Online safety and cyber security have been hot subjects since the internet emerged as our major source of information and a platform to access or deliver services ranging from selling products to conducting monetary transactions at the press of a mouse. Given our ever-increasing reliance on the internet for our ever-increasing daily necessities, as well as our ever-increasing lifestyle goals and altering lifestyle choices, it is only natural that we consider internet security and cyber safety. While companies and services do make claims in order to assure us about the security measures already present on their platforms, one has to admit that thieves and rogues always find a way to catch up to the measures conceived in order to stop them. That is one of the reasons why books on cyber security are both intellectual and entertaining reading.
In recent times, it hasn’t taken all the thugs of the world to figure out ways to dupe people on the internet. Since time immemorial, scammers and thugs have come up with a slew of fraudulent schemes to rip people off their hard-earned money. From the conventional phishing scams involving links which slip an information-stealing virus into your system to gain access to your bank account details amongst other things, to coming up with elaborate scams posing as IT staff or even bank employees claiming to secure or repair something of yours, there are a host of scams criminals over the internet have come up with that are not just incredibly difficult to look out for or remain safe from, but are also difficult to trace back to the criminal in the aftermath.
There have been plenty of books on cyber security and online safety written over the years, with the most prominent ones being “Want to go private?” by Sarah Darer Littman and “Internet Safety” by Lisa M. Herrington. There are even gambling websites which might seem legitimate to the cursory eye, but upon closer inspection, turn out to be running background phishing and information stealing scams.
Needless to say, once a piece of information from our end is on the internet, it is irretrievable and shall find itself out there to be accessed by anyone with basic hacking or probing skills at any given time. This means that we are never ever truly safe while we splurge all our time on the internet. It is not just banking information or monetary stuff that holds value to scammers and frauds on the internet.
Something even as little as a picture of you, or even your location, and in most cases, your phone number or some other piece of personal information you’ve entered somewhere on the internet thinking that nobody else will have access to it is extremely prized by these scammers, who shall sell this to companies and in worst case scenarios, even to criminal organisations who’d use your data at given time to either feign identity or even figure out a way to rob you.
With our lives finding itself more and more dependent and ever-present on the internet, it is of vital importance that we practice some sort of self-preservation as getting off the internet in itself is no option given how entrenched it is in our lives. There is a greater need for awareness as to what unfortunate things can take place with one over the internet, and about what information which we don’t find to be too important in real life means over the internet and the various ways it can be used to harm us.
That being said, let us go through how you can ensure that you remain safe over the internet and avoid having vital or even mundane information about you compromised.
While one could point out that they do not really visit any websites which would suggest that there’s any chance of having one’s information stolen, it is worth pointing out that even the most credible websites where you’re essentially viewing or accessing information has the sophisticated mechanism to gain access to your information every single time you visit their website. Most websites nowadays ask for permission to gain access to one’s cookies, and in most cases, it is a stance they are uncompromising with in the sense that they won’t let you gain full access to their services unless you accept their terms and conditions.
For all you know, websites could be selling your data to marketing companies, who could be selling them over to entities we would’ve not even heard of and might as well be criminal outfits. With this unfortunate reality being a part of internet usage in modern times, using a VPN means that your location amongst other things forming part of cookie-based data isn’t showcased to these websites when you use them, hence allowing you to retain your anonymity and keeping your identity from being sold around as a commodity.
A good way of securing passwords is to never save them, nor writing them down on a piece of paper or a notebook as these can easily be accessed by anyone who gets their hands on them.
To give you a leg up, we share the best books on cyber security and online safety. All of these titles are available on Amazon:
Hacking: The Art of Exploitation by Jon Erickson
There are two key reasons why this is one of the excellent books on the subject of cyber security. The first of which is that the book is written in a straightforward manner and progressively increases in complexity as you proceed through it. When you’re learning the foundations of programming or exploring different sorts of exploits, Livecd is a great testing tool. The second is a Livecd that you may download and use as a testing environment for learning the fundamentals of programming or researching various types of exploits.
‘Hacking: The Art of Exploitation’ describes how hacking and software exploits operate and how readers may build and execute their own. Author Jon Erickson utilises realistic examples to highlight the most frequent cyber security challenges in programming, networking, and cryptography. All the benefits of a Linux programming environment without the trouble of installing a new operating system are provided by a live CD.
The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage by Clifford Stoll
Astronomer Cliff Stoll has been appointed to the IT department at Berkley. A 75 cent discrepancy in their billing records is his first task. Clifford Stoll is requested to investigate why students are being charged an additional few cents for using their computers. Incredibly, this paves the way for a year-long search for hackers intent on obtaining military secrets. We learn about an East German hacker who was utilising Berkeley’s computer network to get access to private military networks during the Cold War. This is one of the most interesting non-fiction books on cyber security and hacking you could find.
