The Network Security Test Lab: A Step-by-Step Guide

Posted on by Ben Rothke

It wasn’t that long ago that building a full network security test lab was a highly expensive endeavor.  In The Network Security Test Lab: A Step-by-Step Guide (Wiley 978-1118987056) author Michael Gregg has written a helpful hands-on guide to provide the reader with an economical method to do that. The book is a step-by-step guide on how to create a security network lab, and how to use some of the most popular security and hacking tools.

The book is a straightforward guide that will help the reader in their quest to master the art of effective use of security and hacking tools. The reader that can put in the time and plow through the slightly over 400 pages will certainly come out with a strong understanding of how to run the most common set of popular security tools.

The book is written for the reader on the budget. In the introduction, Gregg writes how one can easily find inexpensive networking equipment at budget prices on eBay. While brand new hardware devices can cost in the thousands; one can find Cisco Catalyst switches, and Nokia IP and Check Point firewalls for under $50. Combined with his emphasis on open source software and tools, this is a most practical reference for those looking to increase their security skills without breaking the bank.

The book is meant for the reader with a strong technical background looking to gain experience with network security and related security tools. Other similar books will often waste paper and the reader’s time by devoting the first 50 to 100 pages with unwanted introductory text. This book hits the ground running and by page 100, the reader is already analyzing network packets with Wireshark.

 The following are the books 11 chapters, which cover the entire range of network security and tools:

  1. Building a Hardware and Software Test Platform
  2. Passive Information Gathering
  3. Analyzing Network Traffic
  4. Detecting Live Systems and Analyzing Results
  5. Enumerating Systems
  6. Automating Encryption and Tunneling Techniques
  7. Automated Attack and Penetration Tools
  8. Securing Wireless Systems
  9. An Introduction to Malware
  10. Detecting Intrusions and Analyzing Malware
  11. Forensic Detection

The book provides a good balance of coverage between Windows and Linux, and details the use of the many tools for each operating system. Each chapter ends with a series of exercises which can be used to help the reader put the information covered into practice. Those looking to gain experience on a wide variety of tools will enjoy the book. It covers a wide-range of tools and utilities.

Network Security Test Lab: is in the same genre as books such as Hacking Exposed 7: Network Security Secrets and Solutions. The difference is that Hacking Exposed focuses more on the tools, while this book shows the reader how to build a lab to mimic a real world environment. In addition, this book focuses a bit more on using a holistic approach to creating a secure network, as opposed to just hacking in. 

In the effort to make the test lab as inexpensive to build as possible, the book places on emphasis on using virtualization. The book focuses on using the VMware Player; a free virtualization software toolkit for Linux and Windows.

The book covers a huge amount of information and tools. If the reader puts in the time and completes everything, they will have a thorough knowledge of most of the key concepts in network security.

The book is a straightforward read for the serious reader. Those willing to put in the effort and the time, to learn through the various tools will find The Network Security Test Lab: A Step-by-Step Guide a great resource in which to build and develop their information security skills.



Ben Rothke

Senior Information Security Manager, Tapad

hackers & threats cyber warfare & cyber weapons data security

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