The 9 Best Computer and Network Security Books of 2019

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Computer and network security is a constantly moving target, so you can’t just learn one strategy and rest on your laurels. To get the best understanding of how to protect your computer and network, you’ll want to know not just the best strategies for managing that protection but also the best strategies for breaking through those defenses.

You can benefit from the best computer and network security books that cover everything from professional certifications and addressing attacks, to how hackers operate and the tools and techniques they use to get through security.

Being able to see the whole picture, you’ll have a much better chance ​of protecting your computers and networks or starting a career in network security. Read on to find the best computer and network security books to buy today.

Our Top Picks

Best for Security+ Certification: CompTIA Security+ Exam Guide, Fifth Edition

CompTIA Security+ All-in-One Exam Guide, Fifth Edition
Courtesy of Amazon

If you want to get into computer and network security, studying for the CompTIA Security+ certification is a good start. The certification can help you show potential IT employers that you know your way around risk management, risk mitigation, threat management, and intrusion detection.

CompTIA Security+ All-in-One Exam Guide is part of the well-reviewed series of CompTIA exam guides, and it has everything you’ll need to help you prepare for the Security+ exam. In it, you’ll learn about network architecture and design, penetration testing, risk management, as well as how to scan for threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities. You’ll also learn about cryptography and wireless security.

This exam guide includes 200 practice questions and covers all the topics you’ll need to be familiar with for the CompTIA Security+ (SYO-501) exam. But, beyond being just an exam guide, it can also serve as a handy reference book while you’re working. If this one has your interest, you might also check out the exam guides for Network+ and for A+ certification.

Best for CISSP Certification: (ISC)2 CISSP 2018

Getting the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification is a sure way to indicate to potential employers that you’re ready to put together a serious cybersecurity program. This one isn’t for beginners though as ISC2, the group behind the certification, intends for it to be more for experienced security practitioners, managers, and executives.

But, if you’re already in the field, want to expand your knowledge of network security, and get a certification to show for it, then CISSP may be for you. (ISC)2 CISSP Certified Information Systems Security Professional Official Study Guide is available to help you prepare.

This book covers all of the CISSP exam objectives, and it includes real-world examples, hands-on exercises, chapter review questions, and a wealth of online resources. You’ll be able to tackle multiple practice exams, access 1,400 flashcards, and use a searchable PDF glossary for quick lookups.

Best for CEH Certification: CEH v10: 2018

If you want to work in network security poking and prodding at the network for weaknesses and vulnerabilities, then you may be interested in picking up a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Certification. This certification can help you show employers you’re a skilled information security specialist and understand how to test their systems defenses against malicious hackers by using the same tools a malicious hacker would.

The CEH Certified Ethical Hacker Bundle is designed to prepare you for the certification exam. The third edition is designed for the CEH v9 exam, but its insights and resources will still prove valuable on the current CEH v10 exam until a new edition of the bundle is available.

This bundle includes ample practice questions with detailed explanations of the answers, a quick review guide, and two books: CEH Certified Ethical Hacker All-in-One Exam Guide and CEH Certified Ethical Hacker Practice Exam. You’ll also get searchable PDF copies of the two books. The information inside goes beyond simple network security, with updated sections on cloud computing and mobile platforms.

Best Incident Response Guide: Blue Team Field Manual (2017)

Blue Team Field Manual is a reference guide for anyone dealing with a computer or network security situation. It can help you prepare for, resolve, and recover from incidents, and guides you through the process with a clear Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, Recover framework.

Reviews for Blue Team Field Manual are largely favorable, praising it for its value during incident response and its reference guide to commands you’ll use in the process of dealing with a threat.

It also serves as a companion to the popular Red Team Field Manual, which can teach you a bit more about the attacker’s side of things, giving you a good idea of what you’ll be up against while defending your computers and network. This one may not be for you if you’re a beginner though, as it works better as a reference for after you already know your stuff and just need to quickly find a command.

