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So, You Want to Become a Hacker?

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By: Archergilly

July 27, 2016

You see a lot of articles that explain, to become a Hacker, you need to know a lot of programming languages, which is something something not everybody can do. This approach has some truth, but at the same time, is closed minded.Hacking, in simplest terms, is making an asset behave in a way it was not originally designed to do. Therefore, hacking doesn't apply only to computers, but assets that can anything from a simple POT (Plain Old Telephone) to a human.Everyone is focused on hacking into a router, someone’s computer or a Facebook account. But, in this day and age, brute forcing doesn't work as well and may call for other methods, which might specialties. There are certain people out there that claim you cannot call yourself a hacker unless you can write your own programs and use them to gain access to someone’s computer…that’s rubbish!!Various hackers from different backgrounds have many skills and some may specialize in certain areas, like particular devices that may only be found in nuclear power plants or creating an RFID cloner to gain access to (EAC) Electronic Access Control systems.The birth of modern day hacking can be traced back to John Draper (aka Captain Crunch), who created a blue box that allowed individuals to make free telephone calls through a particular frequency. When he started, his skills were solely radio transmitters to build his own radio.Many hacks are conducted using Social Engineering or physical access to the network or from badly scripted websites/applications, rather than those from across the internet. Even if you have access to a network, that doesn’t mean you’re going to see what’s there.For example, you may have gained access to an unlocked server room and you plug in your laptop to an Ethernet port and run NMAP to see what’s there, but nothing is returned. This could be due to MAC filtering or closed ports etc. So let’s start with the first question that occurs all the time: "How do I become a hacker?"I’ll try to explain, in my own opinion and from my own experience, how to become a hacker. You'll  indefinitely require patience, curiosity and willingness to learn. I have chosen these three characteristics because hacking is a waiting game and might not get results straight away. You need to be curious to find out how things work, how they connect and interact with each other in order to understand potential vulnerabilities. The willingness to learn is the biggest one, regardless of your skill level, as hacking is a fast paced game and even professionals still learn daily. They need to stay on top of new techniques and defend against vulnerabilities. Next, some basic skills:
  • Understand how a computer works – in terms of binary, what a MAC or NIC is and how to maneuver around your computer (Command Line/Terminal) without using the GUI.
  • Understand networking intimately - at least CCNA/Networking+ level  - minimum.
  • Learn a programming language – Start with Python, as it’s a powerful tool and uses simple syntax (2.x or 3.x). Don’t just learn the syntax, but understand how the code compiles and understand the exceptions and why they get thrown. Also, understand how to code defensively to maximize your security. Additionally, be sure to understand how to manipulate/extract data from your own computer using your programs.
These are the basic skills that are foundational. Once you're confident in your knowledge, move on to understand web languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and SQL. These don’t have to be learned sequentially, but don’t bite more than you can chew. Understand what you're learning and practice all the time. Try out different things, not just what the tutorial is telling you…explore!On your journey to becoming a hacker, always have your mind open to new ideas and learn new technology as well as old ones. The first part of any hacking situation is gathering intelligence, which may require you to physically access a building via lock picking, scaling walls/fences or social engineering your way in. These buildings may have motion sensors or infrared cameras and you may need to understand how these devices work and their arcs of view in order to mitigate your presence.If your following tutorials and they're not working for you, find out why they're not working. Are you using the right parameters within the tool or has the network got a Network Intrusion Prevention System in place that's stopping you? If so, you need to understand how these work in order to prod your way through or around it. On the other end of the spectrum, if things are working fine and it was super easy to get in…be careful as this could be a honey pot.The above information is based on my own experiences. White/Grey/Black Hat Hackers are all the same, except their intentions.
References that may enhance your learning:Understand How a Computer WorksLinuxUnderstand NetworksCCNAPython 2.x
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