[ How to Teach Hacker Highschool: Unit 4 ]

Glenn Norman

This is the fourth unit of my course for teachers, which brings together a lot of material I generated while working as Project Manager for the Hacker Highschool v2 Rewrite Project, 2012-2016. This session helps you get started with Day One of hacking class, and exploring Lesson 1.

Here’s the video of Unit 4, with the links it mentions below. Tell me what you think in the Comments, and thanks for taking a look.

Uncut Lessons: http://gnorman.org/2017/05/16/hacker-highschool-download-uncut-lessons/

School for Hackers: https://schoolforhackers.com for Hacker Night School and Hacking 101

Hacker Highschool (http://www.hackerhighschool.org/) is a free, open curriculum from ISECOM (http://www.isecom.org/). Uncut lessons are available at http://gnorman.org/2017/05/16/hacker-highschool-download-uncut-lessons/.

Review: EC-Council’s iLabs Platform

Glenn Norman

I’ve been trying to bring “hacker” training to UNM for over ten years without much success. Only in the past two semesters have I been able to run an Ethical Hacking class based on the CEH, but where my past efforts didn’t bring students, the CEH did.

Red Team work has long interested me, likely because years of managing high-traffic websites left me with lots of scars and an urge to fight back. There are some interesting programs: the OSCP, GIAC certifications, and the CEH probably make up the short list. I’m highly interested in the GIAC certs, but man are they expensive. The OSCP from Offensive Security is the real hardcore hacker’s cert, even if most HR people haven’t figured that out yet. The CEH, on the other hand, is widely recognized by HR but doesn’t enjoy quite the same purists’ esteem.

So I approached Jay Bavisi online, and he connected me with ECC VP Eric Lopez and ECC University VP David Oxenhandler. Eric and David met with me to talk about marketing ECC courses and materials to UNM administration, and gave me a stack of books two feet high – and an account on ECC’s online training platform, iLabs 2.0. I’ll have more to say about specific books and certs, but here I’m going to talk about iLabs itself.

By now almost every teacher has dealt with a few learning management systems (LMSs). My list includes build-it-yourself platforms like Blackboard, Moodle and WordPress LMS; ready-to-go courses on sites like Udemy and Coursera; and some great pre-built platforms for building tests and courses like Mettl and Braincert. They all have a lot in common in terms of features and interfaces: videos or scenarios to play, guided exercises, mostly textual interactions (if any) with the instructor and other students.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time on hacking sites like root-me.org and HacktheBox, which are very different from the LMSs. The best of them fire up virtual machines for students to practice on, which is a lot more realistic than the guided walk-throughs most LMSs offer.

iLabs merges these two models. ECC has given me permission to share screenshots from that environment, so let’s do a walkthrough, starting from the login page.

iLabs Login
iLabs Login

I received a welcome email with instructions on setting up my account and using an Access Key to start running the course materials. My key got me into the CEHv9 course. Remember that the CEH is transitioning to version 10, so there will be some differences in the newer version.

iLabs Tab: My Training
iLabs Tab: My Training

From here I had four tabs to choose from: My Training (the current screen), My Transcript, Courses and Contact.

iLabs Tab: My Transcript
iLabs Tab: My Transcript

My Transcript showed that at the moment, I had basically completed no training (at least on this platform). No surprise. I can see this being useful once I’ve studied a few more certs.

iLabs Tab: More Courses
iLabs Tab: More Courses

The Courses tab takes us to a Course Catalog that will immediately made my mouth water: Advanced Penetration Testing, Incident Handler, Forensics Investigator. It’s a lineup that’s grown dramatically, and seems aimed directly at GIAC. Yes, I tried getting into other courses (hacker!) and that wasn’t possible, at least without making myself a nuisance instead of a guest. But now I have an appetite for more.

Going back to the Courses tab, I clicked on the Certified Ethical Hacker – CEH v9 link, and arrived at the summary page for the program.

