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It’s only been out a few weeks, and it seems half the security people already have a copy. I got the Red Team Field Manual the other day because they did and no other reason (apart from the cover that just screams ‘black hat’).


Indeed this is the coveted black book of elite cyber knowledge condensed into 95-pages, containing recipes for sophisticated cyber attacks capable of breaking the Internet. With this book, we won’t need double-tabs, man pages or ‘–h‘ in the command line. Cyber creds are instantly gained by flashing a copy of the RTFM.

Okay, here’s where I begin the serious review: The RTFM does actually contain information. But… it seems to be a compilation of notes from an experienced pen tester, rather than a ‘field manual’, and there’s nothing methodical in its presentation – the reader must know whether something is there beforehand when referring to it. For UNIX-related stuff most people are better off with the Linux Pocket Guide (Barrett, 2004) and using the RTFM as an add-on to that.

But I still like the RTFM. It can be a useful reference, if the reader has a general idea of what s/he is doing and knows where to look. Another good point is the tools covered are standard across most pen testing installations.
There’s also nothing to stop readers using sticky notes to mark important pages, or using the provided ‘scratchpad’ to note page numbers. It’s also handy for those (like myself) who favour Linux almost exclusively over Windows, and perhaps lack references for leveraging native Microsoft utilities or PowerShell.