Joining Hack South - The Skid guide to HS and Discord

Hack South is first and foremost a community of people based in South Africa but open to the world. Our growing community has a great variety of members, some of which are passionate information security practitioners, open-source investigators, developers, digital rights advocates and some are from a variety of other fields (even some totally unrelated to computers).

TL;DR

What is Hack South

Hack South is first and foremost a community of people based in South Africa but open to the world. Our growing community has a great variety of members, some of which are passionate information security practitioners, open-source investigators, developers, digital rights advocates and some are from a variety of other fields (even some totally unrelated to computers).

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Why should you join?

The nature of the Cybersecurity field is a fast growing and rapidly changing environment where staying up to date can be daunting. We try our best to keep providing relevant threat intel, crazy exploits and cool tricks to add to your arsenal. Being a community driven platform, we encourage people to speak about what they’ve found and help the rest learn from you as you will learn from them.

Looking at some of the positives that a global pandemic has bought us, we are loving the virtual conferences and training that some gracious people/companies have been offering. We have a bot that informs everybody about upcoming training or conferences that will even remind you of one that piqued your interest so there are no excuses for taking advantage of these great opportunities.

Maybe you are on the hunt for a job? We have an employment area where people post positions they are looking for and who knows, maybe one of these might be your dream job; Might as well come find out.

We also know that sitting behind a keyboard and crushing war games is exhilarating but sometimes you need somebody to give a virtual high five to. With the like minded individuals on Hack South, you are sure to find somebody who is happy to work through some boxes and challenges with you for that extra satisfaction of sharing a win.

It’s not all cyber though! We have gaming channels, book clubs, meme channels, media verifiers, daily motivation, social areas for when you want to sit in the virtual lounge and talk about whatever, and more. We are always looking for unique interests and hobbies so bring them along and see if you can make some more friends in an unassuming place.

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What can I do on Hack South’s Discord

Our server has a great variety of chill spots, learning channels, resources and more. You can join the gang on VC and listen to some Hack South tunes and catch up. There’s often live sharing of various activities on VC that you can watch and learn from or interact with other members of Hack South.

Each month, there are live Hacking challenges that a number of people join after work.

We regularly have teams participating in Capture The Flag (CTF) competitions under the Hack South flag (lame pun, we know). CTFs give great opportunities to test your skills and learn more skills to apply at your job or to get stronger for the next competition. The patience from our most experienced CTF players encourages all skill groups (or lack thereof) to get your hands on a keyboard and harness the power of the keys. You might even find a Jedi Master that is happy to train a padawan ;

Joining Hack South

So you’re ready to embark on the journey! One that will unlock a community that teaches you how things work, how things break, supports you when you need it most and adds a bit of randomness to a world that often feels far too cookie cut. Here, take the red pill and see how far the rabbit hole goes.

Step 1: Download Discord

No surprises here, but you’re going to need Discord. You can grab it directly from the official website Discord. Don’t be nervous, it’s not some sketchy dark-web application or 31337 hacking tool, but with anything you download and install it’s worth doing some research.

Discord was originally built for the browser, so if you’re on the go or prefer to save some hard-drive space go ahead and use it via your browser instead Discord App.

“Discord is a VoIP, instant messaging and digital distribution platform designed for creating communities. Users communicate with voice calls, video calls, text messaging, media and files in private chats or as part of communities called “servers”

Discord has multiple servers and within those servers, channels that are created to guide people on the server to places of interest, like CTF channels and so on. For the OG’s, think of it like IRC but with less eye-scorching background colour combinations and no need for cloaking. There’s also these animated pictures called gifs. You’ll see what we mean soon enough.

Step 2: Create an Account

Alright now for the hardest part, settling on a username and creating an account Register. It’s obligatory for your username to strike fear in the hearts of other community members, so use words like “skull”, “dead” and “shaun” and add a few special characters and numbers to make it more hacker-ish. That’s a joke, just choose something meaningful to you, what’s in a name anyway.

Step 3: Join The Hack South Server

This is it, your last chance to turn back… Nope, you’re still in? Awesome! Click the button below and become one of us (you’ve already been chosen).

Join Hack South

Code of Conduct (COC) & General House Rules

When you join the server you will see the following prompt.

Welcome Screen

Once you proceed you will see just 2 channels.

Limited Channels

With the New To HackSouth channel you will see a message you are tagged in, welcoming you and explaining what you need to do. Your first job is to go over to Code Of Conduct and read the Code of Conduct. If you are happy with it and good to accept, you scroll to the bottom and click on the Thumbs Up Emoji. As soon as you do, you will get the role CoC Verified and thus you have 2 roles.

All new community members start out with the FNG role by default. With this role you get access to a whole new channel called WhoAmI Introductions and this will be your final step to gain access.

