Getting Started

Getting Started  Fundamental

This module covers the fundamentals of penetration testing and an introduction to Hack The Box.

Created by mrb3n
Co-Authors: 21y4d

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This module introduces core penetration testing concepts, getting started with Hack The Box, a step-by-step walkthrough of your first HTB box, problem-solving, and how to be successful in general when beginning in the field. In this module, we will cover:

  • An overview of Information Security
  • Penetration testing distros
  • Common terms and technologies
  • Scanning and enumeration basics
  • Using public exploits
  • Shells, privilege escalation, and transferring files
  • Navigating the HTB platform
  • A step-by-step walkthrough of a retired HTB box
  • Common pitfalls and asking questions effectively
  • Completing a box without a walkthrough
  • Next steps in the field

This module is broken down into sections with accompanying hands-on exercises to practice each of the tactics and techniques we cover. The module ends with a practical hands-on skills assessment to gauge your understanding of the various topic areas.

As you work through the module, you will see example commands and command output for the various topics introduced. It is worth reproducing as many of these examples as possible to reinforce further the concepts introduced in each section. You can do this in the Pwnbox provided in the interactive sections or your virtual machine.

You can start and stop the module at any time and pick up where you left off. There is no time limit or "grading," but you must complete all of the exercises and the skills assessment to receive the maximum number of cubes and have this module marked as complete in any paths you have chosen.

The module is classified as "Fundamental" but assumes a working knowledge of the Linux command line and an understanding of information security fundamentals.

A firm grasp of the following modules can be considered prerequisites for successful completion of this module:

  • Introduction to Networking
  • Linux Fundamentals
  • Introduction to Web Applications
  • Web Requests
  • Learning Process


  • Infosec Overview
  • Getting Started with a Pentest Distro
  • Staying Organized
  • Connecting Using VPN
  • Common Terms
  • Basic Tools
  • Service Scanning
  • Web Enumeration
  • Public Exploits
  • Types of Shells
  • Privilege Escalation
  • Transferring Files
  • Starting Out
  • Navigating HTB
  • Nibbles - Enumeration
  • Nibbles - Web Footprinting
  • Nibbles - Initial Foothold
  • Nibbles - Privilege Escalation
  • Nibbles - Alternate User Method - Metasploit
  • Common Pitfalls
  • Getting Help
  • Next Steps
  • Knowledge Check

Relevant Paths

This module progresses you towards the following Paths

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Cracking into Hack the Box

Easy 42 Sections

Cubes Required: 30

To be successful in any technical information security role, we must have a broad understanding of specialized tools, tactics, and terminology. This path introduces core concepts necessary for anyone interested in a hands-on technical infosec role. The modules also provide the essential prerequisite knowledge for joining the main Hack The Box platform, progressing through Starting Point through easy-rated retired machines, and solving "live" machines with no walkthrough. It also includes helpful information about staying organized, navigating the HTB platforms, common pitfalls, and selecting a penetration testing distribution. Students will complete their first box during this path with a guided walkthrough and be challenged to complete a box on their own by applying the knowledge learned in the Getting Started module.

  Web Requests

Fundamental 8 Sections

This module introduces the topic of HTTP web requests and how different web applications utilize them to communicate with their backends.

  JavaScript Deobfuscation

Easy 11 Sections

This module will take you step-by-step through the fundamentals of JavaScript Deobfuscation until you can deobfuscate basic JavaScript code and understand its purpose.

  Getting Started

Fundamental 23 Sections

This module covers the fundamentals of penetration testing and an introduction to Hack The Box.

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Penetration Tester

Medium 453 Sections

Cubes Required: 1970

The Penetration Tester Job Role Path is for newcomers to information security who aspire to become professional penetration testers. This path covers core security assessment concepts and provides a deep understanding of the specialized tools, attack tactics, and methodology used during penetration testing. Armed with the necessary theoretical background and multiple practical exercises, students will go through all penetration testing stages, from reconnaissance and enumeration to documentation and reporting. Upon completing this job role path, you will have obtained the practical skills and mindset necessary to perform professional security assessments against enterprise-level infrastructure at an intermediate level. The Information Security Foundations skill path can be considered prerequisite knowledge to be successful while working through this job role path.

