Mid-career traisition to infosec #004

Progress Report.

My OSCP journey takes definitely longer than I anticipated, and due to other obligations, I didn't manage to complete it within the Learn One time frame. That being said, I had extended the lab time and and now I'm going through the remaining boxes (so far I've gone through around half of them). Not planning to extend it further and attempt the exam soon after the access ends.

Throughout the last couple of months I've made significant progress in my upskill plan, not only because of the OSCP prep work but in general in the context of infosec. Improving my sysadmin (both Linux and Windows) and network skills was very helpful. Getting into PEN-200 I thought I had all the basics covered, but the reality is that I didn't know how much I don't know. All that dump of knowledge, which with practice I converted into an actual skill, significantly boosted my confidence.

Also made progress in the plan itself. Since I finally decided to go for a combination of Security Research and pantesting (or even Red Team Operations), I've signed up for the EXP-301 Learn One. Haven't started it yet because I'm still hacking the offsec lab, but I had a quick look at the content and I absolutely love it. It is gonna be an immense effort for me (I know very little technically about this subject) and so I've decided to quickly finish the OSCP and then fully focus on OSED.

I also have an update on the roles I listed in part #002 and described a little in part #003. I've recently read an interesting book, Hackable by Ted Harrington, where he explains the difference between pentesting, vulnerability scanning and vulnerability assessment. From this source I gathered that the purpose of Pentest is to find out if you can compromise the system (find a way in, escalate privileges, pivot to other machines in the network, etc. – everything they teach us on PEN-200). Vulnerability assessment is the activity of taking a product or service (that a company offers) and trying to find a vulnerability in it, usually by white-box testing. Vulnerability scanning is a brief scan of a network and services to see if you can find something that is affected by known vulnerabilities.

It is now clearer to me that Pentest/Vulnerability Assessment are what interest me (apart from the Security Research). However, it is now two people who work in infosec (which I know personally) and have experience with pentesting, said to me that although by definition Pentesting is very interesting, in reality (or what the companies implement) it can be very boring and daunting activity. Based on the definitions of Pentesting and Vulnerability Assessment I've described in one of the previous posts, practical Pentesting is more like a Vulnerabilities Assessment in respect to the number of details you have to pay attention to and report about, but without getting into too much depth when it comes to looking for vulnerabilities in a custom software. What does this mean in practice? As a pentester you probably go through all services and report your findings, even if they don't lead to getting root access. On the other hand, if there's a custom application running there (like a company's product) and you don't find any obvious issues with it (usually by back-box testing), you move on. This unfortunately sounds to me like a typical vulnerability scan and not a proper pentest, and although it wouldn't be wise to generalize it in this context, it is definitely something to watch out for before getting into Pentesting professionally.

Now back to PEN-200 lab, still a few boxes to get through!