Introduction to Hacker Wargaming (with
Unix type operating systems)
Why Setting up your own LAN Is the Best
Way to become an Uberhacker
OK, so you want to become more than
a script kiddie? So do I. Here's what the best hackers
I know say was their route to the top: wargaming on their own
and friends' LANs (local area networks). This is a study
technique used by the kind of people who can slide through computer
systems like ghosts wafting through walls.
"Wait! Wait!" some of you
are saying. "I thought hackers learn by illegally
breaking into the computers of strangers!" True, plenty
of people you meet on hacker mailing lists and on IRC make out
like they are computer security experts by day and computer criminals
by night. There even are
people who have been convicted of computer crimes who work as
security experts. These guys probably are telling you the
truth when they say they were foolish enough to learn their trade
by committing crime.
However, crime often leads to prison,
and prison is no fun. Guess what happens when bad breath
cellmate "Bubba" decides you're cute? Guess what
happens when your name is Kevin Mitnik and Hollywood makes a
movie full of lies about you? Besides, when you break into a
computer illegally, you miss out on the most fun part, which
is being the guy who is fighting back!
So ... are you ready to learn about
breaking into and defending computers the way the Uberhackers
do it? Ready to learn how to run your own hacker wargames?
You can get started with newbie wargaming
by reading the The
Dread GTMHH on Cracking. This will give you a good start.
But this approach has some problems -- such as you only learn
newbie stuff, and strangers might find your vulnerable home computer
connected to the Internet -- and do terrible things to it.
If you want a wargaming technique
that will take you all the way to the top, you need to set up
a local area network in your home, and get your friends to set
up networks, too. Then you can experiment with configuring
firewalls and proxy servers, getting several computers with different
operating systems working together, and trying out LAN networking
techniques such as Netware, Microsoft Network, and TCP/IP; and
much more. You can increase your fun by trading accounts
on your network for accounts on your friends' LANs and get to
freely experiment with many LANs.
Newbie note: If you are a kid, the
FIRST thing you will probably want to do is make sure your parents
understand why hacker wargaming will make you rich and famous
instead of in jail and infamous. Here's how Paradox@kpservices.com won over his parents.
to you a while ago about how to get my parents to accept
the fact of their son being a white-hat hacker... You gave me
the advice to show them your article in the October issue
of Scientific American (which was a masterpiece, btw) and
take it from there. Right after my dad read it ...
All was well! Then, by coincidence, my best friend's
Win95 box on a vulnerable cable connection was invaded
as part of a dumb IRC war he had going on... The
intruders... trashed my friend's box by using Back Orifice
and then proceeded to mess with the server our business
page was on (along with our other e-mail addresses). My parents
... are now security paranoid and want me to find out as much
as I can about computer security. My Aunt (a Sun Microsystems
employee) is getting me an Ultra 5 SPARC Workstation for
Christmas too! My parents are also buying me a copy of
Windows NT and System Commander so I can run Linux too!
I'm also going to get a (secure) cable connection to the
workstation in my room.
THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
What Kind of Hardware you Will Need --
and How to Get it Cheap
"Wait! Wait!" some guys
are saying. "I'm not rich enough to build my own
hacker research laboratory!" Guess what, you can put
together a really impressive lab for only a few hundred
Have you visited the web page of our
The Web pages downloaded pretty fast, right? Did you get
into the guest account and make merry with all the other guys
who had shells on koan? (Hint: the password for the guest
account is really stupid. Even a stupid person can guess
it.) Did you give the netstat command and see how many
people were browsing its Web sites, making ftp connections
and logged into shells all at once? Did you know that koan is
a mere 75 Mhz 486 box?
Koan is so powerful because it runs FreeBSD, a Unix type
of operating system, instead of Windows. (The RAM disk for the
temp directory helps, too:) Almost any Unix type operating system
can take an ancient Intel-type computer and make it run fast!
The 200th fastest supercomputer in the world is a bunch of PCs
running Linux and hooked together in parallel, in operation
at Los Alamos National Laboratories.
You can get a 75 Mhz PC, or even
faster ones, for almost nothing. Because they are so common,
you can find cheap used ones in the classified ads in the local
paper, or buy them from computer stores that specialize in used
equipment. Then install Unix type operating systems on
Or, for major fun, buy ancient workstation
computers. You will rarely see them for sale in the classified
ads of newspapers. However, you can often pick them up
at auctions. Of course you need to know a thing or two
about the hardware you buy at auctions, because usually you won't
get to try them out before bidding on them. Many people
who buy workstations at auctions figure most of them have things
wrong with them. So they buy a bunch of them and then use
parts from some of them to fix the others.
You would be surprised by what
an ancient Sun can do. A Sun SPARC workstation running
at 25 Mhz is surprisingly fast for the same reason a 25 Mhz PC
is fast running some sort of Unix -- it's the Unix that makes
it fast! An additional boost comes from the SCPARC CPU
not being a bottleneck the way Intel CPUs (used in home PCs)
do. This means that, if you want to have many simultaneous
users, for example if you want to give shell accounts to many
users, a Sun should be faster than a PC with an equivalent clock
If you don't feel you have the hardware
expertise to piece together a cheap Sun workstation yourself,
by paying a little bit more you can buy them from resellers who
get them at auctions. If you can find a local auction that
sells workstations, you best bet may be to go to the auction
and introduce yourself to the people you see buying hardware
that you want to own. They will probably be willing to
resell to you as soon as they get the equipment working.
