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Introduction to Malware Analysis

This module offers an exploration of malware analysis, specifically targeting Windows-based threats. The module covers Static Analysis utilizing Linux and Windows tools, Malware Unpacking, Dynamic Analysis (including malware traffic analysis), Reverse Engineering for Code Analysis, and Debugging using x64dbg. Real-world malware examples such as WannaCry, DoomJuice, Brbbot, Dharma, and Meterpreter are analyzed to provide practical experience.

4.63

Created by MadhukarRaina

Hard Defensive

Summary

This Hack The Box module offers an hands-on exploration into the realm of malware analysis with a particular focus on Windows-based threats. Leveraging industry-standard tools and methodologies, it provides hands-on experience in identifying, understanding, and detecting malware threats.

Initially, the module delves into Static Analysis techniques, where participants learn how to scrutinize malware without executing it. This includes leveraging an array of Linux tools to dissect binary files, explore file structures, and identify patterns. The course then shifts to Windows-based static analysis tools, providing a balanced perspective of the analytical spectrum across diverse operating systems.

The course also demystifies the process of Malware Unpacking. Participants get hands-on experience unraveling packed malware to reveal their true content and behavior, thus unveiling concealed or obfuscated malicious code.

Emphasizing the necessity of a holistic approach, the module introduces Dynamic Analysis techniques. It instructs on how to safely execute and observe malware in controlled environments to understand its behavior, effects, and network communication patterns.

In the Code Analysis section, participants are engaged in reverse engineering activities, unveiling the obscured functionality of malicious software. This dive into the underlying code equips participants with the skills to deduce the malware's purpose, targets, and potential harm.

The course concludes with a dedicated session on Debugging using x64dbg. Here, participants gain proficiency in tracing malware execution, setting breakpoints, and modifying code in real-time. The deep inspection facilitated by debugging ultimately aids in understanding the malware's core functioning.

Throughout the course, learners analyze real-world examples of well-known malware such as WannaCry, DoomJuice, Brbbot, Dharma, and Meterpreter. By working with these examples, participants gain a practical understanding of the malware's characteristics, thereby enabling them to respond to actual cyber threats more effectively.


CREST CPSA/CRT-related Sections:

  • Dynamic Analysis

This module is broken into sections with accompanying hands-on exercises to practice the 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 detection activities for the topics introduced. It is worth reproducing as many of these activities as possible to reinforce further the concepts presented in each section. You can do this in the target host provided in the interactive sections or your virtual machine.

You can start and stop the module anytime 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 "hard" and assumes basic knowledge of how Windows operate and common attack principles.

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

  • Incident Handling Process
  • Intro to Assembly Language
  • Windows Event Logs & Finding Evil

Introduction To Malware & Malware Analysis

It is essential to clarify that this module does not claim to be an all-encompassing or exhaustive program on Malware Analysis. This module provides a robust foundation for SOC analysts, enabling them to confidently tackle key Malware Analysis tasks. The primary focus of the module will be the analysis of malware targeting the Windows Operating System.

Malware Definition

Malware, short for malicious software, is a term encompassing various types of software designed to infiltrate, exploit, or damage computer systems, networks, and data.

Although all malware is utilized for malicious intents, the specific objectives of malware can vary among different threat actors. These objectives commonly fall into several categories:

  • Disrupting host system operations
  • Stealing critical information, including personal and financial data
  • Gaining unauthorized access to systems
  • Conducting espionage activities
  • Sending spam messages
  • Utilizing the victim's system for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks
  • Implementing ransomware to lock up victim's files on their host and demanding ransom

Malware Types

In today's fast-paced world of cyber threats, we find ourselves up against a broad spectrum of complex and varied malware forms, which pose a relentless challenge to our cyber defenses. It's paramount for us to grasp the multifaceted nature of malicious software as we endeavor to bolster the security of our systems and networks. Let's peel back the layers of some commonly seen types of malware that we frequently grapple with in our cybersecurity endeavors.

  • Viruses: These notorious forms of malware are designed to infiltrate and multiply within host files, transitioning from one system to another. They latch onto credible programs, springing into action when the infected files are triggered. Their destructive powers can range from corrupting or altering data to disrupting system functions, and even spreading through networks, inflicting widespread havoc.

