Is there a 'must read', comprenhensive book on native application exploit development?

Covering the process of finding vulnerabilities (fuzzing, reverse engineering, code analysis, etc...) & going from vulnerability to working exploit. Including coverage of ASLR & DEP and the methods being used to circumvent them.

Erickson's 'Hacking : The Art of Exploitation' and Heasman, Lindner & Richarte's 'The Shellcoder's Handbook' seem to fit the bill but the research I've done on those has turned up a lot of people saying they're now both out of date. Is that accurate?


  • Yeah. I'm thinking there's likely still value in the high level overview described in them, especially 'Hacking: The Art of Exploitation' but the specific techniques might no longer be applicable with the modern day stack protection systems. – MTLPhil Jul 10 '13 at 13:37
  • Anything involving buffer overflows is going to be dated, these are in the strong minority of flaws found and exploited. In terms of reading material, look for blogs and read exploit code. The last good security book i read was "A Tangled Web." – rook Jul 10 '13 at 17:15
  • Started reading that one also, have to finish it one of these days. I'm definitely more comfortable with the web related stuff and I was hoping to learn more about the native applicaiton side of things. However, as a hobbyist with hopes of being employed in the field, it seems like web is more and more the focus these days and I don't know if time spent on the steep learning curve of native / binary exploitation (vs. web stuff) is a wise investment of my time. I'm not so young anymore so I have focus and get on with it if I'm actually going to ever get a job in security/pentesting. – MTLPhil Jul 10 '13 at 18:36
  • If you're interested in security and pentesting, I definitely recommend attending Black Hat and/or DEFCON in Las Vegas, or at least attending one of your regional security conferences. Also check out your local DEFCON group, they often have really talented speakers. See defcon.org/html/defcon-groups/dc-groups-index.html to find a group in your area. – John Deters Jul 10 '13 at 20:58

There are many avenues of exploitation, and as you're noticing, they constantly evolve. Your best bet is to attend a major conference like Black Hat, take copious notes from the briefings, and learn from the people who are actively exploiting systems today.

The speakers know that by the time they finish writing a book it's likely going to be out of date, and won't sell. That's probably why there aren't too many books on the topic. At least they take time to present what they've learned at these conferences, though, so there is information available.

If you have the chance (and the budget) the training sessions held at Black Hat are where you'll pick up the most specific and current knowledge on exploiting software. For example, the Exploit Laboratory is a two day course, followed by two more days of Exploit Black Belt training. Taking both would set you back as much as $6,000 (that's in addition to the $2K needed for Black Hat registration), but if you absolutely need these skills, it's an investment in yourself.

If you don't have that kind of money, DEFCON is only $180, a lot more casual, way more fun, and you'll have the chance to meet and hang out with the speakers. Quite a few of them are the same speakers giving the same presentations they gave at Black Hat; others are a bit more anonymous.

| improve this answer | |
  • While I definitely would like to check out some conferences, I don't know that it necessarily replaces a good, in depth book. Selecting this answer based mainly on the point John makes about books likely being out of date before they're published as a reason the cutting edge techniques are still mainly found online or at conferences. – MTLPhil Jul 10 '13 at 21:12

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.