Learning to learn: tips for kicking off your hacking journey

Let’s start from the beginning – assuming you are a complete beginner venturing into the world of ethical hacking for the first time. Welcome!

 

There are a couple of key, must-know essentials that will help guide you along your journey to becoming an ethical hacker. This article is filled with tips and advice for anyone who is learning about hacking, wants to ask questions and effectively engage with the hacker community, and not be shunned from the get-go.

 

Already have considerable technical experience? Feel free to skip past this article, because it’s likely you already know much of what’s contained here!

 

While the purpose of these tutorials is to teach you hacking, in reality it’s actually something that requires self-teaching and self-learning. So if you’re serious about becoming a hacker, you will first need to understand how to learn.

 

Where can you ask for help with hacking?

 

It’s inevitable – when you’re learning something new for the first time, you’re guaranteed to have questions and need some help! There’s no shame in this either, it happens to everyone and is all part of the learning journey. However, you need to know the best ways and places to ask for help, when needed.

 

You’ll quickly discover there are a plethora of online communities and groups available for people to drop by and ask questions (or give answers to others). Some of the particularly popular ones include:

 

  • Information Security StackExchange – a question and answer site for information security professionals
  • r/Hacking on Reddit – subreddit dedicated to hacking and hackers
  • r/HowToHack on Reddit – subreddit for techniques and strategies for hacking
  • r/netsec on Reddit – subreddit for technical news and discussion of information security and related topics

 

How to ask for help with hacking?

 

Across forums, blogs and comment threads alike, they’re littered with responses to people’s questions with things like “Just Google it!” or “Please read the rules and code of conduct before posting!”.

 

While this is neither helpful nor encouraging, it’s worth understanding where these responders are coming from. As a beginner asking for help, what you’re actually doing is requesting that strangers across the world assist you. These strangers have zero obligation to you. So basically, you need to prove you’re worth helping in the first place!

 

Online communities are actually full of people who are willing and ready to help beginners, because at some stage everyone started at that point. However, you need to be engaged, approachable and eager to actually make an effort to do your part in learning.

 

“How to hack my mate’s FB?”

 

“Need hacking tool for this online game asap. Plz help.”

 

“Fake instructions…doesn’t even work.”

 

These are classic examples of what NOT to say! No one will want to help you if you come at them like this. Don’t be a noob.

 

When you ask for help on an online forum or community board, it’s essential you do so in a way that’s mindful and respectful of the other people’s time and attention. Not only will this help ensure that you receive a helpful, practical and useful reply, but it also becomes helpful for future beginners who might have similar questions and find your query in the future.

 

Here are a few key tips when asking a question online:

 

Google your question before asking – for many beginner questions, it’s super likely that it’s already been asked and answered by someone else already! Definitely worth doing a Google search to check for answers before asking. It’s also a lot faster than waiting for somebody to reply to your request. It’s also frustrating for others to see the same questions being asked time and time again. Don’t be annoying, and do some brief research first.

 

Use proper spelling and grammar – you’d be surprised at the difference it makes when you use good quality English when posting your question or message! On one hand, if your post is littered with slang, abbreviations and poor spelling it suggests you’re not putting very much effort in. On the other hand, it also may be indecipherable to some other readers, who won’t bother considering your question in the first place if it’s not easily understandable.

 

Be clear and concise – get straight to the point with your question or enquiry. Mention exactly what you’re trying to do, what you’ve already tried, and the problem you’re currently stuck on. It’s important to include that you’ve attempted already, because it also shows that you’re making the effort to figure things out yourself. That’s a positive attitude to have! Also outline specs of your system if relevant – including operating system, software versions, etc.

 

As long as you’re polite and genuine, people will be attracted to that and want to help out!

 

3 red flags to watch out for when asking for help

 

Here are some common red flags that are essentially warning signs to others that you’re just asking for selfish reasons rather than seeking knowledge or legitimate advice. As a beginner, stay far away from asking these types of questions because they’re sure to get you quickly shunned from the hacking community!

 

  1. Asking basic questions with an easily found answer on Google

 

I know we already mentioned this earlier, but it’s definitely worth bringing up again.

 

When you’re facing a challenge or problem as you embark on your journey to learn about ethical hacking, remember you’re not the first one to go down this path. In fact, many thousands of others have likely gone through the exact same process, and come across the same roadblocks and issues. Meaning it’s very likely that they’ve also asked their questions online!

 

Chances are the answers to your questions are already out their on the internet, ready and waiting to be discovered. So before coming across as someone who didn’t even try to find the answer, go out there and Google your question first. If you don’t easily find an appropriate response, then go ahead and post your problem on their forums or online communities. Feel free to mention you Googled similar issues but didn’t find useful information.

 

  1. Having expectations that are too high

 

Do you consider hacking to just be witchcraft or magic? Think hacking is only what you see in the movies – bringing down governments and corporations with some rapid tapping away on a keyboard? Want to steal billions of dollars with some well-place keystrokes and a powerful supercomputer?

