Tips & Tricks

5 min read

Learn to hack with Hack The Box: The Beginner's Bible

A lot of people are excited to begin their hacking journey with Hack The Box but don't know where to start. HTB is here to help!

Aug 04

Welcome to our awesome hacking community! 
You may be curious. You may be wondering, “how do I become a hacker?”

No worries, we have everything figured out for you! Read this step-by-step guide on how to best start your journey in HTB and cybersecurity. 

The steps

Step 1: Visit our Knowledge Base

For 99.99% of your questions, we will probably have an answer and you can find them all in our Knowledge Base. This is a must-visit resource for anyone who’s getting started with Hack The Box.

Here are some friendly suggestions for something that might be crucial for you at this point:

Do you have a burning question and the solution seems impossible to find? No problem, we got your back. Our awesome support team is here to help.


Step 2: Join the HTB Community

Our community is the core purpose of everything we do! We are hackers at heart.

  • 670k+ members around the world

  • 195 countries and territories

  • 3.5k Discord messages every day

  • 5.1k forum threads, for any box

We believe in making an inclusive, equal opportunity, and diverse community. We try our best to provide a safe and happy place to all of our hackers, where the only thing that matters is a passion for cyber! Make sure to familiarize yourself with our ToS

To enjoy Hack The Box to the fullest, you certainly cannot miss our main communication channels, where the real magic is happening! Join our Discord and forum. We normally disclose the latest updates and new features on Discord first, so… better be part of it. 

HTB Team Tip: Make sure to verify your Discord account. To do that, check the #welcome channel. For the forum, you must already have an active HTB account to join.

Learn more about the HTB Community.


Step 3: Build your own hacking VM (or use Pwnbox) 

In order to begin your hacking journey with the platform, let’s start by setting up your own hacking machine. It will be a virtual environment running on top of your base operating system to be able to play and practice with Hack The Box. (This is the most important step for every hacker in the making.)

You can make it quick and easy by installing one of the following virtualization applications:

After installing your preferred virtualization software, select your operating system of choice. Here, you can learn everything about Parrot OS.

HTB team tip: Always install a stable version!

How to install Parrot on Virtual Box - Are you having difficulties with the installation process, or don’t have the necessary hardware or networking capabilities to run a virtual machine? Don’t give up, there is a solution. The answer is Pwnbox!

But wait! Are you having difficulties with the installation process, or don’t have the necessary hardware or networking capabilities to run a virtual machine?

Pwnbox is a Hack The Box customized ParrotOS VM hosted in the cloud. It can be accessed via any web browser, 24/7. It’s HTB customized and maintained, and you can hack all HTB labs directly. Intro to Pwnbox

Wanna see how others use Pwnbox?

How to play machines with Pwnbox by HackerSploit

How to play Pwnbox video by STÖK


Step 4: Tools, tools, tools

These are the must-have tools you will need to master before you dive into infosec! How will you get your hands on them? We got you covered! 

  • Nmap: Scan the network like a pro! Add your target IP, range of ports, type of scan and hit enter!

Recommended: Academy Module Network Enumeration with Nmap

  • Metasploit: A framework that makes hacking simple. Set your target, pick an exploit and payload and hit run! 

Recommended: HTB Track Pwn With Metasploit

  • Curl/Burp: Inspect, modify and interact with web requests like an expert. 

Recommended: Free Academy Module Web Requests

  • Ffuf/GoBuster/Seclists: Web application fuzzing to find hidden directories, files and more is a must. 

Recommended: Free Academy Module Attacking Web Applications with Ffuf

  • Windows OS: Popular operating system for personal and corporate use. Learn the fundamentals to hack it.

Recommended: Free Academy Module Windows Fundamentals 

  • Linux OS: Popular operating system in the security/InfoSec scene but also for many sysadmins. 

Recommended: Free Academy Module Linux Fundamentals

Beginner's Bible tools


Step 5: Discover Starting Point

The Starting Point includes some very easy, “piece of cake” machines utilizing all of the tools described above. In this journey, you will also have the machine write-ups handy so you can start practising and getting used to the HTB platform as easily as possible. Click here to give it a try.


Step 6: Complete the Beginner Track

It is time for the classics! Pwn the following list of machines, capture the user and root flags, and complete the Beginner Track today! You’ll be feeling like a hacker. You’re almost there! Click here to get started.


Step 7: Study, study, study

The Beginner Track was a nice first hands-on taste, right? The best is coming now. There are plenty of additional resources to explore and engage before getting the 100% out of all HTB training. 

  • Write-ups & Video Walkthroughs

  • Active & Retired Boxes

  • Other cool Tracks including: Intro to Dante, The Classics, OWASP TOP 10 

The access to write-ups and retired machines at the same time is available for VIP (£10/month or £100/year) or VIP+ (£15/month or £150/year) members of the platform. Discover all VIP Features & Benefits here.

HTB Team Tip: Start on your own, explore the tools, watch the videos below and then level up your hacking with our subscriptions!


HTB Watch List 🍿

Some recommended video walkthroughs to get started:


But wait! Does all the above sound Greek to you? Have trouble understanding the basics of cybersecurity? We have the perfect solution.

Discover HTB Academy:  

We got you covered.

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