  • Worms: Worms are autonomous malware capable of multiplying across networks without needing human intervention. They exploit network weaknesses to infiltrate systems without permission. Once inside, they can either deliver damaging payloads or keep multiplying to other vulnerable devices. Worms can initiate swift and escalating infections, resulting in enormous disruption and even potential denial of service attacks.

  • Trojans: Also known as Trojan Horses, these are disguised as genuine software to trick users into running them. Upon entering a system, they craft backdoors, allowing attackers to gain unauthorized control remotely. Trojans can be weaponized to pilfer sensitive data, such as passwords or financial information, and orchestrate other harmful activities on the compromised system.

  • Ransomware: This malicious type of malware encrypts files on the target's system, making them unreachable. Attackers then demand a ransom in return for the decryption key, effectively holding the victim's data to ransom. The impacts of ransomware attacks can debilitate organizations and individuals alike, leading to severe financial and reputational harm.

  • Spyware: This type of malware stealthily gathers sensitive data and user activities without their consent. It can track online browsing habits, record keystrokes, and capture login credentials, posing a severe risk to privacy and security. The pilfered data is often sent to remote servers for harmful purposes.

  • Adware: Though not as destructive, adware can still be an annoyance and a security threat. It shows uninvited and invasive advertisements on infected systems, often resulting in a poor user experience. Adware may also track user behavior and collect data for targeted advertising.

  • Botnets: These are networks of compromised devices, often referred to as bots or zombies, controlled by a central command-and-control (C2) server. Botnets can be exploited for a variety of harmful activities, including launching DDoS attacks, spreading spam, or disseminating other malware.

  • Rootkits: These are stealthy forms of malware designed to gain unauthorized access and control over the fundamental components (the "root") of an operating system. They alter system functions to conceal their presence, making them extremely challenging to spot and eliminate. Attackers can utilize rootkits to maintain prolonged access and dodge security protocols.

  • Backdoors/RATs (Remote Access Trojans): Backdoors and RATs are crafted to offer unauthorized access and control over compromised systems from remote locations. Attackers can leverage them to retain prolonged control, extract data, or instigate additional attacks.

  • Droppers: These are a kind of malware used to transport and install extra malicious payloads onto infected systems. They serve as a conduit for other malware, ensuring the covert installation and execution of more sophisticated threats.

  • Information Stealers: These are tailored to target and extract sensitive data, like login credentials, personal information, or intellectual property, for harmful purposes. This includes identity theft or selling the data on the dark web.

These examples barely scratch the surface of the types of malware we confront in today's threat landscape. It's essential to remember that cybercriminals consistently refine their strategies, techniques, and malware variants to avoid detection and exploit new vulnerabilities.

Malware Samples

When it comes to enhancing our cybersecurity defenses and understanding the threats that exist, sometimes we have to dive into the dark corners of the cyber world. This means getting our hands on actual malware samples, be it for research, analysis, or educational purposes. However, it's crucial to emphasize that dealing with real malware samples should be done in a safe and controlled environment to prevent accidental infections and potential harm. Here are some resources, both free and paid, where we can find such samples.

  • VirusShare: An excellent resource for malware researchers, VirusShare houses a vast collection of malware samples. They currently have over 30 million samples in their repository, all of which are freely available to the public.
  • Hybrid Analysis: This website allows us to submit files for malware analysis. However, they also have a public feed of their analyses, where malware samples are often shared.
  • TheZoo: A GitHub repository that contains a collection of live malware for analysis and education. The repository also contains additional information about each sample, such as its family and the type of activities it performs.
  • Malware-Traffic-Analysis.net: This website provides traffic analysis exercises that can be extremely beneficial for people trying to learn about malware traffic patterns. They often provide pcap files of actual malware traffic, which can be quite informative.
  • VirusTotal: VirusTotal inspects items with over 70 antivirus scanners and URL/domain blocklisting services, in addition to a myriad of tools to extract signals from the studied content. Any user can select a file from their computer using their browser and send it to VirusTotal. VirusTotal offers a number of file submission methods, including the primary public web interface, desktop uploaders, browser extensions and a programmatic API.
  • ANY.RUN: An interactive online sandbox for malware analysis. The service allows researchers to analyze malware behavior by running samples in a controlled environment. While it offers both free and paid tiers, even the free version provides access to public submissions, which can include various malware samples.
  • Contagio Malware Dump: Contagio Dump is a collection of malware samples, threat reports, and related resources curated by a malware researcher named Mila. The site provides direct, anonymized access to an extensive range of malware samples, including various types of trojans, worms, ransomware, and exploits. It's frequently used by security researchers and analysts to study malware behavior and develop mitigation techniques.
  • VX Underground: VX-Underground is one of the largest collections of malware source code, articles, and papers on the internet. It aims to collect, preserve, and share all kinds of materials related to malware, exploit, and hacking culture. This resource is valuable to security researchers and enthusiasts who want to study malware construction and behavior from a more technical and code-centric perspective.

