How To Hack – Beginners Guide to Hacking Computers

“ The Only True Guide to Learning How to Hack ”

originally by R4di4tion (his email, but it’s no longer in use), with a few updates by myself.

You stay up all night on the PC typing and typing. No, you’re not hacking. You’re begging someone on IRC to teach you how to hack! Let’s look at the facts:

  1. You’re a luser and you’re annoying. No one likes you if you ask others how to hack without taking the least amount of initiative.
  2. You’re not worthy of any title even resembling hacker, cracker, phreaker, etc., so don’t go around calling yourself that! The more you do, the less likely you are to find someone willing to teach you how to hack (which is an infinitesimal chance, any way).
  3. You’re wasting your time (if you couldn’t infer that in the first place). Many real hackers (not those shitty script kiddies) spend all their insomniac hours reading and, yes even, HACKING! (Hacking doesn’t necessarily (but usually does) mean breaking into another system. It could mean just working on your own system, BUT NOT WINDOWS ’9x (unless you’re doing some really menacing registry shit, in which case, you’re kind of cool).)

You’re probably thinking, “Then what should I do. If no one’s going to help me, how can I learn to hack?” Have you ever tried READING (I assume this far that you are literate). Read anything and everything you can get your hands on! I recommend hitting a computer store and looking for discount books (books that are usually out of date, but so are a lot of the systems on the ‘net, so they’re still relevant!). You’ll be surprised what you can learn from a book even when you’re paying a dollar for every hundred pages. I recommend the following books to start off with:

  • Maximum Security I or II: this is not a guide to hacking, despite what you might have heard, but you can get enough info to learn the basics of how hackers hack! (Isn’t that more fun than being lamed, email bombed, and kicked off IRC).
  • Practical Unix and Internet Security (Sec. Edition): This is mostly a book about how to secure Unix (if you don’t know what Unix is, either shoot yourself now, or read O’Reilly’s Learning the Unix OS), but half of learning to hack is learning a system from the inside out. How can you expect to hack a site (w/o using a kiddie script, which i must restate, is NOT hacking) if you don’t know how to use the system?!
  • Linux Unleashed/Red Hat Linux Unleashed: these books are kind of cool. First of all, they come with Red Hat Linux (*sigh*, just go to and read everything there) 5.1 and 5.2 respectively (if you get the newest versions of the book, which you should). Read everything you can from it.
  • Sendmail in a nutshell: This is only after you read everything else. Sendmail, for those of you who still don’t know, is a program that sends mail. It sounds stupid, but this is a buggy program, and usually is the avenue of attack many hackers take because of it’s vulnerabilities.
  • TCP/IP Blueprints: this will clear up a lot of things concerning TCP/IP.
  • TCP/IP Administration: haven’t read it, but can’t wait to! (I’ve been bogged down by a lot of other REAL computer stuff).

Editor’s Note: OK, some of these books are out of date now, so I’ve striked the ones that are no longer relevent. “Hacking Exposed” is a good substitute for “Maximum Security”.

After you’ve read them all, re-read them! Trust me, you gain a ton of information the second time you read them just as you gain perspicacity the second time through a movie with a twisted plot.
Then, read a ton of RFCs. RFCs are Request for Comments by the people who practically shaped the Internet. Here is a good list of RFCs (the books above give about the same list):

Editor’s Note: Yeah, I really wouldn’t bother with the RFC’s, they can come later if you get really seriously into it.

That’s it for now. If anything else interests you about the Internet, try to look up an RFC for it. Read anything you can about Internet security in general (but not stuff like “How to Hack” (but keep reading this!)). Subscribe to mailing lists. Some of my favorites are bugtraq, happy hacker (interesting stuff), and MC2. By now, you should be advanced enough to breeze through Carolyn Meinel’s “Guide to (mostly) Harmless Hacking.” It’s got some interesting stuff, but not enough to be “3l1t3.” Okay, now for the big step: the step from lamer to hacker! If you have not already, install Linux. Now it’s okay for you to go online to usenet groups and ask for help installing Linux, ‘cuz quite frankly, it’s pretty fucking hard! NEVER, EVER, EVER expect to get it on the first try just right.

Editor’s Note: you can install cygwin to start with, it’s a small linux environment that you can run inside windows to get the feel of a shell interface.

The next thing to do is learn programming. I recommend learning C++ first because it will help you understand a lot about programming, it’s easy to use, and is a lot like the other programming languages you should also learn. Read these books:

  • Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days: the name says it all
  • Learning Perl: an AMAZING book on learning Perl
  • Programming Perl: the next step after Learning Perl
  • Perl Cookbook: the next step after Programming Perl
  • Core Java (Volume I & II): these books are by the makers of Java. Java is a really cool language to say the least, but you should at least learn C++ before so you can understand classes.