If you can't find a cheap place to
buy workstations nearby, there are two places in Albuquerque
where you can get refurbished workstations: http://nmol.com/users/jcents
or email Jake Garcia at email@example.com.
They pick them up at auctions of used equipment from places such
as Sandia National Laboratories, where people design nuclear
weapons and nanomachinery. Sorry, you won't find classified
data left behind on these workstations!
Your next step in getting ready to
set up your hacker laboratory is the networking equipment.
How do you get your computers talking to each other? For that
I recommend a 10BaseT Ethernet. This is probably the easiest
network you can set up.
The hardware you will need for an
Ethernet will consist of a hub, an Ethernet device for each computer
you plan to network together, and either Category 3 or Category
5 Ethernet cables. The Ethernet cables look like oversized
You can usually find a used hub for
$20 or so at a used computer store. Workstations usually have
an Ethernet device of some sort already built into them. However,
look to see whether yours has a connector on the back that looks
like a slightly oversized phone jack. If it does, great.
If instead your workstation only has a connector that looks like
what you use for a cable TV (round with a wire in the center),
and next to it a connector that looks sort of like the serial
port on the back of your PC, you have a slight problem.
You will need to buy an AUI to 10Base-T transceiver. It
is a little box with LEDs on it which hooks on one side to the
thing that looks like a serial port, and on the other side has
a thing that looks like a big phone jack. These are somewhat
hard to find, and cost about $30 new. The electronic parts
supplier Hamilton Hallmark sells them, as do many other electronics
parts suppliers. You rarely will find these transceivers
in computer stores because the average consumer doesn't run around
networking old Unix workstations.
Old routers usually also need AUX to 10Base-T
For PCs you usually need to buy an
Ethernet card. Even new, you can buy one for only $20.
The cabling costs very little, and can often be gotten for free
if you pay a visit to an office building that is being renovated.
I've gotten several hundred feet of Cat3 cable that way.
Once you have gotten this far, you
have all the hardware you need for your hacker laboratory.
How to Get Operating System Software Cheap
Your next problem will be operating
system software. One problem with buying old Unix workstations
is that they generally have old operating systems for which there
are many exploit programs floating around the Internet.
While it may be fun for a while proving to yourself that within
seconds you can break into these old boxes, pretty soon this
will get boring. You will get the craving to upgrade to
the latest versions of these operating systems.
This is where you may get to faint, when
you find out what this costs. There are exceptions, however.
My favorite kind of used workstations
is Suns. The reason I like old Suns is that you can either
run them using whatever operating system it came with (either
Sun OS or Solaris, which will probably be an old version and
easy to break into) or you can upgrade cheaply to the latest
version of Solaris, to Sun Linux, or Sun OpenBSD. Even
a SPARC 1 can run the latest versions of all of these!
To get the latest Solaris for almost nothing, see http://www.sun.com/developers/solarispromo.html.
This offer includes the manuals as well as a set of installation
CDs. Or, you can get a version of Linux that runs on Sun workstations
(Red Hat) at http://www.redhat.com,
or of OpenBSD from http://www.openBSD.org.
For PCs, your best bet for cheap
Unix, if you are a total beginner, is Red Hat. It is easy
to install and tech support is great. There are at least
two other Linux distributions that beginners find easy to use:
Slackware 3.5 (http://www.cdrom.com)
and Debian (http://www.debian.com).
While they are a bit harder to install, they are easier to make
You can also get a version of Solaris
that will run on PCs (see above URL). If Linux is new to
you, check out http://sunsite.unc.edu/mdw/ldp.html
for lots of beginner information. Or, start out with Trinux,
for a beginner's version that doesn't require you to repartition
your hard disk (which the other Linuxes do).
If you are already a power user of
Linux, and want to build a really secure LAN, you may wish to
move up to either FreeBSD (http://www.freebsd.org
or Open BSD (http://www.openbsd.org).
These operating systems, along with Solaris 2.6 and above, are
designed to resist most of the buffer overflows that are the
basis of many break-in techniques. These BSD operating
systems are more difficult to install, however.
I wish I could tell you how to get
a cheap version of Windows NT Server 4.0. However, the only way
I know of is not exactly legal. You may be able to obtain
a free beta copy of Windows NT 5.0, however -- keep checking
out the Microsoft Web site (http://www.microsoft.com)
How about LAN software? If
you have decided to work with Windows only, and don't plan on
connecting your LAN to the Internet, all you have to do is cable
each computer to your hub, and point and click your way through
networking. As for Novell Netware -- sorry, I don't know of a
cheap way to get it.
If you are serious about hacking,
you will be connecting several different operating systems together
on your LAN. For this I recommend using TCP/IP and making
one of your computers a gateway to the Internet. This is
a little harder than "Network Neighborhood" style networking.
I know that because -- you will be shocked to hear this -- I
am living proof that it is easy to make mistakes when setting
up a TCP/IP network. Imagine that! So I'm going to
devote the next Guide in this series to how to set up a LAN with
an Internet gateway and both Windows and Unix boxes on it using
TCP/IP. Maybe I can figure out how to explain it so it will be
easier for you than
it was for me.
Thanks to firstname.lastname@example.org
for reviewing and contributing to this Guide.