Malware/Evidence Acquisition

When it comes to gathering evidence during a digital forensics investigation or incident response, having the right tools to perform disk imaging and memory acquisition is crucial. Let's discuss some free solutions we can use to collect the necessary data for our investigations.

Disk Imaging Solutions

  • FTK Imager: Developed by AccessData (now acquired by Exterro), FTK Imager is one of the most widely used disk imaging tools in the cybersecurity field. It allows us to create perfect copies (or images) of computer disks for analysis, preserving the integrity of the evidence. It also lets us view and analyze the contents of data storage devices without altering the data.
  • OSFClone: A free, open-source utility designed for the task of creating and cloning forensic disk images. It's easy to use and supports a wide variety of file systems.
  • DD and DCFLDD: Both are command-line utilities available on Unix-based systems (including Linux and MacOS). DD is a versatile tool included in most Unix-based systems by default, while DCFLDD is an enhanced version of DD with features specifically useful for forensics, such as hashing.

Memory Acquisition Solutions

  • DumpIt: A simplistic utility that generates a physical memory dump of Windows and Linux machines. On Windows, it concatenates 32-bit and 64-bit system physical memory into a single output file, making it extremely easy to use.
  • MemDump: MemDump is a free, straightforward command-line utility that enables us to capture the contents of a system's RAM. It’s quite beneficial in forensics investigations or when analyzing a system for malicious activity. Its simplicity and ease of use make it a popular choice for memory acquisition.
  • Belkasoft RAM Capturer: This is another powerful tool we can use for memory acquisition, provided free of charge by Belkasoft. It can capture the RAM of a running Windows computer, even if there's active anti-debugging or anti-dumping protection. This makes it a highly effective tool for extracting as much data as possible during a live forensics investigation.
  • Magnet RAM Capture: Developed by Magnet Forensics, this tool provides a free and simple way to capture the volatile memory of a system.
  • LiME (Linux Memory Extractor): LiME is a Loadable Kernel Module (LKM) which allows the acquisition of volatile memory. LiME is unique in that it's designed to be transparent to the target system, evading many common anti-forensic measures.

Other Evidence Acquisition Solutions

  • KAPE (Kroll Artifact Parser and Extractor): KAPE is a triage program designed to help in collecting and parsing artifacts in a quick and effective manner. It focuses on targeted collection, reducing the volume of collected data and the time required for analysis. KAPE is free for use and is an essential tool in our digital forensics toolkit.
  • Velociraptor: Velociraptor is a versatile tool designed for host-based incident response and digital forensics. It allows for quick, targeted data collection across a wide number of machines. Velociraptor employs Velocidex Query Language (VQL), a powerful tool to collect and manipulate artifacts. The open-source nature of Velociraptor makes it a valuable free tool in our arsenal.

Malware Analysis Definition, Purpose, & Common Activities

The process of comprehending the behavior and inner workings of malware is known as Malware Analysis, a crucial aspect of cybersecurity that aids in understanding the threat posed by malicious software and devising effective countermeasures.

In our pursuit of Malware Analysis, we delve into the malware's code, structure, and functionality to gain profound insights into its purpose, propagation methods, and potential impact on targeted systems. By answering pertinent questions, such as the type of malware (e.g., spybot, keylogger, ransomware), its intended behavior on endpoints, the aftermath of its execution (including generated artifacts on the network or endpoint and possible connections to Command and Control (C2) servers), the extent of damage it can inflict, its attribution to specific threat groups, and crafting detection rules based on the analysis to detect the malware across the entire network, we can devise robust defense mechanisms against these threats.

