Hacker Highschool: TV Interview on Fox New Mexico

This was a fun little gig:

“[Fox Interviewer” Nikki is joined by Glenn Norman, a Security Consultant, Teacher and Project Manager for Hacker High School, to discuss the innovative teaching method to teach security awareness and how it came to be.”

Published on Jun 25, 2012

Teaching Security Certifications in New Mexico

Glenn at work

I’ve been trying for some seven years to get the University of New Mexico to let me start offering hard-core cyber-security (i.e. hacking) certification courses, without even a whiff of success until recently. The Marketing Department and Custom Training division surveyed our captive audience, which is pretty sizable: Sandia National Labs, Los Alamos National Labs, Kirtland Air Force Base and three other bases in the state; sizeable state, county and tribal entities; and mega-corps like Intel and HP.

We looked at their interest in ITIL, (ISC)2’s CISSP, ISACA’s CISA, Cisco’s CCNA-Security, GIAC’s GPEN, ISECOM’s OPST, EC-Council’s CEH, and Offensive Security’s OSCP.

One big factor that all clients considered was national and local demand for certified pros here in New Mexico. While many of the job sites aren’t completely forthcoming about how many jobs match a keyword, LinkedIn offers hard numbers for both global and state job openings that request or require particular certifications. LinkedIn reported:

8954 job listings that mention ITIL certification, 26 in New Mexico;

9,036 jobs mentioning the CISSP, 22 in New Mexico,

8,779 jobs mentioning the CISA, 4 in New Mexico,

11,416 job listings that mention the CCNA, 37 in New Mexico

395 jobs mentioning GPEN certification, 1 in New Mexico,

13 jobs mentioning the OPST certification, 0 in New Mexico,

3006 jobs mentioning the CEH, 2 in New Mexico, and

794 jobs mentioning the OSCP, 1 in New Mexico.

Of these, the last four could be called the “hackiest.” ISECOM’s OPST showed very weak numbers both global and locally, so despite some interesting aspects to its practice, none of our audience members showed the slightest interest. The GPEN showed more global-level strength, and attracted some attention from the national facilities, but needs to exist in the ecosystem of GIAC curricula. The OSCP is the truly hard-core hacker’s cert, with its 24-hour examination, but isn’t really “taught” at all; you have to hack and crack your way to a conclusion. It kind of cuts out the middle-man (teachers).

Mentioning the CEH started phones ringing immediately. UNM let me set up an InfoByte session to discuss all these certs and get a feel for what people would pay for. Which cert made ears perk up? The CEH.

I know quite a bit about the organizations and people that were in play in the creation of EC-Council. Despite the extremely tricky test, one individual’s “Run Away From the CEH” propaganda campaign (you can find the various renditions of the article in lots of places in the Internet) succeeded in spreading an early conception that EC-Council is a “diploma mill,” among other accusations. I’ve studied v8 and v9, and find the CEH has definitely matured as a certification, with an exam that is still quite tough, and more tightly focused on current issues and tools than ever.

So finally – finally! – I got the certification and UNM scheduled one section of a Certified Ethical Hacker class. Where I’ve had to struggle to find students to make some classes run, the CEH class made minimum enrollment (5 students) within hours of appearing in the online catalog. And certain entities are already asking about custom and on-site trainings, always a sign of a program with legs.

We’ll see how this first section goes. If interest persists or increases, my next campaign will be urging UNM to become an “official” EC-Council training center (and getting myself EC-Council instructor certified). While the word “official” carries some weight, when you self-study or get “unofficial” training you simply pay $100 extra above the $650 test registration fee.

I’ll have a lot to say about how I studied, what materials I used and my impressions (without details, of course) of the exam. For the moment I’m delighted to have found a pony that can run in this race. Updates will follow.

Syllabus: CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 Courses

UNM Continuing Education

CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 902

Instructor:  Glenn Norman


CompTIA A+ Complete Study Guide, Third Edition (Exams 220-901 and 220-902)

ISBN 978-1-119-13785-6

Learning Objectives

Understand the CompTIA A+ Exam Objectives

Collect and utilize sample exams and questions

Increase hands-on familiarity with Windows and Linux

Understand virtualization

Pass the 901 and 902 tests.

