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best laptop to start out on?

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jinwald12

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Post Mon Dec 28, 2009 8:04 pm

best laptop to start out on?

hi I'm a high school senior who aspires to be a penetration tester, i intend to go for the backtrack certification and i have been reading white papers when ever i get a chance and i want to get a good yet affordable laptop i can use for pen testing once i get out of high school. I know you need a full lab to be successful, but thats just not viable for me right now what i need is a good laptop that i can use for pen testing and the backtrack course. So does anyone know a good yet affordable laptop that meets my needs. I know this isn't this kind of forum just i cant think of anywhere else to ask. any help would be appreciated
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Kev

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Post Mon Dec 28, 2009 8:57 pm

Re: best laptop to start out on?

I have been using an Acer 5610z for some time now and it dual boots Windows and Linux perfectly.  Its 15” screen is great for my bad eyes and it’s what I use when I have access to AC. If I am cracking wireless, I use a smaller version with just a 10” screen and a slower 5200 rpm hard drive. When I am auditing wireless I tend to be very mobile so good battery life is important.  Make sure you get at least 1 gig of memory and a decent size hard drive, say 250 gigs or more.  Intel seems to have the edge with CPUs at this time and the more onboard CPU cache the better.

If you want to get the cold shoulder at the next Defcon, I would suggest walking around with a Dell and hand out your AOL email address.  It’s interesting to see how many people there walk around with nice looking small black ThinkPads.  ThinkPads are good but you have to be careful about not holding it by the screen or you can cause it to crack. One thing I can say about Dell is they seem rugged.  I have dropped them and they still seem to keep ticking, but I might have been one of the few fortunate.    However, if you want the image of choice for the leet and if you care about such things, then go with the ThinkPAd.  It always makes me smile when I see nerds trying to impress other nerds, LOL. 
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Ketchup

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Post Mon Dec 28, 2009 10:41 pm

Re: best laptop to start out on?

I am a huge fan of Dell's equipment.  I find their warranty and service to be amazing.  I do most of my pentesting on my Netbook though.  It's just light and compact.  I have a few USB devices and a portable hard drive I carry with me.  I think that just about any laptop would work, as long as you are comfortable with it.
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hayabusa

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Post Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:52 am

Re: best laptop to start out on?

I agree with Ketchup, and have been a fan of Dell's stuff.  I wouldn't mind having a Netbook for it's size, or one of the new thin MacBooks, but that said...

I have used various laptops and equipment for pentesting, as well as everyday use.  

I have an oQo model 2, which is great for pocket / concealability, but it's not functional (without a dock or something) for normal everyday use, and therefore, I would NOT ever make it my primary machine (additionally, it's not the speediest, anyway.)

For everyday purposes (both pentesting, as well as presentations to my customers / peers, etc,) I have an HP TouchSmart tx2-1020us tablet.  Run's Backtrack nicely, and I have both usb and pcmcia Atheros cards for it for WEP and wireless testing.  I like it because:  a.) it IS a tablet, making carrying it around easy with it's 'lightweightness,' size and touchscreen, b.) it has a presentation remote, so I can easily plug into a projector and present on the fly, c.) built-in webcam (when in tablet mode, and walking around, I catch a lot of good 'visual' info about a test site, etc.  There are other reasons I like it, but overall, just a nice little unit.  Certainly, however, it's NOT the most durable, so that's one drawback.  

And for DEFCON, I would very likely carry an older laptop around  ;-)  So long as you can boot Backtrack, has some open USB ports, etc, and it has plenty of memory, etc, just about any laptop is pretty functional these days.  So, as Ketchup so appropriately put it:  " I think that just about any laptop would work, as long as you are comfortable with it."
~ 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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jinwald12

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Post Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:06 pm

Re: best laptop to start out on?

thank you, what i hear most of you saying is i should go for a laptop I'm comfortable with, but shouldn't i make sure it has a wireless card that can inject packets? if so how do i determine that? should i just Google the card?
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hayabusa

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Post Tue Dec 29, 2009 8:25 pm

Re: best laptop to start out on?

