Cracking open a book or two to learn everything on a given topic is always a great idea.
But with thousands of cyber security books on the market and only so much free time, how are you supposed to know which ones to pick up?
We’ve combed through the bookshelves and amassed a lot of papercuts while reading a myriad of them, so you don’t have to.
Here are the best cyber security books broken down into popular categories for your convenience.
Are you ready? Let’s start.
Cyber Security for Beginners
If you’re new to the 1s and 0s of cyber security, reading any of these texts will be a great starting point.
Cybersecurity For Dummies
Surely, you’ve heard of the popular For Dummies reference books series.
They cover every topic imaginable, and they’ve released two editions of Cybersecurity For Dummies thus far. If you’ve never heard of defense-in-depth, cyber attack frameworks, or Nmap, this book is for you.
Written for the aspiring cyber security professional and the dilettante alike, this book covers an array of cyber security topics in a way that even novices can easily understand and digest.
Along with receiving the foundational knowledge you need to jumpstart your cyber security journey, you’ll also be provided step-by-step guidance on topics such as:
- Preventing ransomware attacks
- How to secure data by creating backups
- Encryption implementation
After reading this book, you won’t be an industry expert, but you certainly won’t be a dummy, either.
It’s important to note that you should purchase the updated 2022 edition instead of the 2019 edition. Cyber security knowledge, cyber weapons, and best practices change rapidly. You must always read about the latest in an ever-changing industry.
Cybersecurity: The Beginner's Guide: A comprehensive guide to getting started in cybersecurity
Dr. Erdal Ozkaya
For those looking for a blueprint to follow that will help you break into the field of cyber security, this book is your skeleton key.
Author Dr. Erdal Ozkaya is a chief cyber security strategist, CISO board member, and professor. This latter job title gave him the impetus to write this 390-page guide on the steps needed to become a valued member of the cyber security community.
Doctor Ozkaya discusses various topics in depth, such as the massive talent gap in the cyber security field, the importance of cyber security, and how the industry is changing daily. He also goes on to educate readers on the essential tools and skills that every entry-level cyber professional should have in their toolkit.
This comprehensive guide also teaches readers how to think like a hacker and provides real-world scenarios to begin thinking like a cyber security professional.
With one part replete with technical knowledge and the other being a professional roadmap, this book is a must-read for those wondering how to make their professional dreams a reality.
Coding for Security
While not all cyber security jobs require coding, it remains an invaluable skill that can improve your efficiency and job prospects. Let’s look at some of our favorite books on the subject.
Black Hat Python, 2nd Edition: Python Programming for Hackers and Pentesters 2nd Edition
Justin Seitz and Tim Arnold
Perhaps the most widely read Python-related hacking book ever written, Python Programming for Hackers and Pentesters has been purchased over 100,000 times.
It’s the preferred Python book among hackers, and it provides step-by-step and easy-to-understand instructions on leveraging the coding language for all sorts of things.
From stealing email credentials and investigating virtual machines to crafting fuzzers and coding network sniffers, if you can do it with Python, there’s a good chance this book shows you how.
Coding for Absolute Beginners and Cybersecurity
If you’re new to coding and want to learn how to leverage various programming languages for cyber security, you’ll need a guide such as Coding For Absolute Beginners and Cybersecurity, written for an audience with your expertise and aspirations in mind.
The languages you’ll learn include:
This book teaches these languages so that you may use them to secure machines, defend networks, assess a company’s security posture, and address vulnerabilities.
While learning how to code can be daunting, author Alan Grid provides detailed instructions and examples to get you typing in no time.
Network security requires diligent learning to master. This book can help you on your journey to learn how to defend your network from attack and fortify your systems.
Network Security Essentials: Applications and Standards 6th Edition
To cover all the network security secrets in just one book would be ambitious. That’s why Stallings smartly opts to cover the essentials of network security but in great depth.
Stallings opens by painting the landscape of network security in our modern era.
He discusses the importance and innovations since the last edition of this book before moving on to write about the most important aspects of network security, including:
- Public Key Cryptography
- Network Access Control
- Wireless Network Security
Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing
It doesn’t get more nuanced—or exhilarating—than breaking into a machine.