CEH Course Activities List
CEH Course Activities List

These are the familiar sections of the CEHv9 training. Clicking the Launch button takes us to a preliminary test of our system, then lets us launch the actual test lab. Clicking the button opens a new window while our test environment is launched.

iLabs: Starting the Lab Environment
iLabs: Starting the Lab Environment

Module 1 is all about learning to use the iLabs platform, and provides a walkthrough of the interface’s features. It’s an information-intensive environment, so pay close attention at this stage. There are a couple of places on every screen that may offer tips; learning where to look helps a lot once we’re doing active work.

iLabs: Lab Orientation
iLabs: Lab Orientation

Next, in this and all Modules, comes a couple of screens of information: Objectives and the lesson Scenario.

iLabs: Module Instructions
iLabs: Module Instructions

Clicking through the Information screens takes us to the first virtual machine we’ll use, a Windows Server 2012 instance. Choose the Machines tab and click on Windows Server 2012, if it’s not already selected.

iLabs: Virtual Machine Ready
iLabs: Virtual Machine Ready

We’ll need to locate the Commands menu at the top of the screen in order to log into the VM. It’s not clearly labeled; look for the lightning bolt at the top of the scroll bar on the right. It pops open a dialog where we can send a Ctrl-Alt-Delete to get a login form.

We’ve got an amusing choice here: use the Commands menu, click Type Text, then click Type Username; or click in the Machines tab on the username; or type it into the form ourselves. Do aspiring hackers really need this much hand-holding? Probably not, but this feature is also likely just an element of the LMS. Choose a method, and enter the username and password.

The next screen comes up every time we open this VM, which is just a result of starting an absolutely fresh installation. Obviously we don’t need to set up the whole server, so simply cancel the dialog.

iLabs: Server Setup
iLabs: Server Setup

Notice that the bottom of the VM’s screen is cut off on my 15″ laptop monitor (1366×768). Checking the available resolutions, I found it’s already at its lowest option, 1024×768. While this isn’t a big deal, it is a bit annoying to have to scroll to see everything. I couldn’t find a setting to resize the VM window, but the interface is complex enough that I may have missed it. (Let me know below if you find it.)

iLabs: Starting Firefox
iLabs: Starting Firefox

Next comes opening Firefox. This requires telling Firefox that we don’t want to update to the latest version. Why? Because the VM is running an older version that supports the outdated Firebug plugin. I expect that the version 10 course will use a newer utility that works in current versions of Firefox (as I mentioned, this is the now-retired version 9).

Note the instructions in the blue box at the bottom of the screen, which direct us to enter the target website’s URL (which is not an actual online domain).

iLabs: Moviescope.com
iLabs: Moviescope.com

Once we’re on the Moviescope site, open the Firebug console. Firebug, by the way, has since merged into the Firefox Developer Tools. In the lab, some Firebug features won’t work, but clicking through the interface tabs does for the most part. And of course the functions Firebug offered are still available in Firefox, so in real life you don’t have to stick to an old version of the browser.

iLabs: Firebug Error
iLabs: Firebug Error

The instructions steer us to the HTML inspector in Firesheep, and into the scripts present on the page.

iLabs: The Debugging Environment
iLabs: The Debugging Environment

Click to expand one of the scripts and it gives up its code.

iLabs: Moviescope Javascripts
iLabs: Moviescope Javascripts

After taking this quick look at the scripts the lab points out that these visible scripts are ripe for the plucking. Then the Module starts us into another software installation.

CEH Tools
CEH Tools

The CEH has a heavy concentration in hacking tools, and candidates are expected to be familiar with the functions of quite a few of them. This is where this LMS shines: we get to set up, run and see the output of these tools on a live VM system. When I studied for the CEH, everything I worked with was text and slideshows. I’m a geek and an instructor, so I went out and got, installed and tried out every tool that was mentioned (this took a LONG time), so it’s nice to see that this course puts the tools right in my hands.

Drive E: has a tasty little stash of software we’ll be using. In this case, we’re steered to the Web Data extractor, which we install and run.

Web Data Extractor
Web Data Extractor

“Web Data Extractor Pro is a web scraping tool specifically designed for mass-gathering of various data types. It can harvest URLs, phone and fax numbers, email addresses, as well as meta tag information and body text. Special feature of WDE Pro is custom extraction of structured data.” – http://www.webextractor.com/

Our target web site is small, so the scan completes quickly. When it’s done it lets us know.

Web Data Extractor - scan complete
Web Data Extractor – scan complete

Now we can dig through the results, which are excellent for Reconnaissance-stage hacking: one scan saves us the trouble of digging around for the target’s email addresses, phone numbers etc.

