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[Article]-A Rant About Hacking Labs

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dynamik

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Post Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:12 pm

Re: [Article]-A Rant About Hacking Labs

I think the deeper issue is simply that many people don't know how to setup an enterprise network to begin with. It's the same old story of people rushing into the exciting material before developing a foundation. Most people with this experience would naturally create a lab similar to what Tom diagrammed and not be content with BackTrack vs. Vulnerable Distro. I think this article underscores the fact that if you don't have the knowledge to set something like that up yourself, you're not going to do well in an actual pen test that will likely be of a much larger scale.

Also, if your routers/switches aren't in a confined area, you can (probably ;)) disconnect the fans without causing any harm. They're designed to withstand being packed tightly into racks, so a couple out in the open (probably ;)) won't explode.
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hayabusa

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Post Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:41 pm

Re: [Article]-A Rant About Hacking Labs

dynamik wrote:Also, if your routers/switches aren't in a confined area, you can (probably ;)) disconnect the fans without causing any harm. They're designed to withstand being packed tightly into racks, so a couple out in the open (probably ;)) won't explode.


<nod> True, and likely the best option.  Except that off eBay (going along with your probably,) they're used, so you don't know how close to failure they may already be.  I'm more than happy, personally, to keep using BOTH, until I have a sound-proofed office to run them in, off-hours.

Funny story, to the eBay point, though...  Amazing what NON-configuration-cleared items you can buy from eBay.  I ended up calling an oil company (previous owners who'd gotten rid of them, during a replacement cycle,) after I bought the routers, as they still had SNMP and other wide open configs on them.  Could've heard the guy's head shaking, on the other end of the phone, when I called him, to tell him they should be more careful.  (Turns out, they hadn't, yet, changed their passwords and configs for the systems, so all of it would've been very valuable to the "UN-ethical" hacker community...)
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Triban

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Post Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:32 am

Re: [Article]-A Rant About Hacking Labs

Interesting note about the fans.  Maybe I'll try that or build a cabinet with sound proofing/muffling. 

I agree with you Dynamik, how could you hope to breach something that you have never built?  I suppose guess work and luck and lots of googling but a solid foundation is key.  I think a majority of the posts we receive, we do make it a point to tell the soon-to-graduate folks that this field is not entry level and to start at the bottom to get the most experience possible.  Most of what I know came from the last 10 or so years.  Out of college I managed/maintained IT an 11 site school district.  Got to build networks from the ground up, build system images and of course build and deploy servers, migrate Exchange servers and configure Citrix boxes.  Put out some switches and configured firewalls.  Since its a school district, it was lower on funding so much of the work was done by us.  Then took that experience into the consulting world and helped numerous clients build, upgrade and maintain their systems.  Now is the time that I am putting all that knowledge to analyzing and responder to security threats for a large global enterprise.  What have I learned?  Same problems, just bigger and you have more funding :D 

Not understanding the foundational material could really hinder my analysis.  Like if I didn't know the purpose of proxy servers or gateways, I wouldn't think anything of a system going directly to the firewall on port 80 and attempting to bypass the proxy.  If I didn't understand the OSI model and TCP traffic, port numbers would mean nothing to me.  Granted I am on the defending side of things, but if you know how to build it, you know how to break it.  If you know how to defend it, you will know how to penetrate it.
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millwalll

Post Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:36 pm

Re: [Article]-A Rant About Hacking Labs

I agree with everything that been said so far my lab has lots VM of live cd in it. But I am hoping to build a new lab that contain hardware / software as never really done this and think it could really help me with pen testing so if anyone can recommend good stuff to read  or where to start be appreciated.
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Grendel

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Post Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:05 pm

Re: [Article]-A Rant About Hacking Labs

dynamik wrote:I think the article is well-written, and I agree with most of the points made, but I'm not sure why virtualization is so heavily discouraged.


I'm a big fan of virtualization, and it is definitely used extensively in corporate environments. However, virtualized systems are usually limited to servers, and only makes up a small portion of systems found in the network. To make it more realistic, hacking labs should have both workstations, and servers.

