A curated list of hacking environments where you can train your cyber skills legally and safely
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A curated list of hacking environments where you can train your cyber skills free, legally and safely

About the List

In the field of Information Security, understanding the enemy, the hacker, is crucial. By knowing your enemy, you can effectively defend and secure the digital world.

"Know the enemy, and you can defeat the enemy."

In the USA, even high-ranking retired police officers continue to advise residents on how to better secure their homes. They visit houses and identify weak points, sharing their knowledge of the criminals' techniques to help prevent break-ins.

To hone your cybersecurity skills, you need to keep your hacking skills up-to-date. To achieve this, a safe, legal, and free environment is necessary for practice.

This list compiles websites that offer various opportunities to practice your cyber skills. Each site has a unique approach, and a brief description is provided to highlight its focus.

Some sites offer tutorials to guide you, while others encourage self-directed exploration.

This post will be regularly updated with new sites, so bookmark it or follow me to stay informed with the latest overview.

If you are missing a site not mentioned in the list, feel free to contribute.



About the Author

LinkedIn 🌍 Twitter 🌍 Cybersecurity News

Joe Shenouda - "Our work is no longer to secure computers alone, it's now about securing society."

Joe Shenouda is a seasoned cybersecurity expert with experience in engineering, consulting, and research. He has worked with leading companies like Verizon and Accenture, specializing in operational cybersecurity. Joe is passionate about mentoring and training the next generation of cybersecurity specialists, using industry standards like ISO, NIST, and CIS Controls to guide organizations in adopting best practices.


  • Named one of the 50 most talented young leaders in the Netherlands by MT Magazine
  • Received the Goudhaantje Award in 2019

Geography: Benelux, Middle-East & Nordics (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Egypt, Monaco, Vatican City)