Now, you may be saying I may have been a bit hypocritical by saying not to ask how to hack but to ask about installing Linux. The thing is that Linux people are usually pretty nice, and the people who are Linux gurus want more than anything for Linux to prosper, and are willing to help you out. Oh, by the way, if you’ve installed Linux the way you want it (which does not include throwing you Linux box out the window and yelling, “I LIKE THIS JUST FINE!”), congratulations. You have now earned my respect.

Okay, I mentioned kiddie scripts earlier, and I’ll follow up on it now. Kiddie Scripts are auto hacking programs that will do all the work for you. You don’t want that. I do condone downloading them and learning from them, but don’t become a script kiddie. The only place they go in life is jail (not where you want to be).

Now, you should know a great deal about hacking. You have a compendium of information at your fingertips with a mental index. You want the best advice? Don’t hack. Odds are, you will get caught, and then it goes down on your criminal record, and unless you did something fan-fucking-tastic, like hacking the white house security cameras and get video of Slick Willie getting a BJ, you can pretty much kiss your computer future goodbye, cuz no one will hire a convicted hacker. If you do hack, be a white hat hacker. For example, upon breaking into a site, leave a note maybe including how to contact you (not through the phones, mail, real email address etc., do it through a hotmail account or something) or how to fix it. They may be nice enough to offer you a job! That’s right, there are some people who get paid to hack and do what they love.

In conclusion, you may have noticed that this was not a real guide to hacking. That’s because there is no one resource for hacking. This was a guide to LEARNING how to hack, which, if you want to be a real hacker, you will have to do. There is no one way to hack. (If so, it would be a lot easier for system administrators to keep you out!) It’s a variety of different tricks as well as the ability to keep up with current vulnerabilities in software and hardware. You should also learn how to program. Even though Kevin Mitnick was infamous among the hacker culture for being the most wanted cracker, he couldn’t even write his own exploits! That’s pretty sad. Please use whatever information you have wisely and responsibly, and distribute it only to people who are worthy of it.

(end of article – originally by R4di4tion (email).)

OK, so that’s the article that first got me into hacking, I guess around 15 years ago. If you’ve read this far I congratulate you, you have my respect. A short attention span is not something prized by hackers.

And if you look at the comments to this page, you can see the same questions being asked again and again “hey pls teach me to hack”, “guys can u crack msn passwords?”, “Where can I find free ebooks?”. If you have to ask, you’re probably not the right kind of person to be a hacker. Hackers use their initiative. Like, a lot. If you’re hacking into a website and get stuck, you can’t just call up the admin and say “Hey, where’s the password file kept?” you have to figure it out on your own. In many ways, learning how to hack is also learning how to learn.

Now you’re probably thinking “hang on, you read this fifteen years ago?!?!”. Yes, it’s an old piece of text. No, you didn’t waste your time. This hacking tutorial teaches you the basics of how to hack, and those aren’t ever going to change. If you didn’t catch them the first time around, here they are again:

  1. learn to program
  2. learn how the internet works
  3. learn how unix/linux works

Go download wireshark, nmap, hping, and a C IDE and just play around with all of them. That’s what the essence of hacking is; messing around with technologies until you find something cool. Check out my Hacking Facebook post and you’ll see exactly what I mean; it’s not really “hacking” as such, all I did there was peek into facebook’s code using firebug, and I found some cool stuff. But the hacking skills are the same. Some of you will want to ask “how do I download wireshark” or “how do I use hping” – you must understand that answering the question for yourself is half the point.

I also very definitely agree with R4di4tion’s suggestion to subscribe to bugtraq but I’d suggest signing up a new email account solely for it; it’s very high volume. You may also want to sign up to the security-basics, vuln-dev, web-application-security and pen-test lists. Reading the conversations that take place on those lists is a gold-mine of hacking information.

ESR’s hacker howto

Gary Robson’s How to become a hacker

elfQrin’s open letter to wannabe hackers

donk boy’s tutorial – if you follow this you will know everything you need to

Top security tools, as voted by nmap users

Your suggestions/experiences/advice/resources/tutorials welcome.

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  1. #1 by dzaina on March 6, 2010 - 6:50 am

    am impressed by your words of wisdom,a few months from now,some company is gonna hire me for my my found skillz!!!!

  2. #2 by Dylan on March 9, 2010 - 12:49 pm

    now i feel like . thats gonna take me 4evr to rede. r rite. thanks. dont try to email me its fake email. rele name. if u want to reply. reply bye comment.

