Tag Archives: offsec

Evasion Techniques and Breaching Defenses (PEN-300) – OSEP – Initial Thoughts

I just started this course the other day. I’m already neck deep in VBA, C#, and Powershell, which I need more experience in anyway. I had to do some C# for the AWAE/OSWE and I’ve written a couple very small web apps in C#. I’ve done a very minimal amount of Powershell, though I’ve been meaning to change that.

I know a lot of people say the OSCP is lacking in Active Directory attacking, which may be true. I’d counter by saying what the OSCP doesn’t cover, PEN-300 will cover. The courses go hand in hand. My early opinion is that anybody that takes and passes the OSCP should do PEN-300

All in all, I’m pleased so far. I’m only about 1/7th of the way through the PDF, though. I have a lot to go. With all that I have going on IRL, I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish it in the two months I’m allotted – I may have to get an extension.

My plan is to pass the OSEP exam in October and then start the EXP-301 course and pass that exam by the end of the year. This is an aggressive, and probably unrealistic goal, but oh well, haha.

Anyway, I’ll be back with a full report after the exam.

Advanced Web Attacks and Exploits -AWAE – Exam Review

> AWAE Course Overview

For people unfamiliar with this course and exam, here is a link to the Offensive security website. I’ve also written about it before, so you can check my post history. Basically the course is a giant pdf and a bunch of videos that go over web application attacks. You then get access to a lab consisting of 13 machines that are running a wide variety of vulnerable web-apps. In regards to languages/DBs/tech, this course covers VSCode, Visual Studio, JDGui, Javascript, PHP, Node, Python, Java, C#, mysql, and postgres – so it’s pretty thorough.

The exam is a 48 hour long exam where they give you access to two machines running vulnerable web-apps. You have to bypass auth on them to get administrator access and then escalate your attack to full-blown remote code execution. You’ll get two debugging machines that are running the same apps as the exam machines. You get full access to the app source code – this is a white-box course after all. You have to review the code base, and then use these debugging machines to develop ‘one-shot’ exploit script that bypasses auth and trigger RCE. I used python, as do most people, I think.

Oh yeah, and they watch you on camera the whole time.

After the exam time is up, assuming you have enough points to pass, you have another 24 hours to write an exam report documenting what you found and how you exploited it.

> How did it go?

First things first: I had to take this one twice. My power went out twice, briefly, and my father had to go to the hospital (he’s fine) during my first attempt. Even though he lives hours away, and there wasn’t much I could do, I was a little distracted. And it wasn’t like I was in front of the computer for the full 48 hours. I took a break about every 1.5 hours or so and slept 5-6 hours both nights.

Nevertheless, I still managed RCE on one of the boxes, and if I had another hour or so, I would have had an auth bypass on the second box – which would likely have let me pass. I look back and I just kind of laugh at how I failed it. I missed something simple that would have given me enough points to pass. I even knew what I needed – I just overlooked it.

I actually noticed the vulns on both boxes within an hour of looking at them. I then went down some rabbit holes for a bit and got sidetracked – especially on the box that I considered the harder one.

The second time around I crushed the exam in about 8 hours – RCE on both boxes. I had my report turned in at the 20 hour mark or so – and I was lollygagging.

If you don’t know me, my background is this: I’m not a professional developer. I don’t work in IT. I have never worked in IT. I just like computers. If I can pass this exam, so can you.

> Advice and Review

My advice for people that are preparing to take this exam is to just take their time and read the code. You need to know how to get the VSCode debugging going. It is a lifesaver. It is probably hard to pass if you don’t get it working. If you follow the code flow in a debugger, things should pop out at you. With that said, they do throw in a couple curve balls, which I bet throws some people for a loop. Now these curve balls aren’t hard to hit, per se, but someone that hasn’t been in the infosec/CTF/bug bounty world may miss these things.

Another question that I’ve been asked is, “Do you need an OSCP to do this couse?” I’ve changed my mind on this several times, and while I think an OSCP will give you a leg up, you don’t really need to have one – especially if you’re already involved the hacking/bug bounty/CTF world. If you’re coming at it straight from being a developer, it may not hurt to expose yourself to this stuff beforehand.

All in all, I’d say the exam was fair and maybe a little on the easy side. I say that as someone that failed it once, too, haha. But not only that, the exam is also a lot of fun. I love the Offensive Security exams. Some people will probably hate me for saying that, but they are a lot of fun.

Offensive Security AWAE/OSWE

I recently was enrolled in the Offensive Security Advanced Web Attacks and Exploits course. This is the newer version of the course, and it leads to the Offensive Security Web Expert Certification. Well, you’ll get the cert after you pass a 48 hour hands-on exam and write a report of your findings. Fun.

First off, I have bug bounty hunting/web app testing experience, so some of the material in the course is not new to me. With that said, the material is presented well, and I enjoyed being able to see somebody else’s methodology of going from initial exploit to full-blown remote code execution. And I definitely still learned a lot along the way.

I’m a mostly self-taught hacker, as are a lot of people in the field. Unfortunately, I find that when I learn on my own, I miss some things along the way. Usually it’s just little time-saving tricks or different ways of doing things, but sometimes I miss things that may cost me money in the bug hunting world. So, I like to supplement the self-learning with some courses occasionally.

If you’re reading this, you probably know how the labs are set up. You get access to 12 boxes running vulnerable software. You exploit them from initial exploit to RCE. The course manual and videos walk you through it, and then they give you “extra miles” to complete, if you’re inclined. The course manual and videos are well put together and explain all the exploits thoroughly.

Should you purchase this course? That depends. I think if you’re already established in the field and making some money bug hunting, you can probably pass it over. If you’re looking to make a transition into web-app pentesting from dev work, it would be a good choice for you. If you’re looking to challenge yourself, go for it. If you’re looking to bolster the resume, go for it.

What do you need to know to complete the course? Well, my skills in C# and Java are a little lacking, so those parts were the most challenging for me, but they were also the parts where I learned the most. I’ve seen some people recommend having an OSCP cert before starting the AWAE, but I don’t think that’s necessary. They are different beasts, and while there is some overlap, it isn’t much. I’d say having a thorough understand of Python (requests package and sessions), and Linux is much more helpful than having an OSCP. The course touches PHP, Node, regular Javascript, Python, C#, and Java (am I forgetting anything?), so if you are lacking experience in any of those, I’d recommend familiarizing yourself with them before you start the course.

Offsec Proving Grounds Review

If you don’t already know, the Offsec Proving Grounds are a new laboratory created by Offsec to compliment their training courses. It’s basically a Hack the Box version of Vulnhub, and it explains why Offsec purchased Vulnhub recently.

I’ve been trying it out for a couple of months now, and I think it was a good move for Offsec, but it is lagging vs. the competition.

> Price

First off, for $20 a month, it is significantly more expensive than HTB’s standard VIP option, which is about $10. HTB also has more boxes, challenges, labs, etc. So Offsec is definitely behind, in this regard. With that said, Offsec has started paying people to submit boxes, so I see the number and quality of boxes available increasing soon. I know if I was to make a box, and I’ve toyed around with the idea, I’d probably submit it to Offsec before HTB, at this point.

> Site Design

Offsec’s website design is functional, but it isn’t as flashy as HTB. That may be a positive or negative, depending on your taste. At first I had some troubles getting machines to start properly, but that appears to be ironed out.

> Functionality

It seems you have to have your VPN connection going to start a machine, which is almost as annoying as the machines changing IP addresses each time they are restarted. Also, don’t log out and clear your cookies, that will make stuff go a bit haywire, though that may be cleared up by now. I think you should be able to add this to your .ovpn file to automatically log in

auth-user-pass /home/user/.ssh/login.conf

And then create login.conf in the same directory as the ovpn file. In login.conf, put your username on one line and password on the next line – that’s all. Two lines, first is username and the second is your password.

> Conclusion

I’d say the proving grounds are best for those people working towards an OSCP. They easy boxes on the site are actually easy in comparison to the newer HTB “easy” boxes. Offsec needs to work on updating the website to be a bit more modern, and add more features to increase the value. After all, why would somebody pay nearly double the price of HTB for less value? Also, please make it so I don’t have to enter my obscure VPN credentials every time I log in.