5 Non-Technical Books to Upgrade Your Cybersecurity Reading List

By Eric Thomas

Like many cybersecurity professionals, my bookshelf, kindle library, and audible playlist are full of technical manuals and OCGs. Combined with the various vendor-specific whitepapers and deployment guides that clutter my desktop and directories, it’s easy for me to spend most of my time in the technical weeds. However, building a well-rounded understanding of the industry requires more than technological wizardry. Not to mention techno-burnout is real.

Two years ago, a coworker and fellow bookworm loaned me a copy of “Ghost in the Wires” by Kevin Mitnick. Aside from a narrative that borders on the mythological, the book inspired me to examine my passion for cybersecurity and led me to understand my “why .” After buying my own copy of the book and subsequently telling Google and Amazon what to sell me, I was introduced to similar titles. It led me on a journey of discovering outstanding writing from technical thought leaders and continues to be one of my favorite ways to break away from the keyboard.

So, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorites (spoiler alert: the first one is “Ghost in The Wires”). Taking 30 minutes to read some “non-technical techie” books can be a great way to stay motivated, avoid burnout, and reset during study time. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy these as much as I have and maybe even share a few of your favorites. Happy Hunting!

Ghost in the Wires By Kevin Mitnick 

Kevin Mitnick has been the subject of countless profiles published and broadcast throughout the world. Mitnick’s leading penetration testing team is highly respected and sought after for its security services by corporations and governments around the world. 

“It’s the piquant human element that really animates this rollicking memoir of high-tech skullduggery… Mitnick’s hacking narratives are lucid to neophytes and catnip to people who love code, but the book’s heart is his ‘social engineering’ – his preternatural ability to schmooze and manipulate…..[a] nonstop caper.”―Publishers Weekly

Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon by Kim Zetter

Top cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter tells the story behind the virus that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear efforts and shows how its existence has ushered in a new age of warfare—one in which a digital attack can have the same destructive capability as a megaton bomb.

“Part detective story, part scary-brilliant treatise on the future of warfare…an ambitious, comprehensive, and engrossing book that should be required reading for anyone who cares about the threats that America—and the world—are sure to be facing over the coming years.”

—Kevin Mitnick, New York Times bestselling author of “Ghost in the Wires” and “The Art of Intrusion”

Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World by Joseph Menn 

“Cult of the Dead Cow” is the tale of the oldest, most respected, and most famous American hacking group of all time. Though until now, it has remained mostly anonymous, its members invented the concept of hacktivism, released the top tool for testing password security, and created what was for years the best technique for controlling computers from afar, forcing giant companies to work harder to protect customers. They contributed to the development of Tor, the most important privacy tool on the net, and helped build cyber-weapons that advanced US security without injuring anyone.

“This dramatic story of how the Internet’s first hackers learned to handle their outsized abilities can help us grapple to control the power of today’s technology titans.”

―Bruce Schneier, Harvard fellow and lecturer and author of “Click Here to Kill Somebody”

Tribe of Hackers Series by Marcus J. Carey and Jennifer Jin 

I know this is cheating, but, for real, all these books are on point. And, you can pick your poison. The series is composed of leaders and influencers within the profession and features interview-style conversations. Of course, I was all about the Blue Team Edition. But, I eventually read every one of them and thoroughly enjoyed them. You won’t go wrong with any of the reads from this series. And if you go with a focused approach, I’m sure it’ll become a regular on your reading list.

We Are Anonymous by Parmy Olson

LulzSec, a sister organization, broke into and blocked computer systems at Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal. The group infiltrated the networks of totalitarian governments in Libya and Tunisia. This is the story of a hive mind, with many hackers across the globe coming together to slice through security systems and escape untraced.

“For an insight into what actually was going on, who was masterminding the attacks, and how the “hive” actually worked, Olson’s book is a truly terrific read. From a mass of confusing detail, she’s created a clear, coherent narrative that traces Anonymous’s origins to the 4Chan website and painstakingly details the chronology of its evolution. (Not that the confusion goes away. As she points out: ‘The media, police and even the hackers themselves had their own concepts of what it really was: an idea, a movement, a criminal organization, and other things besides.’)” ―Publishers Weekly


About the Author:
Eric Thomas (alias blueteamthomas) is a security analyst, threat hunter, instructor, and mentor 
with more than 15 years of experience in IT networking and InfoSec. 
Connect with Eric: @blueteamthomas on Twitter, IG, and Clubhouse
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