stretching back to World War II. Connecting codes and ciphers with treasure hunting, hacking and social engineering, it’s a fantastic read for any fan of crytography, innovative hacks and good writing.
- Accelerando (Singularity) by Charles Stross
Mr. Stross originally wrote much of this novel as a series of short stories. Here they are collected together with additional material to form a comprehensive full novel about a future where humanity is fast approaching the technological singularity, with legal systems that are baffled by lawyer-bots and domain names as legal citizens. Also features lobsters!