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Kali Linux is a Debian-based Linux distribution and was released on 13th March 2013. It is developed, funded and maintained by Offensive Security which is a leading information security training company.
Kali is designed for advanced Penetration Testing and Security Auditing. But what makes it great as a penetration testing platform is that it contains hundreds of tools which are geared in some way towards either ethical hacking, security research, computer forensics or reverse engineering.
As such, it is the Operating System of choice for many security professionals and hackers alike and will enable you to gather information and do reconnaissance, find vulnerabilities and attack networks. It also has the tools to help you remain anonymous and to help protect your own systems and networks from attack.
But for a beginner, it can be a little overwhelming and there is definitely a learning curve. This is why I have put this list together. It’s a hand-picked list where I have done the research for you to find the best Kali Linux books out there at the moment.
Most of the books on this list are geared towards hacking as you’d expect, but the first one on the list really helps you get to grips with the actual Operating System itself which is very important. So, if you’re completely new to Linux, then I recommend Kali Linux Revealed and perhaps pairing it with one of the others on the list to learn the tools. My recommendation in this case would be Basic Security Testing with Kali Linux 2, but be sure to check out the other books too.
If you’re looking for pure hacking books, then check out my post which lists the 20 best hacking books out there at the moment.
So without further ado, here are the best books on Kali Linux:
Kali Linux Revealed
Kali Linux Revealed helps you understand the Kali Linux platform and how to use it to its full advantage from the ground up, so you don’t need any previous knowledge of the platform.
So, if you’re a complete beginner, this book is perfect as you will learn not only the basic features and fundamentals of the Operating System, it will also provide you with a crash course in basic Linux commands and concepts which I think is great for beginners but also for those that wish to refresh their knowledge.
The book goes through various Linux installation scenarios such as deploying it in an enterprise environment in addition to teaching you how to configure, troubleshoot and secure Kali Linux. The book also does a deep dive into the Debian package manger so you’ll learn how to install and configure packages and how to update/upgrade your installation and also how to create your own custom packages.
What I will say is that this book is not a hacking book. What the book will do is it will help you get familiar with the Kali Linux OS, which is essential if you do plan to use it for hacking, but it doesn’t cover the penetration testing tools that come with the distribution. For more reviews click here.
- Provides a crash course in basic Linux commands and concepts
- Learn the fundamentals of the Kali Linux Operating System
- Learn how to deploy the OS in an enterprise environment
- Written by the creators and maintainers of the Kali Linux OS
- Not a hacking book but provides the essentials of this awesome hacking platform
Mastering Kali Linux for Advanced Penetration Testing
Mastering Kali Linux for Advanced Penetration Testing as the title suggests is written for penetration testers, IT professionals or security consultants looking to improve and maximize their success of testing networks using some of the advanced features of Kali Linux.
The style of this book takes a practical approach and follows proven methods to help maintain the security of your networks to a high level.
Some of the things you’ll learn include how to select and configure the most effective tools from Kali Linux to test network security, how to avoid detection when testing a network and also how to recognize stealth attacks being used against your own network.
Other topics include exploiting wired and wireless networks, exploiting web services, identifying and downloading valuable data and also how to use social engineering to compromise the network.
If you’re after a “hacking book” with an angle on Kali Linux, then this book has got you covered but it isn’t for complete beginners as you will need some prior experience in penetration testing/ethical hacking to get the most out of this book. For more reviews click here.
- Provides a practical approach to penetration testing
- Learn how to select and configure the most effective tools
- Learn how to avoid detection when testing networks
- Learn reconnaissance and exploitation of web-based applications
- Whole chapter dedicated to physical security and social engineering
Basic Security Testing with Kali Linux 2
The great thing about Basic Security Testing with Kali Linux 2 is that it’s written for beginners but it serves as a great reference point for experts too.
The book starts with an intro to Kali Linux and how to install it on Virtual machines but then moves onto topics such as information gathering and reconnaissance and how to scan your network with Shodan.
In later chapters, the book moves onto more advanced topics such as Metasploit, how to bypass Windows Antivirus, packet captures and man-in-the-middle attacks and there’s even several chapters on password security testing.
Overall, this book is very well written, easy to understand and contains a lot of screenshots and graphics to help you understand the subject. There are also many detailed tutorials and examples of how to use the various tools that come bundled with Kali and a wide variety of topics are covered. This makes it a great book for those just starting out with Kali Linux. For more reviews click here.
