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Computer security
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Kid Strangelove Offline
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Computer security
Hey everyone, I was wondering, how does one get into the computer security field?

I have a background in software design, so I understand programming, computer and networking concepts, etc, but I have no clue where to begin looking at hacking, virus writing and other malicious shit.

Every single person I've met in computer security was into it since they were children or teens. Heck, my college only offered one computer security class and I barely learned anything there.

So, can anyone point me to some books, web sites, forums and information on the field of computer security and computer hacking? I'm not looking for a job in it or anything, I just want information
06-14-2011 02:40 PM
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Chad Daring Offline
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RE: Computer security
Maybe check government jobs that offer training?

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06-14-2011 02:42 PM
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Caligula Offline
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RE: Computer security
I was very into this as a kid but never parlayed it into a paying career.

You'll be blown away by how insecure most systems are.

I assume what you want to do is penetration testing (pentesting) - which is what blackhats do when they pwn for malicious purposes, the difference being that you'll be getting paid to help companies secure their networks.

There are lots of consulting companies out there that specialise in it. They'll audit security at companies, which can be very interesting because it deals with both networks and software as well as security policies and staff training. Beware that a lot of them are snake oil salesmen looking to make a quick buck off gov't contracts. I imagine it would be demoralising to work at a place like that. At the other end of the spectrum are the hardcore security researchers who often do very in depth work on particular technologies and have fairly narrow fields of expertise. To get a sense of the kinds of discussions that go on in the field check out some of the mailing lists at http://www.securityfocus.com

Too bad that the HOPE (Hackers on Planet Earth) conference is not on this year as far as I can tell. That used to be the big NYC conference for the hacker/security communities from all over. Defcon is supposed to be good. Check out Shmoocon as well. Those are both in the US. In Germany the Chaos Computer Club puts on an annual conference that's supposed to be cool.

Bear in mind that these attract the very hacker / non corporate end of the spectrum, but they're also more fun to be around. The cool thing is that if you're good, you can live a mobile lifestyle, there are a lot of telecommuting opportunities, etc. This is the only part of the field I know well, and there are lots of opportunities in it. I've met lone hackers who make a very good living off running one man shops doing this kind of work for companies.

A great way to start learning is installing Backtrack Linux http://www.backtrack-linux.org -- you can install it as dual boot on any machine. For instructions check out the tutorials here http://www.backtrack-linux.org/tutorials/ or the backtrack forums. It comes prepackaged with the best free security tools out there. There's an active community around it too. The guys behind it also offer remote courses for money. The courses look fun, they set up a network environment for you and give you lessons along the way on how to map the network, probe for vulnerabilities, exploit them and work your way through the steps of compromising a system.

It will give you feel for what working as a pentester involves and give you the basic skillset. It's important that you know how to write code (python/ruby especially useful), you'll eventually want to write your own exploits or at least be able to understand and modify exploits.

Finally, I don't know what sort of crowd the monthly 2600 meetup in NYC (http://www.2600.com/meetings/mtg.html) is attracting these days but it's safe to say you wouldn't be going there to sharpen your game!
(This post was last modified: 06-14-2011 04:07 PM by Caligula.)
06-14-2011 03:31 PM
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Kid Strangelove Offline
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Post: #4
RE: Computer security
Thanks for the heads up guysSmile
06-17-2011 04:39 PM
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