Web Data Extractor - scan results
Web Data Extractor – scan results

After some discussion, we’re led to another installation, this time of the WinHTTrack Website Copier.

iLabs: Installing WinHTTrack Website Copier
iLabs: Installing WinHTTrack Website Copier

“HTTrack … allows you to download a World Wide Web site from the Internet to a local directory, building recursively all directories, getting HTML, images, and other files from the server to your computer. HTTrack arranges the original site’s relative link-structure. Simply open a page of the “mirrored” website in your browser, and you can browse the site from link to link, as if you were viewing it online.” – http://www.httrack.com/

iLabs: Starting WinHTTrack Website Copier
iLabs: Starting WinHTTrack Website Copier

Once we’ve chosen a project name, we can review the configuration.

iLabs: Configuring WinHTTrack Website Copier
iLabs: Configuring WinHTTrack Website Copier

So bang, click OK and turn it loose. When it’s done it’s not completely clear what you’re supposed to do. From the Index of Projects page, click on the only one: our Test Project

iLabs: Scan Results WinHTTrack Website Copier
iLabs: Scan Results WinHTTrack Website Copier

Now we can click through pages and examine code without waiting for the live site to load them for us.

iLabs: Examining the Copied Site
iLabs: Examining the Copied Site

After some discussion and examination, we’re shown out the door to this Module and back to our summary screen: Status Complete. From here we can scroll down and launch Module 2, Scanning Networks. We can’t, however, skip ahead. We’ll have to run the Modules in order. After doing each one, we can go back and review.

iLabs: Post-Module Summary
iLabs: Post-Module Summary

This is only the top of the page…

iLabs: 17 Modules
iLabs: 17 Modules

…there are a total of 17 Modules to work through. Most of them run between a half hour and 1.5 hours.

iLabs: CEHv9 Module 2
iLabs: CEHv9 Module 2

Going forward, we get to use more real VMs, not just Server 2012. Module 2 takes us straight into doing network scans in Kali (oh fun!). We’re not playing with a simulation, either. This is live practice on real machines.

Learn On Demand Systems
Learn On Demand Systems

By now it should be pretty clear that I really like the environment. If ECC had built it themselves I’d be amazed, because it’s such a large-scale project. Fortunately they did what any smart IT person does, namely finding the best and latest tech that currently exists. (You don’t try to re-create YouTube when you want to stream videos, do you?)

The ECC iLabs system is an instance of the Learn On Demand Systems (http://www.learnondemandsystems.com/) environment. They bill their product as “Experiential Learning Solutions,” and the name fits. This LMS isn’t just boring slide shows and droning videos; it’s real hands-on practice.

I should point out that iLabs is just one part of an ECC training course. ECC also provides a huge stack of printed material for the CEH and their other courses. But I’ll review that in another article and tie this review up for now.

Let me end by suggesting that this is a whole new game for the Certified Ethical Hacker credential. ECC has put huge work into updating the cert, as I’ve seen from brief looks at v10 materials. And the CEH is the pen testing/auditing cert that’s most recognized, and most requested, by the recruiters who are looking for my students. I feel pretty good about the prospects for bringing this cert to UNM, and attracting both current CS/MIS students and adult professionals. You’ll hear how it works out right here. Good luck!

Sites To Practice Hacking: HackThisSite.org

Glenn Norman
This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series [ Sites Where You Can Hack ]

HackThisSite is the perfect place to start this list of online hacking platforms. It’s been around a long time, and has a really active community. Of course, the specific flavor of hacking you’ll pursue here is web application testing. The domain name doesn’t lie: you’re welcome to try most kinds of mapping, testing and cracking against it. It’s not fair game to DoS the site, because hey, we’re all trying to get something done here, and DoS is for skids.

You will need to create an account. Now is when you’ll want one of those multiple email identities we keep bitching about: Security is a Function of Segregation!

Check it out at the link below. If you’ve got an account on this site, let us know what you think, especially if you crack one of the really hard challenges.

https://www.hackthissite.org

* * *

[ How to Teach Hacker Highschool: Unit 3 ]

Hacker Girl
This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series How to Teach Hacker Highschool

This is the third unit of my course for teachers, which brings together a lot of material I generated while working as Project Manager for the Hacker Highschool v2 Rewrite Project, 2012-2016. This session offers some hints on conducting classes, and help for you to be a great teacher of hacking. Polish your Google Hacking skills, learn to search more safely, show your students easy ways to start coding and start getting familiar with your eyes and ears on the network: Nmap and Wireshark.

