A deep dive into the world of OSCP

In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity, the Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) certification has emerged as a gold standard for aspiring ethical hackers and penetration testers. Known for its rigorous and hands-on approach, the OSCP is designed to challenge and hone the skills of professionals, pushing them to their limits and beyond.

What is OSPC?

The Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) is a well-regarded certification in the field of cybersecurity, particularly in penetration testing. It is offered by Offensive Security, a company known for its hands-on, practical approach to cybersecurity training. The OSCP certification is designed to demonstrate the holder’s ability to think and work like a professional penetration tester. Here are some key points about the OSCP:

  1. Hands-on Exam: The OSCP exam is a rigorous, practical test that requires candidates to compromise several machines in a controlled lab environment within a 24-hour period. It emphasizes real-world scenarios and problem-solving skills.
  2. Course Prerequisite: Before taking the OSCP exam, candidates must complete the Penetration Testing with Kali Linux (PEN-200) course. This course provides the foundational knowledge and skills needed for the exam, including network scanning, exploitation, and post-exploitation techniques.
  3. Skills Demonstrated: An OSCP holder is expected to have a solid understanding of various penetration testing methodologies, including information gathering, vulnerability analysis, exploit development, and reporting. The certification proves the ability to identify and exploit vulnerabilities, bypass security defenses, and think critically under pressure.
  4. Recognition: The OSCP is widely recognized and respected within the cybersecurity industry. It is often a preferred or required qualification for penetration testing and security analyst roles.
  5. Career Advancement: Obtaining an OSCP certification can significantly enhance a professional’s career prospects, often leading to higher-level positions and increased earning potential.
  6. Ethical Hacking: The OSCP emphasizes ethical hacking practices, ensuring that certified professionals conduct their work responsibly and within legal boundaries.

Overall, the OSCP is a challenging but highly rewarding certification that validates a professional’s practical penetration testing skills and knowledge.

What are the different parts of becoming an OSCP?

Becoming an Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) involves several key steps, each designed to build and test the candidate’s knowledge and practical skills in penetration testing. Here are the different parts of the process:

  1. Prerequisites and Preparation:
    • Basic Knowledge: Before starting the OSCP journey, it’s beneficial to have a solid understanding of networking, Linux, and basic scripting. Familiarity with security concepts and previous experience in IT or cybersecurity can also be helpful.
    • Preparation Resources: Many candidates begin by studying various online resources, such as books, videos, and online courses focused on ethical hacking and penetration testing.
  2. Penetration Testing with Kali Linux (PEN-200) Course:
    • Enrollment: The first formal step is to enroll in the PEN-200 course offered by Offensive Security. This course is a prerequisite for taking the OSCP exam.
    • Course Materials: The PEN-200 course includes comprehensive training materials, such as a PDF guide, video tutorials, and access to a lab environment for hands-on practice.
    • Hands-on Labs: The course emphasizes practical learning through a virtual lab environment where candidates can practice exploiting various machines and networks.
  3. Learning and Practice:
    • Self-Paced Study: The PEN-200 course is self-paced, allowing candidates to study and practice at their own speed. It’s essential to thoroughly understand and complete all the exercises and challenges in the course materials.
    • Lab Time: Candidates have access to the PEN-200 labs for a specific period (e.g. 90 days). During this time, they should practice as much as possible, trying to compromise the different machines in the lab to hone their skills.
  4. Taking the OSCP Exam:
    • Exam Overview: The OSCP exam is a 24-hour, hands-on test where candidates must compromise several machines within a controlled environment.
    • Exam Setup: Candidates connect to the exam environment and are given a set of targets to exploit. They need to demonstrate their ability to gain root or administrative access to these machines.
    • Reporting: After completing the practical portion, candidates must submit a detailed report documenting their findings, methodologies, and the steps taken to exploit the machines. This report is crucial for passing the exam.
  5. Certification and Beyond:
    • Passing the Exam: To earn the OSCP certification, candidates must successfully compromise a sufficient number of machines and submit a comprehensive report that meets Offensive Security’s standards.
    • Continuing Education: Even after obtaining the OSCP certification, it’s essential to stay updated with the latest security trends, tools, and techniques. Continuous learning and practice are key to maintaining and advancing skills in the cybersecurity field.
  6. Community and Support:
    • Forums and Study Groups: Engaging with the cybersecurity community, participating in forums, and joining study groups can provide valuable support and insights during the preparation process.
    • Offensive Security Community: Offensive Security has a strong community where candidates can interact, share experiences, and seek advice from peers and professionals who have already obtained the OSCP certification.

By following these steps and dedicating significant time and effort to learning and practicing, candidates can successfully become an Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP).

What are the different pathways in life one can take when studying OPSC?

Studying for the Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) certification can open various career pathways in the cybersecurity field. Here are some of the different pathways one can take:

