VMWare ESXi is perfect for a self contained lab, but as I’m used to having full access to a ‘real’ network there are a few things I miss not having control over for testing and other things. The biggest of these is a spanf port (or mirror port depending on your hardware). If you’re not familiar, the basic premise is to configure one (or more ports) to reproduce any traffic flowing through any port(s). This provides packet level access for debugging network problems, passing to an I[D/P]S, etc.
ESXi doesn’t provide this functionality, but does allow you to set a vSwitch to be ‘promiscuous’. Unfortunately this isn’t as controllable as a span/mirror port as (from the quick tests I’ve run) essentially turns the vSwitch into a vHub. Not a problem in my lab environment but you probably want to give it some serious thought before enabling in a production environment; do you really want every server on the network to be able to see all traffic on the (virtual) wire?
To make the change in ESXi you need host -> Configuration -> Networking and set the properties as shown below:
Once this change is made, any guests connected to the vSwitch can all see any of the network traffic on that switch.
For testing you can build a quick lab scenario with 3 live boot BackTrack systems. Each machine has a different role; server, client and ‘sniffer’. The sniffing machine is now able to view direct communication between the other two systems. Using wireshark’s Follow TCP stream functionality shows the conversation:
I’ve known about Vyatta for a while, but whilst the premise has always seemed appealing I’ve not had a reason to dig deeper. Vyatta propose to be ‘The open source alternative to Cisco’, which appeals as a nice fit into a low-cost training and development lab so tonight I decided to take a closer look.
I started by downloading Vyatta’s prebuilt VMware image, which can be downloaded here along with a Xen image and an ISO file for physical install. The VMware image is designed for workstation applications, but a quick run through my new friend in VMware Converter I quickly had the image transfered across to my ESXi based environment and booting without issue.
Vyatta provide a wealth of information in the documentation section (which requires registration, although it did not require the usual ‘activation’ email so dummy values may be enough). I haven’t had a chance to delve fully into the documentation and functionality but starting out has so far been simple enough: Logging onto the Vyatta device at the command-line requires the default user credentials of vyatta/vyatta. Once logged in you can start the configuration by entering ‘configure’
Once in configuration mode setting up interfaces is simple enough:
vyatta@vyatta# set interfaces ethernet eth0 description “WAN”
vyatta@vyatta# set interfaces ethernet eth0 address 192.168.1.254/24
Configuring different parts of the system are similarly simple, and with a bit of experience theVyatta systems seems intuitive enough and from basic testing performance is more that adequate, at least for my requirements. The time I’ve spent getting to grips with a new system has paid of so far, and for the time being I have a nice new addition to my lab environment. I’m hoping this system can provide some seperation between between between target/test systems and provide additional realism t my lab.
For anyone that has had to migrate machines to a virtual environment VMware’s Converter will likely be nothing new. It allows a straight forward way to migrate an existing server (both physical and most common virtual environments) to VMware’s Infrastracture, Server or Workstation product suites.
Whilst this is hugely useful in a real-world environment for p2v or v2v migration strategies it doesn’t have too much use in a lab environment as you would typically build your environment and servers once and then test away. But I’ve recently found another use, with a few simple clicks I can now easily transfer a virtual server/servers from my ESXi lab environment to my laptop to continue working away from the office, and without the need for maintaining parallel victim machines within each of my virtual environments.
The transfer process does take some time, image below shows the start of the transfer of a 20GB machine from my laptop to ESXi server of local 100Mbps network. However don’t be too put off initially, original estimated run time is nearly four hours, when in actuality it completed in a little over one. Good for fire and forget transfers whilst you make dinner.
Some people I’ve discussed the tool with have anecdotal stories of having issues and failures with VMware Converter, I haven’t encountered any problems with my usage but your mileage may vary depending on scenario. At the very least is should be simpler than my previous method utilising DD.
I was recently asked by Don over at EH-Net if I would be interested in reviewing a new book by Thomas Wilhelm of Heorot.net: ‘Professional Penetration Testing: Creating and operating a formal hacking lab’. Naturally I jumped at the opportunity.
I don’t want to discuss the book in too much detail here, as you can read the full review at Ethical Hacker here, but the book is a great addition to my home library. Don also worked his magic to convince the publisher to release a chapter from the book free of charge, chapter four covers the initial setup and configuration of hack lab environment, and can be downloaded from the review.
Hope the review is of use to someone out there, thanks to Thomas for writing the book in the first place and to Don for hooking me up with the review.
As part of an upcoming project I’ve been playing with some screen capture and editing software. As I’ve never been one for for the graphical/fluffy side of IT it’s a new area for me, and I was shocked with how simple it can be.