We are all respectful of each other here on Hack South. Please feel free to let the mods or staff know if you ever feel uncomfortable or have any concerns. You are welcome to send a compliment as well.

As a growing community, we ask kindly that you adhere to the rules and respect the staff and mods when they guide you back to the path of those rules :) Please understand that we are all here for learning and growing and on a volunteer basis, so keep late night DM messages to emergencies as far as possible.

Introductions

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In WhoAmI Introductions you need to introduce yourself. Nothing crazy, we do not want to know your mother’s maiden name. Keep it simple. For example.

“Hi, I am Such and Such, I work in development and have a keen interest in infosec. I hail from JHB, and heard about Hack South from a friend”

All we are keen to understand is:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • Why you joined
  • Are you local (Internationals are WELCOME!)
  • Where you heard about Hack South

What makes a good introduction We are all learning and growing here at Hack South. We love meeting new people so here’s some tips for us to get to know you in your intro. Tell us your interests and what you like to do in the cyber field. In a sentence tell us what brought you to our neck of the woods and how you found or heard about the server. Highlight something that makes you unique.

What we don’t want or need:

  • PII
  • Your passwords
  • Your mother’s maiden name

When you have completed your introduction all you have to do is wait. One of the Moderators will check your intro, Remove FNG and assign you Human.

Congrats! You are in!

Now we will look at roles to improve your experience!

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Role Assignment

Discord controls features through the use of roles. A single role can be assigned to multiple people and a person can have multiple roles. Roles have a colour and hierarchy to help you know who’s who in the zoo.

Our roles serve 4 primary purposes:

  • Highlight interests
  • Unlock specific channels
  • Designate rank
  • Commemorate achievements

You’re now verified, have access to most of the channels and can head over to the #🔥-roles-assignment channel to grab some more.

To assign yourself a role, scroll to the top and read what options we have. Each role has a corresponding emoji. When you hit that emoji, it will assign the role. Note that there may be a delay. Hit the Emoji for the role

Be sure to check what roles you have and whether they are being assigned properly. Mods MIGHT assign you specific roles following from your introduction. To do so, click the Double figure at the top right and just left of search bar of the channel called Members List. Scroll down, and find your name and click on it. When you do, you will see the roles you have.

Check your roles

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When you assign yourself a role, be sure to do this process again to check your role. (Example below)

Highlight interests

Role assignment is critical for ensuring a tailored experience on Discord and should be done as soon as possible. Assigning a role is simple, read through each of the the messages on #🔥-roles-assignment and react with the relevant emoji.

For example; if you’re interested in Capture The Flags and want to join the crew or be notified about CTF events you’d react with the 🚩 emoji. This will give you the “CTF Team” role and you’ll be notified anytime the CTF Crew is mentioned.

CTF Roles

Roles are constantly changing and expanding, so make sure you’re checking the #🔥-roles-assignment channel regularly.

Unlock specific channels

Whilst joining the Discord server automatically gives you access to most channels, there are a few that are opt-in only. You opt-in by assigning specific roles or having specific roles assigned to you by a moderator.

Some common op-in channels include;

HTB Monthly Meetup - access the monthly event voice and text channels by choosing the HTB Meetup role

Specific CTF Events - raise your hand when you’re keen to participate in a CTF event, you’ll be assigned a custom role which unlocks access to the CTF event chat, resources, solutions and voice channels. As a bonus, this role lives with you forever.

Employment area - includes channels for job seekers and employers, if you are one of these, be sure to opt-in to this channel group.

Hack South Lite™️

We also realise that such a large community with diverse interests can quickly lead to channel mania. It’s for this reason that we have created the Hack South Lite role. This is the role for you if you just want to get your feet wet or refine your Discord experience to “must-know” content only.

Hack South lite

Just hit the emoji under #🔥-roles-assignment and immediately strip away 70% of what the server has to offer. We’re not going to judge you for doing this, but don’t blame us if you have FOMO or miss any 0-days.

Designate rank

Have you read Lord of The Flies? No, ok then just know that things don’t work out so well for a bunch of kids, stranded on an island with a lack of leadership and boundaries.

We want Hack South to remain a welcoming and safe community for everyone, and so we have to have some structure. You’ll be able to identify the volunteers who dedicate time and energy to ensuring the lights stay on by the roles that they ‘wear’.

ROOT
AngusRed is his name and making the final call and driving the direction of the community is his game. He’s super passionate about the industry so reach out to say “Hi”, offer a hand or drop a CV.

El’Presidente A lucky few have seen his face but everyone has seen his work. Megladon is the man behind the scene, constantly tightening nuts and bolts of the server, ensuring it runs for all of our pleasure.

STAFF For a ship to set sail, many hands are required on deck. Our staff rise to this challenge by doing things like creating and assigning new roles, organising and running events, growing the community and contributing to Hack South in whatever way they can.