Doing recon, finding a vulnerability, and launching your attack is what penetration testers live for. Learn the secrets behind the dark arts with the help of these books.
Hands on Hacking: Become an Expert at Next Gen Penetration Testing and Purple Teaming
Jennifer Arcuri and Matthew Hickey
Penetration testing can be a daunting field to get in. Hands on Hacking is written for newbies and assumes you know little about penetration testing.
It covers the core concepts every pen tester needs to know before building on this foundation and teaching readers more advanced ethical hacking skills.
With the purchase of the book, you’ll also gain access to a custom virtual machine you can use to practice your newly acquired skills.
This book covers a range of topics including:
- Web apps
- Phishing emails
- Linux and Windows machines
- Active Directory
The book's final chapters teach aspiring penetration hackers how to write penetration testing reports.
The Hacker Playbook 3: Practical Guide To Penetration Testing
Peter Kim has now written three practical guides to penetration testing.
His third playbook isn’t simply an update of the most en-vogue penetration testing tools, but builds on the techniques, methods, and strategies of his prior playbooks.
In this latest entry, you’ll become privy to the nuances between penetration testing and red teaming and learn about obfuscating attacks, social engineering, Active Directory enumeration, and AD exploitation tools such as Responder and CrackMapExec. You’ll also learn about C2 frameworks like Cobalt Strike, Empire, and Merlin.
This advanced hacking book also teaches readers how to use native installed tools in Windows to hide malicious activity from blue teams.
While these techniques may sound complex—and most are—Kim has a way of explaining these attacks in a way that pen testers of varying skill levels can understand.
It also provides various visual aids to give readers a better understanding of what they’ll see when carrying out attacks.
Cyber Security for Business
Learn why securing your digital assets is vital and how you can take concrete steps to foster a more security-minded community at work with the following books.
The Cybersecurity Playbook: How Every Leader and Employee Can Contribute to a Culture of Security
Leaders in every industry need to note how rampant and crushing a cyber security attack can be.
Allison Cerra pleads with boards, managers, and employees of all ranks to band together and take the necessary steps to shore up digital assets.
As the former CMO of one of the world’s top cyber security companies, Cerra is uniquely positioned to understand the importance of a company-wide cyber security strategy that goes beyond the SOC team.
The Secret to Cybersecurity: A Simple Plan to Protect Your Family and Business from Cybercrime
If you’re a newbie to the world of cyber threats and want to keep your family and small business safe, Scott Augenbaum’s will give you the primer you’re looking for.
This book doesn’t provide the in-depth, step-by-step instructions you need to secure yourself from every threat, but if you’re not a cyber professional, that’s probably not what you’re looking for.
If you want to learn about the latest threats affecting people like you, popular hacking methods, and the how and why behind cyber criminals, you might consider this book as a guide.
To get noticed by employers, you’ll have to acquire a certification or two.
Even if you have years of hands-on experience, using books such as these to supplement your learning will surely improve your understanding of the knowledge covered by the certification you’re preparing for.
Mike Meyers’ CompTIA Security+ Certification Guide
Mike Meyers and Scott Jernigan
If you’ve already been studying for CompTIA Security+, chances are you’ve heard the name Mike Meyers being thrown around in forums.
Meyers is the President of Total Seminars, a technology and cyber security certification training company. He’s written books on various CompTIA certifications, with his book on Security+ being the most popular.
This guide is the third edition Meyers and Jernigan have published, and it covers the material found on the 601 version of the exam—which we’ll update once the 701 version is released.
This book covers every exam objective laid out by CompTIA in an easily digestible format, supported with examples and visuals. This includes:
- Over 200 practice exam questions
- At least one hour of video training from Mike Meyers
- Free lab simulations
- Mike’s recommended network security-related freeware and shareware
CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide, Ninth Edition
Fernando Maymi (Author), Shon Harris (Author)
Authors Fernando Maymi and Shon Harris have written nine CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide editions. After nine guides, these authors may be as knowledgeable in the test material as the exam creators!
This guidebook details each exam objective while providing exam tips, questions, and in-depth explanations of each objective covered.