For screen capture I used the free CamStudio application, at first try it seems small, lightweight and most importantly simple and intuitive to use.
Finding decent editing software for free was difficult, @usedtire suggested Cinelerra for Linux. From the site it looks to be an impressive application, but I’ll admit I found no easy way to get this running under Debian/Ubuntu and ended up in dependency hell, so I installed Windows Movie Maker thanks to the links/instructions I found here.
Whilst experimenting with my new found tools I’ve created the somewhat obligitory Metasploit tutorials:
Very grateful to Timmedin for pointing me in the direction of his recent work with the same issue. In usual form, Tim has even packaged up a powershell script to automate the workaround. Check his fix here, much cleaner and slicker than my own. If your still curious, read on for the backstory.
Since rebuilding part of my toolkit I’ve had issues connecting to my ESXi host server. I had originally thought this was a result of an upgrade from ESXi 3.5 to ESXi 4.0, and the resultant change from VMWare infrastructure client to the new vSphere client. After several hours and days fighting down a blind alley I found a forum post that highlighted Windows 7 as the culprit.
Further reading indicated that this is a widespread issue with no real solution. Best workaround appears to be to run the client within a sandbox via Microsoft’s Virtual XP environment for Windows 7.
After a couple of false starts the install process was fairly straightforward, found here. Simply select hardware architecture (32/64-bit), install a patch, then finally the Virtual XP image. Everything beyond this works as expected, a virtual XP machine. Once in the virtual environment install the vSphere client as normal to regain access your VMWare environment.
Knowing my preferences, observant readers may be wondering why not achieve the same results using a VMWare guest with the vSphere client installed. VMWare Server is already installed on my machine, and was one of my initial thoughts. However, Virtual XP and VMWare utilise virtualisation for different results. The Virtual XP client has several intergration features (can be disabled if prefered) that allow simple, native access of resources on the host machine (files, directories, peripherals etc) from within the guest. This makes working with either, and between, host and guess seamless. Obviously such intergration would be unsuitable for a lab environment as you want/need isolation, seperation and protection from the guest machines so VMWare still has it’s place. As usual, using the right tool for the right job is essential.
At this point I’m back in my lab, and the R&D rolls on, but the experience has led me to look more indepth and Virtual PC. I have started building a BackTrack4 guest with Virtual PC to run within my standard machine for everyday use. Having access to a Linux environment as simply as a double-click as per normal applications will hopefully be a nice addition to my usual working practice.
<UPDATE> BT4 works fine, but the X GUI fails to start. Guess I’ll need to polish up on my commandline kung fu </UPDATE>
I had a really enjoyable night at last night’s SuperMondays event.
Some of the innovative uses for technology on display from Newcastle University provided a great glimpse of where we could be heading in the future towards ubiquitous computing. Of special interest were the research being undertaken with surface computing, which seems to have taken centre stage of new technologies recently, although unfortunately the expected MS Surface device wasn’t available at the last minute.
I also liked the work being done by the Ambient Kitchen project. While the technology is still in it’s early stages it is easy to see how this technology could be a part of every day life. With the focus the group has on providing assistance and support to people with cognitive difficulties the fruits of the project could go a long way to genuinely improving people’s lives. It makes a nice change to see new technology being developed for a real, useful purpose rather than the usual, ‘we can, it’s cool, why not’ approach to some tech development.
Linked with these new technologies Patrick Oliver and Jayne Wallace demo’d and talked about some of their work with developing cultural and meaningful technologies. One example was a twinned pair of necklaces which allowed the wearers to communicate some acts of distance, for example holding one pendant would cause the other to vibrate. As wireless communications become more pervasive I can envision similar technologies becoming more subtle and common place. Despite my initial perception of the topic as being ‘arty’ and not really that useful, I enjoyed the presentation and can see some valid and quite exciting uses for this technology in the future.
The event finished with a change of pace, with me presenting about my experience with using honeypot systems and hopefully convincing others that the system are valid additions to any network, and are good fun in the process. From my perspective I feel that the presentation went well, although I blew through the material a bit rapidly. I was genuinely relieved and thrilled with the amount of questions and discussion that was generated at the end of my presentation.
Unfortunately I believe that there isn’t a recording of this presentation, as is customary with SuperMondays talks, as the video camera decided to flatten it’s battery just before I started. As a compromise I’ve posted my slide-deck from the presentation. Hopefully people may find this useful, I’m always open to questions or discussions so please let me know your thoughts.
Bottom line from all this? SuperMondays is a blast, if you’re in the area and haven’t been along yet, why not? I’m definitely going to make more of an effort to ensure I’m available for future events, see you all there next time.
— Andrew Waite