Windows Fundamentals

Windows Fundamentals  Fundamental

This module covers the fundamentals required to work comfortably with the Windows operating system.

Created by mrb3n
Co-Authors: LTNB0B

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Windows is heavily used across corporate environments of all sizes. We often find ourselves gaining access to a Windows host during a penetration testing engagement. It is important to understand how to navigate the file system and command line to perform effective enumeration, privilege escalation, lateral movement, and post-exploitation. Windows can also be used as our attack box during assessments. Many servers run on Windows, and most companies deploy Windows workstations to their employees due to the ease of use for individuals and centralized administration that can be leveraged using Active Directory. This module covers the essentials for starting with the Windows operating system and command line.

In this module, we will cover:

  • Windows Operating system structure
  • The Windows file system
  • Permissions management
  • Windows services
  • Processes in Windows
  • Windows Task Manager
  • Interacting with the operating system
  • Windows security
  • The Microsoft Management Console (MMC)
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)

This module is broken down into sections with accompanying hands-on exercises to practice each of the tactics and techniques we cover.

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 target host provided in the interactive sections or your own 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" and assumes that the student has a basic knowledge of the Windows operating system from a casual user perspective.

This module has no prerequisites but serves as the basis for many of the modules contained within the Academy. Completion and an in-depth understanding of this module are crucial for success as you progress through the Academy and Hack the Box platforms.


  • Introduction to Windows
  • Operating System Structure
  • File System
  • NTFS vs. Share Permissions
  • Windows Services & Processes
  • Service Permissions
  • Windows Sessions
  • Interacting with the Windows Operating System
  • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)
  • Microsoft Management Console (MMC)
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)
  • Desktop Experience vs. Server Core
  • Windows Security
  • Skills Assessment - Windows Fundamentals

Relevant Paths

This module progresses you towards the following Paths

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Operating System Fundamentals

Easy 32 Sections

Cubes Required: 20

To succeed in information security, we must have a deep understanding of the Windows and Linux operating systems and be comfortable navigating the command line on both as a "power user." Much of our time in any role, but especially penetration testing, is spent in a Linux shell, Windows cmd or PowerShell console, so we must have the skills to navigate both types of operating systems with ease, manage system services, install applications, manage permissions, and harden the systems we work from in accordance with security best practices.

 Linux Fundamentals

Fundamental 18 Sections

This module covers the fundamentals required to work comfortably with the Linux operating system and shell.

 Windows Fundamentals

Fundamental 14 Sections

This module covers the fundamentals required to work comfortably with the Windows operating system.

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