Malware analysis serves several pivotal purposes, such as:

  • Detection and Classification: Through analyzing malware, we can identify and categorize different types of threats based on their unique characteristics, signatures, or patterns. This enables us to develop detection rules and empowers security professionals to gain a comprehensive understanding of the nature of the malware they encounter.

  • Reverse Engineering: Malware analysis often involves the intricate process of reverse engineering the malware's code to discern its underlying operations and employed techniques. This can unveil concealed functionalities, encryption methods, details about the command-and-control infrastructure, and techniques used for obfuscation and evasion.

  • Behavioral Analysis: By meticulously studying the behavior of malware during execution, we gain insights into its actions, such as modifications to the file system, network communications, changes to the system registry, and attempts to exploit vulnerabilities. This analysis provides invaluable information about the impact of the malware on infected systems and assists in devising potential countermeasures.

  • Threat Intelligence: Through malware analysis, threat researchers can amass critical intelligence about attackers, their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), and the malware's origins. This valuable intelligence can be shared with the wider security community to enhance detection, prevention, and response capabilities.

The techniques employed in malware analysis encompass a wide array of methods and tools, including:

  • Static Analysis: This approach involves scrutinizing the malware's code without executing it, examining the file structure, identifying strings, searching for known signatures, and studying metadata to gain preliminary insights into the malware's characteristics.

  • Dynamic Analysis: Dynamic analysis entails executing the malware within a controlled environment, such as a sandbox or virtual machine, to observe its behavior and capture its runtime activities. This includes monitoring network traffic, system calls, file system modifications, and other interactions.

  • Code Analysis: Code analysis (includes reverse engineering) and involves disassembling or decompiling the malware's code to understand its logic, functions, algorithms, and employed techniques. This helps in identifying concealed functionalities, exploitation methods, encryption methods, details about the command-and-control infrastructure, and techniques used for obfuscation and evasion. Ιnferentially, code analysis can also help in uncovering potential Indicators of Compromise (IOCs).

  • Memory Analysis: Analyzing the malware's interactions with system memory helps in identifying injected code, hooks, or other runtime manipulations. This can be instrumental in detecting rootkits, analyzing anti-analysis techniques, or identifying malicious payloads.

  • Malware Unpacking: This technique refers to the process of extracting and isolating the hidden malicious code within a piece of malware that uses packing techniques to evade detection. Packers are used by malware authors to compress, encrypt, or obfuscate their malicious code, making it harder for antivirus software and other security tools to identify the threat. Unpacking involves reverse-engineering these packing techniques to reveal the original, unobfuscated code for further analysis. This can allow researchers to understand the malware's functionality, behavior, and potential impact.


In today's ever-evolving threat landscape, the usage of malware analysis plays a pivotal role in our cybersecurity defense strategies. As cyber threats become increasingly sophisticated, we must continually enhance our capabilities to identify, analyze, and mitigate the risks posed by malicious software.

Through malware analysis, we gain invaluable insights into the nature of the threats we face. Understanding the malware's specific attributes allows us to tailor our response tactics accordingly, addressing each threat with precision.

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Relevant Paths

This module progresses you towards the following Paths

SOC Analyst

The SOC Analyst Job Role Path is for newcomers to information security who aspire to become professional SOC analysts. This path covers core security monitoring and security analysis concepts and provides a deep understanding of the specialized tools, attack tactics, and methodology used by adversaries. Armed with the necessary theoretical background and multiple practical exercises, students will go through all security analysis stages, from traffic analysis and SIEM monitoring to DFIR activities and reporting. Upon completing this job role path, you will have obtained the practical skills and mindset necessary to monitor enterprise-level infrastructure and detect intrusions at an intermediate level. The SOC Analyst Prerequisites skill path can be considered prerequisite knowledge to be successful while working through this job role path.

