In this article, you will find information on:
- Section 1: Exam Requirements
- Section 2: Exam Information
- Section 3: Submission Instructions
- Additional Required Information
This guide explains the objectives of the OffSec Web Expert (OSWE) certification exam. Section 1 describes the requirements for the exam, Section 2 provides important information and suggestions, and Section 3 specifies instructions for after the exam is complete.
The OSWE certification exam simulates a live network in a private VPN, which contains a small number of vulnerable systems.
You have 47 hours and 45 minutes to complete the exam.
This means that if your exam begins at 09:00 GMT, your exam will end at 08:45 GMT two days later.
Once the exam is finished, you will have another 24 hours to upload your documentation. Details on how to submit your files are provided below.
All OSWE exams are now proctored.
Please make sure to read the proctoring tool learner manual and the proctoring FAQ at the following URL: https://help.offsec.com/hc/en-us/sections/360008126631
The exam consists of several target machines that must be compromised. Specific instructions for each target will be located in your Exam Control Panel, which will only become available to you once your exam begins.
You are required to write a professional report describing your exploitation process for each target. You must document all of your attacks including all steps, commands issued, and console output in the form of a penetration test report. Make sure to include the source code of your custom exploits in your documentation. Your documentation should be thorough enough that your attacks can be replicated step-by-step by a technically competent reader.
The documentation requirements are very strict and failure to provide sufficient documentation will result in reduced or zero points being awarded. Please note that once your exam report is submitted, your submission is final. If any screenshots or other information is missing, you will not be allowed to send them and we will not request them.
The machines in the exam will require you to retrieve proof files.
Failure to provide the appropriate documentation or proof files for a specific exam objective may result in partial or zero points being awarded for that objective.
You cannot use any of the following on the exam:
- Source code analyzers
- Automatic exploitation tools (e.g. db_autopwn, browser_autopwn, SQLmap, SQLninja etc.)
- Mass vulnerability scanners (e.g. Nessus, NeXpose, OpenVAS, Canvas, Core Impact, SAINT, etc.)
- AI Chatbots (e.g. ChatGPT, YouChat, etc.)
- Features in other tools that utilize either forbidden or restricted exam limitations
- Remote mounting of application source code is not allowed (e.g. using sshfs, sftp etc.)
X11 Forwarding can be used during the exam and it is allowed.
You may, however, use tools such as Nmap (and its scripting engine), Nikto, Burp Free, DirBuster etc. and payload generator tools such as msfvenom and ysoserial against any of your target systems.
NOTE: While you may use Discord as a resource for searching for information during the exam, under no circumstances are you permitted to seek or receive assistance from others on the platform.
Downloading any applications, files or source code from the exam environment to your local machine is strictly forbidden. For more information, please refer to the https://www.offsec.com/legal-docs/
Your connection to the exam is to be done with Kali Linux using OpenVPN. We are unable to provide any VPN connectivity support if you choose to use another setup. Your exam connection pack and details will be sent by email at the exact start time of your exam and not in advance.
1) Download the exam-connection.tar.bz2 file from the link provided in the exam email to your Kali machine.
2) Extract the file:
kali@kali:~$ tar xvfj exam-connection.tar.bz2
3) Initiate a connection to the exam lab with OpenVPN:
kali@kali:~$ sudo openvpn OS-XXXXX-OSWE.ovpn
4) Enter the username and password provided in the exam email to authenticate to the VPN:
kali@kali:~$ sudo openvpn OS-XXXXX-OSWE.ovpn
OpenVPN 2.3.4 x86_64-pc-linux-gnu [SSL (OpenSSL)] [LZO] [EPOLL] [PKCS11] [MH] [IPv6] built on Dec 1 2014
Enter Auth Username: OS-XXXXX
Enter Auth Password: XXXXXXXXXX
Thu Mar 18 21:22:06 2016 WARNING: No server certificate verification method has been enabled. See http://openvpn.net/howto.html#mitm for more info.
Thu Mar 18 21:22:06 2016 LZO compression initialized
Thu Mar 18 21:22:06 2016 UDPv4 link local: [undef]
Thu Mar 18 21:22:06 2016 UDPv4 link remote: x.x.x.x:1194
Thu Mar 18 WARNING: this configuration may cache passwords in memory
Thu Mar 18 [127.0.0.1] Peer Connection Initiated with x.x.x.x:1194
Thu Mar 18 21:22:07 2016 TUN/TAP device tap0 opened
Thu Mar 18 /sbin/ifconfig tap0 192.168.xx.xx netmask 255.255.254.0 mtu 1500
Thu Mar 18 21:22:07 2016 Initialization Sequence Completed
The exam control panel is available at a link provided in your exam email. Through the exam control panel you will be able to:
- Submit proof files
- Revert target machines
- View specific target objectives and point values
You have a limit of 50 reverts. This limit can be reset once during the exam. All of the machines have been freshly reverted at the start of your exam so you will not be required to revert the machines when you begin. Please wait patiently for the machine to revert and only click the button once per attempt. Note that reverting a target machine will cause it to go into its original state and any changes you have made to the machine will be lost.
Points will be awarded for partial and full completion of the exam objectives. Each specific set of objectives must be met in order to receive full points. You must achieve a minimum score of 85 points to pass the exam. There is a maximum of 100 points available on the exam.