  3. #3 by Dylan on March 9, 2010 - 12:50 pm

    why cant i say the word h a c k i n g

  4. #4 by Sebastien on March 9, 2010 - 9:22 pm

    Al Gore and some other people invented the internet and hacking started then. The first hackers were probably people trying to make the internet better at first

    • #5 by Christian on May 19, 2010 - 3:39 pm

      No offense but your more stupid than an average Joe wanting to even begin to know what hacking means; the internet was NOT invented or even began to be created by AL Gore. The only thing Al Gore did and has ever done was: making lies and making stupid people believe that “global warming” is happening. I am going to have to assume that your a liberal or at least your parents were a liberal telling you crap like that. Learn the facts not stupid assumptions… here is a link:
      Whether he meant it or not, he is a stupid ‘Greeny’ environmentalist politician that doesn’t even know the difference between hardware and software. He just thinks it all a hunk if metal pieced together…

  5. #6 by steve on March 19, 2010 - 11:29 am

    i need help on new pc tech i should get best for programing, web making, hacking an to make my pc a secure an a hacker dream place…im new at this all i realy know is how to change the password on another accont on my own pc i also want to know the legal states of hacking an how to keep on the DL. more of a one on one tech teacher…

  6. #7 by Kevin on April 19, 2010 - 11:24 am

    Great guide, looks like this will give me a good place to start.

  7. #8 by FlowRise on April 20, 2010 - 1:24 am

    Nice reading, it’ll help me move to a higher level, but you forgot to mention something very important: resourcefulness (hope i spelled it right) there’s nothing like a out-of-a-box sollution ;)

    For example if your school admin uses the same computer every day ( it’s just an example, that i happened to “experiment” ) to check his email, you could just make use of the computers keyboard and somehow ( not telling you this :P) remember the time when the keys where pressed and save the time and the keys on a memory stick. Later on, if you know the time when the administrator sat down in front of the PC, you can read the date from the stick and see his email password,the schools domain name etc…..

    Hope this doesn’t give any ideeas :P !

  8. #9 by Andrei on April 20, 2010 - 2:13 pm

    joe :
    i want to hack my school

    haha, I want the same think, would be nice…;)

  9. #10 by Cyber Snake on April 22, 2010 - 9:50 pm

    thankyou for inspiring me to learn even more about computers. at this point i am currently working with my dad fixing computers for money so i already have pretty decent skills when it comes to computers. but so far its mainly with technical stuff such as computer components i hardly know any html and java but i am making some trips to the computer store to get some books :) anyone that wants to learn some coding a nice website is they got great easy tutorials.

  10. #11 by rebel2631 on May 9, 2010 - 2:42 pm

    i dont usauly write comments but uve been such a helpin geting me in the rite derection im going to,


  11. #12 by coop on May 11, 2010 - 9:36 pm

    This was a great article! Ive been doing some research online about hacking. It just interested me so much and I cant stop reading. Any other good information pleas email me and point me into the right direction. I am going to start to research Unix and c. Thanks

  12. #13 by Mark on May 12, 2010 - 11:02 pm

    Holy S^#$, you don’t really believe Al Gore invented the Internet do you? If you do, please do not continue to comment here. The Internet started in 1957 and then became the ARPANET in the 1960′s with the first communication going out in 1969. If you can’t spell and don’t know your facts, go back to school and learn. This site is full of people who can’t spell and write like idiots. Hackers need to learn to speak and write like intelligent people or they will never get jobs with respectable companies, making decent salaries.

    • #14 by Christian on May 19, 2010 - 3:44 pm

      Amen, Mark!!! I can’t believe how stupid and F*%$^#! dumb people are these days when they spell like $hit and don’t know how to actually give a good comment. Really how do you even begin to fathom how idiotic it is when brainless kids don’t even know how to spell in readable English. Especially when your on a blogged site where they are talking about the fundamentals of a hacking or ‘Hacker’ journey.

  13. #15 by Eve on May 21, 2010 - 12:55 am

    Thank you! I am learning to code for the first time at university and so interested in the problems involved in hacking, this got me excited about learning the skills. Awwwesome

  14. #16 by rebel2631 on May 21, 2010 - 8:10 pm

    i not no expert but if u read the article read read and read dont ask for someone to email u there not going to ive probaly read this article 12 times and ive read much others and im starting to understand

  15. #17 by Sabastian on May 25, 2010 - 5:05 am

    Funny thing is, a majority of the comments being posted here, are going to be kids between the ages of 10-16 just trolling the website. Sometimes I wonder how great life would be without the internet, then I snap out of it because the internet brought free porn to my life. Enough of my porno-induced ways, go back to sleep little trollers. Mommy still loves you.

  16. #18 by Robert Kennedy on May 26, 2010 - 6:10 pm

    Lame… but reading books on the subject is good advice. I learned more in 3 hours at chapters than a week searching for info online.

  17. #19 by rhumplestarpatikus on May 27, 2010 - 10:44 am

    hey! blogger of who you are i have a question to ask if you really know how to hack… What is Satan?