GitHub Portfolio: https://github.com/joe-shenouda/

Active security clearance

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Site name Description
Altoro Mutual Altoro is a fake banking website, containing various security vulnerabilities.
Arizona Cyber Warfare Range The ranges offer an excellent platform for you to learn computer network attack (CNA), computer network defense (CND), and digital forensics (DF). You can play any of these roles.
AzureGoat AzureGoat : A Damn Vulnerable Azure Infrastructure.
BodgeIt Store The BodgeIt Store is a vulnerable web application which is currently aimed at people who are new to pen testing.
bWAPP buggy web application, is a free and open source deliberately insecure web application. It helps security enthusiasts, developers and students to discover and to prevent web vulnerabilities. bWAPP prepares one to conduct successful penetration testing and ethical hacking projects.
Cyber Degrees Free online cyber security Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS).
Commix testbed A collection of web pages, vulnerable to command injection flaws.
CryptOMG CryptOMG is a configurable CTF style test bed that highlights common flaws in cryptographic implementations.
Cyber Security Base Cyber Security Base is a page with free courses by the University of Helsinki in collaboration with F-Secure.
Cybersecuritychallenge UK Cyber Security Challenge UK runs a series of competitions designed to test your cyber security skills.
CyberTraining 365 Cybertraining365 has paid material but also offers free classes. The link is directed at the free classes.
Cybrary.it Free and Open Source Cyber Security Learning.
Damn Small Vulnerable Web Damn Small Vulnerable Web (DSVW) is a deliberately vulnerable web application written in under 100 lines of code, created for educational purposes. It supports the majority of (most popular) web application vulnerabilities together with appropriate attacks.
Damn Vulnerable Android App Damn Vulnerable Android App (DVAA) is an Android application which contains intentional vulnerabilities.
Damn Vulnerable Hybrid Mobile App Damn Vulnerable Hybrid Mobile App (DVHMA) is a hybrid mobile app (for Android) that intentionally contains vulnerabilities.
Damn Vulnerable iOS App Damn Vulnerable iOS App (DVIA) is an iOS application that is damn vulnerable.
Damn Vulnerable Linux Damn Vulnerable Linux (DVL) is everything a good Linux distribution isn't. Its developers have spent hours stuffing it with broken, ill-configured, outdated, and exploitable software that makes it vulnerable to attacks.
Damn Vulnerable Router Firmware The goal of this project is to simulate a real-world environment to help people learn about other CPU architectures outside of the x86_64 space. This project will also help people get into discovering new things about hardware.
Damn Vulnerable Stateful Web App Short and simple vulnerable PHP web application that naïve scanners found to be perfectly safe.
Damn Vulnerable Thick Client App DVTA is a Vulnerable Thick Client Application developed in C# .NET with many vulnerabilities.
Damn Vulnerable Web App Damn Vulnerable Web Application (DVWA) is a PHP/MySQL web application that is damn vulnerable. Its main goal is to be an aid for security professionals to test their skills and tools in a legal environment, help web developers better understand the processes of securing web applications and to aid both students & teachers to learn about web application security in a controlled class room environment.
Damn Vulnerable Web Services Damn Vulnerable Web Services is an insecure web application with multiple vulnerable web service components that can be used to learn real-world web service vulnerabilities.
Damn Vulnerable Web Sockets Damn Vulnerable Web Sockets (DVWS) is a vulnerable web application which works on web sockets for client-server communication.
Damnvulnerable.me A deliberately vulnerable modern-day app with lots of DOM-related bugs.
Dareyourmind Online game, hacker challenge (mirror archive).
DIVA Android Damn Insecure and vulnerable App for Android.
ENISA Training Material The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) Cyber Security Training. You will find training materials, handbooks for teachers, toolsets for students and Virtual Images to support hands-on training sessions.
exploit.co.il Vulnerable Web App exploit.co.il Vulnerable Web app designed as a learning platform to test various SQL injection Techniques.
Exploit-exercises.com exploit-exercises.com provides a variety of virtual machines, documentation and challenges that can be used to learn about a variety of computer security issues such as privilege escalation, vulnerability analysis, exploit development, debugging, reverse engineering, and general cyber security issues.
ExploitMe Mobile Set of labs and an exploitable framework for you to hack mobile an application on Android.
Game of Hacks This game was designed to test your application hacking skills. You will be presented with vulnerable pieces of code and your mission if you choose to accept it is to find which vulnerability exists in that code as quickly as possible.
GameOver Project GameOver was started with the objective of training and educating newbies about the basics of web security and educate them about the common web attacks and help them understand how they work.
Gh0stlab A security research network where like-minded individuals could work together towards the common goal of knowledge.
GOAD (Game Of Active Directory) GOAD is a pentest active directory LAB project. The purpose of this lab is to give pentesters a vulnerable Active directory environment ready to use to practice usual attack techniques.
GoatseLinux GSL is a Vmware image you can run for penetration testing purposes.
Google Gruyere Labs that cover how an application can be attacked using common web security vulnerabilities, like cross-site scripting vulnerabilities (XSS) and cross-site request forgery (XSRF). Also, you can find labs how to find, fix, and avoid these common vulnerabilities and other bugs that have a security impact, such as denial-of-service, information disclosure, or remote code execution.
Gracefully Vulnerable Virtual Machine Gracefuls VulnVM is VM web app designed to simulate a simple eCommerce style website which is purposely vulnerable to a number of well know security issues commonly seen in web applications.
