*author’s note: my stick figures are gender-neutral
*author’s note: my stick figures are gender-neutral
Decided I wanted to meet other hackers IRL so did a Google search. there was **** *** openly advertised hacking groups in my city. This one group met once a week in a local pub not far from where I live. Perfect. I showed up at the start time to a bunch of tables shoved together and a nest of power bars strewn along them. People, all men except for one woman, were coming in, sitting down, opening backpacks and bringing out laptops.
I sat down next to the only other woman and began setting up my own laptop. She was focused on her screen, but looked up briefly to acknowldge my presence. We started a dialogue. Frankly if I give deets I’ll probably out her because there’s so few of us. We exchanged words. I felt for her after hearing her words.
At the appropriate start time, beers all around the table, we began introductions. We all went around the table and gave our names and what we were working on. I was one of the first to start intros. I said I was new to the scene was was looking to network and learn. The others all appeared to be very familiar with one another, given the immediate chats as soon as they sat down. Everyone else gave technobably answers to their work involving the various acronyms and tech language that gives me anxiety unless I can Google that shit immediately just to know what they’re talking about. A lot of scripting and coding projects.
After the introductions, all attention turned to screens and keyboards. There was dialogue, smiles and laughter between the others but no one even looked at me, except one obviously shy young guy who I in retrospect wished I had sat next to. Maybe I could have picked his brains. I turned to my computer and logged in to one of my online hacking tutorials I was working on. But frankly my heart wasn’t in it. I mean I can do this shit alone in my home. Why come out and sit next to other humans just to not interact?
Since my goal at the time was to learn more about using the revered Linux terminal, I ventured a question. Did anyone know any good websites that taught BASH scripting?
Someone a few people away from me looked up from his screen and explained to me that I couldn’t possibly understand how a BASH script worked. He began to gesticulate as he spoke. Even him, he explained, still found areas where he needed to learn and he had been at it for decades. It’s just too complicated for me, he assures me.
My internal dialogue, as I stiffen at his assumption: BASH stands for Born Again SHell. It’s usually a black box but can be customized. No graphics. Just text. You enter commands with parameters and conditions in specific OCD ways that only a coder will understand. One character off and your command won’t execute. All the stereotypical hacking you see in Hollywood usually involves a terminal of some kind. The fevered 100 wpm typing and white or green text scrolling across a black background, that’s the terminal, that’s BASH. A BASH script works by telling your operating system’s kernel to execute a specific action. I haven’t fact-checked that yet, that’s my current raw understanding of it. There’s many layers of course. From transistors and electrons, on and off, ones and zeros, binary machine code, firmware, drivers, software, a compiler, a programing language or two, literally millions of lines of code later, you have a snazy graphical desktop with folders and usually a logo involving four squares put together as one square.
Want to change something or customize a part of your operating system? If you see those squares then you’re probably shit out of luck. One of my too-do list projects is to change the sound handling in my OS to stop the music by a quick fade-out when stopped or paused from any source like a video player or a website. Since I use Linux and I’m learning about the GitHub repos, one day I will accomplish this. I miss WinAmp for doing that so long ago and my sound-sensitive soul is jarred every time I stop a song before it ends. A BASH script can do that. I want to learn.
My external reaction to his comments while my mind reels: Oh really?
Well, I tell him, there’s a really nice tutorial that I’ve found at www.bash.academy and I was just wondering if there was anyting better out there. That one’s pretty sick imho. He seems to have a non-reaction and simply shrugs and goes back to looking at his screen.
By this time the one woman in the group had discreetly packed up her laptop and left.
More chatting and casual laughter at the table amogst the rest of the guys. Again no one is even looks at me.
One of the guys across the table finally looks at me, tells me my homework: try to find all the BASH scripts on your computer. The number. I eagerly hit the search engines with queries. After about an hour of searching and reading various forums It’s an obviously complicated action that I don’t understand enough about BASH scripting yet to pull off.
I try again. So, has anyone heard of the BlueBorne threat? The same man who spoke to me first gives me a sarcastic sigh. Does anyone at the table actually use Bluetooth? As if I could be so stupid to even ask. One of the other guys across from him pipes up and tells him hey he quite likes his Bluetooth headset. A small dialogue ensues between them but doesn’t include me.
I pull out my smartphone and do a quick Bluetooth Blueborne scan with the free Armis app. There are a few BLE devices at the table at low risk. Probably smartwatches I think. I can see their IP addresses. I want to do more…
Another hour goes by while I half-heartedly go through an online tutorial, then I decide I’m just going to leave. It’s obvious by now that no one is going to have meaningful dialogue with me.
The man who had stood up in defence of his Bluetooth headset notices me packing up. Hey, he tells me as he checks his smartphone, he’s surprised I hadn’t hacked his bluetooth by now. His tone told me he wasn’t so much surprised as amused.
Feeling protective of my precious new career goal, I cover my ignorance with my creed. I tell him that wouldn’t be ethical. Then, because it’s never good to burn your bridges, I force a smile and say good bye.
*Disclaimer: This is my hobby blog, I’m sure it’s full of grammar mistakes and I can’t spell worth shit.
Having already dealt with plenty of toxic masculinity in my previous incarnation, I am now an unforgiving force of nature with the power of a keyboard. Screenshots are my witness. This one was triggered because the person I was chatting with about OSCP advice told me “Work Harder” at the end of his post. Little did I know, that was in deed the moto for OSCP. Boy did he show me.
Arthur Beatrice’s song Who Returned comes to mind:
You can never be whole
If you’ve never been broken
Find no strength in myself
All I have is this emotion