notes on using Kali Linux – KDE version

For some reason, the folks at Offensive Security removed the KDE build of Kali from their download list (the Enlightenment, XFCE, and LXDE versions are still there, but KDE is absent). Since KDE is my preferred window manager, this made me sad, until I found out you can grab them in the weekly and daily builds.

Once I had Kali/KDE up and running, the first thing I noticed was there was no GUI way to manage network interfaces. Having a background in Linux sysadmin, that wasn’t a huge obstacle – ifconfig, iwconfig, wpasupplicant, all were there and working. However, anyone that’s ever had to configure a WPA2/PSK interface by hand can testify that this is one of the few places where having a simple GUI management interface is just plain nice to have. I did some digging, and discovered that the problem was the plasma-nm applet was not installed. A simple apt-get install plasma-nm took care of that problem – and handily pulled in all the required dependencies for the rest of the KDE network management tools as well.

Other than that, the rest of the stuff I like about KDE was there, along with all the usual Kali tools and resources. Finally, I get the best of both worlds!

DROWNing in bad crypto

If you are still running SSL to “protect” your website at all, you need to shut it off. Yes, really.

If you have some kind of load balancer in front of your server, disable SSL on that also.

Using SSL on a mailserver? Kill it there too.

SSL is seriously broken (see: CRIME, BEAST, BREACH, FREAK, and now DROWN). It does not protect data, though it may appear to.

If you want to keep data safe configure your system to use TLS only, enable HSTS, and accept only strong cipher suites. Sound complicated? It’s really not.

Here are some configuration examples to get you rolling.


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how do you become a hacker?

I sometimes get asked how one can develop the skills needed to do what I do for a living. This is a tricky thing to answer, because being a good hacker ultimately means you think “wrong”, not just that you understand tech.

When I interview people for a job, of course I’m looking to see if you have technical chops. More importantly though, I’m looking to see how you think, and how you handle unexpected things.

That “hacker mindset” quality is hard to define, tough to extract over the course of a brief interview, and impossible to teach. We can bring people up to speed in tech stuff, business stuff, project management stuff, etc., but thinking crooked, that’s not really a teachable skill; you either do it, or you don’t.

All that said, understanding tech is definitely a requirement, and fortunately there are tons of ways to gain skills in this (one fantastic resource for this is the book “The Web Application Hackers Handbook” written by PortSwigger).

There are a bunch of resources online as well, (free in most cases), so I threw together a small list of some quality sites that teach tech/hacking:


Basics of Computing



This list is obviously not exhaustive, or even complete really, but hopefully it’s useful to someone.

Another recommendation I would make to anyone looking to get into this field, is definitely get to a hacker con – specifically one like BSides. These are pretty much everywhere at this point, and are very good for learning new things and getting a feel for what hacker culture is like.