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Permanent link: [Article]-A Rant About Hacking Labs
By Thomas Wilhelm, ISSMP, CISSP, SCSECA, SCNA
One of the more frequent questions I see on EH-Net pertains to creating pentest labs. Individuals new to the topic of hacking often have a limited understanding of what type of equipment is required, or how to go about setting up a lab to practice all of the cool attacks they have watched on YouTube. Details on how to get started using a single system and virtual machines are numerous – including some I have done. However, I think there is one question not being asked enough when discussing hacking labs… “Why do you want a lab?”
Most people create a lab containing a single host system and include virtual images of various Operating Systems. Unknowingly they have just restricted themselves to a very finite portion of real-world hacking – system attacks. I’m not even sure I can classify these “system attacks” as internal (within the corporate network) or external (Internet-facing services), due to a lack of support systems typically found in corporate networks. Absent are the routers, firewalls, IDS/IPSes, windows networks, switches, etc. Without these, we don’t really have a good example of what someone might face during a real pentest, nor do we create an effective learning environment.