Elearn Security Online Labs and Challenges BETA Review
I was lucky enough to be asked to join in with a small team of beta testers to experience firsthand the latest developments by Elearnsecurity. The new online labs that are dedicated sandboxed cloud based environment for each student, accessible from the main learning material interface/portal.
On the 29 March 2011 at 8PM GMT; I eagerly await access to get a look at the concepts and ideas that up to then had only read about in discussions and suggestions by Armando in the forums.
The whole process I should add came off the back of consultation with the existing student community, so good to see a provider listening to the demands of the customer.
Reading the text in the forums, I could tell that Armando was excited about this project as it would bring yet another perspective to the learning model on offer from Elearnsecurity and ultimately would enhance the learner’s experience.
My experience I would have to say lived up to anticipated hype!
Perhaps partly due to having another chance to log in with equal minded folks keen to get their hands on the latest information and experience they could.
I need to mention, matugm who pretty much pwnd it before we really got off and running, last time I seen him posting he was trying to get a shell!
4 hours flashed passed in a blink of an eye.
Roughly about 30 mins after the agreed meet up time; we were off and running. The only real reason for this late start in my mind was due to getting some testers initial technical issues resolved and giving us group instruction via text based chat. (A head ache I would imagine if you’re on the supporting side)
The test itself involved what appeared to be at the outset a simple enough challenge for anyone who has experience in this field or perhaps has recently studied a course like ecppt.
Though as we attacked the challenge set out in front of us, I started to realise how this setup could give me an advantage to expand my inner working knowledge of both SQLi and of the popular tool sqlmap.
Most of what I have read or the guides I have seen up to now focus in on GET method via URL vulnerable parameters. I struggled to see many discussions around other input channels or POST method choices while studying for ecppt.
This challenge was exactly what I wanted to see, exactly what I wanted to try out and lucky for me gave me a chance to yet again apply what I had learnt up to know. Having developed new skills you are keen to try to keep them sharp, in hacking as we know only really achievable if you have labs if you want to stay on the side of the good.
As well as the actual objective of retrieving information from a database and inserting data into a database, I found I was starting to think “you know what I am going to try this from different angles from the point of view of learning more about the use of Sqlmap, from a burp log, from config file and straight off the CLI”. Giving me a chance to work with the tool in the different ways I wanted, so I could feel I was making progress towards being comfortable with the options that up to now I had really only read from the manual.
I collected a whole bunch of data that I plan to look at from the tool and study/research a bit further to understand as much as I can from the SQL used and look to ways to refine and focus my attacks.
All of this from a single login page, I could hardly believe it, now I was wishing I had more time and energy left in me to keep chatting and testing with some very experienced specialists in the field. Alas work beckoned in the morning and the lure of sleep forced me to concede, well at least to go to bed and leave my laptop cracking the hashes I had obtained from the dump (not actually an objective but fun none the less, there was talk of removing this as I don’t think it was intended but I suggest leave it in)
As far as other enhancements are concerned; my understanding is there is a plan to have more exercises with step by step walkthrough examples to get those needing extra assistance off the ground, which in turn will help them pass the cert/gain skills.
More challenges are to be released to keep the more experienced students coming back for more; this in turn should in my view build on what is already showing signs of growing as a community.
The challenges do come with hints, but I know from chat with Armando and the team that these hints will affect the participants scores and plans of giving away goodies for challenge winners will probably keep the hardcore away from these but still give others at least a good learning tool until they build up their skills and experience.
Details of the goodies and prices for access have yet to be disclosed.
In my humble view a good addition to give us who are interested in researching security the hands on approach that is needed to close in on a sector that needs more good guys/gals on side.
Lets face it so far the bad guys/gals appear to be winning.