Not A Pretty Valentine

Hack The Box (HTB) has become my new hobby. Ever since I discovered it in May, I’ve been “breaking into” machines almost every day. HTB says it all, “Hacking is the new gaming” and that is so true for me. I rather do HTB than kill time any other way and the cool part is that hacking into these authorized machines is way more educational than anything else and helps me gain solid red team experience.

Hack The Box machine that was pwned!

There are dozens of “Easy” machines on HTB and hundreds more considered “Medium,” “Hard,” and “Insane.” I’m working my way through the easier machines, but they are by no means “easy” for folks who don’t know what they’re doing. You have to have the fundamentals of cybersecurity and ethical hacking down to successfully break into these machines to capture your flags. At the very least, a person needs to know how to use Metasploit or understand how to use exploits. Any regular Joe with zero experience would quickly give up.

I learned the fundamentals of red team techniques earlier this year during my training at the Caltech Cyber Bootcamp. I mastered the content and have continued to study on my own spending hours and hours watching tutorials on YouTube. By the way, one of my favorite channels is Hackersploit — I highly recommend it. Alexis is really easy to follow.

After really getting the hang of using the different hacking tools, I spent other countless hours getting the practice I needed to knock off HTB machines much more quickly. Every time I get the “user flags” and “root flags” has been a moment of pure, nerdy joy. Then came the Valentine Machine.

I’ve already “pwned” most of the machines labeled as “Easy” and even though Valentine is included on that list, I seriously believe that its difficulty needs to be reassessed. The machine is at the very least a “Medium.” I spent a whole day trying to hack it. It’s a tough cookie, but I will eventually win the battle.

I learn so much about software vulnerabilities as I’m working to get the root flags; each machine teaches me new skills so I can become a better red teamer. I wish there were more hours in the day to do more machines, but I also need to take care of my health…or simply, eat. I highly recommend doing HTB to anyone who enjoys hacking, it’s the best thing since Nmap.

My first Apple laptop.

My First Mac

The picture above is the spit image of my first Mac computer. If you’ve read my previous blog entries, you will understand that I was working a heck of a lot to have a decent computer. Well, like I mentioned before, the first PC I built was infected by a virus and had to stop using it. I didn’t want to have another Windows machine again, so I was able to get credit and buy my first Powerbook G4.

The PowerBook I got had only a 900 GHz processor, but even back in the day that was considered really nice. I added more memory to it — unlike today, back in the early 2000s you could add more RAM to your Mac laptop. So, total RAM was 512 MHz! It was amazing, I could even play video games on it.

I had that Mac for 9 years, it was my best friend and I kept it spanking clean all the time — no scratches and no stickers! By 2010, I needed a new computer and by then, even a Dell Mini was more powerful that my PowerBook, so that’s what I got, a Dell Mini and went back to Windows. I gave away my Mac to an elementary school child, that’s how slow it had become. I hope it’s still in one piece somewhere.

Up next in my next blog entry! More Hack The Box adventures and why I got into Cybersecurity!

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