Hack The Box Hack The Box is an online platform allowing you to test your penetration testing skills and exchange ideas and methodologies with other members of similar interests. In order to join you should solve an entry-level challenge.
Hack This Site More than just another hacker wargames site, Hack This Site is a living, breathing community with many active projects in development, with a vast selection of hacking articles and a huge forum where users can discuss hacking, network security, and just about everything.
Hack Yourself First This course is designed to help web developers on all frameworks identify risks in their own websites before attackers do and it uses this site extensively to demonstrate risks.
Hack.me Hack.me aims to be the largest collection of "runnable" vulnerable web applications, code samples and CMS's online. The platform is available without any restriction to any party interested in Web Application Security.
Hackademic Offers realistic scenarios full of known vulnerabilities (especially, of course, the OWASP Top Ten) for those trying to practice their attack skills.
Hackazon A modern vulnerable web app.
Hackertest.net HackerTest.net is your own online hacker simulation with 20 levels.
Hacking-Lab Hacking-Lab is an online ethical hacking, computer network and security challenge platform, dedicated to finding and educating cyber security talents. Furthermore, Hacking-Lab is providing the CTF and mission style challenges for the European Cyber Security Challenge with Austria, Germany, Switzerland, UK, Spain, Romania and provides free OWASP TOP 10 online security labs.
Hacksplaining Security Training for Developers.
HackSys Extreme Vulnerable Driver HackSys Extreme Vulnerable Driver is intentionally vulnerable Windows driver developed for security enthusiasts to learn and polish their exploitation skills at Kernel level.
HackThis!! Test your skills with 50+ hacking levels, covering all aspects of security.
Hackxor Hackxor is a web app hacking game where players must locate and exploit vulnerabilities to progress through the story. Think WebGoat but with a plot and a focus on realism&difficulty. Contains XSS, CSRF, SQLi, ReDoS, DOR, command injection, etc.
Halls of Valhalla Challenges you can solve. Valhalla is a place for sharing knowledge and ideas. Users can submit code, as well as science, technology, and engineering-oriented news and articles.
Hax.Tor Provides numerous interesting “hacking” challenges to the user.
Hellbound Hackers Learn a hands-on approach to computer security. Learn how hackers break in, and how to keep them out.
Holynix Holynix is a Linux VMware image that was deliberately built to have security holes for the purposes of penetration testing.
HSCTF3 HSCTF is an international online hacking competition designed to educate high schoolers in computer science.
Information Assurance Support Environment (IASE) Great site with Cybersecurity Awareness Training, Cybersecurity Training for IT Managers, Cybersecurity Training for Cybersecurity Professionals, Cybersecurity Technical Training, NetOps Training, Cyber Law Awareness, and FSO Tools Training available online.
Java Vulnerable Lab Vulnerable Java based Web Application.
Juice Shop OWASP Juice Shop is an intentionally insecure web app for security training written entirely in Javascript which encompasses the entire OWASP Top Ten and other severe security flaws.
LAMPSecurity Training LAMPSecurity training is designed to be a series of vulnerable virtual machine images along with complementary documentation designed to teach Linux,apache,PHP,MySQL security.
Magical Code Injection Rainbow The Magical Code Injection Rainbow! MCIR is a framework for building configurable vulnerability testbeds. MCIR is also a collection of configurable vulnerability testbeds.
Metasploit Unleashed Free Ethical Hacking Course.
Metasploitable 3 Metasploitable3 is a VM that is built from the ground up with a large number of security vulnerabilities.
Microcorruption CTF Challenge: given a debugger and a device, find an input that unlocks it. Solve the level with that input.
Morning Catch Morning Catch is a VMware virtual machine, similar to Metasploitable, to demonstrate and teach about targeted client-side attacks and post-exploitation.
Mutillidae OWASP Mutillidae II is a free, open source, deliberately vulnerable web application providing a target for web-security enthusiast.
MysteryTwister C3 MysteryTwister C3 lets you solve crypto challenges, starting from the simple Caesar cipher all the way to modern AES, they have challenges for everyone.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Short courses on Information Security and Privacy Awareness. They have a section for executives, managers and IT Administrators as well.
OpenSecurityTraining.info OpenSecurityTraining.info is dedicated to sharing training material for computer security classes, on any topic, that are at least one day long.
Overthewire The wargames offered by the OverTheWire community can help you to learn and practice security concepts in the form of fun-filled games.
OWASP Broken Web Applications Project OWASP Broken Web Applications Project is a collection of vulnerable web applications that is distributed on a Virtual Machine.
OWASP GoatDroid OWASP GoatDroid is a fully functional and self-contained training environment for educating developers and testers on Android security. GoatDroid requires minimal dependencies and is ideal for both Android beginners as well as more advanced users.
OWASP iGoat iGoat is a learning tool for iOS developers (iPhone, iPad, etc.).
OWASP Mutillidae II OWASP Mutillidae II is a free, open source, deliberately vulnerable web-application providing a target for web-security enthusiast.
OWASP Security Shepherd The OWASP Security Shepherd project is a web and mobile application security training platform.
OWASP SiteGenerator OWASP SiteGenerator allows the creating of dynamic websites based on XML files and predefined vulnerabilities (some simple, some complex) covering .Net languages and web development architectures (for example, navigation: Html, Javascript, Flash, Java, etc...).
Pentesterlab This exercise explains how you can, from a SQL injection, gain access to the administration console, then in the administration console, how you can run commands on the system.
