Home Cyberpunk 1337 H4x R Us — Do Online Hacking Courses Crack The Firewall?

1337 H4x R Us — Do Online Hacking Courses Crack The Firewall?

by David Rutland
1337 H4x R Us — Do Online Hacking Courses Crack The Firewall?

Online Hacking Course Selling Expertise Doesn’t Crack the Firewall

Hacking is to the cyberpunk genre what axes are to movies set in isolated hotels nestled among the majestic Colorado Rockies. It’s an essential aspect of the plot, a much loved blade in the Swiss Army knife skill set of the protagonist, and provides a handy Deus Ex Machina get out clause when faced with an impossible situation.

It’s also esoteric, practiced only by shady individuals in disused malls and denizens of the dark web. To the cinema going viewer watching Hackers in 1995, or the gamer using their avatar to do virtual combat in the Shadowrun series, hacking may as well be magic.

But hacking, as in compromising other people’s computers and networks is definitely a real thing, and you only need to look at these reports to see both how common and how dangerous it is.

You may think you’re here to read fascinating, fabulous and fantastic articles at the Internet’s premier destination for cyberpunk content, but you’re wrong. You’re actually here because we’re busy harvesting your logins, passwords and network credentials. The essays are a mere distraction as we seize control of your router and pry the lid off your suspiciously titled ‘907n’ folder. We’re already hacking you.

Psych! CyberPunks.com is exactly what it appears to be. We did feel, however, that to give ourselves some degree of cyberpunk credibility, certain staff members needed to upgrade their skills.

We enrolled David Rutland in Learn ethical hacking in 2020: Beginner to Advanced and told him to git gud.

An unfortunate side effect has been that he now sits in a darkened room surrounded by green text monitors and only answers to d4v1d.

What’s is the Hacker Course All About

The course on Udemy and is run by Joseph Delgadillo, a European entrepreneur and owner of owner of JTDigital, an e-learning company. He currently has 967,721 Students enrolled across 13 courses on Udemy alone.

In addition to his various computer related courses offers sessions covering Twitter marketing and Udemy Course Publishing. These are not as popular.

Admittedly, my mathematical ability is pretty lousy. But this means that if every one of the enrolled students completes the course in a under a month (not unreasonable), a sizeable proportion of the global population are now advanced hackers. Maybe I should be more careful with who I insult online.

Highlights of Mr. Delgadillo’s syllabus include creating a secure hacking environment so you don’t get caught, email spoofing, man in the middle attacks, wireless network cracking, network scanning and footprinting.

Joseph Delgadillo
Joseph Delgadillo. All elite hackers have scraggly beards. It's like a uniform

Normally the course costs £199, but it is frequently discounted. Right now, enrollment will set you back a mere $14.99. We signed up for free.

Y’all Need Some Linux in Your Life

If nothing else, the the tutorials are super effective as a crash course in Linux usage. If you’re considering switching from Windows or Mac, whether for nefarious reasons or just because, there are worse quick-start guides than than Udemy’s hacking course. You’ll learn how to use terminal, an incredibly useful array of commands, user administration, running services. Almost everything you could ever want.

There's even an evil dragon to boost your self image as a menace to society
There's even an evil dragon to boost your self image as a menace to society

This is important because as hacking devices, Windows is awful. Macs are also bad. However there is an entire distro (Linux operating system) which has been written for the sole purpose of spoiling someone else’s day. It’s based on Debian, comes with a very nice XFCE desktop environment and its number one selling point is that it ships complete with hundreds if not thousands of tools you can use to getup to no good. It’s called Kali, after the four-armed Hindu goddess of destruction made infamous in 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

The truth is that you can install the entire suite of Kali tools on pretty much any Debian or Ubuntu machine, but Kali looks badass.

If you’re using Windows or Mac, you can install Kali into a virtual machine. The course spends a full 52 minutes showing you how to do just this.

If you're enjoying what you're reading, why not go ahead and sign up for updates from CyberPunks.com?

Yeah, looks reaaalllyyy ethical.
Yeah, looks reaaalllyyy ethical

Learn Ethical Hacking in 2020 will not Teach You Ethical Hacking in 2020

I have a problem with definitions here. Ethical hacking is a valid career choice, and I’m sure many six year olds choose to draw themselves in the role as part of the weekly classroom show and tell. If your skillset includes penetrating remote systems in new and interesting ways, companies will hire you to ensure that their systems are not vulnerable to people with a similar skillset. But who have been hired by someone else or worse, freelancers.

But the network security field moves fast. Newly discovered exploits are quickly patched. If a company is willing to hire you to test their security, they will be 100% wise to all of the techniques discussed by Delgadillo.

And remember, it’s only ethical hacking if you have a signed contract inked by someone who hired you to mess around on their networks. Without that contract, it’s a felony which will net you up to 20 years in the clink.

