UGN Security


Posted By: scnguitar

Hacking. - 02/21/08 11:00 AM

I hope my thread title wasn't too vague, or enough to make you who are reading this think that I'm just another kid asking "how do i h4x0r hotmail??" Or maybe I did that on purpose, to draw your attention to this thread smile

I came across these forums, like I have with others, but this forum seemed a bit more quiet/lenient than most other busy forums with power-tripping moderators and more than indecent trolls spamming the boards with useless, unanswerable questions and/or requests.

A little history about me; I hope the read isn't too long:
When I got my first computer at 8 years old, I didn't think much of it. I had AOL as the internet, but I barely knew anyone with a "screen name." I would ask other kids if they had one, and most would respond with, "what's that?"

But these older kids, they were into the scene already, probably during the 80s or something (I grew up in the 90s). I overheard them talk about rainbow punters and vague mentions of screwing people over, but I don't ever recall the word "hacking" being mentioned, ever. Eventually the word would become familiar to me not too long in the future.

As I grew more familiar with the internet during the start of the new millenium, when people were afraid of the "2000 bug" or whatever and thought the world was going to crash (lol), I would only play around not knowing what anything did, and when I found out about chatrooms that I could chat with other people, I was ecstatic that there were other kids just like me surfing the web. At the time, I still didn't know how big the internet was, but who cared! There were people who shared the same interests as me that we could talk about. But I, being a dumb middle schooler, had the balls to challenge a real "hacker" (I didn't know at the time, of course) when he/she threatened to nuke my computer, I promptly said, without any knowledge of what "hacking" really was, "Go ahead! Do it!" and the next day my computer would not boot. My first encounter with what I believed was "hacking."

My mom and I brought the computer to a friend who was in the computer business the following week or so, and he said something about a virus and the Windows OS being wiped, but I had no idea what that meant. I thought I was just got unlucky, so once it was up and running again, I went back online without a care and did whatever I did on the internet, but I never dared challenged anyone who claimed to be a hacker. I thought, "If I don't bother them, they won't bother me." So I never got involved, until I once again, overheard people talking about "hacking," but this time it was my friends from school.

This was during the ending of the AOL era, just before when most people would be switching to DSL or when Cable was just getting popular. IIRC, most people (my friends) were still taking overnight hours to donwload a 100 MB file (the Counter-Strike add-on for Half-Life had just come out for free download).

Anyway, I heard about my friend who said he was using a program called "Methodus" and jokingly said he would hack another friend of mine or something. So I, not wanting to sound like a noob, subtlely asked where I could get this tool, and later that night my friend sent me a link to download the Methodus program.

Methodus, if you're not familiar with it, was a program with a bunch of interesting features and had some AOL hacks, ASCII stuff, etc. I recall it being so cool at the time, but I don't think it'd be impressive at all today. I used it for a bit and got bored. "Hacking" was a cool scene, but it wasn't that popular from where I was, apparently. People talked about hacking games and websites like Neopets, which is a text-based game where you take care of a pet online and stuff, etc. I once made a false claim that I hacked 2 people, both of whom gave me their passwords deliberately (one did not want to play anymore, the other did not care for the game and told me to take care of his pet), and people believed me. I became the official "hacker" of the grade, and people would ask me, "how do you hack?" I made up inconspicuous responses about reading up on it, which was ironic because I should have told myself the same thing.

The second I found out there were people in my school that knew more about computers than I did, I immediately attempted to kill the scene and my current social status. I never talked about it, and never mentioned anything about computers. Before summer came, it was already dead and nobody in the school really cared for "hacking" much.

I didn't really interest myself in the topic either. I gave it up and just followed everyone else. I begged my mom to get me a faster internet connection, and I got Cable which was super fast! I gamed with the other kids, and chatted with my friends on instant messenger.

By the time I entered high school, I had naturally picked up general information about computers and the internet, without even trying. I knew my way in and out of folders, how the internet *basically* worked (no intricate knowledge) and information being sent across computers around the world, as well as P2P such as Kazaa and *certain* downloading grin
I was also considering future job opportunities and what I wanted to be after I graduated college/university, etc. But then, I was suddenly struck by subconcious revolution, out of nowhere, like I had broken out of my cocoon and like a buttefly using its wings for the first time, I began to soar through the air looking down upon all the possibilities I could not see initially and was limited to as a caterpillar.

