Is hacking your passion? Are you fascinated with the thought of becoming a system security expert? If yes, then pull up your socks and start learning the right away with any of these books from this list of best ethical hacking books. You may want to pursue ethical hacking in a professional manner or just for fun. But whatever may be the case, it certainly requires a great deal of patience and dedication to learning about various penetration testing methodologies.

Today, cybersecurity has assumed tremendous importance since there is a major possibility of confidential information getting stolen from data servers or cloud storage. It is considered a breach of security and an attack on a system’s integrity. Malicious hackers sneak into a person’s private data or a company’s information system and gain unethical access to data or systems. It can also prove to be dangerous if a malicious hacker gets control of a system and manipulates its data or operations.

An ethical hacker detects vulnerabilities in an information system by using modern hacking tools and penetration testing methodologies. Ethical hackers perform security tests to make sure that the security of information systems or wireless networks is safeguarded. So, if you have made up your mind to get into the field of ethical hacking, then check out the list of 10 popular books on penetration testing and ethical hacking for beginners as well as software professionals.

*After this list, I have also shared a video that will teach you to Set Up Your Own Hacking Lab*

1. BackTrack 5 Wireless Penetration Testing Beginner’s Guide

‘BackTrack 5 Wireless Penetration Testing’ is an ideal ethical hacking book for beginners who want to learn wireless security and hacking from scratch. The book is authored by Vivek Ramachandran, an expert in Wi-Fi security, and it is published by Packt Publishing. It has 9 chapters that cover useful concepts, such as wireless lab setup, WLAN encryption flaws, bypassing WLAN authentication and WLAN penetration testing methodology. The book allows learning through practical examples and quizzes. It discusses in detail about design flaws in wireless networks, penetration testing of WLAN infrastructure, wireless client security and more.

#2. Hacking: A Beginners’ Guide to Computer Hacking

Hacking: A Beginners’ Guide to Computer Hacking, Basic Security, Ethical Hacking, and Penetration Testing- John Slavio- ethical hacking books

It is one of the best ethical hacking books for everyone who is new to hacking and wants to learn all the basic terminologies associated with white hat hacking. This book by John Slavio is known for beginning your hacking training with apt theoretical knowledge with hundreds of resources. It covers the hacking history, different types of hackers, various hack attacks, essential hacking tools, common types of attacks or threats, hiding IP address, smartphone hacking, email hacking, penetration testing, spoofing attacks & others.

3. The Basics of Hacking and Penetration Testing

the-basics-of-hacking-and-penetration-testing- ethical hacking books
‘The Basics of Hacking and Penetration Testing’ is a book which is authored by Patrick Engebretson and published by Syngress. This ethical hacking book teaches to perform penetration testing using modern hacking tools, such as Backtrack Linux, Metasploit, Netcat, Netbus and more. It includes 7 chapters that explain the core concepts, like penetration testing, scanning, exploitation, malware and more. The book utilizes the Backtrack Linux distribution system which allows learning ethical hacking in a modern context.

4. The Hacker Playbook 2

‘The Hacker Playbook 2: Practical Guide To Penetration Testing’ is authored by Peter Kim and published by Secure Planet LLC. The book draws references from a football game and teaches a step-by-step approach towards dealing with various core concepts of penetration testing, such as social engineering, intelligence gathering, evading antivirus software, detecting and exploiting vulnerabilities and more. The book is suitable for I.T. security professionals and penetration testers.

#5. The Hacker’s Underground Handbook

The Hacker’s Underground Handbook- James Pendleton- ethical hacking books

If hacking is something that fascinates you & you are seeking to become an expert ethical hacker, then this book is created for you. It will be a great addition to your ethical hacking book collection if you are looking to attain different aspects of hacking. It literally helps you to think like a hacker. This book by James Pendleton unfolds with the basic introduction about hacking & hackers then tells you the ways to become an advanced white hat hacker. From the right ways to crack passwords to protecting the password for web applications, it covers all. Other concepts like port scanning, footprinting, banner grabbing, wireless network hacking, web network hacking, compromising windows systems & other cool concepts are all explained in this book.

6. Metasploit: The Penetration Tester’s Guide

metasploit-the-penetration-testers-guide- ethical hacking books
Metasploit is one of the most widely used frameworks by penetration testers for detecting and exploiting vulnerabilities. ‘Metasploit: The Penetration Tester’s Guide’ is a suitable book for beginners which allows them to understand the framework’s conventions and module system and also learn to launch simulated attacks, such as client-side, wireless and social engineering attacks. The book also covers modern penetration testing techniques, performing network reconnaissance, writing Meterpreter post-exploitation modules and scripts and integrating with Nmap and Nessus.

7. CEH Certified Ethical Hacker

‘All-In-One CEH Certified Ethical Hacker’ is an exam guide for students who are preparing for the v8 certification exam for Certified Ethical Hacker. The book is authored by Matt Walker and is published by McGraw Hill Education. The book features 10 chapters that shed light on the fundamentals of ethical hacking. It is a comprehensive guide to studying several relevant topics, such as reconnaissance, enumeration, web-based hacking, wireless hacking, penetration testing, cryptography and social engineering. It also provides practical exercises, question sets and lab-based examples through electronic content.

8. RHCSA/RHCE Red Hat Linux Certification Study Guide

‘RHCSA/RHCE Red Hat Linux Certification Study Guide’ is a useful learning resource for students as well as working professionals who are keen on mastering the fundamental concepts of ethical hacking. The book is suitable for students who want to appear for RHCSA and RHCE certification exams. It is authored by Michael Jang and Alessandro Orsaria and published by McGraw Hill Education. The book features theoretical explanations, practical exercises, 300+ practice questions, lab-based practical exams/scenarios and two practice exams for RHCSA and RHCE.

9. CompTIA Security+

‘CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-301 Study Guide’ is a preparatory guide for students and security professionals appearing for the Security+ certification as well as other advanced certifications like CompTIA CASP and CISSP. Author Darril Gibson covers several important and relevant security topics in a simple language through practical examples and lucid explanations. Moreover, the book is packed with over 450 practice test questions and includes a pre-test and post-test set of 100 questions for every chapter.

10. Hacking: The Art of Exploitation

hacking-the-art-of-exploitation- ethical hacking books
‘Hacking: The Art of Exploitation’ is a comprehensive guide to learn to hack for beginners. Author Jon Erickson teaches learners to crack encrypted wireless traffic using the FMS attack, hijack TCP connections and exploit cryptographic weaknesses. The book covers several important concepts from a hacker’s perspective, such as fundamentals of C programming language, machine architecture, Linux environment, debugging code and hijacking network communications. It comes along with a live CD that provides knowledge about Linux programming as well as programming using C, assembly language and shell script.

Watch to learn the right way to “Set Up Your Hacking Lab”


Books can be a good way to start learning about penetration testing. One can even prepare for various security exams and gain a Red Hat Certification following which they can easily start working as a security expert. Ethical hacking is a challenging task and a responsible job. It involves preventing malicious hackers from pivoting security controls and bypassing anti-virus software technologies. Large organizations pay huge salaries to security experts and ethical hackers for simulating the exploitation of vulnerabilities in the security system. So, have a great time learning. Good Luck!

In order to learn all the concepts of ethical hacking such as password cracking, scanning networks, enumeration, system hacking, DOS Attack, sniffing and others then you can explore Ethical Hacking Ultimate Online Tutorial.