GSEC Certification Support
Most of the hands-on labs for this course can be completed on a virtual machine running Kali. Please note that your options may well differ from ours due to your local settings. We go to great lengths to explain this in the book, so please don’t get frustrated if things don’t work EXACTLY the same way for you as they did for us.
We’ll put the lab setup below.
Lab Overview and Setup
To set up the lab environment we will be using in this GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC) course.
The purpose of this lab is to present an overview of the lab environment we will be using throughout this course.
We will look at some options for creating the lab environment and the role that each machine will play throughout this course.
A host computer, hypervisor software to run virtual machines (such as VMware Workstation, Oracle VirtualBox etc.).
We will be creating the following topology for our lab environment (your IP address scheme may differ):
Choose a lab environment platform.
There are many options for creating the lab environment for this course, and students taking this course may already have a preferred platform or a suitable home lab already built. The important part is that you have a primary security-orientated workstation, such as Kali Linux or ParrotOS, and a selection of operating systems to experiment with. It is strongly recommended to install Metasploitable however, as we will be using this VM to demonstrate some exploit techniques later in the course.
It is important to note that this is not a networking lab or networking certification course. A simple flat network that allows all machines to communicate is fine for our purposes.
A physical lab is of course fine, but virtualization is a more popular choice for lab environments, as it offers much more flexibility. There may be times in this course where you would like to take a snapshot of a machine to revert after experimentation, which is not possible on physical machines.
Some popular virtualization platforms include:
- VMware Workstation Pro
- VMware ESXi
- Microsoft Hyper-V
- Oracle VirtualBox
- Linux KVM
For the video demonstrations in this course, I will be using VMware Workstation Pro, which is available for a free trial at https://www.vmware.com/products/workstation-pro/workstation-pro-evaluation.html.
Whichever platform you choose, your host computer will ideally be able to run 4 virtual machines simultaneously. For the majority of this course, we will only be working with one or two machines at a time, but there will be times when we will have all machines running, for example to demonstrate network scanning. To run a full lab, you will need at least 16GB of RAM, 4 core processor (ideally with Hyperthreading), and approx. 200GB of hard disk storage (ideally SSD).
Understand the role of each lab machine.
To configure the lab effectively, it is worth having a clear understanding of the role each machine will play:
- Kali Linux – Kali Linux is a Debian-derived Linux distribution designed for digital forensics and penetration testing. This will be the primary machine we do most lab work with, ranging from network scanning and packet analysis, to password cracking and active exploitation. As this will be the most heavily used machine, we recommend allocating ample compute and memory resources to your Kali Linux VM
- Metasploitable – The Metasploitable virtual machine is an intentionally vulnerable version of Linux designed for testing security tools and demonstrating common attack vectors. It has a whole host of known vulnerabilities, many of which we will be exploring and exploiting during this course. This VM will also act as a general target for network scans. We will not be doing any work inside the VM itself, so it can have minimal resources.
- Windows 11 – Windows 11 is the latest major release of Microsoft’s Windows popular operating system. We will be using the Windows 11 VM as both a target for our Kali Linux machine, and as a workstation to demonstrate certain tools, features, and security configurations available in Windows. Since we will be working directly on this machine, we recommend assigning enough computer and RAM resources so that you have a smooth desktop experience.
- Ubuntu – Ubuntu is a Linux distribution based on Debian and composed mostly of free and open-source software. We will be using the Ubuntu VM as both a target for our Kali Linux machine, and also as a workstation to demonstrate certain features and security configurations available in Linux. Since we will be working directly on this machine, we recommend assigning enough compute and RAM resources so that you have a smooth desktop experience.
Installing the VMs.
Download the appropriate VM image or ISO from the following locations, and follow the source instructions for initial installation:
- Kali Linux – Get Kali | Kali Linux
- Metasploitable – https://information.rapid7.com/download-metasploitable-2017.html
- Windows 11 – https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/downloads/virtual-machines/
- Ubuntu – https://ubuntu.com/download/desktop
For each machine we will initially only need to make one change, and that is to configure the network adapter to ensure each of our VMs can communicate. In the examples in this course will be using VMware Workstation Pro with all VMs on a Bridged Network Adapter, which essentially connects them directly to my local network.
Some other optional recommendations for each VM:
- Change the default password.
- Increase resources to the machines that we will be using most, particularly the Kali Linux VM and Windows 11 VM.
- Assign a static IP address to each machine so that it is consistent throughout the course.
With the lab configured, we are ready to move on to the actual lab exercises.
101 Labs books contain zero theory. You learn by doing but for some subjects (such as Linux), you must have a good study guide or video course to refer to.
For the labs, we recommend you use a virtual machine and download the .iso files for Windows Server and Windows 10. Other operating systems, such as Kali can also be downloaded for free. You can check into the setup instructions here.