Medium Path Sections 165 Sections
Required: 1220
Reward: +260
Path Modules
Fundamental
Path Sections 9 Sections
Reward: +10
Security Incident handling has become a vital part of each organization's defensive strategy, as attacks constantly evolve and successful compromises are becoming a daily occurrence. In this module, we will review the process of handling an incident from the very early stage of detecting a suspicious event, to confirming a compromise and responding to it.
Easy
Path Sections 11 Sections
Reward: +20
This module provides a concise yet comprehensive overview of Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) and the Elastic Stack. It demystifies the essential workings of a Security Operation Center (SOC), explores the application of the MITRE ATT&CK framework within SOCs, and introduces SIEM (KQL) query development. With a focus on practical skills, students will learn how to develop SIEM use cases and visualizations using the Elastic Stack.
Medium
Path Sections 6 Sections
Reward: +20
This module covers the exploration of Windows Event Logs and their significance in uncovering suspicious activities. Throughout the course, we delve into the anatomy of Windows Event Logs and highlight the logs that hold the most valuable information for investigations. The module also focuses on utilizing Sysmon and Event Logs for detecting and analyzing malicious behavior. Additionally, we delve into Event Tracing for Windows (ETW), explaining its architecture and components, and provide ETW-based detection examples. To streamline the analysis process, we introduce the powerful Get-WinEvent cmdlet.
Medium
Path Sections 6 Sections
Reward: +20
This module initially lays the groundwork for understanding Threat Hunting, ranging from its basic definition, to the structure of a threat hunting team. The module also dives into the threat hunting process, highlighting the interrelationships between threat hunting, risk assessment, and incident handling. Furthermore, the module elucidates the fundamentals of Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI). It expands on the different types of threat intelligence and offers guidance on effectively interpreting a threat intelligence report. Finally, the module puts theory into practice, showcasing how to conduct threat hunting using the Elastic stack. This practical segment uses real-world logs to provide learners with hands-on experience.
Medium
Path Sections 6 Sections
Reward: +20
This module provides a comprehensive introduction to Splunk, focusing on its architecture and the creation of effective detection-related SPL (Search Processing Language) searches. We will learn to investigate with Splunk as a SIEM tool and develop TTP-driven and analytics-driven SPL searches for enhanced threat detection and response. Through hands-on exercises, we will learn to identify and understand the ingested data and available fields within Splunk. We will also gain practical experience in leveraging Splunk's powerful features for security monitoring and incident investigation.
Medium
Path Sections 16 Sections
Reward: +20
Microsoft Active Directory (AD) has been, for the past 20+ years, the leading enterprise domain management suite, providing identity and access management, centralized domain administration, authentication, and much more. Throughout those years, the more integrated our applications and data have become with AD, the more exposed to a large-scale compromise we have become. In this module, we will walk through the most commonly abused and fruitful attacks against Active Directory environments that allow threat actors to perform horizontal and vertical privilege escalations in addition to lateral movement. One of the module's core goals is to showcase prevention and detection methods against the covered Active Directory attacks.
Medium
Path Sections 15 Sections
Reward: +10
