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After All The N-Posts, Think I'm a Different Kind of Newbie

PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2008 2:10 pm
by nathandelane
So I stumbled across this website, mainly because I was looking up way to hack our own company website. By profession I am a Quality Assurance Automation Engineer/Architect. So I work with Internet technologies on a daily basis. By hobby I have been programming for over 16 years. When I was nine I had an old 286 PC that ran DOS 3.3, there wasn't much to program with that was readily available, but MS-DOS came with two distinct advantages for the avid programming learner - GW-BASIC and debug. After I learned how to use GW-BASIC, I realized that it wasn't taking me where I wanted to go, so I visited the library to check out a book on Intel-x86 machine op-codes and assembly commands. I already knew that I could see the underlying logic of an executable program by running debug on it, and I could already understand the logic of using registers to store data, as well as RAM, and I understood the PC and program stack as well. All I needed was a way to either binarily write a program or assemble it. Debug provided for both interfaces, and though it took a very long time to design and write a decent program using machine code, it was always worth it. Of course nothing ever got above a few hundred bytes.

Anyway, around that time as well, my uncle gave me my first C compiler - Microsoft C and MASM. Sadly I never got into MASM much, but C intrigued me. And so I went to work consuming the books that came with it and writing small C programs. I got myself into lots of trouble by peeking the memory address for various devices, and monitoring interaction response code from my keyboard, mouse, and modem. In school I learned both Pascal and C++ during a number of computer science classes, and Math was always one of my favorite subjects. In my computer science courses I excelled, and experienced my first network-based beat-the-system hacking thrill in that class when the district network systems admin paid us a visit (he was the nerdiest and dumbest suit I have ever met). Later on in my career I learned several higher-level languages in order to more effectively write Windows GUI-based software for my jobs, including Java and C#.NET. Other languages and shell-scripting tools I know and use daily include, BASH, BATCH, VBScript, Ruby, JavaScript, WMI, HTML, CSS, and today I learned about Apache SSI (which I'm embarrassed I never learned before). Here and there I'll have to hack some python or perl, but that is not as common as those other languages, and more recently I've been returning to my roots and learning about high-level assembly language and C/C++ more. (I also take pride in knowing ASP.Net, PHP, and Perl-cgi).

I see a lot of people here asking how to hack, or what language they should learn, and I think back to my first college-based computer science course, Introduction to Computer Science, where I met the first person I'd ever met who I knew would fail at programming, and he did - he was coming from a background in Business Management, had never programmed before in his life, and knew little about how computers operated or what made them tick. I didn't say anything to him at the time, but I was concerned about how well he'd do, because programming isn't all fun and games, and even making a game can be tedious at best - there is a lot to learn before you can get to THAT level. To say the least, he did fail, and I never saw him in any of my successive classes in college (think he went back to Business Management). But if you want to learn how to be a hacker, there are several pieces of paper (website) that you can view, and the most important thing is to learn how to program, have the ever-increasing desire to learn how things work, look at lots of other peoples' code (sf.net is a good place to start for that), and I suppose don't expect to know everything all of a sudden. Hey wait - I'm not a hacker so how can I say that?

Anyway, I'm learning a lot here - I'd have to say that the Beginner Challenges - 1 through 7 were a breeze, but I'm stuck on 8 - please, PLEASE nobody help me though - because I know I'll just feel stupid if you do. Thanks, and I hope that I continue to learn more here. I'm really glad that Google brought me to this site.

Nathan Lane

Re: After All The N-Posts, Think I'm a Different Kind of Newbie

PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2008 4:37 pm
by Sharmz
Wow! That was very motivating... your experience and knowledge fascinates me.
As for basic 8, http://www.hackthissite.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=78&st=0&sk=t&sd=a
im new myself as well, so i read all the stuff in that forum post and i finally got it , although the forums contain spoilers sometimes

-sharmz

Re: After All The N-Posts, Think I'm a Different Kind of Newbie

PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2008 4:55 pm
by tibelttila
Also check the articles for HTS Challenges tutorials.

Re: After All The N-Posts, Think I'm a Different Kind of Newbie

PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2008 5:19 pm
by OneArrow
I think that in your enthusiasm, you may have missed the fact that we have a forum here for mission help. ;]

That having been said, it is nice to see others here looking to expand their horizons. I'm much in the same boat, using HTS as a vehicle to expand what I know. If you're ever stuck, send me a PM - the forums can be rather "spoiler-ish" sometimes.

Best of luck to you. :]

Re: After All The N-Posts, Think I'm a Different Kind of Newbie

PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2008 5:37 pm
by nathandelane
Thank you much for your responses. I'm glad I could motivate somebody. I hope that I can also be useful here. Thanks for the tip also. I know I'll get it sometime. I think that I've been jaded a little by Basic 1-7 though, because to me they were so simple. But I wasn't expecting anyone handing me the answer like they kind of did on the first seven.

Also, you know the movie hackers? It kind of highlights all of the fun stuff, but never goes into the real deep stuff. It just shows people manipulating different web-accessible systems at the high level, and I think aside from the bad rap it's given hackers, it has also made wanna-be hackers or new-to-hacking hackers think that it's all that easy. If you take the computer, for example, that Dade used - he probably (his character anyway) programmed the interface he was using and developed his own remote terminal program. Of course that's never talked about in the movie. Also I noticed a lot of people are asking for tools to help them "hack". IMNHO, hacking is a combination of knowledge, however gained, logic, and programming skills. First off if you don't know how to program, it would be good to use, otherwise you're left flying blindly about what's happening, and more likely to get caught if you're trying to break into a system I think. I also think that knowing text-mode operating system commands is an absolute MUST. That is how some of the early hackers broke into systems - they understood how the operating system worked before the people administering it did. Several books of note contributed to these sorts of hack over time: The Daemon Book, The Pink Shirt Book, and The Purple Book (Other "books" can be found here.

In my signature, I have linked Eric S. Raymond's website - he is absolutely one of the greatest influences on the hacker culture - that's fact. He has written several relevant and useful papers and books, for example: The Cathedral and the Bazaar, The New Hacker's Dictionary, and How To Become A Hacker.

Re: After All The N-Posts, Think I'm a Different Kind of Newbie

PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2008 5:43 pm
by nathandelane
OneArrow wrote:I think that in your enthusiasm, you may have missed the fact that we have a forum here for mission help. ;]


Nah, I didn't miss them, I chose to ignore them. I don't want a spoiler, that's for certain, and so I haven't looked at any of them so far. But thanks for pointing that out, in case I had missed them. I am a very enthusiastic fellow also. I really love programming and figuring stuff out.

Cheers.

Re: After All The N-Posts, Think I'm a Different Kind of Newbie

PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2008 12:09 am
by OneArrow
nathandelane wrote:
OneArrow wrote:I think that in your enthusiasm, you may have missed the fact that we have a forum here for mission help. ;]


Nah, I didn't miss them, I chose to ignore them. I don't want a spoiler, that's for certain, and so I haven't looked at any of them so far. But thanks for pointing that out, in case I had missed them. I am a very enthusiastic fellow also. I really love programming and figuring stuff out.

Cheers.


Fair enough then, you didn't seem the type to gloss over detail. :]

I'm a big fan of ESR's work myself; helped me a lot when I was starting off.