Pentestit.ru Pentestit.ru has free labs that emulate real IT infrastructures. It is created for practicing legal pen testing and improving penetration testing skills. OpenVPN is required to connect to the labs.
Peruggia Peruggia is designed as a safe, legal environment to learn about and try common attacks on web applications. Peruggia looks similar to an image gallery but contains several controlled vulnerabilities to practice on.
PicoCTF picoCTF is a computer security game targeted at middle and high school students. The game consists of a series of challenges centered around a unique storyline where participants must reverse engineer, break, hack, decrypt, or do whatever it takes to solve the challenge.
Professor Messer Good free training video's, not only on Security but on CompTIA A+, Network and Microsoft related as well.
Puzzlemall PuzzleMall - A vulnerable web application for practicing session puzzling.
Pwnable.kr 'pwnable.kr' is a non-commercial wargame site which provides various pwn challenges regarding system exploitation. while playing pwnable.kr, you could learn/improve system hacking skills but that shouldn't be your only purpose.
Pwnos PwnOS is a vulnerable by design OS .. and there are many ways you can hack it.
Reversing.kr This site tests your ability to Cracking & Reverse Code Engineering.
Ringzero Challenges you can solve and gain points.
Root Me Hundreds of challenges and virtual environments. Each challenge can be associated with a multitude of solutions so you can learn.
Roppers Academy Training Free courses on computing and security fundamentals designed to train a beginner to crush their first CTF.
RPISEC/MBE Modern Binary Exploitation Course materials.
RPISEC/Malware Malware Analysis Course materials.
SANS Cyber Aces SANS Cyber Aces Online makes available, free and online, selected courses from the professional development curriculum offered by The SANS Institute, the global leader in cyber security training.
Scene One Scene One is a pen testing scenario liveCD made for a bit of fun and learning.
SEED Labs The SEED project has labs on Software, Network, Web, Mobile and System security and Cryptography labs.
SentinelTestbed Vulnerable website. Used to test sentinel features.
SG6 SecGame Spanish language, vulnerable GNU/Linux systems.
SlaveHack My personal favorite: Slavehack is a virtual hack simulation game. Great for starters, I've seen kids in elementary school playing this!
SlaveHack 2 BETA Slavehack 2 is a sequel to the original Slavehack. It's also a virtual hack simulation game but you will find features much closer to today's Cyber reality.
Smashthestack This network hosts several different wargames, ranging in difficulty. A wargame, in this context, is an environment that simulates software vulnerabilities and allows for the legal execution of exploitation techniques.
SocketToMe SocketToMe SocketToMe is little application for testing web sockets.
SQLI labs SQLI labs to test error based, Blind boolean based, Time based.
Sqlilabs Lab set-up for learning SQL Injection Techniques.
SQLzoo Try your Hacking skills against this test system. It takes you through the exploit step-by-step.
Stanford SecuriBench / Securibench Micro Stanford SecuriBench / Securibench Micro is a series of small test cases designed to excercise different parts of a static security analyzer. Each test case in Securibench Micro comes with an answer, which simplifies the comparison process.
The ButterFly - Security Project The ButterFly project is an educational environment intended to give an insight into common web application and PHP vulnerabilities. The environment also includes examples demonstrating how such vulnerabilities are mitigated.
ThisIsLegal A hacker wargames site but also with much more.
Try2Hack Try2hack provides several security-oriented challenges for your entertainment. The challenges are diverse and get progressively harder.
TryHackMe TryHackMe is an online platform that teaches Cybersecurity through hands-on virtual labs. Whether you are an expert or beginner, learn through a virtual room structure to understand theoretical and practical security elements.
UltimateLAMP UltimateLAMP is a fully functional environment allowing you to easily try and evaluate a number of LAMP stack software products without requiring any specific setup or configuration of these products.
Vicnum Vicnum is an OWASP project consisting of vulnerable web applications based on games commonly used to kill time. These applications demonstrate common web security problems such as cross-site scripting, SQL injections, and session management issues.
Vulnerable Node A very vulnerable web site written in NodeJS to explore various vulnerabilities.
Vulnhub An extensive collection of vulnerable VMs with user-created solutions.
Vulnix A vulnerable Linux host with configuration weaknesses rather than purposely vulnerable software versions.
Vulnserver Windows-based threaded TCP server application that is designed to be exploited.
W3Challs W3Challs is a penetration testing training platform, which offers various computer challenges, in categories related to security
WackoPicko WackoPicko is a vulnerable web application used to test web application vulnerability scanners.
Web Attack and Exploitation Distro WAED is pre-configured with various real-world vulnerable web applications in a sandboxed environment. It includes pen testing tools as well.
Web Security Dojo Web Security Dojo is a preconfigured, stand-alone training environment for Web Application Security.
WebGoat WebGoat is a deliberately insecure web application maintained by OWASP designed to teach web application security lessons. You can install and practice with WebGoat.
Wechall Focussed on offering computer-related problems. You will find Cryptographic, Crackit, Steganography, Programming, Logic and Math/Science. The difficulty of these challenges varies as well.
XSS-game In this training program, you will learn to find and exploit XSS bugs. You'll use this knowledge to confuse and infuriate your adversaries by preventing such bugs from happening in your applications.
XVWA XVWA is a badly coded web application written in PHP/MySQL that helps security enthusiasts to learn application security.

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