The Top 12 Cybersecurity Books – Recommendations from SonicWall Leadership and Employees

In celebration of National Book Lover’s Day, we polled SonicWall leadership and employees for the all-time standout cybersecurity books. Here’s what they recommend.

Cybercrime headlines have become a regular fixture in the daily news. As we connect to the internet for everything from work and school to social interactions, cybercriminals have taken advantage of a widening pool of potential targets.

According to the latest data in the Mid-Year Update to the 2021 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report, ransomware attacks were up 151% year to date through June 2021. In fact, SonicWall Capture Labs threat researchers recorded more ransomware attacks during the first half of 2021 than all over 2020.

As a result, cybersecurity has grown from a dedicated technology industry to a general interest topic. That’s why we’ve put together a list of cybersecurity books that everyone should — and can — read. From our employees’ responses, we’ve crafted a list of books that share wisdom gained from real-life experiences and threat research, all while providing a highly entertaining read.

  1. The Smartest Person in the Room
    2021, Christian Espinosa
    Christian Espinosa has poured his experience as an IT engineer and company CEO into this book with a fresh approach to cybersecurity. The book is detailed with business management insights and guidance for strategic planning. It is designed to help executives and managers solve the weakest link in cybersecurity: people. According to Espinosa, high intelligence and talent lose meaning when companies lack effective communication, intelligence and self-confidence, leaving organizations weak and vulnerable to exploitation. Espinosa outlines a seven-step methodology for turning a company’s greatest weakness into robust defense against the most common cyberthreats.
  2. Practical Cyber Security for Extremely Busy People
    2020, Daniel Farber Huang
    A guidebook written in concise, easily consumed sections designed to help individuals take actional steps to protect themselves, their families and their careers from cyber threats and online exploitation. Learn how to prevent companies from tracking your online movements, secure your online bank accounts and prevent identity theft. This book makes personal cybersecurity less intimidating and more efficient for any internet user.
  3. Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know
    2014, P.W. Singer, Allan Friedman
    New York Times best-selling author P. W. Singer and renowned security expert Allan Friedman give us a simple and informative resource for deciphering our ongoing problems with cybersecurity. The narrative is wrapped around several essential questions: how cybersecurity works, why it matters and what we can do to help it along. The narrative is well-illustrated, with excellent stories and anecdotes that offer important and entertaining points about major players in cybersecurity.
  4. Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon
    2015, by Kim Zetter
    Kim Zetter is an investigative journalist who is well-known for her coverage of cybersecurity and national security issues. While this book is a bit older, it builds a case for the identity of the creator of Stuxnet and how the malware was used to sabotage Iran’s nuclear production infrastructure. In addition, the book illustrates how the malware went on to trigger a new age of warfare and threat. Finally, Zetter goes beyond the history of hacking attacks and makes several predictions about new threats we face.
  5. Social Engineering: The Science of Human Hacking
    2018, Christopher Hadnagy
    Written by Christopher Hadnagy, an IT educator and entrepreneur, Social Engineering illustrates how ‘social’ hackers think. Hadnagy points out that it’s much easier to trick someone into sharing their passwords than to exert the brute force necessary to hack into a system. This book examines social hackers’ psychological tactics and tricks to steal identities, commit fraud, and gain access to even the largest and most well-protected enterprise computer systems.
  6. The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age
    2018, by David E. Sanger
    Written by New York Times national security correspondent David Sanger, The Perfect Weapon describes the confluence between cyberweapons and geopolitics. Sanger summarizes how hacking tools have transformed into cheap weapons utilized by democracies, despots, and terrorists alike and used virtually anonymously. Sanger reminds us that two American presidents — Bush and Obama — showed the world how it is done by launching the first massive state attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear centrifuges. Yet, ironically, America and its allies were badly unprepared when other state actors tuned the very same weapons against them. This book should be on everyone’s list because it illustrates “the perils of technological revolution, where everyone is a target.”
