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Pentesting Lab Hardware Question/Suggestions

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Post Sat Apr 02, 2011 5:17 pm

Pentesting Lab Hardware Question/Suggestions

I’m planning on putting together a pentesting lab this summer (it’ll give me something to do after I finish eCPPT in June and before I start OSCP in September).  Physical space is limited so I was thinking about using rack machines (each running several VMs of course), but now I’m wondering if it wouldn’t just be simpler (and cheaper) to get a few cheap notebooks and run VMs on them.

I’ve never used racks before, so it’d probably be fun to play around with one, but considering I don’t plan on having my lab up 24-7, does anyone with more experience think notebooks would be a better way to go?  I’d like a lab that I can expand, meaning I’ll put more money into it over time, but I don’t see myself spending more than $800 initially.

Thanks for the help.
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hayabusa

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Post Sat Apr 02, 2011 5:24 pm

Re: Pentesting Lab Hardware Question/Suggestions

Notbooks will limit expansion on the host, if you use vm's.  However, nowadays, you can get them pretty cheap, and that way, you make your lab more portable.  So if it were me, for both testing and demonstration purposea, I'd probably go laptops, although I'd still probably go a bit higher end than the typical $800.  

Like my good work / lab laptop now.  Quad core with 16 GB RAM, and plenty of external usb drives for mix-n-matching vm's quickly, etc.
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jason

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Post Sat Apr 02, 2011 5:44 pm

Re: Pentesting Lab Hardware Question/Suggestions

Rackmount systems are great for cramming a lot of gear in a small space, but you should either get a system or case that you can get your hands on first, or start with just one to check it out. I built a couple 1U systems for my lab a bit back, then ended up switching them to desktop cases. The fans in them were so loud that I couldn't stand to have them on for any extended period of time. There are steps that you can take to make them more quiet, but be aware that rackmount systems and cases are not generally designed with being quiet as a priority.
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millwalll

Post Sat Apr 02, 2011 5:55 pm

Re: Pentesting Lab Hardware Question/Suggestions

I have my lab setup with lots virtual images at the moment I am limited on space and I find them fine to messy about with and learn from.
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rattis

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Post Sat Apr 02, 2011 6:51 pm

Re: Pentesting Lab Hardware Question/Suggestions

My current lab is a slightly hacked T60 Thinkpad (memory and processor upgrades). I run multiple virtuals on it. Just picked up a netbook that will be triple boot between Windows 7, Ubuntu and Backtrack
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Post Sun Apr 03, 2011 12:48 am

Re: Pentesting Lab Hardware Question/Suggestions

Thanks.  I have 3 old notebooks, unfortunately they're too old-- they can't do VMs, but I think I'll use them as attackers.  And then I'm getting the new Thinkpad X220 so I'll run VMs on it.  That should be good enough to start off with.
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dynamik

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Post Sun Apr 03, 2011 2:19 am

Re: Pentesting Lab Hardware Question/Suggestions

Have you looked at http://ultimatewhitebox.com/ yet? $800 will go a long way towards building a dedicated lab hypervisor.
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Post Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:04 pm

Re: Pentesting Lab Hardware Question/Suggestions

Thanks dynamik.  This list of compatible hardware/systems will be a big help.
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cybrwarrior

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Post Sat May 14, 2011 10:47 am

Re: Pentesting Lab Hardware Question/Suggestions

chrisj wrote:My current lab is a slightly hacked T60 Thinkpad (memory and processor upgrades). I run multiple virtuals on it. Just picked up a netbook that will be triple boot between Windows 7, Ubuntu and Backtrack


Hi, I just bought a nice used ASUS netbook, 250GB HDD, 2Gb RAM, and 1.6Ghz CPU (i think if i remember correctly).  I was thinking about configuring it to run multiple OS.  Have you had any problems w/ yours running multiple OS?

Thanks~
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peta909

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Post Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:36 pm

Re: Pentesting Lab Hardware Question/Suggestions

Hi, I currently use a notebook with Intel 7i with many VMs as my pentest lab. I find the mobility and flexibility of working with a notebook alot better. As I can use is at various locations.
For linux VMs eg. Backtrack. I would make use of SSH and therefore can reduce the memory usage of the Backtrack image.

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