Table of Contents

So it begins… my 100 Days Of Hacking.

I’ve watched Mr Robot enough to know hacking is a beautiful plot device but is it a career path?

Programming, terminals and low-level computing have always scared the heck outta me. Why? Because they’re complex and hard to understand.

I’ve shied away from learning to code so many times it’s embarrassing so I leaned into the design and #nocode because they’re easy… well no more.

I refuse to let laziness get in the way of my brain learning! No more laziness, no more.

So, what is hacking and why go down the long path it provides?

First of all, hacking is cool. I’m not ashamed to say it aloud, it’s cool.

Second, it’s about creativity. Now that’s different than what I expected with the boring computer coding stuff.

Hacking is learning the in’s and out’s of a lot of different things about computers. Then seeing how you can have fun with it! Hacking is a game, there are rules, levels and goals. Everything is more fun when it’s gamified (shoutout to Habitica).

Where To Start Hacking

A course, well, courses. Hacking courses aren’t about breaking and entering. It’s about laying the groundwork of computing knowledge.

Roppers Academy has been the best Introduction To Computing Fundamentals course. Its beginner-friendly manner makes the most daunting topics digestible and welcoming! Dennis Devey an independent security researcher provides a fantastic, free course.

It’s a very grounded, DIY approach to learning, it’s recommended to start here! Setting up local software running on your PC and build on what you’re familiar with is ideal. This way you ease into new concepts like virtualisation and various operating systems.

Learning how to hack is more fun when bouncing around from one course to another. This scaffolds knowledge and allows you to use it in many ways, a great way to have it all sink in.

Ropper’s introduces OverTheWire’s Bandit capture the flag (CTF) game. I didn’t even realise it was a CTF until I looked up ‘easy beginners CTF’s for idiots like me’. It’s addictive applying new skills to challenges and overcoming the levels. It taps into that internal gamer, I love it.

HackTheBox Academy is a gamified experience with three skill-sets, general, defensive and offensive. The guided walkthroughs are a pleasure with ‘easy-one-click’ virtual machines and some-what-simple explanations. Their cube currency rewards users to start and complete modules by gaining rewards. If you want to save money, you need to do the work! Great system.

I found myself wanting a bit more gaming so I tried HackNet an actual game, well ‘hacking simulator’… and I find it more confusing as it’s a watered-down experience. Like playing a knock off ‘Guitar Hero’ instead of a real guitar. Notice I said “knock off”, real Guitar Hero is never watered down.

TryHackMe is the only service I’ve paid for or spent money on so far in my hacking journey. It’s the first time I’ve watched explanation videos on hacking and it’s an absolute winner! Modules have well-written sections, matched with video and browser VM’s, it’s beautiful!

Staying Motivated

How do I stick at it?

It’s always easier to give up.

Staying motivated to learn is hard work.

Three tools I use:

First, every day I write a daily log, like this post, and not that interesting. But, every day I record what I did, what I’m thinking and what I want to do. I want to stay self-aware. It keeps me on track, it’s my routine.

Second, I have a dream. A dream of being a world-class educator. It’s a big dream, they’re supposed to be big! The dream, aka long term goal, is to keep me moving, it keeps me motivated.

Third, I have smaller goals to keep my routine fresh and my dream a live. Here’s a list of the following goals:

  • Be 100% comfortable in a terminal. May 2021
  • Use Linux daily/weekly and like it.
  • Participate in a live Capture The Flag.
  • Find a real-world website/app vulnerability.
  • Rewatch Mr Robot.
  • Teach an online course on Hacking/Linux/CyberSec.

Rules of Engagement

The first rule of hacking is there are some rules.

$ Rule 1 ~ Don’t be strict.

I’m not sticking to a strict ‘every day I must post/do something’ … this may be cheating, but I have a full-time job and a beautiful wife to attend to. I’m not interested in adding unwanted stress of publishing content every, single, day, or, night. I’ll upload walkthroughs, videos and updates when I can/want to.

$ Rule 2 ~ Don’t give up.

There is no try, only do. Thanks, Yoda.

$ Rule 3 ~ Share with others.

Something that I love and is also terrifying, sharing progress. I’ve touched on this topic before and it’s something I believe in.

I’m a selective perfectionist. I often talk myself out of sharing things because they’re not up to some unrealistic standard I’ve set.

Join Me

I’m excited, very excited.

This is an overdue learning path I’m obsessed with right now.

Want to join me? Simply upload a post to your website entitled #100DaysOfHacking and tweet about it, here’s mine, don’t forget to share and @mrashleyball.

Here’s the list so far:

Follow the journey and see the progress, subscribe to my weekly newsletter or see the blog.

Happy Hacking.

About The Author
Ashley Ball

Ashley Ball

Hi, I'm Ash. I'm a teacher, web designer and content creator from Australia. I like making things simple, subscribe for insights via monthly newsletter.
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