Saturday, 4 February 2017

Hacking and Penetration Testing with Low Power Devices by Philip Polstra

Written by Dr. Philip Polstra

Reviewed by Bob Monroe

When you think of low power devices you may tend to focus on tablets, smart phones or portable gaming systems like the iPod Touch. Before you shout that the iPod isn’t a gaming platform, tell me how many adults versus kids you see using those things. Yeah, its a toy alright. The book Hacking and Penetration Testing with Low Power Devices written by Dr. Philip Polstra is all about the Beagle Bone Board (BBB). I hope you’ve heard of BBBs because they are a cool minicomputer. BBB represents a collection of boards ranging from the BeagleBoard, BeagleBoard-xM and the BeagleBone Black. For the purposes of clarity, when you see BBB in this review, I’m referring to the BeagleBone Black.

Because I’ve been working with minicomputers like the BBB, the Raspberry Pi B+ and old Android phones, I’ve got my favorites just like you have your favorite socks. The author, Dr. Phil, makes plenty of evidence-based arguments as to why the BBB is his favorite. The only problem with his logic is that with any technology, it is outdated the moment he typed it out. One day the Beagle might be the top dog and the next day it’s the Pi. These particular brands of small computers are being beefed up with newer hardware on a regular basis.

You should know though, that this book is aimed at teaching you how to use the BBB as a pen testing tool. The first chapter introduces you to the author’s pride and joy, a compilation of devices that make up “the Deck.” The Deck has been showcased at several hacking conventions over the years. The Deck is a system of tools that can be used as portable drones, air deployable remote control aircraft sensor and even an awesome looking Guitar-Hero platform. The information about building my own Deck was peppered throughout the book. There wasn’t one section that tells you how to build a Deck but rather bits and pieces are discussed throughout the 237 page book. No cheat sheet was provided.

As with any professional hacker/pen tester, the author has to walk an ethical tightrope to ensure they don’t teach everyone how to be criminal hackers yet still give the readers enough details to quench their desire for knowledge. Hacking is not about criminal activities, it is about learning new ways to do things beyond what the manufacture intended the product to do. You must learn and think on your own.

This book is filled with plenty of incredible knowledge that you may not find anywhere else. For example, chapter five Powering The Deck, covers the critical information needed to determine how to power your low power device. Anyone who has picked up a soldering iron, a voltmeter and some electronic component that requires a magnifying glass to lay down a perfect bead knows how easy it is to fry that device. Pay close attention to Dr. Phil’s research and advice when it comes to providing juice to your low power project.


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