  Penetration Testing Process

Fundamental 15 Sections

This module teaches the penetration testing process broken down into each stage and discussed in detail. We will cover many aspects of the role of a penetration tester during a penetration test, explained and illustrated with detailed examples. The module also covers pre-engagement steps like the criteria for establishing a contract with a client for a penetration testing engagement.

  Getting Started

Fundamental 23 Sections

This module covers the fundamentals of penetration testing and an introduction to Hack The Box.

  Network Enumeration with Nmap

Easy 12 Sections

Nmap is one of the most used networking mapping and discovery tools because of its accurate results and efficiency. The tool is widely used by both offensive and defensive security practitioners. This module covers fundamentals that will be needed to use the Nmap tool for performing effective network enumeration.


Medium 20 Sections

This module covers techniques for footprinting the most commonly used services in almost all enterprise and business IT infrastructures. Footprinting is an essential phase of any penetration test or security audit to identify and prevent information disclosure. Using this process, we examine the individual services and attempt to obtain as much information from them as possible.

  Information Gathering - Web Edition

Easy 10 Sections

This module covers techniques for identifying and analyzing an organization's web application-based attack surface and tech stack. Information gathering is an essential part of any web application penetration test, and it can be performed either passively or actively.

  Vulnerability Assessment

Easy 17 Sections

This module introduces the concept of Vulnerability Assessments. We will review the differences between vulnerability assessments and penetration tests, how to carry out a vulnerability assessment, how to interpret the assessment results, and how to deliver an effective vulnerability assessment report.

  File Transfers

Medium 10 Sections

During an assessment, it is very common for us to transfer files to and from a target system. This module covers file transfer techniques leveraging tools commonly available across all versions of Windows and Linux systems.

  Shells & Payloads

Medium 17 Sections

Gain the knowledge and skills to identify and use shells & payloads to establish a foothold on vulnerable Windows & Linux systems. This module utilizes a fictitious scenario where the learner will place themselves in the perspective of a sysadmin trying out for a position on CAT5 Security's network penetration testing team.

  Using the Metasploit Framework

Easy 15 Sections

The Metasploit Framework is an open-source set of tools used for network enumeration, attacks, testing security vulnerabilities, evading detection, performing privilege escalation attacks, and performing post-exploitation.

  Password Attacks

Medium 22 Sections

Passwords are still the primary method of authentication in corporate networks. If strong password policies are not in place, users will often opt for weak, easy-to-remember passwords that can often be cracked offline and used to further our access. We will encounter passwords in many forms during our assessments. We must understand the various ways they are stored, how they can be retrieved, methods to crack weak passwords, ways to use hashes that cannot be cracked, and hunting for weak/default password usage.

  Attacking Common Services

Medium 19 Sections

Organizations regularly use a standard set of services for different purposes. It is vital to conduct penetration testing activities on each service internally and externally to ensure that they are not introducing security threats. This module will cover how to enumerate each service and test it against known vulnerabilities and exploits with a standard set of tools.

  Pivoting, Tunneling, and Port Forwarding

Medium 18 Sections

Once a foothold is gained during an assessment, it may be in scope to move laterally and vertically within a target network. Using one compromised machine to access another is called pivoting and allows us to access networks and resources that are not directly accessible to us through the compromised host. Port forwarding accepts the traffic on a given IP address and port and redirects it to a different IP address and port combination. Tunneling is a technique that allows us to encapsulate traffic within another protocol so that it looks like a benign traffic stream.

  Active Directory Enumeration & Attacks

Medium 36 Sections

Active Directory (AD) is the leading enterprise domain management suite, providing identity and access management, centralized domain administration, authentication, and much more. Due to the many features and complexity of AD, it presents a large attack surface that is difficult to secure properly. To be successful as infosec professionals, we must understand AD architectures and how to secure our enterprise environments. As Penetration testers, having a firm grasp of what tools, techniques, and procedures are available to us for enumerating and attacking AD environments and commonly seen AD misconfigurations is a must.

  Using Web Proxies

Easy 15 Sections

Web application penetration testing frameworks are an essential part of any web penetration test. This module will teach you two of the best frameworks: Burp Suite and OWASP ZAP.

  Attacking Web Applications with Ffuf

Easy 13 Sections

This module covers the fundamental enumeration skills of web fuzzing and directory brute forcing using the Ffuf tool. The techniques learned in this module will help us in locating hidden pages, directories, and parameters when targeting web applications.

