Reading Room


Featuring 12 Papers as of April 15, 2014

  • The Hacker Always Gets Through TJ O'Connor - April 15, 2014

    In early 2010, security analysts started noticing something really interesting.

  • The User Agent Field: Analyzing and Detecting the Abnormal or Malicious in your Organization Darren Manners - February 7, 2012

    In the early days of the Internet, users had to type in text commands to navigate. Tools were later developed, E.g. early browsers, to be the "user's agent" so that commands did not have to be typed in to navigate -­‐ the user could simply click to navigate.

  • Profiling Hackers Larisa Long - February 7, 2012

    Hacking without permission and authorization is considered illegal. But let's face it, that's why the subject of hacking is so appealing. But for much of the population, hacking is an elusive subject.

  • Using Windows Script Host and COM to Hack Windows Alex Ginos - January 3, 2011

    During the exploitation phase of penetration testing, the attacker may establish a beachhead on a target machine by running an exploit against a vulnerable network service. Often this results in a command prompt. At this point, the question becomes: How can the command line be used to advantage to access sensitive information, escalate privileges and find and attack other hosts? There are numerous useful hacking tools that can help with this but initially they are unlikely to be present on the compromised system. The attacker needs to bootstrap the process of further discovery and exploitation using only the limited tools and privileges available at the command prompt. In some cases, it may be necessary to evade detection by avoiding suspicious executables that may be flagged by anti-malware software running on the target. This paper explores the possibilities of using command line scripting tools and software components that are likely to be present on most Microsoft Windows systems to facilitate penetration testing.

  • Attack vs. Defense on an Organizational Scale Omar Fink - December 11, 2007

    Historically, the motivation behind most cyber attacks was similar to graffiti, in that the main purpose was to make a mark on somebody elses territory, to demonstrate technical skill by compromising a web server and defacing the main page, with the primary goal seeming to be simply to make a statement of existence. In recent years, this has evolved to being more concerned about making a profit or creating a political impact.

  • Three Different Shades of Ethical Hacking: Black, White and Gray David Hafele - May 2, 2004

    Corporations and other entities are faced with the unenviable task of trying to defend their networks against various types of intrusive attacks.

  • The Brazilian Connection: Brazilian Defacement Groups Stake their Claim Michael Poor - October 31, 2003

    This paper takes look at three separate Brazilian hacker groups, two of whom were interviewed by the author of this paper.

  • Can Hackers Turn Your Lights Off? The Vulnerability of the US Power Grid to Electronic Attack Jonathan Stidham - October 31, 2003

    This paper addresses specific areas of vulnerabilities within the U.S. power grid, and suggests an overall strategy and some specific actions appropriate for these vulnerabilities.

  • Crossing the Line: Ethics for the Security Professional Scott Carle - October 31, 2003

    This paper briefly talks about several systems of ethics and then we will apply them to situations that we as IT security personnel face.

  • The Fundamentals Of Computer HACKING Ida Boyd - October 31, 2003

    This paper outlines the steps that a hacker must follow to make a foot print of an organization.

  • Corporate LAN Intranet Server Compromise Jason DePriest - May 22, 2001

    A detailed account of how one company's Intranet server administrator tested his organization's server security by successfully hacking into the server.

  • Hacking: The Basics Zachary Wilson - April 4, 2001

    The basics of IT security for less security conscious IT professionals and end-users on exactly who is out there and what they are doing to get in.

Most of the computer security white papers in the Reading Room have been written by students seeking GIAC certification to fulfill part of their certification requirements and are provided by SANS as a resource to benefit the security community at large. SANS attempts to ensure the accuracy of information, but papers are published "as is". Errors or inconsistencies may exist or may be introduced over time as material becomes dated. If you suspect a serious error, please contact

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Masters This paper was created by a SANS Technology Institute student as part of their Master's curriculum.