Doing a little brainstorming, it would be a good idea for someone to develop scripts and/or De-ICE discs that would make workstations talk with the servers, similar to what admins currently do in the real world.
- Thomas Wilhelm, MSCS MSM
ISSMP CISSP SCSECA SCNA IEM

Web Site:
  • http://HackingDojo.com
Author:
  • Professional Penetration Testing
  • Ninja Hacking
  • Penetration Tester's Open Source Toolkit
  • Metasploit Toolkit for Penetration Testing
  • Netcat Power Tools
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hayabusa

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Post Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:14 pm

Re: [Article]-A Rant About Hacking Labs

Grendel wrote:Doing a little brainstorming, it would be a good idea for someone to develop scripts and/or De-ICE discs that would make workstations talk with the servers, similar to what admins currently do in the real world.


Definitely.  Similar to some the target exercises (except even moreso,) like the targets in some of the PWB labs.
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dynamik

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Post Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:46 am

Re: [Article]-A Rant About Hacking Labs

Grendel wrote:I'm a big fan of virtualization, and it is definitely used extensively in corporate environments. However, virtualized systems are usually limited to servers, and only makes up a small portion of systems found in the network. To make it more realistic, hacking labs should have both workstations, and servers.

Doing a little brainstorming, it would be a good idea for someone to develop scripts and/or De-ICE discs that would make workstations talk with the servers, similar to what admins currently do in the real world.


I personally include workstations in my virtual lab, but I completely agree with the point you're making. It's absolutely essential to test client-side exploits, social engineering attacks (i.e. SET), etc. in order to simulate a real-world pen test. I think people are more limited by their imagination than by physical/virtual though.

Hopefully I didn't come off as too critical; I definitely feel the article contains important advice for those starting to build (or improving) their personal labs.
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SephStorm

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Post Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: [Article]-A Rant About Hacking Labs

Defiantly hear where you guys are coming from on this. I can tell you what goes through my mind when i've been told i need more experience in different areas:

1. I dont have that kind of time! i'm 20 (something) years old! I'm already behind the guys who started hacking 486's!
2. Read the news! The cyber war is going to start tommorow! if I dont start now, it'll be over by the time i have been is sysadmin for 10 years! (joking aside, this and the next one are probably the biggest)
3. Security is a hot topic right now, its a big industry. In 10 years, who knows where we will be? Maybe organizations will be significantly more secure and they wont need my skills. (Or the field will be over saturated!)
4. Great, I spent all this time and money learning all these skills, and I have to wait 10 years before I can use it. Already many things are being secured or changed, my knowledge will be useless by the time I can use it.
(Very big for me right now, I barely do sysadmin duties at my current job, and while my previous employer had me working with IA  doing security related duties, not here. I'm (supposedly) locked in here for years. Ive got my certs, i've got my lab, but still no experience when I leave here.)

Now that was part rant, but I think we have to be able to tell newbies its okay to wait, the industry wont leave them behind. I just hope that's the case.
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kerpap

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Post Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:42 pm

Re: [Article]-A Rant About Hacking Labs

there are a lot of great attacks that target layer 2. this can be challenging to setup as a lab as you would need several switches and need to know how to configure them. I have found a lot of networks don't protect against these attacks and this creates a huge vulnerability as it is very easy from the inside to attach a switch to the network and configure it so that all traffic on the network can get forwarded to your attack-PC thus you are able to sniff all the traffic and can enumerate great info on the network.

it is very hard to detect these attacks. some IPS sensors can detect these anomalies but most of the time you can get away with it.

great stuff to know as a pen tester IMO.
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Triban

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Post Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:16 am

Re: [Article]-A Rant About Hacking Labs

Seph makes a good point about scrambling to be in demand when you may have spent much of your time doing other things.  I think that is where community involvement could assist.  Its not always what you know, its who you know.  Eventually you can impress those people in a more laid back environment. 

