How to become a Hacker – Part 1 (newbie)

This level is for people that;

  • Have no experience with cybersecurity or hacking
  • Limited knowledge on computers in general.
  • Not sure how programming works
  • Not sure how to get started with Hacking

What is Hacking?

Hacking is about identifying weaknesses and vulnerabilities of systems and gaining access to it.

A Hackers gets unauthorized access by targeting system while ethical hackers have an official permission in a lawful and legitimate manner to assess the security posture of a target system(s).

There are a few types of hackers you should be aware of.

  • White hat — ethical hacker. 
  • Black hat — classical hacker, get unauthorized access. 
  • Grey hat — a person who gets unauthorized access but reveals the weaknesses to the company.
  • Script kiddie — a person with no technical skills just used pre-made tools.
  • Hacktivist — a person who hacks for some idea and leaves some messages. For example strike against copyright.

Actually, the goal of ethical hacking is to reveal the system weaknesses and vulnerabilities for a company to fix them. Ethical hacker documents everything he did.

What Hacking is NOT

There’s a few things we would like to clarify before you delve into becoming the next best hacker. This might burst your bubble especially if you are not fully motivated to pursue this career/hobby but, hacking is simply put, not something you can learn in a few days or even in a few months.

Yes, you will learn a lot in those days but to become a really good hacker or even one of the best, (and we’re not talking about showing a few awesome tricks to your friends for them to believe you are hacker) you will need to dedicate at least several years to be even worthy of being called a hacker.

Hacking is also not a “press one button” and somehow you got into a system or cracked a facebook account like in the movies. It takes weeks or even months to gather information about one company or target and exploit in the best possible way. Keep note that the more research you do, the more likely you will be able to pwn the target. (the same applies for learning for an exam. If you missed 2 chapters because you were lazy or didn’t double check that there’s additional information. That can cost you to fail, and in the hacking world that could mean you’re either busted or you didn’t present the correct information to your client).

Getting your mindset ready

Hackers solve problems and build things, and they believe in freedom and voluntary mutual help. To be accepted as a hacker, you have to behave as though you have this kind of attitude yourself. And to behave as though you have the attitude, you have to really believe the attitude.

But if you think of cultivating hacker attitudes as just a way to gain acceptance in the culture, you’ll miss the point. Becoming the kind of person who believes these things is important for you — for helping you learn and keeping you motivated. As with all creative arts, the most effective way to become a master is to imitate the mind-set of masters — not just intellectually but emotionally as well.

Or, as the following modern Zen poem has it:


    To follow the path:
    look to the master,
    follow the master,
    walk with the master,
    see through the master,
    become the master.

Coding - The Hackers Language

The hacker attitude is vital, but skills are even more vital. Attitude is no substitute for competence, and there’s a certain basic toolkit of skills which you have to have before any hacker will dream of calling you one.

This (coding), of course, is the fundamental hacking skill. Without programming you will never truly know what is happening behind the scenes. I mean,  ask yourself this. Do you actually know what is happening when your computer boots up? Do you know how your windows are running your microsoft word or any other application? How are you even reading this on your browser right now? That amazing website you keep visiting, how was it built?

This is where programming comes into play. These are the type of questions you need to ask yourself throughout the journey and then find the answers. Understanding programming fluently, it will start to become clearer on how everything is placed together.

Recommended Courses

Here’s a list of courses we believe you should take or read through in order to start your journey.

Here’s a minimum requirement to follow, ask yourself this – Do you understand how a single computer works, know the different parts and their functions and how they interact with the operating system? If not, start with

  • CompTIA A+

If you do know how a single computer works, do you know how they talk to each other? If not, start with

  • CompTIA Network+ and Cisco’s CCNA

If you know a lot about computers and networking functionality, your next step should be

  • CompTIA Security+

Those 3 courses are critical to begin with. Additional courses to go for next are:

  • CompTIA Linux+
  • CompTIA IT Fundamentals
  • CompTIA Server+ / MCSA: Windows Server
  • Introduction to Cyber security

Now that you know pretty much the basics of how computers, networking and cryptography works. It’s time to learn how to code. Recommended courses to take in order.

  1. Bash/Shell
  2. Python
  3. C / C++
  4. LISP
  5. Perl
  6. Java

Additional Information regards to the above list

If you don’t know any computer languages, we recommend starting with Python. It is cleanly designed, well documented, and relatively kind to beginners. Despite being a good first language, it is not just a toy; it is very powerful and flexible and well suited for large projects.

If you get into serious programming, you will have to learn C, the core language of Unix. C++ is very closely related to C; if you know one, learning the other will not be difficult. Neither language is a good one to try learning as your first, actually, the more you can avoid programming in C the more productive you will be.

C is very efficient, and very sparing of your machine’s resources. Unfortunately, C gets that efficiency by requiring you to do a lot of low-level management of resources (like memory) by hand. All that low-level code is complex and bug-prone, and will soak up huge amounts of your time on debugging. With today’s machines as powerful as they are, this is usually a bad tradeoff — it’s smarter to use a language that uses the machine’s time less efficiently, but your time much more efficiently. Thus, Python.

Other languages of particular importance to hackers include Perl and LISP. Perl is worth learning for practical reasons; it’s very widely used for active web pages and system administration, so that even if you never write Perl you should learn to read it. Many people use Perl in the way we suggest you should use Python, to avoid C programming on jobs that don’t require C’s machine efficiency. You will need to be able to understand their code.

LISP is worth learning for a different reason — the profound enlightenment experience you will have when you finally get it. That experience will make you a better programmer for the rest of your days, even if you never actually use LISP itself a lot. (You can get some beginning experience with LISP fairly easily by writing and modifying editing modes for the Emacs text editor, or Script-Fu plugins for the GIMP.)

It’s best, actually, to learn all five of Python, C/C++, Java, Perl, and LISP. Besides being the most important hacking languages, they represent very different approaches to programming, and each will educate you in valuable ways.

But be aware that you won’t reach the skill level of a hacker or even merely a programmer simply by accumulating languages — you need to learn how to think about programming problems in a general way, independent of any one language. To be a real hacker, you need to get to the point where you can learn a new language in days by relating what’s in the manual to what you already know. This means you should learn several very different languages.

Summary

Remember that hacking takes a lot of time, so be willing to go the extra mile, always be curious and expect to make some sacrifices to your social life.

Find a person, mentor or a friend that’s also in the hacking culture and ask them questions, question their thinking and just ultimately be prepared to take in as much information as possible.

Remember to read, read and read some more until your face is blue. Books/documentation are critical for learning and understanding new methods.

Also view our documentary section for interesting concepts happening in the world.

Note down our recommended courses. If you are unable to enroll with a College or University make use of the free online courses.

Once you are confident with your knowledge, proceed to our next level