Here’s the video of Unit 3, with the links it mentions below. Tell me what you think in the Comments, and thanks for taking a look.

Powerpoint: http://gnorman.org/HHS/Teacher_Training_Unit_2_GN_017-11-20.pdf

Uncut Lessons: http://gnorman.org/2017/05/16/hacker-highschool-download-uncut-lessons/

School for Hackers: https://schoolforhackers.com for Hacker Night School and Hacking 101

Hacker Highschool (http://www.hackerhighschool.org/) is a free, open curriculum from ISECOM (http://www.isecom.org/). Uncut lessons are available at http://gnorman.org/2017/05/16/hacker-highschool-download-uncut-lessons/.

Google Advanced Search Operators: http://www.googleguide.com/advanced_operators_reference.html

DuckDuckGo Search Engine: http://DuckDuckGo.com

http://www.ikeahackers.net/

https://www.buzzfeed.com/readcommentbackwards/40-creative-food-hacks-that-will-change-the-way-yo-dmjk?utm_term=.ve0pYaR41#.oy7357LoM

https://www.wikihow.com/Hack-an-Xbox-Controller-Into-a-PC-Gamepad

https://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Fake-and-Harmless-Virus

https://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Batch-File

https://www.wireshark.org/

https://nmap.org/

–Musical Credits–
Opening and Closing: Loops by Mark D’Angelo, copyright 2017
Cold Funk – Funkorama by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/…)
Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-…
Artist: http://incompetech.com/
Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/Vhd6Kc4TZls

[ How to Teach Hacker Highschool: Unit 2 ]

Hacker Girl
This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series How to Teach Hacker Highschool

This is the second unit of my course for teachers, which brings together a lot of material I generated while working as Project Manager for the Hacker Highschool v2 Rewrite Project, 2012-2016. This session is about building a classroom laboratory for security training.

So here’s the video of Unit 2, with the links it mentions below. Tell me what you think in the Comments, and thanks for taking a look.

POWERPOINT: http://gnorman.org/HHS/Teacher_Training_Unit_3_GN_2017-12-12.pdf

Uncut Lessons: http://gnorman.org/2017/05/16/hacker-highschool-download-uncut-lessons/

School for Hackers: https://schoolforhackers.com for Hacker Nightschool and Hacking 101

Hacker Highschool (http://www.hackerhighschool.org/) is a free, open curriculum from ISECOM (http://www.isecom.org/). Uncut lessons are available at http://gnorman.org/2017/05/16/hacker-highschool-download-uncut-lessons/.

–Musical Credits–
Cold Funk – Funkorama by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/…)
Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-…
Artist: http://incompetech.com/
Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/Vhd6Kc4TZls

Online victim resources:
https://www.hackthissite.org

https://www.root-me.org/

http://scanme.nmap.org/

Equifax Did Three Simple Things Wrong and Hacked Us All

Glenn Norman

So Equifax was hacked not once, but twice? No way. I don’t believe it. If you’ve been hacked twice, you’ve been hacked at least 3.6 million times (or pick any other really big number you like). And notification of this new hack, like the last one, came at a languid pace. I’ve gotta give it to Equifax: if I did something like this, anything like this in my own business, I’d quickly go to prison. Their people are just walking out the door.

What irritates the devil out of me is that Equifax took an equally languid attitude toward the security of my personal information by violating three simple tenets of security. I know it’s not easy to manage a corporate network; I’ve been there. But there are fundamental measures anyone with a brain or responsibility has to take in this field, and Equifax outright failed to do these obvious things.

Principle One: Isolation

Not every system needs to touch the internet. Of those that do, none of them should have access to anything but the absolute minimal resources (meaning other systems) they need to do their job. Production networks should always be totally isolated: human resources, accounts payable, management, customer service and every other production operation should be utterly isolated from each other. Even if systems within them are compromised via email or the internet, they should provide no ingress – absolutely none – across functions. Your deepest assets (consumer records would qualify) should be deeply isolated.

“But customer service needs access to records, and so do the customers!”