This book also offers more than 1,400 exam questions, graphical quizzes, access to flashcards, and a test engine that provides tests designed to simulate the exam.
Just because you have all the certs and skills needed to perform the job competently doesn’t mean the hiring team will automatically choose you over another applicant.
You’ve prepared for the job; it’s time to prepare for the interview and application process.
Cybersecurity Career Master Plan: Proven techniques and effective tips to help you advance in your cybersecurity career
Dr. Gerald Auger, Jaclyn “Jax” Scott, Jonathan Helmus, Kim Nguyen
Written by a constellation of cyber security professionals in a down-to-earth and easy-to-read style, the Cybersecurity Career Master Plan was written to help beginners find their way in this budding career.
The book is broken down into five sections:
- Foundational cyber security key concepts (including cyber law, cyber policy, and frameworks)
- Understand possible career paths and choose the best one for you
- Best certification options while weighing the pros and cons of a conventional higher education versus certificate courses
- How to define your brand
- Career paths and learning pathways
Hack the Cybersecurity Interview
Ken Underhill, Christophe Foulon, and Tia Hopkins
This book is for all cyber security professionals and those aspiring to enter the field. Whether you’re applying for entry-level SOC analyst positions or looking to grab the coveted CISO title, this book will help prepare you.
Aside from excellent general interview preparation and advice, salary negotiation, and personal branding, the book breaks down all the popular cyber security positions, from beginner to advanced, and covers:
- Position description
- Education and certification advice
- The most common interview questions for the position—technical and otherwise—and the best answers
- Salary expectations
Cyber Security in the Real World
If you want true stories about heroes and villains, international espionage, and the devastating effects of hacking, check out these books.
These titles offer readers sinuous and intriguing plot lines as they explore real-life hacking cases and their consequences.
Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers
Reading about nation-state hackers and having to memorize terms like APTs and MITRE ATT&CK framework is one thing; reading about Russian hackers taking down Kyiv’s power grid is another.
Andy Greenberg is a writer for WIRED who covered the story of the NotPetya malware attack in 2017. This cyber warfare attack was so devastating and novel that he wrote a book about what it meant for the world.
The plot to bring Ukraine to its knees was years in the making. In 2017, hackers were able to switch off the power button for millions of Ukrainians, effectively shutting down the country’s railway and postal systems, hospitals, ATMs, and power grids.
Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World
Joseph Menn and Jonathan Davis
Comprised of members who have become successful white-hack hackers, entrepreneurs, politicians, and business people, The Cult of the Dead Cow was the OG of hacking collectives.
This book takes us back to Lubbock, Texas, in 1984 to show the organization's genesis.
It follows the group through their rise to infamy as they hacked the Windows operating system to prove the need for security patching, created powerful penetrating testing tools—such as SMBRelay and Back Orifice—and shaped the industry we now know as “cyber security.”
If you expect to read a lengthy Wikipedia-like entry, you’ll be delightfully disappointed when devouring the gripping story of how a gang of close-knit computer whizzes shaped an entire industry.
Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker Paperback
Kevin Mitnick isn’t just the author of this book, but maybe the most famous hacker of all time.
True to the name, Mitnick ghosted through IT infrastructure as authorities chased him far and wide. Pursued by the FBI for hacking into some of the world’s biggest companies, Mitnick was always able to escape—well, almost.
While Mitnick could access proprietary information from companies like Nokia, Motorola, and Pacific Bell, he wasn’t motivated by money but curiosity.
Written as a memoir, this book gives insights into the mind and techniques used by one of the world’s best hackers.
For just about every cyber security topic out there, there is a book dedicated to unpacking and educating readers about it.
Whether it be cyber wars and cyber attacks, security engineering, or the cyber world at large, in this list of best books on cyber security, you’ll find a title that deserves a place in your library.
Of course, books are in-depth resources that provide detailed and accurate information you can rely on. However, they aren’t the only resources you should leverage to further your cyber security career.
The StationX Accelerator Program gives students access to over 1,000 courses and labs, personalized study roadmaps, unlimited career mentorship, the StationX community, the mastermind program, and much more.
We also offer an array of courses to help you along your cyber security journey: