It was a 9 month journey but on 8th of February I passed and became an OSCP on my 1st attempt.

Dedication

Before I begin, I would like to thank a couple of people who made this amazing milestone come true.

Background

Having a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Telecommunication engineering, I had a good foundation for understanding TCP/IP stack, programming languages, data structures, and the stamina as well as the will to self-study and do a lot of research, which is very important for PWK course. I was also working in the field of information security from past 2 years, which made my understanding much easier to understand security concepts, such as the significance of threats, vulnerabilities, and their associated attack vectors along with their remediations. As I was preparing for OSCP, I started doing a lot of CTFs from places such as VulnHub (https://www.vulnhub.com) and HackTheBox (https://www.hackthebox.eu). I was aware of the concepts; however, I still gave my time to learn all the concepts that have been listed in PWK course. This does not signify I became a “1337” or achieved God level. PWK course provides you more ways, tricks, and methodologies which you can use to perform real-life penetration test, as mentioned on their website, https://www.offensive-security.com/information-security-certifications/oscp-offensive-security-certified-professional/. Penetration Testing with Kali, or PWK, is the well-recognized course provided by Offensive Security, and is one of the respected courses in the infosec community. The course is a prerequisite in order to appear for OSCP examination.

PWK Course: What to expect in the labs?

You can take lab time of a minimum of 30 days, up to a maximum of 90 days. Purchasing labs also provide you one complimentary examination attempts. Once you register, you select the week you want to start your studies — specifically a Saturday/Sunday is when a new course beings. It is encouraged to register 10–30 days before your expected start week, since time slots fill up really fast! On your assigned course start date, you’ll be provided access to download all your course materials, including the 8-hour Offensive Security PWK course videos, the 370+ page PWK PDF course, and your VPN lab access. Once your lab time starts — it will be a continuous block, meaning that you can’t stop/start it at any time after the start date.

The PWK Lab

The PWK Lab is the meat of the PWK Course. This is where most of your learning takes place. The lab has more than 50 Machines total of varying OS’s, vulnerabilities, and misconfigurations separated in 4 different network sections — Public, IT, Dev, and Admin. Your goal is to get access to the Admin network, but for some, the goal might be different — so don’t let it get to you if you can’t get into the Admin network!

The exam

Finally — February 3 came around. I woke up around 7:30AM — ate some breakfast, drank some tea, and went for a walk to relax and catch my thoughts. By 8:30 I was sitting at my desk, all my workspaces in Kali were configured the way I liked. Sure enough, at 9AM I got the email from OffSec with my Exam VPN and instructions. I took 15 minutes to read everything and make a mental note on what I needed to do. By 9:30 I was off and taking on the first machine. 1.5 hours after my initial start time, I finished one machine. I was able to exploit the machine and attained a root shell! I was a nervous wreck, and the butterflies in my stomach were acting up, but by 12PM I had two machines rooted with 35 points under my belt! At this point I decided to step away for 30 minutes and take a small break.

Tips and recommendations

I know that many of you who will be reading this post will ask for tips/recommendations on either preparing to take the OSCP or on how/what to do during the exam. Well not to worry — in this section I will break down and include a lot of the materials I used to prepare for the OSCP as well as some tips/tricks to use for the exam.

Prerequsites

In the PWK Course, OffSec states that you need to understand the following fundamentals to take the course…

Practice

Now that you have a fundamental understanding of the basics, you need to practice… a lot! If are pretty new to Penetration Testing and think that taking the OSCP will teach you — then you are dead wrong! You need a lot of previous training and experience to even attempt something like the OSCP.

Exam Tips

As with everything, there are always certain things that you should know and be doing during the PWK Lab and OSCP Exam, these following tips should help you stay on focus and to stray away from rabbit holes.

  1. Simple Nmap Scans w/ Script Scanning are your friends!
  • UDP: nmap -sU -sV -n --top-ports 200 [IP]
  • This will show other open ports/running services and applications!
  • This will show open shares, anonymous logins, etc.
  • Username: anonymous Password: anonymous
  • smbclient -L \\[IP]
  • Username: root Password: None
  • Username/Password combo of admin:admin?
  • Google the Documentation. Default Credentials/Login?

A security professional. I break things. I fix things. OSCP. OSWE. Spreading the knowledge :)

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