This was triggered by my discovery of the combination of IRC, torrents, and warez all simultaneously within a timespan of a very short time, possibly less than a month. I was excited about the newfound knowledge that I had, that 95% of the kids in my school did not know about. Lurking on IRC, first beginning on a network that caught my interest because it was for a television show I liked, I began to understand about networking much, much more. Also the fact that I was able to access files illegally for free that most people would have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for (I am not admitting to anything, I am just saying I could have downloaded those files, but I didn't, okay grin), I felt like I had power over the other kids at school. I eventually learned how to brute force successfully, and my script kiddie skills began to show.

Technically, I would classify myself as a script kiddie since I first got that program Methodus, so I have been a "noob" for the longest time, up until, and including, right now.

So, continuing chronologically with my story, I thought my skills were pretty good. I knew for a fact I still could not match against a real "hacker," but at the time, I still did not know the "true" meaning of being a "hacker." Like many others still think of the terminology today, I thought a hacker was someone who broke into computers and did bad stuff, for whatever reason, would it be political or personal.

I continued living this life for a while, until I finally came to realize that I absolutely needed to learn more. I don't know whether it was the drive to become a better "hacker" or I wanted to become as good as the others out there, but I would soon find out the road would not be easy at all (not that I thought it was).

The problem was, I did not know where to start...I hung around an IRC network that only knew about a television show and nothing else...the IRC operators weren't too "teaching" friendly at all, and on top of that, even I knew more than some of the people that were IRC ops of the network. Other than that, I thought forums were lame because it was not "real-time" like IRC channels or chatrooms.

So at this point, I was at a dead end because I had absolutely no resources to look or search for places where I could learn "hacking." I assumed my searches on Google would just lead me to some Micro$oft security website or some tech website that was too popular for me to start a thread asking "how to h4x0r" (not that I ever would, today). I tried different IRC networks, like the more popular ones such as Efnet and Dalnet, but to no avail as I only read in some news articles about bad hackers that these "hacker" channels were pretty much underground and I would not be able to find them on my own without a real hacker contact of my own.

I somewhat gave up at this point, but not totally. I decided I would quite *somehow* learn myself. My first stop was immediately my local library (good old library, I bet it never thought I'd come crawling back to it with all my resources on the internet and whatnot grin )

I picked up books like "Linux for Dummies" even though I assumed it might be a waste of time and useless in my quest for hacking. Maybe I thought hacking was a totally illegal concept and no published book would condone that. I picked up books on Linux because I heard only computer geeks and hackers used this type of operating system, and eventually I switched over from Windows to *nix myself. I started off with an easy Debian-based distro like Ubuntu, tried out multiple other noob distros, and eventually ended up using more "sophisticated" and "respected" distros such as Debian itself, Gentoo, Slackware, the Unix OS of BSD variants, and even building Linux entirely from source with the LFS guide.

Honestly, I did not push myself hard enough to learning about these operating systems. At the point I knew the basic commands and could use it fluently without dual-booting with Windows as a failsafe if I could not figure out how to do something in *nix, I thought I was pretty much good and I felt cool showing off to my friends at school on my laptop that I fluently used *nix, and not two other people in the entire school of 5,000 people did. (Yea, it was overcrowded.)

I slacked off for a bit, basking in my unique knowledge of *nix that everyone else admired, but my curiousity struck again as I wondered how all these people on Linux forums knew so much about different topics people were posting about in the "Other" category and I was still reading about "hackers" in newspaper articles and random blogs online that I came across. It wasn't much of a popular discussion among most people I knew, so I decided to venture out once again, on my own.

I looked up "famous hackers" (where I found out about people like Kevin Mitnick, Phiber Optik, and some people from the 80s/90s that had potential skill, various stories of them) and this is where I started to learn about the true meaning of "hacker." There were white hats, black hats, gray hats, and whatever color you wanted to add into the mix, but now I knew the distinguishment between "hackers" and "crackers." These words did not necessarily implicate "good" or "bad," instead were different terms of what people did. Society and government might have categorized all "hackers" as bad people (as I read in some articles and viewed in some videos), but now I knew the difference. And all of the sudden, it all started to show.

I followed link after link, like ones you find in advertisement sites that lead to nowhere, and came across the stories of hackers, their aliases, accomplishments, goals, and current life. I've read about hackers who have either been caught or give up their way of life and convert to a lifestyle of legit consultant work or security administrators, etc. As I became more and more familiar with the hacking underground, I became more and more obsessed with it. I might have the same mindset of these guys when they were in their youth, but even now I feel I will never stray from what I want to do so badly.

