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Linux Basics for Hackers (Book Review)

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By: jwhite2018

December 20, 2018

As an assistant mentor on Cybrary, I get asked a lot "how much Linux do I need to study security?" What I really hear is "Hey, I get it: more is better, but do I really need to be a deeply skilled/certified  Linux admin with years of hands-on experience before I can even start on my Security+ or the CEH?" In other words, how much Linux is enough for beginners?Professional hacker and author Occupy the Web (a.k.a. Master OTW) answers this question in his new book Linux Basics for Hackers ("Linux Basics").   I am happy to report that Linux Basics is a crisp, well written, and highly effective introduction to Linux for budding pentesters and SOC analysts. The best part is that instead of opting to teach on a vanilla CentOS or Debian distribution, OTW chooses Kali Linux.  This affords new security practitioners lots of "stick time" on the world's most popular hacking distribution: one they will likely spend a lot of time on in their future careers.Linux Basics starts with the requisite "what is ethical hacking" and then quickly moves on to set up a Kali virtual machine on VirtualBox.  From there, the reader is given a brief overview of the Linux file system and shown how to use basic Linux commands.  Users are expected to follow along with the examples given, and every chapter ends with exercises to reinforce learning and retention.  Everything that really matters is covered: key commands, file manipulation, networking, managing and installing software, permissions, managing processes, etc.  The content maps loosely to the Linux+, but I find the order of topics much better for new learners.  For example, Linux+ introduces managing the Linux kernel early on, while Linux Basics saves that topic for much later when the student has (presumably) learned a lot of practical Linux and is now ready for deeper topics.Linux Basics cover both Bash Scripting and Python. Readers get to build simple yet useful tools instead of learning a lot of theory. I did find the Python section a little sparse, and I do worry that those very new to scripting may struggle a bit with this section. On the bright side, Linux Basics also covers just enough MySQL database and wireless hacking to whet the readers' appetite but not overwhelm them.Linux Basics is an ideal first book on Linux for any aspiring red or blue team member, and reading it is well worth your time.
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