Ideally, one of the following templates should be used to document your exam:
You may use your own template as long as the information is presented in a structured, professional manner and follows all other requirements outlined below.
This subsection of the exam guide documents what you should do in case you are unable to complete your exam due to severe external factors. Please make sure to read and understand it carefully.
The exam lab is a dedicated environment with no learners connected other than yourself. The total allotted time of 47:45 hours does take life and its situations into consideration:
- You are expected to take rest breaks, eat, drink and sleep
- You are also expected to have a contingency plan in the event that there is an issue outside your control. (e.g. make sure you have access to a backup Internet connection)
If you have a legitimate issue, please send an email with your OSID to "challenges AT offsec DOT com" immediately. Make sure to include all the necessary details and supporting information such as a letter from your power company, ISP, or any other relevant documentation.
Please note we are only able to extend the lab time if the issues were present on our side and only when the exam subnet is not immediately in use by another learner following your exam. In the event of an issue on our side and the exam subnet is scheduled immediately following your exam we will provide a free exam retake attempt. We work very hard to ensure our environments are highly available and issues are very rare.
If you encounter any connectivity problems with the VPN or target machines, inform us immediately, directly in the proctoring chat. Should you not be able to access the proctoring tool, please contact us via the live chat available at https://chat.offsec.com/ or via email to "help AT offsec DOT com".
Please note that we will not be able to assist with, or give hints on, any exam objectives and will only be available for technical problems during the exam.
- Your exam report is in PDF format
- You have used the following format for the PDF file name "OSWE-OS-XXXXX-Exam-Report.pdf", where "OS-XXXXX" is your OSID
- Your PDF has been archived into a .7z file (Please do NOT archive it with a password)
- You have used the following format for the .7z file name "OSWE-OS-XXXXX-Exam-Report.7z", where "OS-XXXXX" is your OSID
- You have made sure that your archive is not more than 200MB
- You have uploaded your .7z file to https://upload.offsec.com
Note that the filename is case-sensitive. Learners must submit their exam file following the exact filename format structure above. If your file does not follow the exact filename format and structure, the application will not accept it.
The following subsections provide details on each of these requirements.
Your exam report must be submitted in PDF format archived into a .7z file. Please make sure to include all your scripts or any PoCs as text inside the exam report PDF file itself. No other file formats will be accepted within the .7z file other than PDF file format.
If you submit your report in any other file format, we will not request or remind you to send a PDF report archived into a .7z file and your exam report will not be scored.
Before submitting your exam report, please review the PDF document to ensure the format and content appear as it did in your original edition document and that there are no formatting errors.
After uploading your exam file to upload.offsec.com, the site will provide you with the MD5 hash of your uploaded file.
Please make sure to verify that you have uploaded your report correctly by checking and comparing the MD5 hashes of your uploaded exam file and the file you have locally.
If the values do not match, that means your file did not upload successfully. Click on "Select a new file" and upload your archive again.
root@kali:~# md5sum OSWE-OS-XXXXX-Exam-Report.7z
Please do not archive your .7z and PDF(s) files with a password. Our system will not accept should you upload password-protected files.
You must submit your documentation in a .7z file.
root@kali:~# 7z a OSWE-OS-XXXXX-Exam-Report.7z OSWE-OS-XXXXX-Exam-Report.pdf
7-Zip 9.20 Copyright (c) 1999-2010 Igor Pavlov 2010-11-18 p7zip Version 9.20 (locale=en_US.UTF-8,Utf16=on,HugeFiles=on,2 CPUs)
Updating archive OSWE-OS-XXXXX-Exam-Report.7z
Everything is Ok
Please submit your .7z file via https://upload.offsec.com within 24 hours of completion of the exam and follow the provided instructions in order to upload your archived exam report.
The maximum allowable size for uploading your archive file is 200MB. If the size constraints are not met, you would not be able to upload your archive. If you are unable to meet the size constraints, we suggest looking at ways to reduce your file size using techniques such as image compression.
After the file has been uploaded, you will be presented with a "Submit File" button where an MD5 hash of your exam report will be displayed. Make sure to click the "Submit File" button after verifying your MD5 hash to submit your files successfully.
If you do not upload your exam-report via https://upload.offsec.com , it will not be graded.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note that some Windows 11 users have encountered an issue while trying to upload their exam files to https://upload.offsec.com , and received file is not a proper format error. This issue may be related to compatibility concerns with Windows 11, and we'd like to provide a solution to ensure a smooth upload process.
To resolve this problem, we recommend using a Kali Virtual Machine (VM) to upload your exam files securely and without any compatibility issues.
For more information about Kali VM, please visit: https://help.offsec.com/hc/en-us/articles/360049796792-Kali-Linux-Virtual-Machine
Once the report is uploaded successfully, a confirmation email will be sent immediately acknowledging the receipt. If you have not received the email, please ensure that you uploaded your report and clicked the Submit File button on the final page of https://upload.offsec.com after verifying your MD5 hash. We also recommend you to check your email spam and junk folders in case the confirmation email has been flagged as spam.
In the unlikely event that we require additional clarification on your exam report, we will get in contact with you via email. You must submit the requested information within 24 hours from the time we have requested it.
You will receive an email with your certification exam results (pass/fail) within ten (10) business days after submitting your documentation. Please note that we do not provide the exam score or solutions to the exam targets.