Most ATheros chipsets can, and there are others.  If the laptop doesn't have one built-in, you can buy an external, just as easily.
~ 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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jinwald12

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Post Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:01 pm

Re: best laptop to start out on?

what about Intel PM45? because the one i found has it and i'd hate to have to use a external
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Ketchup

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Post Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:43 pm

Re: best laptop to start out on?

I actually like using an external adapter in addition to my built in wireless adapter.  I use my Belkin USB dongle for injection.  I can leave my built-in Broadcom card in managed mode, and my USB adapter in monitor mode.  I find this convenient.
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hayabusa

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Post Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:17 am

Re: best laptop to start out on?

Agreed... pretty much what I do, as well, Ketchup.
~ 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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jinwald12

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Post Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:23 am

Re: best laptop to start out on?

ok, so i should use a external device for packet injection. thanks you guys. I hope that one day I'll have enough experience to contribute to this forum
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hayabusa

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Post Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:52 am

Re: best laptop to start out on?

Well, it isn't a SHOULD or SHOULDN'T, as far as the external.  You can do it with a single wireless adapter (internal or external,) if it supports the proper modes.  But, I (and sounds like Ketchup, too) prefer a setup with the internal wireless adapter capturing traffic and the external one doing the injection.  Performance is better that way, on my boxes by spreading the load between the adapters, and also, it allows me to move the external adapter between laptops, if needed, so I'm not limited to using one machine with a built-in.

That's my perspective, anyway...
~ 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'


OSCE, OSCP , GPEN, C|EH
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Kev

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Post Fri Jan 01, 2010 6:05 pm

Re: best laptop to start out on?

As far as the onboard wireless available on laptops, I wouldn’t be too concerned.  If you are going to just hack your home router then that’s fine and those laptops that use the atheros chip are usually fine for injecting.  Later when you do professional work you will more than likely find you need a good external antenna. The reason being is hackers don’t attack wireless sitting in the main lobby of a business, unless it’s a mall or airport or something similar.  In my experience hackers sit some distance from the building and attempt to make their breach.  You will find onboard wireless is usually not strong enough to inject from a distance that allows you to be stealth.  I am not saying there aren’t people that are once in a while lucky injecting and cracking their neighbor’s wireless with their onboard wireless, but that is way to “iffy” to be considered professional in my opinion.  You might argue that vulnerability is vulnerability regardless if I do attempt to make the breach sitting in the office of the CEO or lobby of the company or way out at the end of the parking lot, but I would have to disagree.  For instance, I have had a few occasions where I was able to inject and access the wireless while inside the building but the moment I was outside I found it impossible. This could have been due to the kind of paint and metal construction of the building. This particular building had extremely good physical security so it was extremely doubtful anyone unauthorized could get in. Workers there already had access so they had no need to crack it and any terminated employee is escorted from the premises.  How one might write this report might be an interesting topic for another thread. Yes it was vulnerable technically, but was it really?   In my opinion a first class wireless attack has to include a breach attempt from inside and outside the perimeter with a reasonably powerful external antenna. Again, don’t get too hung up with what’s onboard unless you are just thinking about experimenting with your home network, but eventually I would recommend attacking it from outside your house so you can see the limitation of onboard wireless.

Also, if anyone reading this is new to the subject and wants to get started but is looking at cheap or second hand laptops, be a little careful. Linux has come a long way but you still will find it doesn’t always support every chipset.  I would recommend you burn a copy of Ubuntu or Backtrack and try and boot it first to make sure.  Boot it all the way to the gui with startx.   You will save yourself from some headaches.  
Last edited by Kev on Fri Jan 01, 2010 6:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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UNIX

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Post Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:01 am

Re: best laptop to start out on?

Doesn't really matter which computer oder notebook you buy, as long as you feel comfortable with it and it fulfills a few requirements, which most computers/ notebooks do anyway.

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