Getting a Black Belt in Wi-Fu - OSWP Review

A few months ago, someone asked me if I was a legit hacker and knew how to hack Wi-Fi. I figured they were joking, maybe only half-serious, but it got me thinking. The truth was, while I had a basic understanding of how Wi-Fi works and knew a bit about attack techniques on Wi-Fi networks, my knowledge about actual wireless pentesting was pretty limited. Without delving into some reading and hands-on practice on my local network, I wouldn't be able to pull off a proper pentest.

So, I started digging into various security aspects of Wi-Fi. Initially, Google was my go-to buddy, but then I thought a more organized approach would be cool. Since I still had the OffSec Unlimited Subscription back then, I decided to take a shot at the PEN-210.


I kicked off the PEN-210 with a pretty limited knowledge of anything wireless. As I went through the training material, I was shocked at how much I didn't know – from the nitty-gritty of IEEE 802.11 standards, network setups, frequencies, encryption, to various attack vectors and the whole arsenal of tools to conquer different Wi-Fi networks. There was a good amount of reading involved, and I'll admit, I've already forgotten half of those details. It's not the kind of stuff you use every day, so it doesn't exactly stick in your brain. But now, I'm aware of these things, and I can always look them up in my notes or ask our good friend Google.

Now, I know the OffSec training library like the back of my hand, and one thing that caught me off guard was the absence of a PEN-210 lab. Instead, they recommend which Access Point and wireless card you should grab. At first, it seems like a major hurdle. If you want to dive into the exercises, you've got to get the hardware first. But when it came to actually doing the exercises, setting up the lab environment yourself (with a real Access Point and configuring it) turned out to be a pretty cool learning experience. I learned a ton, understood exactly what I was setting up, and why I was hacking it in that particular way.

Now, let's talk about the technical stuff – you know, the exciting part where you actually get to do things. You'll tackle exercises to practice wielding different tools, cracking authentication hashes, launching rogue access point attacks, going after WPS networks, WPA/WPA2 and WPA Enterprise networks, and even messing with captive portals. For a wireless newbie like me, it was a good bit of fun.


I managed to run all the exercises in the training material using a LinkSys AC1200 router and an Alfa AWUS036NHA WLAN adapter. These aren't the exact makes and models you necessarily need, but they're surprisingly affordable and tick all the boxes for practicing for OSWP.

LinkSys AC1200 router

Alfa AWUS036NHA WLAN adapter

Since there's no lab ready-made for you, I strongly suggest putting in the effort to create your own setup, especially for the exercises in the key areas of the training. This way, you ensure that when the exam rolls around, it won't be the first time you're executing a specific attack.


Just like any other 200-level OffSec course, the OSWP exam is an open-book, proctored affair. But here's the kicker – unlike its course cousins, the OSWP exam only lasts for 3.5 hours. It throws three challenges at you (one is a must, the other two are your call), each involving cracking into different networks. Once you're in, the goal is to grab a flag from a server chillin' on another host connected to the same network.

To ace the exam, you've gotta nail the mandatory challenge and pick off one of the optional ones. Post-exam, you've got an extra 24 hours to wrap up and shoot over your pentest report, just like the drill with all the other OffSec courses.


Whenever I dive into a new training, my go-to move is to check out the syllabus and figure out if it's going to dish out some fresh skills. In this case, a whopping 95% of the content was totally new to me, making it totally worth my study time. But here's the thing – after chatting with some seasoned hackers, it turns out most of them already had this knowledge. I'm pretty sure they could breeze through the exam without breaking a sweat.

Right now, you can't snag the PEN-210 on its own – it only comes bundled with the Learn One subscription or some other training package. But still, unless you already feel like a Wi-Fu black belt, I'd strongly suggest giving the course pages a good read. The exam is like a bonus round to test all the cool stuff you've learned. While it's awesome to get an official badge, I get that many might skip it and focus their study time on the main course they got with Learn One.



OSWP syllabus

OSWP exam guide