Now the other part, sure security is big but it has always been there.  It is now gaining visibility due to the unfortunate reports of big companies falling prey to breaches, site defacements and all the other activity floating around out there.  We are in a reactive state right now.  We need to get out of that and move on to proactive measures.  Hopefully in 10 more years we will have a very security aware community from the CEOs down to the shop floor workers.  What we have to do as professionals is to help get there.  You don't necessarily need the technical skills to bust a network, seems like we have plenty of that.  We need defenders and we need spokesmen.  The highly technical message needs to reach the least technical people.  At that point, we need to shore up the defenses and get the last of the attackers out of the networks.  For that we need to ensure that the Sys Admins, network admins are all building systems and networks with security in mind.  Not everyone can be red team and the best way to learn to defend against the attacks is to know how to build your network from the ground up.

What I want to do between eCPPT and work related duties is spend a week on each part of my lab.  This week will be the Cisco pod.  Next will be a host on each side.  Then a server/workstation setup.  Harden each piece as it is built.  Doing what I do now, I am more an analyst and do not get to work directly with the hardware so I want to keep the skills fresh.

Sorry I may have swayed off topic.
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24772433

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Post Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:33 pm

Re: [Article]-A Rant About Hacking Labs

There are some very interesting comments from a thought provoking article.

The increase of virtualisation in corporate networks and the growth of cloud based services provide challenges to the security community to adapt to these changes. Server virtualisation is now commonplace and so too will be desktop virtualisation, along with switch virtualisation (Cisco Nexus 1000).

In response to what seems to be the general question of the value of a virtual only lab versus physical hardware; I was wondering if anyone had any experience of GNS3 which is a graphical network simulator that can simulate networks of switches and routers; of all flavours, such as Cisco and Juniper. My experience has been very positive and I have found it reasonably easy to integrate with my VMWare lab.
http://www.gns3.net/

Another option I have found that works well, if your looking practice against a Check Point firewall is to install their SPLAT OS as two virtual guest and configure a policy server and firewall - which Check Point will allow for 15 days unlicenced.

Steve.
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Grendel

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Post Mon Mar 05, 2012 5:06 pm

Re: [Article]-A Rant About Hacking Labs

Hey, I'm in the process of redoing my lab and relocating my web site internally. Would anyone be interested in a "blog" of what I'm doing?  I can post a new thread on these forums and show what I'm doing... I won't do it if nobody is interested.  LMK.
- Thomas Wilhelm, MSCS MSM
ISSMP CISSP SCSECA SCNA IEM

Web Site:
  • http://HackingDojo.com
Author:
  • Professional Penetration Testing
  • Ninja Hacking
  • Penetration Tester's Open Source Toolkit
  • Metasploit Toolkit for Penetration Testing
  • Netcat Power Tools
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hayabusa

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Post Mon Mar 05, 2012 5:23 pm

Re: [Article]-A Rant About Hacking Labs

I think it might be a welcome addition, Grendel.

For a lot of the newer folks (and even some of the seasoned ones, as a refresher,) it might be nice to see what type of effort someone puts in, in order to better their labs, etc.  I know, in another post, Jamie.R was feeling frustrated with various things, such as having to go back a notch, jobwise, and motivate himself again.  I think it would be good for others to see that, sometimes, even building a new lab, or adding to an existing, is a good way to learn and grow, especially if you point out benefits and learning experiences along the way.

Additionally, it's always nice to know what you've got going on, so when time and money permit, down the road, I know what I'm spending on, when I take your courses.  ;)
~ hayabusa ~ 

"All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved." - Sun Tzu, 'The Art of War'


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Triban

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Post Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:39 am

Re: [Article]-A Rant About Hacking Labs

I think it would be a great idea Grendel!  For those who have never done it, there are limited resources out there to help them build their labs.  Many of the books that require use of a lab simply say "Download your prefered Virtualization software and run these live CDs"  none really go into much detail involving hardware pieces as well as virtual systems.
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