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Tactical Exploitation: Attacking UNIX

Attack Research, LLC | July 30-31


Tactical Exploitation: Attacking UNIX is Attack Research's unique approach to compromising UNIX environments without relying on traditional exploits. In this 2-day course students will become proficient in the skills necessary to compromise UNIX environments using the same methods as real world attackers rather than compliance based penetration testing techniques. Skills to be covered include: host recon, network recon and credential hijacking as well as tricks for taking advantage of configuration and design flaws.

This course focuses primarily on Linux, Solaris and FreeBSD/OS X. SSH, Kerberos, kernel modules, file sharing, privilege escalation, home directories, and logging all will be covered in depth. Once finished with this course, students will have a foundation on how attacks on UNIX actually happen and how to secure against them from the post exploitation stage.

Like all classes offered by Attack Research, Tactical Exploitation: Attacking UNIX is very hands on, with a virtual enterprise network environment for students to practice the techniques they learn from the course lecture. Exercises are then demonstrated so each student gets a deep understanding. For more advanced students, there are additional challenges within the environment for them to discover.

Course Outline:

  • Introductory Concepts and Thinking Like an Attacker
  • Host Recon
  • Leveraging Trusts & Lateral Movement
  • Kerberos Inherent Weaknesses
  • SSH Abuse
  • LD_PRELOAD Tricks
  • PAM Trojaning
  • X11 Attacks

We believe that attacking networks requires proficiency in all platforms. So please consider our Tactical Exploitation: Attacking Windows class.

Who Should Take this Course

  • Penetration Testers
  • Detection and Response Staff
  • System Administrators
  • Developers

Student Requirements

Students must bring their own machines. Student machines can be of any platform but must include SSH, a web browser, and PDF Viewer. Students must also have sufficient administrative access and understanding of configuring network settings in order to make configuration changes as necessary.
Students must have:

  • A concept of scripting languages such as Python/Perl/Ruby/Bash.
  • A familiarity with UNIX system administration and networking concepts.

What Students Should Bring

See Student Requirements.

What Students Will Be Provided With

Students leave the class with full documentation and the entire custom and non-custom toolsets. Students will also take away the custom tools that they design and build in the class. Students walk away from AR training sessions not only with the "usual" training materials, but with a wealth of knowledge for both attacking and defending networks.

AR utilizes a very hands on approach to teaching by having the students spend approximately 50% of class time performing practical exercises in a lab environment designed to simulate real world enterprise networks. This type of class structure has been a proven success in retention of skills learned and student engagement. Our unique lab environments are replicas of the types of production networks that students will encounter in the real world.


Colin Ames is one of the founding partners of Attack Research LLC a boutique security company in the United States. Colin has been working in the information technology field for 18 years for both Government and Private organizations, with the last decade being focused on computer and information security. Colin was a contributing member of Metasploit, and has spoken and trained many times at security conferences like Blackhat, Shakacon, Countermeasures, and Source Boston. Colin has done Reverse Engineering, Exploitation Development, Vulnerability Discovery, and Post Exploitation on Windows, OSX, Linux, and Unix operating systems, and has a special place in his heart for File Formats, especially Adobe's PDF. Colin is also on the selection committee for the Shakacon security conference.

Val Smith has been involved in the computer security community and industry for over ten years. He currently works as a professional security researcher on a variety of problems in the security community. He specializes in penetration testing, with over 40,000 machines assessed, reverse engineering, and malware research. He works on the Metasploit Project development team as well as other vulnerability development efforts. Most recently, Val Smith co-founded Attack Research, which is devoted to deep understanding of the mechanics of computer attack. Previously, Val Smith founded Offensive Computing, a public, open-source malware research project.