Well I've been interested in the area of hacking for quite a while, after hearing people talk of it, seeing news reports of the larger hacks, and have begun fiddling about with Linux distros and the like (for instance, BackTrack).
However, I am completely new to the whole area of hacking, the reason I'm interested, is more for security reasons than to actually hack anyone (though pen testing my own machines could be interesting)... Obviously just knowing about hacking isn't going to make anyone any more secure, and I'm guessing that new exploits for everything are being created all the time, hence why I'm interested in the whole scene.
I have a lot of experience with windows (obviously), and as well as dabbling in *nix, have a decent knowledge of c++ (currently learning it, by no means very advanced stuff at the moment), and from other posts around this area it looks as if I'm going in the right direction.
Although it would be nice, a quick and easy "how to" guide isn't going to happen, but if a few people around here could point me to resources that'll get me on my way, in terms of learning about how hacks are performed, how to protect against them, etc, I'd be very grateful (Please note, I'm talking about penetration, not website hacking, not too interested in that).
I did read up on the Newbie assignment area, and will take a look through the resources there, but was wondering if there's any more help to be had than just in that topic? Oh, and excuse any phrases here which just sound stupid, I'm completely new to all this, and this seemed like a good place to ask around.