Moderator
While the city of Gotham sleeps, our superheroes are keeping watch. Our mods are ready to welcome newcomers, help out when you have a problem and ensure that everyone is sticking to the code of conduct.

Commemorate achievements

Lastly, you’ll see some of our members wear specific roles like badges of honour. Boost the server and become a Server Boosting Legend. Speak at a major conference like Defcon, BlackHat and BSides and get a speaker role. Be a great human, help out and contribute and become an Honourable Member.

We also have some automatic roles that kick in when you reach a certain amount of XP. You get XP for being active and for the competitive people… there’s even a community leaderboard. Stay active, contribute regularly and work your way up from The Dabbler to The Lifer. For more info on this check out this section in the “Is that you HS, is this me?”.

Last but not least, there are some fun and humorous roles that we like to hand out. We won’t tell you what these are now, but you’ll know when you get one.

Channels

Our Discord server has a ton of channels to serve the various interests our community members hold. To help navigate the treacherous landscape we’ve grouped them into these primary categories;

  • Welcome Mat - When you’re new to HS this is where you’ll start out. It houses those critical channels like #coc-members, #whoami-introduction and #roles-assignment.

  • Hangouts - Home of #main, the most popular channel where we share and discuss things relevant to most in the infosec community. Not really applicable to everyone, stick it in #random or make someone laugh by posting something humorous in #lulz-meme-jokes.

  • Friend Zone - Dedicated to specific interests like finance, books, gaming or to simply create braai envy among us.

  • Hack South Collective - Did you know we’re passionate about growth and upskilling? Get involved with our initiatives here.

  • News Central - Stay up to date with COVID stats or verify a piece of media before sharing it with your uncle and aunty. News related? It’s here.

  • Hacker Social - Dedicated to conferences, events and socials.

  • Meetups - Join us once a month for our Hack The Box meetup where you’re likely to learn something new (and if not, why not help others learn).

  • CTF Crew - Have you got an account Hack the Box, TryHackMe, VulnHub and TraceLabs? You’ll find dedicated channels here.

  • Hacker Education Zone - Dedicated to education and certification, these channels are where you’ll find resources and advice on which path you should be following.

  • General Security - #Coding, #hardware-hacking, #bug-bounty and more live here.

  • Red Team - Channels dedicated to the practice of challenging plans, policies, systems and assumptions.

  • Blue Team - Channels dedicated to the frontline fighters protecting critical assets against threats.

  • OSINT / SE - Wondering how we know so much about you? Get involved with Open Source Intelligence. You can even hone your skills during a quiz or challenge.

  • Employment - If you’re looking for a job opportunity or career change then share your CV in #job-seekers. Our community will also post to #job-opportunities when something comes up, so keep an eye on that channel.

  • Missing Persons - Dedicated to locating missing persons. If you need help locating someone, or want to help then this is where you’ll want to spend your time.

VC or Voice Channels

You’ll notice that some of the channels have a speaker icon and “VC” or “Voice” in their name. Hopefully you’re sitting down for this shocker, but those are voice channels, as in audible channels, as in channels that relay your microphone (and camera) and broadcast it to everyone else in the channel. Point to note if you mute yourself, we won’t hear you. Video and screen streaming is by default, off.

Most VC’s (voice channels) are specific to events, like HTB Meetup a CTF or 0xCoffee, but there is one VC that rules them all and that is Main VC - PG This is where some of us like to hangout, listen to music and do life together. Anything goes (provided it doesn’t contravene the COC) but if it’s your first time at fight club, you have to fight.

In order to weed out any lurkers, you will be required to audibly introduce yourself to everyone currently in the channel. Satisfied with the intro, a staff or moderator will grant you the VC-Verified role and you’ll be free to stay and hang out. Just remember to respect one another, mute your mic when you aren’t talking and be careful not to dox yourself when sharing your screen or camera.

Point to note, if we are using 1 of the 3 Music bots to play tunes, and it is a bit loud you can turn the music down, or up, including any other user. Just go to the corresponding user, right click and adjust the user volume. You also have the option to mute any user, and Mods have the ability to server mute people. This is usually only done during formal meetups where people join and do not mute themselves.

Things to check out

From resources to community chats, we are growing fast and always have something for everyone. The cyber community has never been at a more exciting time.

If you want to know more about why we started and what direction we are going in be sure to check out our blog post Is that you Hack South, is this me?

Come join us to find out more.

Special Thanks

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Special thanks to the contributors of this post! If you have any questions or still find yourself struggling, please do DM a mod, or reach out on social media. We are here to help.

Author Parity

Author BeccaQ

Co-Author Mooncake

Co-Author Megladon

Co-Author AngusRed

Proof Editor AtomicNicos