Cyber security is the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. Knowledge of the best practices in cyber security makes you attractive to employers in the tech field and beyond. Cyber security knowledge shows you care about protecting your employer’s and client’s data from theft and damage. Here we share the best cyber security books for people of all knowledge levels. Unlike some book lists that focus on one area of cyber security, like cyber security in business, our list features books with wide applicability and takeaways. We’ve also chosen books from diverse backgrounds, from hackers to professors, and for a broad audience, from parents to professionals.
How We Picked the Best Books for Cyber Security
To compile our list of the top books about cyber security, we gathered over 100 books from the New York Times bestseller lists, Amazon recommendations, and industry leader recommendations.
We narrowed down the list based on their overall popularity and a variety of online resources, such as online reviews and recommendations. It was important that each book appealed to a broad audience and was unanimously regarded as beneficial for cyber security. A few of these books are intended for those interested in cybersecurity but not necessarily interested in a career in cyber security. We also included books with practical applications, such as Practical Malware Analysis: The Hands-On Guide to Dissecting Malicious Software by Sikorski and Honig. Any one of these books will broaden your knowledge of the cyber security industry and its projected future.
The 20 Best Cyber Security Books
Cyber security books are a genre of nonfiction. Often, they are instructional and provide readers with tools and tips to improve cyber security in their personal and professional lives. Some cyber security books are more journalistic and tell the stories of major cyber security breaches and those behind them. Cyber security books can be helpful for anyone looking to increase their knowledge of protecting private information. We picked the 20 best cyber security books for those interested in the subject.
The Art of Invisibility: The World’s Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data by Kevin MitnickBuy Now
Our top pick in cyber security books is the acclaimed The Art of Invisibility: The World’s Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data by Kevin Mitnick. Since it was written for anyone who uses the internet, it has wide applicability. Written in lay terms, it focuses on real-world tactics to protect your privacy online. Topics include setting up VPNs, making untraceable transactions online, and password protection. Mitnick is an author, computer security consultant, and convicted hacker.
Hacking: The Art of Exploitation by Jon EricksonBuy Now
Embracing hacking as the art of creative problem solving is the foundation of Jon Erickson’s Hacking: The Art of Exploitation. It is written for readers who want to learn C programming fundamentals from a hacker’s perspective. Readers who learn best through hands-on learning will find it particularly helpful as it comes with a CD to follow along with the book’s examples. Erickson began hacking and programming at age five. He currently works as a vulnerability researcher and security specialist.
Social Engineering: The Science of Human Hacking by Christopher HadnagyBuy Now
Author Christopher Hadnagy takes readers on a deep dive into the world of online exploitation in Social Engineering: The Science of Human Hacking. The book covers everything you want to know about social engineering, including the most common social engineering tricks and adopting proven countermeasures to keep hackers away. It’s written for people who wish to learn more about social engineering to secure their own companies and homes. Hadnagy is an author and the founder and CEO of Social-Engineer, LLC.
Practical Malware Analysis: The Hands-On Guide to Dissecting Malicious Software by Michael Sikorski and Andrew HonigBuy Now
Malware is the focus of Practical Malware Analysis: The Hands-On Guide to Dissecting Malicious Software by Michael Sikorski and Andrew Honig. It has been written for individuals interested in learning more about malware and how to safeguard their Windows devices against it. This book is particularly beneficial for those interested in entering the computer security field and contains hands-on labs. Sikorski works in cybersecurity for a private company, and Honig is an information expert for the Department of Defense.
Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin Mitnick and William L. SimonBuy Now
Published in 2011, Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker is Kevin Mitnick’s gripping memoir about his time as a hacker who illegally penetrated companies including Sun Microsystems, Nokia, and Pacific Bell. This book is written for anyone who enjoys autobiographies and wants to learn more about Mitnick, who was convicted of a number of crimes. He is now an author and computer security consultant. Simon, a freelance writer, co-authored the book.
The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon SinghBuy Now
The history of encryption is the foundation of The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh. Anyone with an interest in the history of code making and code breaking will enjoy this book, which examines both simple ciphers and complex mechanisms for generating coded messages. Singh is a science journalist and television producer who lives in England.
Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World by Joseph MennBuy Now
The history of the hacker underground is revealed in Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World by Joseph Menn. A highly researched book, it was written to share the multi-decade story of Cult of the Dead Cow, regarded as the internet’s first group of influential hackers. If you are interested in how hacking began and cyber security in general, you’ll enjoy this colorful read. Menn is an award-winning investigative reporter for Reuters.
Cyber Wars: Hacks that Shocked the Business World by Charles ArthurBuy Now
The greatest information security failures of our time are shared in detail in Cyber Wars: Hacks that Shocked the Business World by Charles Arthur. This book is intended for businesspeople to learn from others’ mistakes, so they aren’t repeated. It’s also a valuable read for anyone interested in the history of the business world’s most well-known cyber security breaches. Arthur is the former technology editor of the Guardian.
