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Basic Computer Skills

It probably goes without saying that to become a hacker you need some basic comp
uter skills. These skills go beyond the ability to create a Word document or cru
ise the Internet. You need to be able to use the command line in Windows, edit t
he registry, and set up your networking parameters.
Many of these basic skills can be acquired in a basic computer skills course lik
e A+.
2. Networking Skills
You need to understand the basics of networking, such as the following.
Public v Private IP
Routers and switches
OSI model
MAC addressing
As we are often exploiting these technologies, the better you understand how the
y work, the more successful you will be. Note that I did not write the two guide
s below, but they are very informative and cover some of the networking basics m
entioned above.
Hacker Fundamentals: A Tale of Two Standards
The Everyman's Guide to How Network Packets Are Routed
3. Linux Skills
It is extremely critical to develop Linux skills to become a hacker. Nearly all
the tools we use as a hacker are developed for Linux and Linux gives us capabili
ties that we don't have using Windows.
If you need to improve your Linux skills, or you're just getting started with Li
nux, check out my Linux series for beginners below.
Linux Basics for the Aspiring Hacker
4. Wireshark or Tcpdump
Wireshark is the most widely used sniffer/protocol analyzer, while tcpdump is a
command line sniffer/protocol analyzer. Both can be extraordinarily useful in an
alyzing TCP/IP traffic and attacks.
An Intro to Wireshark and the OSI Model
Wireshark Filters for Wiretappers
5. Virtualization
You need to become proficient in using one of the virtualization software packag
es such as VirtualBox or VMWare Workstation. Ideally, you need a safe environmen
t to practice your hacks before you take them out in real world. A virtual envir
onment provides you a safe environment to test and refine your hacks before goin
g live with them.
6. Security Concepts & Technologies
A good hacker understands security concepts and technologies. The only way to ov
ercome the roadblocks established by the security admins is to be familiar with
them. The hacker must understand such things as PKI (public key infrastructure),
SSL (secure sockets layer), IDS (intrusion detection system), firewalls, etc.

The beginner hacker can acquire many of these skills in a basic security course
such as Security+.
How to Read & Write Snort Rules to Evade an IDS
7. Wireless Technologies
In order to be able to hack wireless, you must first understand how it works. Th
ings like the encryption algorithms (WEP, WPA, WPA2), the four-way handshake, an
d WPS. In addition, understanding such as things as the protocol for connection
and authentication and the legal constraints on wireless technologies.
To get started, check out my guide below on getting started with wireless terms
and technologies, then read our collection of Wi-Fi hacking guides for further i
nformation on each kind of encryption algorithms and for examples of how each ha
ck works.
Getting Started with Wi-Fi Terms & Technologies
The Aspiring Hacker's Guide to Hacking Wi-Fi
The Intermediate Skills
This is where things get interesting, and where you really start to get a feel f
or your capabilities as a hacker. Knowing all of these will allow you to advance
to more intuitive hacks where you are calling all the shots not some other hacker
8. Scripting
Without scripting skills, the hacker will be relegated to using other hackers' t
ools. This limits your effectiveness. Every day a new tool is in existence loses
effectiveness as security admins come up with defenses.
To develop your own unique tools, you will need to become proficient at least in
one of the scripting languages including the BASH shell. These should include o
ne of Perl, Python, or Ruby.
Perl Scripting for the Aspiring Hacker
Scripting for the Aspiring Hacker, Part 1: BASH Basics
Scripting for the Aspiring Hacker, Part 2: Conditional Statements
Scripting for the Aspiring Hacker, Part 3: Windows PowerShell
The Ultimate List of Hacking Scripts for Metasploit's Meterpreter
9. Database Skills
If you want to be able to proficiently hack databases, you will need to understa
nd databases and how they work. This includes the SQL language. I would also rec
ommend the mastery of one of the major DBMS's such SQL Server, Oracle, or MySQL.
The Terms & Technologies You Need to Know Before Getting Started
Hunting for Microsoft's SQL Server
Cracking SQL Server Passwords & Owning the Server
Hacking MySQL Online Databases with Sqlmap
Extracting Data from Online Databases Using Sqlmap
10. Web Applications
Web applications are probably the most fertile ground for hackers in recent year
s. The more you understand about how web applications work and the databases beh
ind them, the more successful you will be. In addition, you will likely need to
build your own website for phishing and other nefarious purposes.
How to Clone Any Website Using HTTrack
How to Redirect Traffic to a Fake Website
11. Forensics
To become good hacker, you must not be caught! You can't become a pro hacker sit
ting in a prison cell for 5 years. The more you know about digital forensics, th
e better you can become at avoiding and evading detection.

Digital Forensics, Part 1: Tools & Techniques

Digital Forensics, Part 2: Network Forensics
Digital Forensics, Part 3: Recovering Deleted Files
Digital Forensics, Part 4: Evading Detection While DoSing
12. Advanced TCP/IP
The beginner hacker must understand TCP/IP basics, but to rise to the intermedia
te level, you must understand in intimate details the TCP/IP protocol stack and
fields. These include how each of the fields (flags, window, df, tos, seq, ack,
etc.) in both the TCP and IP packet can be manipulated and used against the vict
im system to enable MitM attacks, among other things.
13. Cryptography
Although one doesn't need to be a cryptographer to be a good hacker, the more yo
u understand the strengths and weaknesses of each cryptographic algorithm, the b
etter the chances of defeating it. In addition, cryptography can used by the hac
ker to hide their activities and evade detection.
14. Reverse Engineering
Reverse engineering enables you to open a piece of malware and re-build it with
additional features and capabilities. Just like in software engineering, no one
builds a new application from scratch. Nearly every new exploit or malware uses
components from other existing malware.
In addition, reverse engineering enables the hacker to take an existing exploit
and change its signature so that it can fly past IDS and AV detection.
How to Change Metasploit Payload Signatures to Evade AV Detection
The Intangible Skills
Along with all these computer skills, the successful hacker must have some intan
gible skills. These include the following.
15. Think Creatively
There is ALWAYS a way to hack a system and many ways to accomplish it. A good ha
cker can think creatively of multiple approaches to the same hack.
Null Byte's Guide to Social Engineering
CryptoLocker: An Innovative & Creative Hack
16. Problem-Solving Skills
A hacker is always coming up against seemingly unsolvable problems. This require
s that the hacker be accustomed to thinking analytically and solving problems. T
his often demands that the hacker diagnose accurately what is wrong and then bre
ak the problem down into separate components. This is one of those abilities tha
t comes with many hours of practice.
Problem Solving Is an Essential Hacker Skill
17. Persistence
A hacker must be persistent. If you fail at first, try again. If that fails, com
e up with a new approach and try again. It is only with a persistence that you w
ill be able to hack the most secured systems.
So...You Want to Be a Hacker?
I hope this gives you some guidelines as to what one needs to study and master t
o ascend to the intermediate level of hacking. In a future article, I'll discuss
what you need to master to ascend into the advanced or master hacker level, so
keep coming back, my novice hackers!