- Written for beginners, well written and easy to understand
- Provides an intro to Kali Linux with full instructions on how to install it on Virtual Machines
- Covers a broad ranging of topics including tutorials on Metasploit, how to exploit Windows and Linux Systems, WiFi attacks and cracking passwords
- Lots of screenshots and graphics
Kali Linux Network Scanning Cookbook
The Kali Linux Network Scanning Cookbook contains over 90 hands-on recipes which explain how to use custom scripts and the tools that come integrated into Kali Linux to scan networks effectively.
It is intended for information security professionals, so you will need some basic security testing experience, but it does provide the basic principles that the novice reader will be able to understand. By the end of the book, you should have a good understanding of the most powerful and useful scanning techniques used in the industry.
Specifically then, you will learn how to develop a network-testing environment so that you can test various scanning tools and techniques. You’ll learn the underlying principles of network scanning, how to perform in-depth scans to identify listening on TCP and UDP sockets, how denial of service attacks are performed and also how to identify vulnerabilities in web applications and remote services and also how to exploit them.
So this book provides pretty much everything you need to know about scanning, it’s well written with step-by-step scanning guides and all the basics are covered, yet it’s a great reference guide for veterans too. For more reviews click here.
- Contains 90+ recipes to help you scan networks effectively using Kali Linux
- Learn the underlying principles of network scanning technologies
- Learn how common denial of service attacks are performed
- Intended for security professionals but outlines the basic principles that the novice reader can understand
Kali Linux – An Ethical Hacker’s Cookbook
Next up is is Kali Linux – An Ethical Hacker’s Cookbook, which is another “cookbook” that contains practical recipes which you can follow to conduct effective penetration testing using Kali Linux.
The book starts you off by guiding you through the installation and configuration of Kali Linux before learning how to plan attack strategies and exploit web applications using tools such as Burp and Jexbox.
Network exploitation is also covered in this book and you learn how to use tools such as Metasploit, Sparta, and Wireshark. You also learn how to perform wireless and password attacks using tools such as Patator, John the Ripper, and airoscript-ng.
So there’s a wide variety of topics here and so if you’re an aspiring hacker, then this book is a good place to start. By the end of the book, you should be able to conduct advanced penetration testing, create good quality pentesting reports and you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you are being taught by an expert who has found vulnerabilities for major companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook. For more reviews click here.
- Learn how to install and configure Kali Linux
- Learn how to plan attack strategies
- Learn how to use tools such as Burpsuite and Jexbox to exploit web applications
- Leverage tools like Metasploit, Wireshark, Nmap, and many more to detect vulnerabilities
- Written by a pentester who has found vulnerabilities for major companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook.
Hacked: Kali Linux and Wireless Hacking Ultimate Guide
Kali Linux and Wireless Hacking Ultimate Guide is intended as an intermediate-level guide to the most common pentesting tools and also teaches the skills required in order to maintain a level of anonymity during testing.
The book is very practical and explains things step-by-step including how to install all the essentials tools and provides the right amount of theory which is necessary for understanding basic attacks.
If you’re new to Kali Linux, then this book will teach you the basics of Linux, how to install Kali Linux, how to use VirtualBox and how to use Tor to stay anonymous. You’ll also learn about Virtual Private Networks, Macchanger, Nmap and also how to crack Linux passwords.
This is an invaluable guide if you want to protect your WiFi network against attacks, gain access to a client account on a WiFi network, attack networks, break passwords and more.
This is a great beginner book but there’s also scope within this book to take your knowledge further. If you want to learn Linux, basic hacking and how to stay anonymous, then this is a good read. For more reviews click here.
- Great beginner/intermediate level book on Kali Linux and the most common pentesting tools
- Practical, step-by-step explanations
- Learn how to use Tor to stay anonymous
- Learn how to protect your WiFi against attacks, attack networks and break passwords
Kali Linux Wireless Penetration Testing
In this book, called Kali Linux Wireless Penetration Testing, you’ll learn how to do wireless penetration testing using the Kali Linux platform from the ground up.
You’ll learn the basics wireless technologies, wireless routing and encryption, how to sniff wireless packets and discover hidden networks and also how to capture and crack WPA-2 keys. You’ll also learn about WLAN and its various insecuriities, how to bypass WLAN authentication and general attacks on WLAN infrastructure.
In later chapters, you’ll learn some advanced WLAN attacks such as man-in-the-middle attacks, wireless eavesdropping using MITM, wireless session hijacking and more.