Network traffic analysis is used by security teams to monitor network activity and look for anomalies that could indicate security and operational issues. Offensive security practitioners can use network traffic analysis to search for sensitive data such as credentials, hidden applications, reachable network segments, or other potentially sensitive information "on the wire." Network traffic analysis has many uses for attackers and defenders alike.
Easy
Path Sections 18 Sections
Reward: +20
Through network traffic analysis, this module sharpens skills in detecting link layer attacks such as ARP anomalies and rogue access points, identifying network abnormalities like IP spoofing and TCP handshake irregularities, and uncovering application layer threats from web-based vulnerabilities to peculiar DNS activities.
Medium
Path Sections 11 Sections
Reward: +20
This module offers an in-depth exploration of Suricata, Snort, and Zeek, covering both rule development and intrusion detection. We'll guide you through signature-based and analytics-based rule development, and you'll learn to tackle encrypted traffic. The module features numerous hands-on examples, focusing on the detection of prevalent malware such as PowerShell Empire, Covenant, Sliver, Cerber, Dridex, Ursnif, and Patchwork. We also dive into detecting attacking techniques like DNS exfiltration, TLS/HTTP Exfiltration, PsExec lateral movement, and beaconing through IDS/IPS.
Hard
Path Sections 9 Sections
Reward: +20
This module offers an exploration of malware analysis, specifically targeting Windows-based threats. The module covers Static Analysis utilizing Linux and Windows tools, Malware Unpacking, Dynamic Analysis (including malware traffic analysis), Reverse Engineering for Code Analysis, and Debugging using x64dbg. Real-world malware examples such as WannaCry, DoomJuice, Brbbot, Dharma, and Meterpreter are analyzed to provide practical experience.
Easy
Path Sections 11 Sections
Reward: +10
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.
Easy
Path Sections 11 Sections
Reward: +20
This Hack The Box Academy module covers how to create YARA rules both manually and automatically and apply them to hunt threats on disk, live processes, memory, and online databases. Then, the module switches gears to Sigma rules covering how to build Sigma rules, translate them into SIEM queries using "sigmac", and hunt threats in both event logs and SIEM solutions. It's all hands-on, using real-world malware and techniques.
Medium
Path Sections 8 Sections
Reward: +20
Dive into Windows digital forensics with Hack The Box Academy's "Introduction to Digital Forensics" module. Gain mastery over core forensic concepts and tools such as FTK Imager, KAPE, Velociraptor, and Volatility. Dive deep into memory forensics, disk image analysis, and rapid triaging procedures. Learn to construct timelines from MFT, USN Journals, and Windows event logs while getting hands-on with key artifacts like MFT, USN Journal, Registry Hives, Prefetch Files, ShimCache, Amcache, BAM, and SRUM data.
Medium
Path Sections 23 Sections
Reward: +20
This Hack The Box Academy module is focused on pinpointing attacks on Windows and Active Directory. Utilizing Splunk as the cornerstone for investigation, this training will arm participants with the expertise to adeptly identify Windows-based threats leveraging Windows Event Logs and Zeek network logs. Furthermore, participants will benefit from actual PCAP files associated with the discussed Windows and Active Directory attacks, enhancing their understanding of the respective attack patterns and techniques.
Easy
Path Sections 5 Sections
Reward: +10
Tailored to provide a holistic understanding, this Hack The Box Academy module ensures participants are adept at identifying, categorizing, and documenting security incidents with utmost accuracy and professionalism. The module meticulously breaks down the elements of a robust incident report and then presents participants with a real-world incident report, offering practical insights into the application of the concepts discussed.