Course 1: 220-901

Day 1

Introductions, experience and objectives

Texts, sample tests and sample questions

Assessment test

Chapter 1

Working With Components

Bus Details


IRQs and Addresses


Hands-on teardowns: workstations and processors

Day 2

Chapters 2 and 3


Power Supplies

Expansion busses

Exercises: Disk management tools; Open VMs

Day 3

Chapters 4 and 5

Video standards and hardware

Custom configurations

Exercises: Hands-on video hardware; Linux and Windows command line

Day 4

Chapters 6 and 7

The OSI model


Exercises: Command-line tools

Day 5

Chapters 8 and 9

Wifi standards

Encryption and security

Laptop architecture

Exercises: laptop teardowns

Day 6

Chapters 10 and 11

Mobile devices

Printing and Imaging


Laser Printing and Charlie

Page Description Languages


Exercises: Mapping to printer, configuration, test page

Day 7

Chapter 12


Exercises: Installing PsTools

Course 2: 220-902

Day 8

Chapters 13 and 14

OS Troubleshooting

Boot and Recovery


Tools and Consoles

The Registry

Boot Files

File Systems


Exercise: Restore Points

Day 9

Chapter 15, 16 and 17

Windows editions

Windows 7 administration

Windows Vista administration


Remote Desktop/Remote Assistance/VNC

Advanced Startup and the Recovery Console

The Command Line

Exercise: Startup Script, Remote Connections

Day 10

Chapter 18

Mac OS


Exercises: Command-line tools

Day 11

Chapters 19 and 20


Networking and services


Day 12

Chapter 21

Mobile OSs

Day 13

Chapters 22 and 23

Troubleshooting theory


Policy and Proceedure

Exercise: Practice Test

Hacker Highschool: Download Uncut Lessons

Here are the lessons I produced as a contributor and Project Manager of Hacker Highschool, 2012-2016, complete and uncut, with the names of all contributors intact.

These lessons are distributed under the Creative Commons 3.0 License. Parts of these lessons are Copyright 2016 Glenn Norman. For updated project information visit http://hackerhighschool.org.























Online Education: A list of Internet educators

Online Education

For the most part, I teach live classes. But I’ve used and reviewed many online school platforms (yes, including the obvious ones). Udemy and the like offer some excellent materials – and some not-so-exellent – but there are full-on universities online too, that offer real degrees, as well as the many certification organizations and trainers.  This list isn’t an endorsement of any of these, but unless I see real value, providers don’t make this list.

Cyber Degrees

Not primarily a training site, Cyber Degrees is a great resource for people looking for the right degree or certification to advance their careers. They offer school listings, descriptions of career paths and degrees and a ton of useful resources. If you’re considering online education, start right here and know the field before you spend a dime. Highly recommended.


University of the People

It’s accredited, which is huge: these are real AS, BS and MBA degrees in Business Administration, Computer Science and Health Science. And it’s free.


Interactions, Trust and Google Chrome: my Veracode article

Glenn Norman on Veracode

During my time as Project Manager of Hacker Highschool (2012-2016) I had the opportunity to write articles for several security publications. This article, “Interactions, Trust, and Google Chrome”, appeared on January 14, 2016, and looked at the obvious and not-so-obvious trusts we give Google and interactions we allow with them.

I’m not a Google Hater; in fact I find their tools really useful in my consulting work. But I’m very cautious about sharing certain things, for instance my wifi network passwords. Check it out for a fuller discussion.

Article links:


Google cache: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:2y8kFQkdBxgJ:https://www.veracode.com/blog/2016/01/interactions-trust-and-google-chrome+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Perma.cc cache: https://perma.cc/KL36-8RZA

Author profile:


Google cache: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:KPmWIWVgB98J:https://www.veracode.com/blog/author/glenn-norman+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Perma.cc cache: https://perma.cc/F832-EMF4

My Years With Hacker Highschool: Should We Be Training Hackers?

Glenn Norman

Flash forward from my first conversations on LinkedIn with Pete Herzog in 2010 to February of 2015, and one of the most persistent topics about Hacker Highschool: Should we be doing what we were doing at all? Were we training evil little script-kiddies, or maybe al-Qaida?

That whole line of thinking leads straight back to the problem of definition: “hacker” means something very different to the public than it does to the hacking community itself. Yes, we were in fact trying to bring young people into the hacking community, but no, we were not leading anyone to a life of crime. Far from it. Examples of ominous consequences are sprinkled liberally through Hacker Highschool, and discussion of exactly how visible you are when you’re doing inquisitive things.

The Hechinger Report tackled exactly this issue in the article “Should we train more students to be hackers?” by Chris Berdik, who defines it brilliantly (see links below):

For many people, the word ‘hacker’ conjures up shadowy criminals unleashing malicious cyber attacks. Beyond the headlines, however, there’s a whole world of hacking that has nothing to do with criminality and everything to do with becoming inventive, autonomous and more secure members of a society immersed in technology. Broadly speaking, these young hackers fall into two groups — security hackers, who learn how computer networks can be attacked in order to better defend them, and hackathon hackers, who compete in all-night coding binges to invent new applications and re-engineer hardware.

Notice that there’s no major third group called “criminals.” One way or another, it’s all about the engineering, about figuring things out and making things work and keeping things running. There’s a definite mentality here, maybe similar to aspiring chessmaster mentality or violin virtuoso-in-training mentality.

Chris quotes me:

“It’s the hacker mentality,” and technology employers can’t get enough of it, says Glenn Norman, a network security consultant who teaches the subject at the University of New Mexico.

Norman also teaches security hacking to high school students at an after-school club in Albuquerque called Warehouse 508. He’s a co-developer of “Hacker High School,” a nine-lesson curriculum published by the Institute for Security and Open Methodologies (ISECOM), a nonprofit network security consultancy.