Identity and Access Management: Business Performance Through Connected Intelligence By Ertem Osmanoglu
A classic among the best cyber security books, this should serve as a must-read for identity management strategies for 2020. According to Amazon, it breaks enterprise IAM into manageable components for more systematic implementation. It guides you step-by-step through identity management deployment through reusable templates and source code examples.
Permanent Record by Edward Snowden
Like most people, I associate the name Edward Snowden with the phrase whistleblower. Edward Snowden burst onto the global stage in June 2013 when he openly said that the US government was effectively spying on all Americans without their knowledge and consequently without their permission. The United States government started a worldwide manhunt for a National Security Agency (NSA) contractor whom they labelled a “traitor.” Snowden was on his way to Ecuador on a multi-leg journey when he was forced to land in Moscow. When the US State Department cancelled his American passport, he was virtually grounded. Snowden’s anticipated final destination was Ecuador, where he had received political asylum as a whistleblower.
Cybersecurity for Beginners by Raef Meeuwisse
This book provides an easy insight into the essentials of cyber security, even if you have a non-technical background. You may be a business person keen to understand this important subject area or an information security specialist looking to update your knowledge. This is one of the best books on Cyber security and safety. ALSO featuring an alphabetical section at the back of the book to help you translate many of the main cyber security technical terms into plain, non-technical English.
The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security by Kevin D. Mitnick, William L. Simon
The world’s most notorious hacker provides an insider’s perspective on low-tech risks to high-tech security. Kevin Mitnick’s escapades as a cyber-desperado and fugitive have produced scores of articles, books, films, and documentaries, as well as one of the most extensive FBI manhunts in history. Since his release from federal prison, in 1998, Mitnick has turned his life around and established himself as one of the most sought-after computer and cyber security experts worldwide. Now, in The Art of Deception, the world’s most notorious hacker gives new meaning to the old adage, “It takes a thief to catch a thief.” This is one of the most powerful books on Cyber security.
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 D. Mitnick, Robert Vamosi
Mitnick’s and Vamosi’s book is for general public and non-specialist. No kernel hacking/rootkit exploits, network scans/DoS attacks, integer overflow exploitation, details about recent techniques to bypass ASLR, shell-code injection, network sniffing, or overwriting of the stack return pointer will be found in this book. It does not break new ground as a book explaining how hacking and software exploits work and how readers could develop and implement their own. With a lot of information, but no deep dives, this is a quick read.
Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World by Bruce Schneier
The barriers between privacy and security have grown increasingly blurred in an increasingly digitalized society. With the advancement of digital technology, computers are continuously producing data about people’s social life, hobbies, physical well-being, and other characteristics. The startling reality is that governments and companies utilise this data to conduct surveys of people’s lives.
Bruce Schneier builds on this fact and describes how our world has been taken over by a vast surveillance culture. When it comes to the harms caused by mass surveillance, Schneier discusses what is at stake, including our inherent right to privacy. Furthermore, Schneier presents principles and policy proposals that governments and enterprises should implement in order to reverse the tide of this problem. This is one of the best books on cyber security that I’d recommend to everyone because our world is becoming more and more digital and we should all be aware of the risks that come along with it.
Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know by P.W. Singer, Allan Friedman
In Cyber security: What Everyone Needs to Know, noted experts Peter W. Singer and Allan Friedman lay out how the revolution in military cybernetics occurred and explain where it is headed. They begin with an explanation of what cyberspace is before moving on to discussions of how it can be exploited and why it is so hard to defend. Throughout, they discuss the latest developments in military and security technology. Singer and Friedman close with a discussion of how people and governments can protect themselves. In sum, Cyber security is the definitive account on the subject for the educated layman who wants to know more about the nature of war, conflict, and security in the twenty first century. This is one of the most needed books on cyber security and online safety in recent times.
Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin D. Mitnick, William L. Simon, Steve Wozniak
Ghost in the Wires is one of the best selling books on online safety and cyber security. If there were a hall of fame or shame for computer hackers, a Kevin Mitnick plaque would be mounted the near the entrance. While other nerds were fumbling with password possibilities, this adept break-artist was penetrating the digital secrets of Sun Microsystems, Digital Equipment Corporation, Nokia, Motorola, Pacific Bell, and other mammoth enterprises. His Ghost in the Wires memoir paints an action portrait of a plucky loner motivated by a passion for trickery, not material game. (P.S. Mitnick’s capers have already been the subject of two books and a movie. This first-person account is the most comprehensive to date.)