CREST CPSA/CRT Preparation

This is a skill path to prepare you for CREST's CPSA and CRT exams. The following CPSA/CRT syllabus areas (IDs) are covered: A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B1, B4, B5, B6, B8, B9, B13, B14, C1, C2, C3, C4, D1, D2, E1, E2, E3, E4, E5, E9, F1, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6, F7, F8, F9, G1, G2, G4, G5, G6, G7, G8, G9, H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6, H8, H9, H10, H11, H12, H13, I1, I2, I3, I6, J1, J2, J3. Take your time to complete all related sections and when you are ready you can book your CREST exam through the following links. CREST CPSA: https://www.crest-approved.org/certification-careers/crest-certifications/crest-practitioner-security-analyst/. CREST CRT: https://www.crest-approved.org/certification-careers/crest-certifications/crest-registered-penetration-tester/.

Medium Path Sections 828 Sections
Required: 7300
Reward: +1580
Path Modules
Fundamental
Path Sections 21 Sections
Reward: +10 UPDATED
As an information security professional, a firm grasp of networking fundamentals and the required components is necessary. Without a strong foundation in networking, it will be tough to progress in any area of information security. Understanding how a network is structured and how the communication between the individual hosts and servers takes place using the various protocols allows us to understand the entire network structure and its network traffic in detail and how different communication standards are handled. This knowledge is essential to create our tools and to interact with the protocols.
Fundamental
Path Sections 8 Sections
Reward: +10
This module introduces the topic of HTTP web requests and how different web applications utilize them to communicate with their backends.
Fundamental
Path Sections 17 Sections
Reward: +10
In the Introduction to Web Applications module, you will learn all of the basics of how web applications work and begin to look at them from an information security perspective.
Fundamental
Path Sections 30 Sections
Reward: +10 UPDATED
This module covers the fundamentals required to work comfortably with the Linux operating system and shell.
Fundamental
Path Sections 14 Sections
Reward: +10
This module covers the fundamentals required to work comfortably with the Windows operating system.
Easy
Path Sections 23 Sections
Reward: +10
As administrators and Pentesters, we may not always be able to utilize a graphical user interface for the actions we need to perform. Introduction to Windows Command Line aims to introduce students to the wide range of uses for Command Prompt and PowerShell within a Windows environment. We will cover basic usage of both key executables for administration, useful PowerShell cmdlets and modules, and different ways to leverage these tools to our benefit.
Medium
Path Sections 6 Sections
Reward: +20
This module covers the exploration of Windows Event Logs and their significance in uncovering suspicious activities. Throughout the course, we delve into the anatomy of Windows Event Logs and highlight the logs that hold the most valuable information for investigations. The module also focuses on utilizing Sysmon and Event Logs for detecting and analyzing malicious behavior. Additionally, we delve into Event Tracing for Windows (ETW), explaining its architecture and components, and provide ETW-based detection examples. To streamline the analysis process, we introduce the powerful Get-WinEvent cmdlet.
Hard
Path Sections 9 Sections
Reward: +20
This module offers an exploration of malware analysis, specifically targeting Windows-based threats. The module covers Static Analysis utilizing Linux and Windows tools, Malware Unpacking, Dynamic Analysis (including malware traffic analysis), Reverse Engineering for Code Analysis, and Debugging using x64dbg. Real-world malware examples such as WannaCry, DoomJuice, Brbbot, Dharma, and Meterpreter are analyzed to provide practical experience.
Medium
Path Sections 15 Sections
Reward: +10
Network traffic analysis is used by security teams to monitor network activity and look for anomalies that could indicate security and operational issues. Offensive security practitioners can use network traffic analysis to search for sensitive data such as credentials, hidden applications, reachable network segments, or other potentially sensitive information "on the wire." Network traffic analysis has many uses for attackers and defenders alike.
Easy
Path Sections 18 Sections
Reward: +20
Through network traffic analysis, this module sharpens skills in detecting link layer attacks such as ARP anomalies and rogue access points, identifying network abnormalities like IP spoofing and TCP handshake irregularities, and uncovering application layer threats from web-based vulnerabilities to peculiar DNS activities.
Fundamental
Path Sections 15 Sections
Reward: +10 UPDATED
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.
Easy
Path Sections 12 Sections
Reward: +10
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
Path Sections 21 Sections
Reward: +20 UPDATED
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.
Easy
Path Sections 10 Sections
Reward: +20
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.
Easy
Path Sections 17 Sections
Reward: +10
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.
Medium
Path Sections 10 Sections
Reward: +10
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.
Medium
Path Sections 17 Sections
Reward: +10
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.
Easy
Path Sections 15 Sections
Reward: +10
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.
Medium
Path Sections 22 Sections
Reward: +10 UPDATED
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.
Medium
Path Sections 19 Sections
Reward: +20
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.
Medium
Path Sections 14 Sections
Reward: +20
This module covers the fundamentals of password cracking using the Hashcat tool.
Fundamental
Path Sections 16 Sections
Reward: +10
Active Directory (AD) is present in the majority of corporate environments. Due to its many features and complexity, it presents a vast attack surface. To be successful as penetration testers and information security professionals, we must have a firm understanding of Active Directory fundamentals, AD structures, functionality, common AD flaws, misconfigurations, and defensive measures.
Medium
Path Sections 18 Sections
Reward: +20