Yes, and that functionality is still available. You’ll do it via strongly encrypted, strongly authenticated, highly secured connections. In other words, the segregation cannot be simply VLANs on a switch or even casually configured internal routers. No. Every production network should be encapsulated, firewalled, filtered and logged as an independent unit, one that considers itself surrounded by hostile would-be intruders. If I can walk through your DMZ to your online-data network, that’s a problem. But if I can then pivot to other production networks, it’s time for a firing squad.

Principle Two: Patch Management

All the mainstream security firms will hound you about this: stay patched right up to the minute! There is a tiny minority who would dispute this, arguing that proper isolation makes urgent patch management a useless exercise in anxiety. For my money, I’m going to do both (and a lot more).

The likely culprit here was an unpatched Apache Struts installation. Frameworks like Struts are popular with developers but eventually have to be managed by sysadmins, who may not love or follow them as closely. This is where tight collaboration between these teams has to ensure things that need to be patched (which includes practically everything that’s installed) are included in patch management lists and applications. I shouldn’t have to say it but those lists and apps must be intensively managed. That’s a pain, but lawsuits are a bigger pain, and really big lawsuits can be fatally painful for organizations.

Principle Three: Competent Management

Repeat after me: a degree in music does not qualify you to be CSO. (A degree in music does not qualify ….) Experian did not get this memo, and hired as Chief Security Officer one Susan Mauldin, music major, whose LinkedIn profile was edited and made private shortly after the hack was revealed, likely because she listed no relevant qualifications whatsoever.

I have been working, studying and teaching in this field for some 20 years, and I consider myself hardly qualified for a job like CSO. You’re playing with blood and money in that job. Even if you’re a brilliant poker player, this is 3D chess played with lions. If you can only play Whack-a-Mole on the computer, you should not be managing computer security for a major corporation. You’ll need to be a fanatical, deeply involved security fiend to play cop or Batman for a company like Experian.

This whole question of qualifications goes far beyond this field. A Chief Scientist should, for instance, be a scientist. This quickly gets political (at least for me), so I’ll stop now. But what Experian has done is not political, and not forgivable. They’re doing something that affects far too many people to approach it lackadaisically.

Now, the kernel: if you’re a malicious hacker, you’re going to be looking for exactly these weaknesses. During the Reconnaissance stage, finding a weak CIO or CSO would be a whiff of blood in the water. If a simple scan reveals unpatched vulns, bingo. And if weak or nonexistent network segmentation lets me go bounding through the corporate cyberverse, oh joy, oh glad (assuming I’m that malicious hacker). If I’m NOT a cracker, I’d be testing exactly these same limits because I’d be a pen tester or researcher or bounty hunter or whatever. Right?

[ CEH Training ] :: [ Day 1 ]

This entry is part 3 of 10 in the series [ Certified Ethical Hacker Training ]

Introductions

Short bios and description of experience

Assessment test

Some discussion of the CEH:
http://www.techexams.net/forums/ec-council-ceh-chfi/116310-passed-my-ceh-resit-some-thoughts-cert-ec-council-3.html

Chapter 1

Hacking in theory and practice

  1. Origins and definitions
  2. “Hacking as it was done in 1998”
  3. Deeper hacking methodology
  4. EC-Council’s definitions
  5. The role of contracts

Colors of Hats

Colors of Boxes

Scope, Terms of Engagement, etc.

Hackable Websites

Hackthissite.org: Take them up on this offer! A great learning site. https://www.hackthissite.org/

Root-me.org: There are challenges in several categories, and they’re quite good. There is no clear pathway through, though, so it’s up to your hackerly curiosity to explore your interests.
https://www.root-me.org/?lang=en

Shellterlabs: Work through a series of lessons to gain competencies in one area after another. The challenges are truly challenging. https://shellterlabs.com/en/

Chapter 2

TCP/IP models, important ports, proxies and firewalls

Chapter 3

Crypto

In-Class Exercise:

Maltego: activation and configuration

Official training videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP-Pl_SRQVo&list=PLC9DB3E7C258CD215

Homework:

  1. Begin a Maltego investigation (graph) of yourself. Start with the Person object and expand outward to work information, email addresses etc. Every single particle of information you can gather about yourself, anyone else can too.While this kind of scanning is perfectly legal in many parts of the world (think about what ad agencies know about you), remember this critical hacker principal: Don’t attract unneeded attention.
  2. Take your first reading pass through Chapters 1, 2 and 3. Highlight liberally. Plan for using special markers in locations that directly discuss test topics (i.e. questions).