  7. Cult of the Dead Cow
    2019, Joseph Menn
    Author Joseph Menn describes his life as a teenage member of a hacker’s ‘club’ with a weird name. Menn explains the group’s genesis, how they worked, a few of their exploits, and how they became the country’s oldest and most respected ethical hacking group. According to Menn, the group coined the word “hacktivism” to force large corporations to rethink security protocols and protections for personal data. As of the book’s publication, the group and its followers are still engaged in hacktivism against misinformation and promoting security measures that help make personal data safer.
  8. Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers
    2019, Andy Greenberg
    Author Andy Greenberg, a senior editor for WIRED magazine, writes a riveting narrative about a series of devastating cyberattacks that span three years (from 2014 to 2017) that started with utility companies in the U.S. and Europe and NATO administrative offices. The attacks resumed with a well-known deployment of malware known as NotPetya that paralyzed global corporations, railways, postal services, hospitals and did about $10 billion in damage. At the time, it was an unprecedented and the most destructive cyberattack the world had seen. Greenberg’s examination explores the realities of state-sponsored cyberattacks and still-relevant insights on the implications of a new type of global warfare.
  9. The Fifth Domain: Defending Our Country, Our Companies, and Ourselves in the Age of Cyber Threats
    2019, by Richard A. Clarke, Robert K. Knake
    The Fifth Domain is written by two former U.S. presidential cybersecurity officials, Richard Clarke and Robert Knake. The authors open by listing the four known domains of warfare —land, air, sea, and space — adding the fifth domain: cyberspace. Next, they offer detailed profiles of several high-profile attacks and the lessons learned. Finally, the deeper dive gives us technical details about system resiliency that corporations and organizations can adopt to keep them out of trouble.
  10. Cyber Warfare – Truths, Tactics & Strategies
    2020, Dr. Chase Cunningham, foreword by Gregory J. Touhill
    This book clearly and plainly defines strategies and tactics for cybersecurity. Written by retired chief U.S. Navy cryptologist and cyber forensic analyst Dr. Chase Cunningham, the book is a quick read and easily digestible despite some of the high-level technical narratives. Readers gain an understanding of the tactics that threat adversaries use in the modern distributed IT world. Dr. Cunningham also dives into emerging cybersecurity issues such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and deep fakes.
  11. Tribe of Hackers: Security Leaders
    2020, Marcus J. Carey and Jennifer Jin
    This volume is one of four books under the “Tribe of Hackers” title, written for people who want to work and succeed in the expanding field of information security. One of the series’ best editions, the book focuses on leadership training specifically for cybersecurity in a collection of essays written by non-corporate global thinkers from the field. Published by Wyle, a publisher that specializes in nonfiction business instructionals, this book and the companion series is a great way to kick off a career or grow an existing one.
  12. Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker
    2012, Kevin Mitnick
    Ghost in the Wires is a thrilling true story of intrigue, suspense, and unbelievable escapes — and a portrait of a visionary who forced the authorities to rethink the way they pursued him, and forced companies to rethink the way they protect their most sensitive information.

Honorable Mention

It may not be a book about cybersecurity, but we cannot end this list without mentioning this upcoming release from Colonel Chris Hadfield.

Colonel Hadfield left a lasting impression on SonicWall employees globally when he kicked off the global Boundless 2020 virtual partner conference last August. Hadfield is set to release The Apollo Murders, a fictional account of three astronauts in a tiny spaceship, a quarter million miles from home, in October 2021. His debut thriller, The Apollo Murders is a high-stakes thriller unlike any other. Hadfield captures the fierce G-forces of launch, the frozen loneliness of space, and the fear of holding on to the outside of a spacecraft orbiting the Earth at 17,000 miles per hour as only someone who has experienced all of these things in real life can.

Ray Wyman Jr
SEO Analyst & Copywriter
Ray Wyman Jr is a SonicWall staff writer and SEO coordinator. In addition, he’s an author and content creator specializing in tech and business management.
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