Top 10 Ethical Hacking Books for Beginners

The worldwide digital ecosystem is rapidly expanding, creating challenges of securing data 24/7. Everything is shared online, from your personal information, present location, bank details, institutional cross-border transactions, to citizen information. It poses the risk of data breaches and cyber attacks at every point, as cybercriminals are constantly on the lookout for the opportunity to steal data for malicious purposes. So businesses and government networks adopt ways to safeguard their data from attacks. They hire system security experts who identify vulnerabilities in the networks and implement secure networks and hack-proof systems. Software companies and big enterprises hire Ethical Hackers who can think like cybercriminals and foil attacks.

If hacking is something that fascinates you, there are plenty of opportunities out there. Ethical Hacking is the sanctioned practice of cracking a cybersecurity system to identify potential breaches and risks. And it offers the adventurer in you to explore and avert damage to your system and data!

As cyber threats will only ever increase in the ongoing global information warfare, the role of a Certified Ethical Hacker will grow in importance. Besides ever-increasing career opportunities across many industries, the salaries are high, and the challenges at your job will give you endless job satisfaction.

What is Ethical Hacking

Ethical Hacking is the practice of sidestepping a network or system security to identify threats or bugs in the software. It is a sanctioned and legal way of testing a system or network security to identify vulnerabilities.

Ethical Hackers discover loopholes and use methods to avert any attack or minimize any loss in the case of a breach. Their role is to ensure the security of information systems or wireless networks.

Types of Hacking

There are five types of Ethical Hacking. Each requires different skills and techniques, specialized security tests, and modern hacking tools. Your learning path depends upon the types of hacking that interest you.

  1. Web application hacking
  2. Web server hacking
  3. System hacking
  4. Wireless network hacking
  5. Social engineering

What Ethical Hackers Do?

Before we dive further, let us explore a little more to understand the various activities of an Ethical Hacker. It will also help you select the right book to match your hacking passion.

  • Scanning ports and exploiting vulnerabilities
  • Creating network defenses
  • Intelligence gathering
  • Penetration testing
  • Social engineering
  • Averting IDS, IPS, and firewalls
  • Simulate attacks to build a foolproof cybersecurity plan
  • Dive deep into networks, and more

Top 10 Ethical Hacking Books every Beginner must read

Did you know that India leads the world in the number of Ethical Hackers, at 23%? And guess what? More than 58% of Ethical Hackers are self-taught.

If hacking is your passion and you want to learn Ethical Hacking, you will be keen to learn and understand how things work.

So, here is a list of the top Ethical Hacking books for various skill levels and aptitude.

#1 Hacking for Beginners

Author: Erickson Karnel

This is a great book to gain insights into the world of hacking. It sets you off with simple step-wise leads on the basics of hacking, with a peep into the way hackers think. You learn how hackers gain access to networks and the ways they scan your system for instant access. The author touches upon topics such as Google hacking, Web hacking, and wireless security.

From covering hacking terminologies to cracking codes discipline, penetration testing, and viruses, the book is the perfect guide for the newbie who wants to learn about Ethical Hacking.

#2 Hacking

Author: Harsh Bothra

It is another book for beginners who want a simple introduction to hacking terms and procedures in use. The book stands out for its illustrations, diagram, and images. It also explains how hackers breach vulnerabilities in a language that any curious reader can grasp.

#3 Real-World Bug Hunting

Author: Peter Yaworski

The book is a primer for every wannabe Ethical Hacker who wants to learn about finding software bugs. It covers the common types of bugs and how hackers use them to break websites. Case studies from applications like Twitter, Google, and Uber are featured for practical learning. The author walks you through the exciting world of real-world bug hunting, and you learn more about widely reported vulnerabilities and bugs. Real-world examples and stories from the ground make the book a fascinating read.  

Bug hunting journeys to web hacking and submitting vulnerability reports, you learn everything about turning hacking into a successful career.

#4 The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook

Author: Dafydd Stuttard, Marcus Pinto

This book is a new edition and lists the new technologies utilized in Web applications and modern attack techniques. Although the book is from the client-side for defending applications from attacks, the focus is on using new methods and tools.

#5 The Hacker’s Underground Handbook

Author: James Pendleton

As an introductory book on Ethical Hacking, it covers most aspects of hacking. While the author helps you think like a hacker, he also guides you to become an advanced white-hat hacker (a ”good hacker” guarding critical systems of a business). From ways to crack passwords to port scanning, wireless or web network hacking, and more, the book covers it all.

#6 BackTrack 5 Wireless Penetration Testing Beginner’s Guide

Author: Vivek Ramachandran

The book is for hacking beginners who want to learn everything about wireless security and hacking. The chapters deal with basic concepts not covered elsewhere, with practical examples and quizzes.

Examples of topics: the identification of WLAN encryption flaws, bypassing of WLAN authentication, WLAN penetration testing methodology, design flaws in wireless networks, etc.

 #7 The Tangled Web: A Guide to Securing Modern Web Applications

Author: Michal Zalewski

The book explains how browsers work and why they are insecure. You dive deep into browser security, navigate the existing vulnerabilities and learn critical information that helps you create secure web applications. The “Security Engineering Cheat Sheets” at the end of chapters is a ready reckoner for problems you may encounter. It is a compelling read for Ethical Hackers who want to master modern web applications.

#8 Black Hat Python 2nd Edition: Python Programming for Hackers and Pentesters

Author: Justin Seitz, Tim Arnold

It is a powerful book for those with prior programming experience. In this edition, the authors use Python 3.x programming and teach you to write hacking tools on the fly. The authors hand out many tricks for basic hacking in Python and challenge you to hone your existing techniques and exploits. The book is for learning Python capabilities in hacking, like writing network sniffers, investigating virtual machines, creating stealthy Trojans, automating common malware tasks, and much more.

#9 The Basics of Hacking and Penetration Testing, 2nd Edition

Author: Patrick Engebretson

The book focuses on penetration testing and performing an ethical hack end to end. It teaches you to utilize modern hacking tools for a penetration test, detailing the methodology for a penetration test or hack for offensive security. You also learn the latest hacking techniques and methods like scanning, exploitation, malware, etc.

#10 Hacking: Computer Hacking Beginners Guide How to Hack Wireless Network, Basic Security and Penetration Testing, Kali Linux, Your First Hack

Author: Alan T. Norman

The book teaches you to safeguard yourself and your company assets from common hacking attacks. From teaching how hacking works, to learning to hack and do a counter-hack, the book is filled with techniques and tools used by malicious or Ethical Hackers. You understand how hackers breach information security and how you can identify an attack for instant counter-action for minimal damage.

Also read: Tips for a Safe and Respectful Classroom


The above list of Ethical Hacking books gives a fascinating insight into the world of hacking and how hackers think. You gain sufficient knowledge to know how hacking works and how to hack.

Besides books, there is a lot of online material to add to your learning curve. However, a certification brings a formal experience to your learning and adds value to your resume.