Book Review: Operator Handbook Search. Copy. Paste. L33t ;)

By Adrian | June 16, 2020


Netmux’s Operator Handbook is 436 pages of infosec technology references with a seemingly never ending list of acknowledgements and contributors. I also love that there’s a section dedicated to Health & Wellness right at the start of the book. It’s a timely reminder that life will take everything that you give to it and more but our mental health needs to be looked after. The common signs and symptoms to look out for are put to paper, and more importantly details on how to get help and build a support system which is relevant for you, colleagues, friends, family and loved ones.

This book is not your standard tech book that you read chapter by chapter, rather its setup as an A-Z index of many technologies that are used by both red and blue teams as well as plenty of information resources.

For each technology there’s a quick spiel about what it is and does, what team it aligns too (ie: Red/Blue/All), what discipline it relates to (ie: Reverse Engineering, Administration, Exploitation etc) as well as the platform (ie: Mobile/Windows/Linux etc).

The content is then structured into tables or short paragraphs detailing the commands and descriptions of those commands. Sure you could always just do a -?, --help or man on those commands, but through the experience of the contributors, the most useful commands are presented, which could speed up the task you are working on if you needed a little guidance (insert exiting vim joke here :D)

I especially like how certain methodologies and order of volatility is covered. This book is enough to get you pointed in the right direction.

Finally there’s a references section at the end of each technology where you can get some more information or a link to someones github, blog or website.

While ive come across the majority of the tools covered in this book, there were a few that I wasn’t aware of, and to have that short paragraph about what it is, made this book worth flicking through just to read those little tidbits.

If there is one thing I will say, it is that the information in hard copy format can quickly become dated. For example, under the section marked User Agents, The latest user agent string listed for Chrome is 79. Chrome is currently at version 83 at the time of this blog. Things like this are not a huge deal, we all know the rate of change in this field means that the second something comes out theres already something new, but fundamentally the book is sound.

Also, don’t feel like you need the hard copy of this book like I did. This book is a reference book and the very title should be a dead giveaway. Copy/Paste… It’s clear the intention is for you to Ctrl+F, Ctrl+C then Ctrl+V as your working on something. Theres nothing fun about manually typing out a 10 liner command, so in this regard, the electronic version is the way to go. Having a hard copy on the bookself is nice though.

You can view more about the Operator Handbook over on the website and find links to purchase there.