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For all the right reasons.


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E3 2012. I remember casually lounging around watching the announcements from the various conferences and feeling a growing sense of disappointment as the hotly anticipated next-gen systems were nowhere to be seen. No worse there was nothing new anywhere to be seen.

By this stage Microsoft and Sony had finished and on a whim I'd decided to keep watching the Ubisoft conference. Then out of nowhere came Watch_Dogs. I was blown away, excited beyond belief about playing this absolutely beautiful game, letting my imagination run wild as to the awesome hacking and combat that I envisioned myself doing.

Frustratingly the game was not to come out for at least another two years and in my excitement, I decided to read up a bit about hacking, a subject I knew very little about. All of a sudden I dived into a world of foreign and exciting names, Trojans DDos attacks, Worms, Packet Sniffing, Digital Forensics. All of which sounded incredibly exciting.

This coupled with several clips from the film Swordfish (a damn good film if technically cringe-worthy), made me feel like I could be some sort of Badass vigilante hacker myself. I wanted to know how to 'hack' wifi with my phone, to crack passwords, to create super-viruses, and a lot of other things that in hindsight seem kind of childish. In other words I had come to the internet hacking community for all the wrong reasons.

Thankfully, I quickly came across a rather scathing answer to the question 'How do hackers learn to hack?" on yahoo answers. In it the author talks of how hackers are given a bad name by idiots (much like me), who come at the subject for all the wrong reasons, when hackers are truly highly curious people with a near insatiable technolust. I would have probably come away from this feeling really disappointed were it not for his final paragraph in which he recommends would be hackers start by learning how to program.

For those of you who don't know, Udacity is a website collaboration by various US universities that run excellent online courses in a wide range of subjects with a particular focus on Computer Science. It was here that I began to learn Python. In my head I was still on this quest to become the vigilante hacker. The course was superb. However, by the end of it I was still no closer in my hacker quest and I became quite disheartened, and I ultimately stopped coding altogether.

In the summer of 2013 whilst doing my A-Levels a teacher of mine mentioned a website called The Euler Project, it's a sort of mathematical challenge site that is near impossible without some coding skill. Having my background with Python I thought one dull weekend that I'd have a crack at some of the problems. It was really fun and incredibly satisfying to manage to complete them and I realised that I part of what I enjoyed about the entire process was writing my small python scripts to pop out an answer.

I had started to properly enjoy coding. So on and off for the next year, I trawled various coding challenge sites slowly rebuilding my skills with Python (although I should point out at this point I am nowhere near Python fluent if such a thing exists). I then began to develop a real interest in how technology worked and a love of learning. It was only a couple of months ago that I began to think that perhaps I had finally developed the proper Hacker mindset. I started watching Harvard Computer Science Lectures, on Youtube, reading posts from tech forums and articles on technology sites and watching documentaries on Hacking culture. I also realised how much I still didn't know and how much I would possibly never know.

The problem I face now and the question I wish to ask is what I should do next. I want to take my fairly basic knowledge of technology and nurture it to a more advanced stage there are several things that I have considered doing:

1 - Getting a Raspberry Pi and basically messing around with it to see what I can make with it.

2 - Getting Kali Linux and basically messing around with it to see what I can do with it (this is what I want to do most).

3 - Servers - can I make one? What cool stuff can I do with it?

4 - Wifi exploits (so probably Kali Linux)

5 - Watching a lot of Hak 5 videos and trying to sponge knowledge from them.

I feel like I'm finally coming at hacking with the correct mindset but whenever I look at something new I feel like I'm still far too much of a technonoob (which I am so copyrighting if it doesn't already exist), that I need to find something a bit more basic.

Where do I start? Is it worth watching Hak 5 videos now or should I watch a more basic series first? Is Kali Linux something that I can pick up and with some internet resources, get a proper handle on? Is it advisable to learn a low-level programming language first? What were your first hacking or coding projects that got you going?

I'm sorry if this has dragged on a bit and I applaud you if you read the whole thing and do not blame you if you did not.

Any advice you could give on anything in this would be much appreciated. I am half fishing for resources to progress my technoknow (definitely copyrighting that one), and half checking to see if I have overlooked some important learning step in my technoed.

Many Thanks


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From the sound of things what you need first and foremost is a goal. What do you aim to achieve?

Saying you want to become a hacker is like saying you want to be in medicine which can be anything from a chemist to a brain surgeon, so make it something tangible and fairly near-term. It helps when you phrase your goal not as "I want to break ..." but rather "I want to gain a complete understanding of ...".

Do you want to take apart hardware and understand the innards of a device?

Do you want to root your mobile, possibly replace the OS on there with something else?

Do you want to understand networking, packets and all that jazz?

Do you want to understand radio communications, GSM, GPRS, 3G, LTE and all those technologies?

The world is your oister and unless you (even if only temporarily) focus on something you'll be too busy jumping from one bit of technology to the next to actually gain a proper understanding of it.

You could learn Kali, but Kali is itself not a tool. It's simply a Linux distro aimed at penetration testing by virtue of the apps that come pre-installed with it. If you want to find your way around Linux, try a couple. Set yourself the goal of replacing the OS on your (main) machine with any flavour of Linux you feel comfortable with and being able to do the exact same things as you currently do on that machine. If the things you currently do involve games, keep the original OS around as you won't be able to play most of the more recent ones.

DO NOT learn the gui, learn the command line. It's more potent and mostly identical across the various Linuxes. Unlike with Windows, in Linux there's quite literally nothing you can't do from the command line, though some things are just more convenient from a gui and in most cases you'll find that these gui apps will do their thing by invoking regular commands on a shell.

Hak5 is just fine to start with and thus see what's possible - they skim the surface and give you a starting point. What happens next is up to you. I wouldn't start with season 1, episode 1 though. Technology changes so fast, I'd say watch all of this season and then, as time and your interests permit, go over the previous seasons when you know they're dealing with something that interests you.

Shannon's HakTips can be decent aswell, she goes more in-depth on specific tool options and dedicates her full episode to that one variation.

After getting acquinted with Metasploit you could take a look at Mubix's Metasploit Minute aswell, but until you do I wouldn't yet bother.

Finally, once you've set yourself such a goal, feel free to pop back in here and ask for resources on the subject. Make sure you've googled around a bit so you already have some understanding though. Specific questions get answered a lot quicker (and, typically, better) around here.

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I guess my goal at the moment would be to understand networking packets and all that jazz as you put it, I would like to develop a better understanding of network security hence why I suggested messing around with Kali.

Your second suggestion of replacing the Os of a mobile device sounds interesting, I've always liked the idea of being able to repurpose commercial hardware but I have absolutely no idea where to get started on that front.

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  • 2 months later...

Then I suggest you start with this.

Hey Cooper,

I am new here and you seemed really nice and helpful in some of your responses. I do not want to ask a bad question or anything but trying to figure out how to read all text messages that cross my wifi router. Any help at pointing me in the right direction would be greatly apie

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Answered privately since I also got a PM from doug19701 with a bit more info which I'll assume he considered unfit for general consumption.

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