  Login Brute Forcing

Easy 11 Sections

Learn how to brute force logins for various types of services and create custom wordlists based on your target.

  SQL Injection Fundamentals

Medium 17 Sections

Databases are an important part of web application infrastructure and SQL (Structured Query Language) to store, retrieve, and manipulate information stored in them. SQL injection is a code injection technique used to take advantage of coding vulnerabilities and inject SQL queries via an application to bypass authentication, retrieve data from the back-end database, or achieve code execution on the underlying server.

  SQLMap Essentials

Easy 11 Sections

The SQLMap Essentials module will teach you the basics of using SQLMap to discover various types of SQL Injection vulnerabilities, all the way to the advanced enumeration of databases to retrieve all data of interest.

  Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

Easy 10 Sections

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities are among the most common web application vulnerabilities. An XSS vulnerability may allow an attacker to execute arbitrary JavaScript code within the target's browser and result in complete web application compromise if chained together with other vulnerabilities. This module will teach you how to identify XSS vulnerabilities and exploit them.

  File Inclusion

Medium 11 Sections

File Inclusion is a common web application vulnerability, which can be easily overlooked as part of a web application's functionality.

  File Upload Attacks

Medium 11 Sections

Arbitrary file uploads are among the most critical web vulnerabilities. These flaws enable attackers to upload malicious files, execute arbitrary commands on the back-end server, and even take control over the entire server and all web applications hosted on it and potentially gain access to sensitive data or cause a service disruption.

  Command Injections

Medium 12 Sections

Command injection vulnerabilities can be leveraged to compromise a hosting server and its entire network. This module will teach you how to identify and exploit command injection vulnerabilities and how to use various filter bypassing techniques to avoid security mitigations.

  Web Attacks

Medium 18 Sections

This module covers three common web vulnerabilities, HTTP Verb Tampering, IDOR, and XXE, each of which can have a significant impact on a company's systems. We will cover how to identify, exploit, and prevent each of them through various methods.

  Attacking Common Applications

Medium 22 Sections

Penetration Testers can come across various applications, such as Content Management Systems, custom web applications, internal portals used by developers and sysadmins, and more. It's common to find the same applications across many different environments. While an application may not be vulnerable in one environment, it may be misconfigured or unpatched in the next. It is important as an assessor to have a firm grasp of enumerating and attacking the common applications discussed in this module. This knowledge will help when encountering other types of applications during assessments.

  Linux Privilege Escalation

Easy 15 Sections

Privilege escalation is a crucial phase during any security assessment. During this phase, we attempt to gain access to additional users, hosts, and resources to move closer to the assessment's overall goal. There are many ways to escalate privileges. This module aims to cover the most common methods emphasizing real-world misconfigurations and flaws that we may encounter in a client environment. The techniques covered in this module are not an exhaustive list of all possibilities and aim to avoid extreme "edge-case" tactics that may be seen in a Capture the Flag (CTF) exercise.

  Windows Privilege Escalation

Medium 31 Sections

After gaining a foothold, elevating our privileges will provide more options for persistence and may reveal information stored locally that can further our access in the environment. Enumeration is the key to privilege escalation. When you gain initial shell access to the host, it is important to gain situational awareness and uncover details relating to the OS version, patch level, any installed software, our current privileges, group memberships, and more. Windows presents an enormous attack surface and, being that most companies run Windows hosts in some way, we will more often than not find ourselves gaining access to Windows machines during our assessments. This covers common methods while emphasizing real-world misconfigurations and flaws that we may encounter during an assessment. There are many additional "edge-case" possibilities not covered in this module. We will cover both modern and legacy Windows Server and Desktop versions that may be present in a client environment.

  Documentation & Reporting

Easy 8 Sections

Proper documentation is paramount during any engagement. The end goal of a technical assessment is the report deliverable which will often be presented to a broad audience within the target organization. We must take detailed notes and be very organized in our documentation, which will help us in the event of an incident during the assessment. This will also help ensure that our reports contain enough detail to illustrate the impact of our findings properly.

  Attacking Enterprise Networks

Medium 14 Sections

We often encounter large and complex networks during our assessments. We must be comfortable approaching an internal or external network, regardless of the size, and be able to work through each phase of the penetration testing process to reach our goal. This module will guide students through a simulated penetration testing engagement, from start to finish, with an emphasis on hands-on testing steps that are directly applicable to real-world engagements.

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