One of my biggest issues with the course is the final video in the main series, in which the tutor shows students how to send malware using spoofed email.

This is an area in which I have some small expertise, having experimented with email spoofing in the late 90s and early 2000s. It’s not as complicated as Delgadillo makes it out to be, and it’s not particularly effective in 2020.

You can spoof email with literally three lines in a Telnet session. If you’re setting up your own email server, the first thing you do before even creating the first user account is to send a spoof email to a gmail account just to check SMTP works and the correct ports are open.

It's more than a few lines, but I only typed three of them
It's more than a few lines, but I only typed three of them

And yes, it will land in the gmail spam folder. If you’re with a better email provider, it won’t even make it to the spam folder because the domain name it’s being sent from does not match up with a corresponding IP address and there are no SPF, DKIM, or DMARC records which link the IP and domain name. There is no way of setting these records short of hacking into a domain registry.

If you do decide to apply to be an ethical hacker and list email spoofing among your skills, you will be laughed out of the disused fairground arcade where all the cool hackers hang out while Christian Slater and Kiefer Sutherland team up to kick your ass for daring to suggest it.

Sending malware by spoofing emails may land you some old grannies who are still using AOL. But that’s not really ethical, is it?

Can you really move from 0 to 1337  h4Xorz h3r0 in a Couple of Days?

There are 28.5 hours of tutorial, but it didn’t turn me into Jonny Lee Miller right away ,even running through them at double speed. As the narrator states at the end of the tenth video, I won’t be covering this. This is not a networking course. You should search them up on the Google.

The same goes for scripting. Yes there are some example scripts. Right at the end, Delgadillo offers a decent mini course but it would be really helpful if you had some basic coding experience prior to starting.

Fortunately, I just about managed to slog through the MIT EdX CS101 course a couple of years back. Python is my bitch, baby.

In short, Learn Ethical Hacking in 2020: Beginner to Advanced may be for beginners, but it sure as hell won’t take you 28.5 hours if you’re coming from zero knowledge.

A free course to give you a basic grounding in Python takes a couple of months to complete. I’d imagine a networking course would take longer. I’ve been dicking around with Linux (on and off) for close to two decades and I’m still a beginner.

Yes, if you come across difficult concepts you can indeed search them up on the Google. But when the feds come knocking because you tried to liberate Donald Trump’s school reports in the name of open and accountable governance, your Google search history will provide a mountain of evidence.

There’s also the fact that despite the course having 2020 in the title, it’s obvious that most, if not all of the videos were made in 2018. This makes a difference because technology moves forward. Tools get updated. Small things change. If you are a genuine 100% beginner who follows along with the ‘type-as-I-type’ approach, you won’t even get past the initial installation because the procedure has changed in the two years since it was filmed. I have no doubt that the same course will be updated in 2021. The title will change but the content will be three years out of date instead of two, and Joseph Delgadillo will still spend half an hour failing to teach you how to create an account on sendgrid.com instead of how to do things the proper (and much easier) way.

I’m not going to lie. A lot of the content is interesting. There are some things I hadn’t already picked up simply by being alive, curious and interested in technology in the 21st century.

I’ve worked my way through grainy, crackly lectures on footprinting your target finding  their weak points, services and email addresses. I’ve plowed on through how to use NSA-developed exploits such as EternalBlue which was admittedly, a still a big deal in the halcyon days of 2018 but is less so now.

A lot of things were different in 2018.
A lot of things were different in 2018. (Photo by Geoff Livingston via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Writing a keylogger script? No biggie, but embedding it in a image file was new. A lot of the material, such as brute-forcing routers, you could probably work out on your own.

On the whole, I’m going to say this was a pretty fun course,and it would have been even better if it was actually written and recorded in 2020 as the title suggests. I’m pleased to say that I ran through it from start to (almost) finish.

I didn’t complete the final section on Building a Career in Cyber Security firstly because I don’t want one. And second, because genuinely I don’t think this course would give me the chops to pursue one.

You’ll need additional skills to actually make a living at this. As the man says as he skips over the details of what he’s actually doing, you should search them up on the Google.

I’ve spent about a week under Delgadillo’s expert tutelage. So can I finally call myself a 1337 Hax0rz? Dare I bestow that title unto myself?

That’s a resounding ‘Hell no’ from over here. For me, this course was entertaining and it added a few things to the list of things I know and can do. I’m glad I completed it, more or less. I’m not a hacker and I have no desire to be a hacker, but I did learn some genuinely useful things which I may use to sate my curiosity about other things. I’d like to think that the experience made me that little bit more authentically cyberpunk.

Should you buy the course for £199? Hell no.

£15? Maybe.

For free? Why not.

d4v1d out.

Hey, chum. These posts don't write themselves. If you wanna stay in the know, it's gotta be a two way street.*

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