The span from whence I began my story is not long at all. I started from age 8, skipped to age 11, then 14 (high school), and now I am 18. I dropped out of university before I could even begin my first year there and chose to work at a common job such as a small chain supermarket or grocery store. This is the life I choose, and some may say it's dumb or crazy, but when I hear most of these lectures, I often hear the word "money" or something related at least once. These people are so concerned with the way I live my life that they want me make like 6 digits a year post-graduation with a law degree or something? What makes me content and fulfilled is living a simple life, getting by and doing what I enjoy. Some people tell me, "you love computers so much, why don't you get a job in that field?" Well, that might be a path I can choose, and it may or may not restrict my abilities. I've spoken with friends in the industry, and sometimes they say the work can overwhelm them or distract them from other aspects of computing. I don't have the potential to begin my own business, but that's just what I believe just like the other things I believe in. But if I have a boss that tells me what to do and what to program for work, I don't think I could focus on the skills I want to develop as the other life I want to live as in my stubborn, childish mind.

Maybe my attitude is because of some of the things I've experienced in my childhood, but regardless, I have a strong faith in what I want to do now, and whatever anybody might say to or about me, I won't turn away from it (for now). But if I ever do grow up, I won't hesitate to admit I was wrong and I followed unattainable dreams. So in the case anyone makes a post about how I should live my own life, don't bother wink

So, eventually, I was lead here, as well as numerous other boards. Like I stated initially, I've decided to post here for various reasons, but don't be surprised if I copy/paste this to other forums blush

I've definitely come a very long way, and I might even know more than I know myself! I've picked up a good amount of general knowledge of all the basics, but now I want to learn more. I've picked up several programming books, but before I begin to learn half of useless content, I'd like to make sure I can learn 100% of something that I know will assist me in a positive way.

For the sake of neutrality, and from reading the rules of the board of course, I won't state how I'll use the skills I teach myself either with good intent or malicious use. Because I'm not asking anyone to teach me how to do this or do that, but a vague point into a direction will do, and what I do with my developed knowledge, I can do what I want with, right? smile
But to put this reader's mind at ease, I can honestly tell you as 100% fact, I do NOT seek to hack into websites, deface them, rm the server's directories, attack them with DoS or anything else, even if I do pick up the capabilities of doing so, that is not my goal, so rest assure you don't need to tell me anything about how to do that kind of stuff. I don't like to limit my knowledge, but all that can be put aside for now. Besides, I believe that the internet is a person's source of the first amendment, and taking down a website for what someone believes in, I think is wrong. Of course there are cases like hacker group rivalry, personal vendettas, etc. but in the general case, I don't condone that kind of activity. So, no one of you have to feel responsible that you just might have created a terrible monster of some sort, but who says you, the reader, might not secretly be? grin (Just some food for thought.)

What I am interested in is more like penetration testing, against servers as well as typical user boxes/home workstations. I'm not 100% sure on where to begin, but I have picked up books on C, Python, LISP, and various networking books. So, where to begin?

I'm sorry if that was a long read, but you can skip my life story if you happen to scroll down here first before reading all that laugh
Posted By: Gremelin

Re: Hacking. - 02/21/08 11:37 AM

Great life story, i skimmed it... not sure I realy can numb down the question though; what are you wanting to do? Comp Tech is more than hacking, and hacking is more than hacking, coding as well...

You should pick a topic and become a god in it, then move on... In fact, our CPP guru's left long ago, so we always have need for new coders wink... and god knows i always have ideas lol...

Posted By: scnguitar

Re: Hacking. - 02/21/08 11:44 AM

I guess it just seems like I'm way too hungry for everything, but I'm sure it's not possible to wolf down everything I want to learn all at once. I do have patience, and sometimes I can learn pretty fast too.

Into which general categories would you say there are for a certain "topic?" Maybe I can pick one from a list and try to master/become an expert in that field and attempt to move on to multiple others as I go along.
Posted By: Gremelin

Re: Hacking. - 02/21/08 12:51 PM

Well, depends really... Programming is always good, will get you involved in knowing how software/webpages work...

So then you break it down to weather you want to learn to work with programs or sites, if sites then php/mysql/asp is a great way to go; if programs then cpp; you could mix them all together as well...
Posted By: Molgoroth

Re: Hacking. - 02/24/08 10:07 AM

wow man im the same way as you, except you are alot more experienced than I am. I would love to learn more about wireless networks and remote access. i guess we all have to start somewhere.
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