Hacking Exposed 7: Network Security Secrets and Solutions by Stuart McClure, George Kurtz, and Joel ScambrayBuy Now
Hacking Exposed 7: Network Security Secrets and Solutions, by Stuart McClure, George Kurtz, and Joel Scambray, was written for anyone who wishes to bolster their system’s security. It provides field-tested ways readers can thwart the tools and tactics of cyber-criminals, as well as real-life case studies. Specific topics covered include detecting and terminating rootkits and locking down remote access using smartcards. The authors are executives with McAfee/Intel, Cigital, and CrowdStrike, respectively.
The Cuckoo’s Egg by Clifford StollBuy Now
The Cuckoo’s Egg by Clifford Stoll is a nonfiction book that reads like a thriller. Stoll tells his true story of going from an astronomer turned systems manager to the disruptor of an international spy ring. The book was a New York Times bestseller when it was published in 1989 and was chronicled on the television show NOVA on PBS. It’s written for anyone who enjoys books that are both informational and entertaining and who have an interest in the history of cyber security and spies. Stoll has written two other books.
Threat Modeling: Designing for Security by Adam ShostackBuy Now
Threat Modeling: Designing for Security by Adam Shostack was written primarily for systems security managers, software developers, and security professionals. It shows how to build better security into the design of systems. The book was a Dr. Dobbs Jolt Award finalist for books that significantly contributed to the advancement of software development. Shostack is a member of Microsoft’s Security Development Lifecycle strategy team.
Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C by Bruce SchneierBuy Now
Bruce Schneier takes readers on a deep dive into the world of cryptography in Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C. Topics covered include cryptographic techniques and real-world cryptographic algorithms. The book is geared toward developers, programmers, and electronic communications professionals. Schneier is a security technologist and fellow at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-Connected World by Bruce SchneierBuy Now
Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-Connected World by Bruce Schneier examines the cyber security risks of today’s high-tech time. This book is written for non-computer professionals interested in protecting themselves and their personal information from cyber-attacks. Schneier, who teaches at Harvard, has written over a dozen books and is the chief technology officer of Resilient Systems, Inc.
CompTIA Security+ Get Certified Get Ahead by Darril GibsoniBuy Now
Helping readers pass the Security+ exam is the goal of Darril Gibsoni’s study guide CompTIA Security+ Get Certified Get Ahead. The book is over 600 pages and contains over 300 practice test questions with in-depth explanations. There is also a 75-question pre-test and a 75-question post-test. Additionally, the author provides instructions on accessing several online study resources to complement the book. Gibsoni is a blogger and author who has written or contributed to over 40 books.
Metasploit: The Penetration Tester’s Guide by David Kennedy, Jim O'Gorman, Devon Kearns, and Mati AharoniBuy Now
The Metasploit Project – a computer security project that provides data about security vulnerabilities – is the focus of Metasploit: The Penetration Tester’s Guide by David Kennedy, Jim O’Gorman, Devon Kearns, and Mati Aharoni. This book will benefit anyone interested in learning more about this complex tool. You do not have to be a security professional to comprehend it. The book was named “The Best Guide to the Metasploit Framework” by Metasploit founder H.D. Moore. All four of the book’s authors work in the security industry.
The CERT Guide to Insider Threat by Dawn M. Cappelli, Andrew P. Moore, and Randall TrzeciakBuy Now
Helping business and security managers prevent, detect, and respond to IT crimes is the goal of The CERT Guide to Insider Threat by Dawn M. Cappelli, Andrew P. Moore, and Randall Trzeciak. It provides concrete guidance and suggestions from years of cybercrime data acquired by the CERT Insider Threat Center at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute. Topics covered include utilizing advanced threat controls and preparing for unusual insider attacks. All three authors work at Carnegie Mellon.
The Cyber Effect by Mary AikenBuy Now
Forensic cyberpsychology is the focus of The Cyber Effect by Mary Aiken. The book shows how criminals can exploit digital tools to hurt bank accounts and individuals. It’s written for anyone with concerns about the dark side of the cyber world, especially parents who want to keep kids safe and healthy in their digital lives. Aiken is a doctoral-level forensic cyberpsychologist, the director of the CyberPsychology Research Network, and an advisor to Europol.
Blue Team Field Manual by Alan J. White and Ben ClarkBuy Now
The Blue Team Field Manual by Alan J. White and Ben Clark is a cyber security incident response guide. This reference manual was written for cyber security professionals to provide tactical steps to follow and commands to use before, during, and after a cybersecurity incident. Information in the book aligns with the cyber security framework of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. White is the vice president of managed defense at Mandiant, Inc., and Clark is the chief technology officer at Millennium Corporation.
Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon by Kim ZetterBuy Now
Kim Zetter’s Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon is the true story of the malicious Stuxnet computer worm that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear efforts. Anyone with an interest in cyberweapons will find great historical and entertainment value in this book, which reads like a thriller. Zetter is an award-winning journalist for Wired who covered the Stuxnet story early in its discovery in 2010.
Cybersecurity for Business by Larry ClintonBuy Now
Cybersecurity for Business by Larry Clinton is written for professionals in any business area seeking a roadmap on how to navigate cyber risk. It’s also a helpful book for students wishing to learn more about cyber security in the business world. Clinton, the Internet Security Alliance president, is joined by a range of business experts and senior leaders who write different chapters. Topics covered include assessing modern cyber risk, incident response, and supply chain management.