  1. Penetration Tester:
    • Role: Conduct authorized simulated attacks on computer systems to identify and fix security vulnerabilities.
    • Skills Needed: Deep understanding of network security, ethical hacking techniques, and vulnerability assessment.
    • Amount Earned: Average salary of a penetration tester can vary depending on location and skill. From entry level it can start from $22,500 per annum and rise to $170,000 per annum depending on if you have attained training and are adept in the field. The average amount one can earn in the profession is $119,895 with an hourly rate of $58 dollars an hour.
  2. Security Consultant:
    • Role: Provide expert advice to organizations on how to protect their systems and data. This often includes conducting security assessments, audits, and penetration tests.
    • Skills Needed: Broad knowledge of security frameworks, regulatory requirements, and risk management.
    • Amount Earned: Entry level for most security consultants is $82k including extra pay is $110k per annum while a skilled individual in this profession can earn up to a $180k per annum. Difference in dependant on skills, experience and where you have chosen employment.
  3. Red Team Specialist:
    • Role: Perform advanced penetration testing to simulate sophisticated cyberattacks, often focusing on persistence and stealth.
    • Skills Needed: Advanced offensive security skills, including social engineering, physical security bypasses, and sophisticated attack techniques.
    • Amount Earned: Base pay for most red team specialists are $121k, including additional pay is $160k and can reach up to a maximum of $245k per annum including the additional pay. Additional pay could be commision, tips, bonuses, etc.
  4. Blue Team Specialist / Security Analyst:
    • Role: Monitor and defend against cyber threats, often working in a Security Operations Center (SOC). Blue team members analyze data from security tools to detect and respond to incidents.
    • Skills Needed: Knowledge of security monitoring tools, incident response, and threat hunting.
    • Amount Earned: Average salary of a Blue Team Specialist can vary depending on location and skill. From entry level it can start from $57,000 per annum and rise to $186,000 per annum depending on your skills and experience. The average amount one can earn in the profession is $132,962 with an hourly rate of $64 dollars an hour.
  5. Security Researcher:
    • Role: Research new vulnerabilities, attack vectors, and defense mechanisms. This often includes publishing findings, developing new security tools, and contributing to the cybersecurity community.
    • Skills Needed: Strong analytical skills, programming, and a deep understanding of security principles.
    • Amount Earned: The baseline for a junior security researcher can go for $143K and the more experience on has in the field it can go to $252K this also includes additional pay. However when applying for this position negotiating from $160k would be optimal.
  6. Incident Responder:
    • Role: Respond to and mitigate security breaches or cyberattacks. Incident responders work to quickly identify, contain, and eradicate threats.
    • Skills Needed: Incident handling, forensic analysis, and crisis management.
    • Amount Earned: The baseline for a junior Incident Responder can start at $41,000 – $83,999, average is $84,000 – $184,999, while a professional can go up to $185,000 – $199,500. These amounts do depend on location of employment as these are estimates.
  7. Security Engineer:
    • Role: Design, implement, and maintain security infrastructure to protect an organization’s assets. This can include firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and other security technologies.
    • Skills Needed: Strong understanding of security architecture, network security, and system hardening.
    • Amount Earned: For a beginner/junior in the field the average salary can start at $61,500 per annum and can range to $139,999. For somewhat experienced security engineers to experienced the salary can go for $140,000 to $205,500 with the average salary being $152,773 with an hourly rate of $73. The average pay range for a Security Engineer varies greatly, which suggests there may be many opportunities for advancement and increased pay based on skill level, location and years of experience.
  8. Security Architect:
    • Role: Develop and oversee the implementation of comprehensive security strategies for an organization. This includes designing secure systems and ensuring compliance with security policies.
    • Skills Needed: Strategic thinking, deep knowledge of security frameworks, and experience with complex systems.
    • Amount Earned: A junior security architect can earn around $29,500 – $114,000 while an experienced security architect can earn around $131,000 – $215,500 with the average salary being $149,349 per annum with an hourly rate of $72. Hourly wages are as high as $103.61 and as low as $14.18, the majority of Security Architect wages currently range between $62.50 (lower end/25th percentile of most jobs) to $80.77 (higher end/75th percentile of most jobs).
  9. Chief Information Security Officer (CISO):
    • Role: Lead an organization’s information security program, including policy development, risk management, and incident response.
    • Skills Needed: Leadership, strategic planning, and a broad understanding of security management and compliance.
    • Amount Earned: One of the more volatile career paths as salaries can vary from location to location, size of the company, etc. Salaries for this role can vary from $275K – $475K with the average salary being $358K per annum.
  10. Bug Bounty Hunter:
    • Role: Independently find and report security vulnerabilities in software and systems to earn rewards from bug bounty programs.
    • Skills Needed: Strong technical skills, creativity in finding vulnerabilities, and knowledge of various platforms and technologies.
    • Amount Earned: The beginner salaries can range from $27,000 – $41,500 while the more experienced earn $42,000 -$54,000. The average pay range for a Bug Bounty varies greatly, which suggests there may be many opportunities for advancement and increased pay based on skill level, location and years of experience.
  11. Trainer / Educator:
    • Role: Teach cybersecurity courses, develop training materials, and mentor aspiring security professionals. This can be in academic institutions, training companies, or online platforms.
    • Skills Needed: In-depth knowledge of security concepts, effective communication, and a passion for teaching.
    • Amount Earned: This is also a very volatile path as some salaries can range between $38,500 – $56,000 and from $60,500 – $151,000. These amounts vary due to the varying materials once can teach in this field. For example, a person teaching basic software security will earn less then someone that has been through OSIB.
  12. Security Product Developer:
    • Role: Develop and improve security tools and products, such as antivirus software, intrusion detection systems, and encryption tools.
    • Skills Needed: Software development, security engineering, and an understanding of user needs and threat landscapes.
    • Amount Earned: The salary can range $11,00 – $99,499 depending on experience and location while the more experienced individual can earn anywhere between $112,000 – $150,500 While the average salary of a security product developer is $117,450 with an hourly rate of $56.

By pursuing the OSCP certification, individuals can enhance their skills and credentials, making them eligible for a wide range of roles in the cybersecurity field. The specific pathway chosen will depend on personal interests, career goals, and additional skills and experiences acquired along the way. Want to get access to course material? Contact us today!