Although this is a book for beginners, you should probably have a reasonable understanding of WiFi to get the most of this book as this book does not contain a lot of theory. If you’re a complete beginner, then you’ll find lot’s of helpful examples and screenshots which tend to make this book more of a tutorial. My advice would be to use the high level knowledge gained from this book to do some additional research around the subject to help fill in the gaps.
Overall though, this is a very concise and useful book which will show you the commands you need to use to be successful at wireless pentesting. For more reviews click here.
- Learn wireless penetration testing from the ground up using Kali Linux
- Learn the basics of wireless technologies
- Learn advanced WLAN attacks including MITM attacks, wireless eavesdropping, session hijacking etc
- Learn how to decrypt encrypted traffic with stolen keys
Kali Linux: Assuring Security By Penetration Testing
Assuring Security By Penetration Testing follows a step-by-step approach and provides guidance on developing practical penetration testing skills by demonstrating cutting-edge hacker tools and techniques.
It is written with the IT Security professsional in mind, so you will need to have a least a basic knowledge of Unix/Linux operating systems and an awareness of information security factors. If you have this basic knowledge and you would like to use Kali Linux in your pentesting efforts, then this book could be for you.
The book covers the installation of Kali Linux on both physical and virtual machines and also provides instructions on how to keep the distribution updated. There’s also a small section on installing the Nessus vulnerability scanner and the Cisco password cracker.
With the installation and setup out of the way, the book moves onto pentesting methodologies, information gathering, vulnerability mapping, privilege escalation and social engineering. Later chapters then explore each of these topics (and more) in a lot more detail, so you’ll learn about things like nmap, tcptraceroute, port scanning, DNSChef, Ettercap and more.
This is quite a comprehensive book and covers a lot ground and most of the basic pentesting tools. If you’re looking for something to get starting in the field of ethical hacking using Kali Linux, then this books is a great place to start. For more reviews click here.
- Follows a step-by-step approach to developing practical penetration testing skills
- Covers most of the basic pentesting tools a quite a bit of detail
- Written for beginners/intermediate level pentesters
Intermediate Security Testing with Kali Linux 2
Even though this is an “intermediate” level book, it does kind of start from the beginning by giving an overview of what Kali Linux is and installing Virtual machines. It also covers putting together a penetration testing lab using Windows and Linux based systems.
After the setup stuff, the book then goes a bit more advanced. For example, it covers more in-depth ways to use Metasploit including how to create backdoor shells and bypassing antivirus. It also describes how to automate Metasploit and how to craft scripting based attacks using Railgun and PowerShell.
The book then moves onto web application security and the tools and techniques used to find and exploit vulnerabilities in websites. Over 30 tools are covered here including probably the most popular hacking tool “BurpSuite”.
Next, the book moves onto attacking smart devices by getting remote shells on Android devices and how you can use WiFi and Man-in-The Middle attacks to compromise smart devices.
Finally, the book has an entire section on using computer security tools for forensics, an Internet of Things section and an entire chapter devoted to defending your systems. For more reviews click here.
- Follows on from Basic Security Testing with Kali Linux
- Over 30 hacking tools are covered including the popular tool “Burpsuite”
- Learn how to compromise smart devices using Man-in-The Middle attacks
- Covers computer forensics and the Internet of Things
- Explains how to defend your networks and systems
Hacking with Kali: Practical Penetration Testing Techniques
Hacking with Kali is great for absolute beginners and starts out by going over how to install and configure Kali step-by-step. In fact, the first four chapters are dedicated to installing, upgrading and configuring Kali Linux and chapter 5 is all about setting up a penetration testing lab which you will use throughout the rest of the book.
In chapter 6 you are introduced to the penetration test lifecycle where you’ll be introduced to topics such as reconnaissance, scanning, exploitation and reporting. Subsequent chapters take each of these topics one by one and go into more detail. So you’ll learn about DNS and DNS attacks, nmap, metasploit, backdoors, keyloggers and more.
This book is written with clear and precise instructions and is easy to read and follow along. However, this is really a beginners guide, so if you’re a IT Security professional and already have some pentesting experience, then I recommnend looking at one of the other titles.
If you a complete beginner and want to learn the basics of Kali Linux and hacking then this is a good guide to have. For more reviews click here.
- Written for complete beginners – easy to read and follow along
- Learn the basics of Kali Linux and hacking
- Learn about the penetration test lifecycle
- Hands-on exercises to reinforce topics