 

No. Get it straight now – this isn’t what hacking is about, and learning hacking will not enable you to do this! Set aside the glamorized versions of hacking you’ve seen in film and the media, and realize what it’s actually about. There’s no top-secret program that will turn you into a mega-hacker overnight, and it’s not just a matter of learning some codes to get you into other networks and systems.

 

It takes effort, persistence and a whole heap of dedication to become a successful and effective hacker. So when you ask a question online, make sure you don’t come at it with the expectations that a good answer will set you out from the crowd and turn you into an overnight success. Nobody will write you a spoon-fed, custom tutorial to cater for your exact needs and questions, but take responses and answers with a grain of salt and apply them to your particular circumstances.

 

Be grateful and thankful for any answers you do receive, because it’s someone from somewhere around the world who spared a bit of their time to respond to you. They didn’t have to do this, yet they choose to do so. Don’t be needy or ungrateful, or nobody will both answering you or getting in touch with you again in the future. You’ll shoot yourself straight to the top of people’s “ignore” lists with a negative attitude.

 

  1. Asking unethical questions

 

This is a particularly major issue in the hacking community. There’s a distinct line between ethical hackers and black hat hackers, and you don’t want to go crossing that in online forums because it’s probable that you’ll be quickly shunned if posting in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

 

Is your only goal to hack your ex’s Facebook or Snapchat? Or do you only want to learn how to hack so you can get into your neighbour’s WiFi rather than having to use and pay for your own?

 

If you don’t have any inclination towards educating yourself and learning beyond the basic script kiddie styles, then don’t bother continuing. The ethical hacking community is not going to help you. To the pros and expert hackers out there, it’s easy to spot a totally noob question or a message from someone who wants to do something unethical. Intentions quickly become very evident, and nobody is fooled.

 

Don’t expect strangers across the internet to help bring to life your petty ambitions. Take your morality in your own hands and use it for good, then people will be willing to help you.

 

Get started with your learning journey now!

 

The world around us is changing at an ever-increasing pace, and it’s up to us as individuals to keep up with the tides and trends. From the revolutionising online world to the technological innovations bursting into the scene by the day, it takes time, effort and dedication to stay in the loop and to stay ahead.

 

This is why it’s so fundamentally important that you, as an aspiring hacker, learns how to learn. Because our collective intelligence and collaboration as a hacking community is what sets as apart. The effective exchange of information, data, tips, tricks, strategies and advice is crucial to maintaining a strong community of hackers who will continue to rise up and be successful in what we strive to achieve.

 

Join us, and get ready to get into hacking!

Types of Hackers

Types of Hackers There are a wide range of different types of hackers out there, from hardcore evil ones that aim to bring down governments, to the good guys fighting to save the day and a whole heap of different kinds in between. The way we distinguish hackers is through two factors: 1) skills and 2) motivations. These factors create a spectrum where we can position different types of hackers. At some point, you’ll want to figure out where on this spectrum you belong as well.

 

Script Kiddies

Script kiddies are the derogatory label for amateur individuals who want to hack for pointless reasons, without necessarily wanting to learn anything or steal anything. Their primary goal is often to impress friends, gain attention or just do random things for the sake of it.

 

Script kiddies might figure out how to utilise tools and scripts crafted by other hackers, but they don’t have the depth of knowledge or experience to create their own, or do much more than copying and pasting. Generally script kiddies just download existing hacking software and watch YouTube videos to learn how to use it. Common types of attacks from script kiddies include DOS (Denial of Service) or DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) – both are annoying but are not necessarily damaging.

 

Black Hat Hackers

These are the seriously bad guys; the ones you hear about on the news. Black hat hackers are cyber criminals driven by malicious intent, with goals to sabotage others or get personal gains from the hacks they perform. They are responsible for a broad array of digital crimes ranging from stolen credit card details to identity theft. By using whatever loopholes they can find in a system, they can hack into your computer or network and gain access to your personal, business and financial information.

 

Black hat hackers use viruses, trojans and malware to perform their criminal behaviour. The motivations are varied – some do it to show off or as a power trip, while others want to cause active harm and damage to others.

 

White Hat Hackers

These are the good guys who we don’t often hear about, also known as ethical hackers. White hat hackers spend their days hacking in order to improve the security of systems and networks. They’re involved in what’s known as “penetration testing”, where they probe websites or a company’s internal network to search for and uncover potential vulnerabilities, before helping developers fix these issues. They also help remove viruses and malware when discovered.

 

While the skillset between black hat hackers and white hat hackers are relatively similar, their motivations and intentions are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Additionally, many white hat hackers also hold some kind of computing or security related qualification and have official careers in cyber security.

 

Increasingly governments and companies are hiring security specialists or are offering bug bounty programs. They recognize the inherent threat of cyber security flaws, and need to protect themselves and their clients.