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.
Medium
Path Sections 9 Sections
Reward: +200
This module covers AD enumeration focusing on the PowerView and SharpView tools. We will cover various techniques for enumerating key AD objects that will inform our attacks in later modules.
Medium
Path Sections 36 Sections
Reward: +20
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.
Easy
Path Sections 28 Sections
Reward: +20 UPDATED
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.
Medium
Path Sections 33 Sections
Reward: +20 UPDATED
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.
Hard
Path Sections 23 Sections
Reward: +100
Kerberos is an authentication protocol that allows users to authenticate and access services on a potentially insecure network. Due to its prevalence throughout an Active Directory environment, it presents us with a significant attack surface when assessing internal networks. This module will explain how Kerberos works thoroughly and examines several scenarios to practice the most common attacks against it from multiple perspectives.
Hard
Path Sections 10 Sections
Reward: +100
The NTLM authentication protocol is commonly used within Windows-based networks to facilitate authentication between clients and servers. However, NTLM's inherent weaknesses make it susceptible to Adversary-in-the-Middle attacks, providing a significant attack vector. This module focuses on the various NTLM relay attacks that attackers use to compromise Active Directory networks.
DACL Attacks I
Mini-Module
Hard
Path Sections 7 Sections
Reward: +100
Discretionary Access Control Lists (DACLs), found within security descriptors, are a fundamental component of the security model of Windows and Active Directory, defining and enforcing access to the various system resources. This mini-module will cover enumerating and attacking common DACL misconfigurations, allowing us to escalate our privileges horizontally and vertically and move laterally across an Active Directory network.
Medium
Path Sections 13 Sections
Reward: +10
Buffer overflows are common vulnerabilities in software applications that can be exploited to achieve remote code execution (RCE) or perform a Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack. These vulnerabilities are caused by insecure coding, resulting in an attacker being able to overrun a program's buffer and overwrite adjacent memory locations, changing the program's execution path and resulting in unintended actions.
Medium
Path Sections 11 Sections
Reward: +10
This module is your first step into Windows Binary Exploitation, and it will teach you how to exploit local and remote buffer overflow vulnerabilities on Windows machines.
Easy
Path Sections 15 Sections
Reward: +20
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.
Easy
Path Sections 13 Sections
Reward: +10
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.
Easy
Path Sections 11 Sections
Reward: +20
Learn how to brute force logins for various types of services and create custom wordlists based on your target.
Medium
Path Sections 15 Sections
Reward: +100
This module covers details on Transport Layer Security (TLS) and how it helps to make HTTP secure with the widely used HTTPS. That includes how TLS works, how TLS sessions are established, common TLS misconfigurations, as well as famous attacks on TLS. We will discuss how to identify, exploit, and prevent TLS attacks.
Easy
Path Sections 10 Sections
Reward: +20
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.
Medium
Path Sections 14 Sections
Reward: +20
Maintaining and keeping track of a user's session is an integral part of web applications. It is an area that requires extensive testing to ensure it is set up robustly and securely. This module covers the most common attacks and vulnerabilities that can affect web application sessions, such as Session Hijacking, Session Fixation, Cross-Site Request Forgery, Cross-Site Scripting, and Open Redirects.
Medium
Path Sections 17 Sections
Reward: +10
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.
Easy
Path Sections 11 Sections
Reward: +20
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.
Medium
Path Sections 11 Sections
Reward: +10
File Inclusion is a common web application vulnerability, which can be easily overlooked as part of a web application's functionality.
Medium
Path Sections 11 Sections
Reward: +20
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.
Medium
Path Sections 12 Sections
Reward: +20
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.
Medium
Path Sections 14 Sections
Reward: +20
Authentication is probably the most straightforward and prevalent measure used to secure access to resources, and it's the first line of defense against unauthorized access. Broken authentication is currently listed as #7 on the 2021 OWASP Top 10 Web Application Security Risks, falling under the broader category of Identification and Authentication failures. A vulnerability or misconfiguration at the authentication stage can devastatingly impact an application's overall security.
Medium
Path Sections 18 Sections
Reward: +20
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.
Medium
Path Sections 33 Sections
Reward: +20 UPDATED
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.
Medium
Path Sections 13 Sections
Reward: +20
Web services and APIs are frequently exposed to provide certain functionalities in a programmatic way between heterogeneous devices and software components. Both web services and APIs can assist in integrating different applications or facilitate separation within a given application. This module covers how to identify the functionality a web service or API offers and exploit any security-related inefficiencies.
Hard
Path Sections 16 Sections
Reward: +100
In this module, we cover blind SQL injection attacks and MSSQL-specific attacks.
Hard
Path Sections 12 Sections
Reward: +100
This module covers advanced SQL injection techniques with a focus on white-box testing, Java/Spring and PostgreSQL.
Hard
Path Sections 21 Sections
Reward: +100
This 'secure coding' module teaches how to identify logic bugs through code review and analysis, and covers three types of logic bugs caused by user input manipulation.
Easy
Path Sections 16 Sections
Reward: +20
WordPress is an open-source Content Management System (CMS) that can be used for multiple purposes.
Easy
Path Sections 8 Sections
Reward: +20
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.