    • #20 by Howard Yeend on May 27, 2010 - 10:44 am

      System administrator’s tool for analysing networks. And I didn’t even have to look that up ;)

  18. #21 by John on May 27, 2010 - 1:27 pm

    Im 16
    I Have been learning c++ everyday for about 5months and understand quite alot. Again as Tavis, would anyone recommend any websites?

    - John

  19. #22 by Prana-One on June 14, 2010 - 9:58 am

    Hi there i just wanted to suggest something about programming rather than using c++ which is quite tiring for a beginner to understand i would recommend python which is quite stable,powerful and easy to learn and has and has very good tutorials too.. check it out

  20. #23 by Synergy on June 14, 2010 - 7:55 pm

    Sigh… reading this article is what’s wrong with the Linux community… I know how to hack because I use Linux… wrong! Hacking is a mix of networking / program exploitations, all Linux distros like Backtrack (Hail backtrack) do is bundle sec tools together into a nice convenient page, backtrack just happens to with no foot print off a live cd. Unfortunately I had to stumble upon this as a sec topic, what a joke, anything computer related is useless without actually applying knowledge to practice. Speaking on just “how” to hack is a waste of time without actual nmap commands that pen out of date win 2k boxes w/o av or firewalls assuming you know the first steps to finding them.

  21. #24 by sh0ck3r69 on June 21, 2010 - 6:08 pm

    so I’ve read through this article twice now, and I’m at the point of looking at the different books being names. You edited it and said that you crossed two that were out of date, well the out of date replacements look like they might be out of date also because “Hacker’s Exposed” has a fourth edition from 2003 and thats the latest. This does not seem to include any of the new OS coming out, but my question is-are they even needed?

    • #25 by sh0ck3r69 on June 21, 2010 - 6:10 pm

      forget that last question, further searching has come to find there is a 2009 edition. sorry for the misunderstanding

  22. #26 by Jay on July 1, 2010 - 5:22 pm

    nice post and some useful tips on how to learn to hack.. looking forward to spending the next few years locked up in a dark room, with just a linux box, and a few programming manuals for company..

  23. #27 by Jackson on July 7, 2010 - 5:21 pm

    1. You guys honestly are begging to learn something to complex for your mind. You(In general) for one have terrible English, I must recommend to you that you should read and English book or spend some “extra” time with your teacher. (YOU REQUIRE ENGLISH SKILLS TO PROGRAM / CODE.
    2. Don’t use some hyped name like 1337Warrior or Ex|le hackzorz cause that does nothing, keep it simple or just write some initials. Every single time I see one of these names, I just laugh and any hackers that actually have viewed others with these names just gives them a potential target to laugh at and possible crucify.
    3. Learn the basic reasoning behind hacking, ask yourself these 3 questions…:
    i) Do I really want to go through all this to possibly get myself in trouble?
    ii) In the end, will this grant me some stronger income for my family/myself?
    iii) Was I born and raised to create and move with possible evil?

    4. Think before you act. Do not go posting random videos of your amazing “h4cKz0r” skills showing you cracking into your neighbors WI-FI, you show nothing but weakness.

    5. Reward yourself for small accomplishments to gain some self-satisfaction and motivation. Do not good bragging to others how you are now a hacker.

    6. Learn from your mistakes and dont be A-hole. Meaning, do not go setting up a keylogger for your best friend to sign in on to his email and then fucking him over, you get it right back in the ass at some time.

    7. Get good rest and stay in good health. Dont be a tool, go get some fresh air once and a while, you do not need to be a groundhog.

    8. Don’t start big, start little, then grow. Meaning, do not go hacking into Valve’s© servers and getting yourself a game, your not ready and you do not have the experience / proper skills to cover your ass up.

    9. Wish yourself luck cause your going to need it, stay focused.

    10. If your in high school or even elementary school, get the F*** back and focus your A** on school, without it you will never have a chance! Education or nothing, dont make that mistake. Wait till you have more street-smarts…

    — Never give up.
    —= “My near future awaits; peaceful, untainted, Tranquility.”

  24. #28 by Jackson on July 7, 2010 - 5:24 pm

    Correction, It’s late and my english skills are not keen either. Contradiction, flamers… Ha! Enjoy.

  25. #29 by Rob on July 8, 2010 - 2:33 pm

    Love this. Lots of good resources. I have fallen in love with linux, and have gotten fed up with switching between win/linux at school (network is NOVELL running under VISTA arrg!) so I worked out all the settings to get linux connected. Now the asst Dean wants me to change my major…lol. I’m 42 and so far self taught (trial and error on my older Dell/guinea pig), and intend to use whatever “Fu” I develop in the computer forensics and White Hat hacking areas.

    Any other suggestions on resources are appreciated.

    Thanks again.

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