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Using Virtualisation as your security lab

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bugs_whats_up_doc
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:35 pm    Post subject: Using Virtualisation as your security lab Reply with quote

Hi all,

i`m looking at building my own security lab at home for testing and general playing about with exploits and learning a bit more about security. I know epople say have a good mix of OS's and have a few boxes, but thing is I live in a dolls house and dont have the room for 1 PC let alone 2 or 3. So I was thinking of using something like VMWare or virtual PC and build my lab inside my Laptop. I`d need to buy a new laptop as I only have a D505 at the moment which is a tad weady.

Just wanted to know how feasable this was? and if so what kinda spec should the laptop be, my thoughts were dual core at least with at least 2 GB RAM. anyone else have any comments?

Thanx
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Fire Ant
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bugs_whats_up_doc,

Your proposal is certainly valid. I personally use a Mac Book Pro with 4GB RAM and run all my VMs in either VMWare or Sun Virtual Box, which I recommend trying as its free! But there is also no substitute on getting your hands on hardware. I mean, you can't VM a Cisco PIX so sometimes a VM isn't appropriate.

There are some benefits to doing this though, like cost, space, ease of OS deployment. There are some drawbacks though, in complex network environments you may have to unrealistically tweak things like adding MAC entries to ARP tables. You also have to rely on support for VM for things like networking, USB and other hardware. Finally, you can't physically connect some devices to it like RAID cards.

Saying all this though, you don't need an excessive spec laptop to run Windows with a *nix VM, or the other way round if your feeling brave. Unless you plan to run Fista, oh sorry I meant Vista.

If you want to play around with exploits then a good programming knowledge is a must. Second thing is your OS knowledge, depending on which platform you want to learn about. Your lab doesn't need to costly or complex for you gain the knowledge you desire.

Matt_s
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanx Mat,

I`m not too worried about physical hardware at the moment id just like the experience of other O/S's and thier security. so I take I can pretty mcu go for any laptop and just shove as much memory as possible in it. any recommendation for type of processor and speed?
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graycat
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was just going to say a sturdy laptop of pretty much any flavour and a virtualisation tool such as VMWare / VirtualPC / Parallels etc will do exactly what you want.

I've got a similar thing to Matt_S with regards to a Mac laptop (mines the Mac Book as I'm not posh enough to get the Pro yet Wink) with dual core processors and 4Gb of RAM. At the moment I'm running four very small windows VM's (XP Pro, Vista Ultimate, server 2003 + 2008) quite happily on this rig and am only just running out of space on the 160Gb drive. Admittedly this is because it's my main machine for everything so has music etc all over the place. Smile

@Matt_S - with regards to the virtualising of a Cisco bit of kit, there's a few simulators out there for that kind of thing. I've got one but have yet to have a play with it. if you're up on your Cisco stuff, I'm quite happy for you to give it a test drive and let me know how it relates to the real thing. Smile
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bugs_whats_up_doc,

Well I would make sure you have a 7200 RPM disk as VMs can be pretty disk intensive. If I use them on the train my battery goes in under 2 hours where as normally more than twice that. Also, VM images can take up lots of disk space! So maybe a USB drive would be handy as an offline storage.

As for CPU, everything is duel core these days anyway. 2GB would give you the chance to XP plus maybe 2 VMs of size (Windows and RedHat with KDE say). If you could bump this up to 3GB or even 4GB then great but thats only going to give you more capability to run more VMs simultaneously.

RAM v CPU, winner is either more VMs simultaneously or quicker single VM.

Matt_s
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graycat
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

on the hdd side of things - you can get a WD 500Gb drive for about 100 which is the normal speed or there's a 320Gb 7200rpm for about 80. so plenty to choose from IMO Smile
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bugs_whats_up_doc
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

what about SSD's I know they arnt huge in space but they would beet any mechanical hard drive hands down
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bugs_whats_up_doc,

Very good point. There was a good article about them in PC PRO. The seek time is amazing!!! But the cost is very high! If you could afford a SSD then just buy the most powerful spec'd laptop on the market.

Matt
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graycat
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SSD's are going to be the way forward in the very near future .... but not yet IMO. whilst they're seek time etc is great, they just don't provide the space requirements or cost return. I can definitely see a lot more laptops going SSD in the very near future though.

Personally, if I was getting a new laptop to do what you're talking about then I'd just get a good sized internal hdd in something that's got the guts to run a few machine at the same time. Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I noticed you have both gone down the MAC route, is that the best way to go? I know MAC's have always been better at handling system resources over PC's
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graycat
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

each to their own really, mate.

there will be people that say you can do it all in XP / Vista with VirtualPC or VMWare whilst others will say get a linux install on the same hardware and use a *nix virtual hosting app and others will say Mac and Parallels / VMWare.

Personally I went for the Mac route as a) I didn't want a Vista machine b) I wanted to try a new OS other than a MS one and c) they looked like fun. Imagine my surprise to find that they're actually really good for what I want and I use it as everything from playing music, editing pics and posters, watching movies, support work (remote desktop just seems to work so well now Smile) and training. Whilst the initial cost is higher than your average Dell etc, the kit you get is worth it (current models are 2.4GHz dual core, 2Gb RAM and 250Gb hdd's for the MacBook and you can bump that up easily afterwards) but OSX is just fun and different. oh, plus as it is a unix OS you get to learn a different command line and step into the *nix arena all in one go. Smile

Would I recommend a Mac? Of course.
Will I get another one next time? Definitely.
Does it do what you're after? Easily. Smile
Is it the best thing since sliced bread? Nope but then I'm not a mac fanzboy Wink


bugs_whats_up_doc wrote:
I noticed you have both gone down the MAC route, is that the best way to go? I know MAC's have always been better at handling system resources over PC's
ooooooo, how to wind up a macboy in one easy step! It's Mac not MAC according to the regular flaming on their forums. Laughing they're more to be pitied than scorned though

Last edited by graycat on Wed Nov 19, 2008 5:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Fire Ant
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I second you on that one graycat. I can't stand Vista so it was a Mac for me.
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