Best for Professional Tips: Gray Hat Hacking: The Ethical Hacker's Handbook

Gray Hat Hacking: The Ethical Hacker's Handbook is the fifth and latest edition in the well-reviewed series of books authored by a number of CISSP-certified professionals and even a senior security engineer for Google. The book covers techniques used by hackers and the strategies you can use to defend your computer and network against them.

In Gray Hat Hacking: The Ethical Hacker's Handbook, you’ll be guided through the ways hackers can get access to networks, take over network devices, and much more. This latest edition also covers exploits for the Android mobile operating system, exploits for the Internet of Things, and modern cyber laws.

If you want to defend your computer and network against cyber-security threats, it can be incredibly helpful to understand how a hacker might attack. And, this book aims to teach you just that.

Best for Beginners and Pros: Hacking

When you’re protecting your computer and network, you need to know how a hacker could attack. That’s the quickest way to figure out how to prevent the attack. You’ll learn just that in Hacking: The Underground Guide to Computer Hacking, Including Wireless Networks, Security, Windows, Kali Linux and Penetration Testing.

As the subtitle of “Hacking” suggests, this book covers hacking approaches for computers, wireless networks, and using the hacker-specific Kali Linux for network penetration testing. It includes details on the various wireless encryption protocols commonly in use and discusses cracking encryption, so you’ll understand the weaknesses of each type.

You’ll also learn how to scan your system, understand how computers and smartphones can get hacked, and comprehend the many ways a system can be vulnerable. This book is especially useful for everyday computer and mobile users who might not know so much about the many ways they can be hacked, but it has plenty to offer more savvy IT professionals as well.

Best for Aspiring Penetration Testers: The Hacker Playbook 3

The Hacker Playbook 3: Practical Guide To Penetration Testing is your guide to working in IT on the Red Team. That’s the side working to find vulnerabilities in the network and exploit them as a way of testing the organization's ability to react adequately.

The Hacker Playbook 3 will run you through penetration testing, giving you the skills and strategies you need to breach a network or device. It includes real-world campaigns, attacks, and many labs where you’ll get hands-on experience testing your skills.

If you’re looking to improve the security of your computer or network, the information in The Hacker Playbook 3 will also help you understand your weak points. This way, you’ll know how you might be attacked, and can prepare accordingly. In other words, this isn’t just a valuable resource for those on the Red Team in penetration testing, but also for the Blue Team.

Best for Python: Black Hat Python

If you’re hoping to brush up on some hacking that’s a bit different from much of what’s out there, this book on Python hacking may be for you. Black Hat Python: Python Programming for Hackers and Pentesters is a how-to guide on many of the ways the Python coding language can be used in a hacker’s toolkit.

The book will get you started in a Python environment ready for hacking, and walk you through tasks such as spying on network data, retrieving passwords, and escalating privileges in Windows. You’ll also learn about creating Trojans to log keystrokes or capture screenshots on an infected machine.

Of course, through the understanding you’ll gain from all these hacking techniques, you’ll also get a better idea of how to avoid falling prey to them. So, whether you want to increase your security or try your hand at penetration testing, Black Hat Python is a solid pick.

Best for Social Engineering: Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking (2010)

Social Engineering: the Art of Human Hacking (2010)
Courtesy of Amazon

Computer and network security aren’t all about devices. There’s a major human component to computer and network security, and social engineering is the way to hack a system by tricking people without any fancy coding. Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking explores this subject, so you can understand how it all works.

You’ll learn social engineering can be simpler and more effective than hacking, what techniques are often used to deceive victims into divulging key information or performing specific tasks, and how to protect against these tactics.

If you want to work in IT security, or if you just want to protect yourself and your loved ones, it’s important that you understand all the threats. And, when it comes to computer and network security, elite coders hacking their way in through the internet isn’t the only thing you need to worry about.