 

Grey Hat Hackers

These hackers sit in the middle of the spectrum. Grey hat hackers may work offensively or defensively based on the particular situation at hand. While they’re not driven by malicious intent, they still enjoy breaking into third-party systems. Some of their motivations may include the thrill or the glory of announcing new-found vulnerabilities. These types of hackers probably comprise the majority of the hacking community.

 

Green Hat Hackers

These are the newbies of the hacker world. They’re totally new to the hacking game and mainly use basic scripts. Similar in skill to script kiddies, they differ in that they have goals or aspirations to become more serious hackers. They’re often leeching off other hackers for advice and tips, and can easily be identified as the ones in online forums asking all the follow-up questions to get a full understanding of a topic or technique.

 

Blue Hat Hackers

These are another type of novice hacker. Similar to script kiddies and green hat hackers, they have elementary skills. The difference is that they aggressively take revenge on others who bother them. With no desire to learn or improve, they use simple but effective attacks to take down other individuals. Basically, they are a script kiddie with a vengeful agenda.

 

Red Hat Hackers

These are similar to white hat hackers in motivation, but not in approach. The goal of red hat hackers is to take down black hat hackers, but they do so in a ruthless and hostile manner. Rather than reporting a malicious attack performed by a black hat hacker, they aim to simply bring down the perpetrator instead through aggressive cyber attacks against them.

 

Hacktivists

These are the vigilantes. Hacktivists are a type of hacker who uses their skills to protest against injustice or in the name of protecting human rights like free speech. They generally attack websites to gain attention about a particular case or to popularize a specific point of view, which is often linked with their social, political or religious agenda. While their intentions may seemingly be noble, their actions break the law. Some examples of well-known hacktivist groups include Anonymous, LulzSec and WikiLeaks.

 

Government

 

While we can’t label the government as hackers, it seemed worthwhile to consider what would happen if they did become involved in hacking. The potential consequences are huge. Not only do they have access to billions and trillions of dollars, but they’re also the ones who are deciding and upholding the laws in your country. If they become adversarial, it would be devastating to everyone’s lives and privacy.

 

There are plenty of theories that there are already state or nation sponsored hackers out there, employed by governments to snoop through confidential information from other governments.

 

You

What about you? Where do you think your skills and motivations position you?

All hackers start out similarly, learning the same basic hacking techniques. Picking up strategies, practices and tools is something that all hackers do. Basically they all start on an even, equal playing field, and the same applies to you.

Where you end up later is an entirely different story.

What is Ethical Hacking?

What is Ethical HackingKnock, Knock, Neo.

A hacker is a person who discovers weaknesses in a system and manages to exploit it. The process where someone performs an unauthorized intrusion into a computer or network is known as hacking.

 

Hacking is an art. It’s a science. It’s a business. It’s the precise mastery and manipulation of systems to gain control that was never intended to be yours.

 

However, there’s significantly more to hacking than meets the eye, or what’s portrayed in popular media. That’s what this website is for – to unearth and uncover the inner workings of hacking in a practical manner. Discover what hacking is, what it can be used for, and how you can do it too.

 

Armed with passion, persistence and a keen thirst for knowledge, basically anybody can become a hacker. Be willing to learn new techniques, put them into action, and embark on this journey to learn how to get started through these series of tutorials.

 

You might surprise yourself at how easy it can be.

 

Hacking as a frontline defense

Your data is everywhere. Snippets of data about you, your life, your personal details and what you’ve done online is sprawled across servers throughout the world. With the surge of online activity, increasingly so in recent years, the internet now possesses enormous amounts of personal, private data.

 

If it’s not properly protected, it can end up in anyone’s hands.

 

Companies and corporations fight to protect themselves against malicious agents, and we as individuals are not immune to attacks either. One day we may even need to defend ourselves and our personal data against those who are supposed to protect us – our governments.

 

An understanding of computer and network security is essential before you can expect to safeguard yourself. Hacking can help you with this. The dual nature of hacking

 

In general, the only side of hacking that the general public hears about is the malicious one. From identity thefts, publicly released passwords, ransomware, viruses, stolen accounts and more…the list goes on. In the news we hear about the millions of accounts being leaked online, attacks on major websites and virtual attacks against individuals. Even the term “hacking” itself is coupled with negative vibes.

 

However, there’s another side to hacking that you hardly hear about.

For every major hack that hits the media headlines, there are hundreds or thousands more that have been actively prevented by security specialists across the globe. These specialists are also known as the whitehat hackers (otherwise known as ethical hackers). They actually possess the same skill set as blackhat (malicious) hackers, but the key difference is that they use these skills to do good.

 

In many cases, it’s basically a race against time. It’s almost impossible to make software totally foolproof and secure, so the battle to find cyber security holes lies with cutting edge technology where the stakes can be enormous. In fact, the global cost of cyber crime is projected to reach $2 trillion by 2019.

 

Whitehats vs. blackhats.

Good vs. evil.

Which side are you on? Follow the white rabbit

Photo by Markus Spiske