Cyber DIY isn’t so bad, right? — Photo by Rudi Endresen on Unsplash.

How to build your cybersecurity testing environment 🚀

Building a cybersecurity lab: A simple guide on using security operating systems to build a home lab

Stephen Chapendama
ILLUMINATION
Published in
8 min readMay 5, 2020

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Often when we discuss pathways into cybersecurity, we emphasize how practice makes perfect, in fact, it’s often mentioned that it’s good to have a home setup. However, for those not in tech looking to understand what a home setup actually looks like this post is intended to be a walkthrough of setting up a virtualized environment with explanations as well to aid those starting out their journey into cybersecurity.

A very popular route into cybersecurity is penetration testing, so popular in fact, it’s often the first career that comes to mind when people hear about “hacking.” If you are interested in learning some of the tools pen testers are using this guide will help you set up a testing environment for you to learn how to use Parrot OS or Kali. We have seen a change in culture lately, more people are looking towards platforms like the Hack The Box and TryHackMe as gateways into pen testing, but having a home environment that you’re in control of also gives you so much more.

Things you’ll need:

  • A laptop/PC — For this, I am using a Macbook with 16gb RAM (I highly recommend using a laptop with 8gb and above as the minimum.)
  • Optional — A Raspberry Pi running Raspbian.
  • Oracle Virtualbox or VMWare Fusion.

Why did I specify the RAM when listing my laptop requirements?

Virtualized Machines (VMs) are described by Microsoft as:

A virtual machine is a computer file, typically called an image, that behaves like an actual computer. In other words, a computer is created within a computer.

For the VM to run, it will need resources (storage, RAM & processing power) and this must come from somewhere right? If you have a 4GB laptop, and you run 3 VMs with 1GB, that means your laptop is now left with 1GB of RAM to actually use for itself and yeah, things won’t work out well.

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Stephen Chapendama
ILLUMINATION

Cyber Security & Africa | Technology Manager @ Foundervine.com & Site Reliability Engineer in Biotechnology 🚀