When I first decided to play in the National Cyber League (NCL) Games, it was a bit intimidating. I remember giving my best shot to each category and thinking I couldn’t have done it without the Player Ambassadors’ (PAs’) support and training blogs, and my exposure to war games. However, if it weren’t for playing war games, I would have been more scared when I started playing in the NCL Games.
What are war games?
War games are a set of hacking challenges that allow beginners to gain skills and experts to sharpen their existing skills. War games have different categories, such as math, cryptography, password cracking, programming, Linux, Windows, etc.
One thing that beginners fear the most is command line
When a new player stumbles upon a challenge where they must use command line, frustration creeps in, causing them to give up on the challenge or the game overall. That is why I recommend to all beginners that they try war games. The challenges that most war games offer are performed via a command prompt, exposing you to learning commands that allow you to navigate the command line.
For example, a challenge states that the next level key is in a file named
overhere saved in the
Documents directory. To get to that file, you must use commands that will allow you to navigate to that file. If we are using the Kali Linux command prompt, we use the following commands to acquire the file:
ls cd Documents ls cat overhere
ls to list the files,
cd to change directories, and
cat to read the file. There are other commands you can use, but this is just an example of how you will be using command line.
Not only will war games allow you to become familiar with command line, but they also give you the general concept of how capture-the-flag (CTF) competitions work, which will help you understand the Cyber Skyline platform and how the challenges work.
The war games site I use is overthewire.org because they have the most comprehensive challenges for beginners to advance, and they provide descriptions of the commands you can use. The challenges become more difficult as you go through the levels.
If you are stuck on a level, you can go to youtube.com, where you can find videos explaining the solutions. But the trick to learning is to use the YouTube tutorial videos for war games as a last resort, as you have to get used to the NCL Rules of Conduct of finding the answers yourself and not copying someone else’s work. Ultimately, this is for your development and growth, and copying someone else’s work without trying to work through the problem yourself will not be helpful in the long run.
Once you are exposed to war games, it will be less intimidating to try the NCL Games, and it will give you the confidence you need to finish the challenges you once found difficult.
Although my primary source of information and guidance for the NCL challenges is the CryptoKait website, I like to play war games to sharpen my CTF skills, master the command line, and be ready for the next NCL season.
Now, are you ready for the NCL Games?