The whole reason I was into all of this was the grins I get when my students open a whole new set of digital eyes on the universe. But I could see, as my teaching career approached two decades, a long, steep decline in younger students. My security courses brought lots of mature network admins and developers, but fewer and fewer students under 30. Were high school students losing interest? Or were they, I began to suspect, being steered away? Consider:

As college hackathons proliferated, high school hackers started to filter into the competitions. Soon, they started high-school hackathons. One of the first was held in March, 2014, at Bergen County Academies High School in Hackensack, New Jersey. Jared Zoneraich, now a senior at the school, organized the all-night coding bash (hackBCA) along with other kids he’d met at college hackathons. Four hundred students showed up….

I think there’s plenty of interest, if the will can be found. I’ve worked on too many hiring committees in my consulting career seeking highly qualified and specialized people that I knew would eventually be hired on an H-1B visa. There’s a huge debate on both sides about whether there really is a STEM worker shortage, whether the US can or does generate as many tech workers as the enterprise needs, whether we really need to bring tens of thousands of tech workers from overseas when we have American workers training their own cheap replacements.

So I hooked up with, and then managed, Hacker Highschool, and promoted it locally and nationally. It was a time-sucker and I loved it. But it wasn’t sustainable for me.

Hacker High School’s founder, Pete Herzog, managing director at ISECOM, says that despite the curriculum’s popularity, it’s becoming too costly to support and update, and won’t survive much longer without corporate sponsorship.

How true.


Google cache: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:yjNudF4MBtYJ:hechingerreport.org/train-students-hackers/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Perma Link: https://perma.cc/95QB-TDFQ

My Years With Hacker Highschool: In The Beginning

Glenn at work

I first started talking with Pete Herzog through LinkedIn in 2010. His pocket institute, ISECOM, had produced some really interesting material, including the Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual (OSSTMM) and Hacker Highschool (HHS). Lots of his ideas were great, but wrapped in language that made them really difficult to understand. In my innocence I thought, “Hey, I can contribute by drastically improving the quality of the prose here.” Soon I was working on a lesson, and by 2012 Pete had asked me to take over as Project Manager of Hacker Highschool.

It was a fun, and hysterically busy, beginning. We charted out a whole series of lessons beyond the original 12 released in 2004, and enlisted what grew to become a cadre of contributors over 200 strong. There’s a trail of articles and updates by me, Pete and many others that chart that effort. It was a ton of fun, and I met a lot of great people, but it also consumed every bit of my free time for several years, and most important, didn’t make money.

Eventually we tried to improve the financial situation, but that’s a story for another post. (We weren’t successful.)

Anthony Freed, a cool open-source writer and commentator, penned the article “Hacker Highschool Revamps Lesson One on Being a Hacker” (November 29, 2012) at https://www.corero.com/blog/278-hacker-highschool-revamps-lesson-one-on-being-a-hacker.html (cache at https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:ui9CjyGtt6wJ:https://www.corero.com/blog/278-hacker-highschool-revamps-lesson-one-on-being-a-hacker.html+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us, Perma link at https://perma.cc/5ZMN-SYE5 ):

Hey kids, wanna get your hack on? The developers of Hacker Highschool, a free cybersecurity awareness and education project, have just issued a newly revamped version of the organization’s first lesson plan titled Being a Hacker, and will soon be reissuing updated curricula for all 23 of the course’s tutorials.

Pete described it as “open, free”, which is not to be confused with Open Source (the 2004 version was copyrighted, and version 2 was released under a Creative Commons-attribs-no-derivs “license”):

“This open, free project is a relaunch of the lessons first published in 2004. Over 60 volunteers, led by me and managed by Glenn Norman have been working months to provide a total of 23 lessons. The first of which has been released today, ‘Lesson 1, Being a Hacker’. The final lesson is on Trolling,” Herzog said.

Ah, those optimistic early days. I wish we could have made HHS a viable ongoing enterprise, but there’s no money in “open and free.” There is, however, a viable business model for shared community education about hacking, and I’m working to develop that now (2017) at School for Hackers (S4H): https://schoolforhackers.com/. I’ll have a lot more to say about S4H in coming posts, but for now I’ll just say it’s NOT about teaching teens cyber-security awareness; it’s very much for adults.

Stay tuned.

Welcome to the updated gnorman.org

Glenn at work

If you’ve followed me for long, you’ll recognize that this site made a dramatic change recently. All the content is still here; it’s simply riding on a different platform, which I hope we’ll all find easier to work with. The old platform didn’t let me set up comments, but going forward most of my material will allow them from registered users.

So here at GNorman.org you’ll find my personal posts, discussions and class materials. Keep in mind that my “companion” site, https://schoolforhackers.com, will house our growing hacker community, with the understanding that we’re talking about “clever engineers,” not “criminal engineers.”

There will be plenty of material coming on both. Thanks for following, and don’t hesitate to drop me a line.


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