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Build a Cyber Security Lab with DetectionLab

The Cyber Security discipline requires ongoing training and lots of testing. Back in the day, building a Cyber Security Lab was quite simply a time consuming pain in the butt.

First, you would find your Windows ISO's, VLK & MSDN Keys and all the extra Software components (where is that winzip shareware?!). Then, you get started building systems, configuring the DC, workstations, accounts and on and on. Three days later, once it was all built we could snapshot the virtual machines. Take note of all configurations, and start playing.

DetectionLab and Vagrant

Detection Lab logo

DetectionLab by Chris Long makes this initial configuration a piece of cake. It is quite simply amazing; if DetectionLab was thrown into a 1RU box with blinking lights (Lockeed/Boeing/Raython) would probably sell this thing as a Cyber Range for 7+ figures.

The DetectionLab will run on many operating systems and Hypervisors, but, in this quick start guide, we will use a clean Ubuntu 20.04 host, VirtualBox and Vagrant.

Included Software Components

There is a lot packaged together into this popup network.

Hostname Operating System Software / Role
Logger Ubuntu 18.04 Centralised logging with Splunk Enterprise (Free License - 500mb / limit), Fleet (the osquery manager), Suricata, Zeek, Velociraptor
DC Windows 2016
(180 day eval)
Domain Controller with osquery, velociraptor, sysmon
WEF Windows 2016
(180 day eval)
Windows Server with Event Collector, Splunk forwarder and osquery, Velociraptor agents
WIN10 Windows 10 Workstation
(180 day eval)
Windows Workstation with agents (sysmon, osquery, velociraptor)

While this is a quick way to spin up a testing environment for immediate testing of the installed software components. It is also very easy to expand the network using Vagrant; Throw in Kali Linux or other attack tools , Malware Analysis or an endless array of offensive / defensive scenarios.

Installing DetectionLab

Ok, enough with the introduction - start the stopwatch. Lets go!

Due to the number of virtual hosts, running the lab will require a minimum of an i5 with 16GB of memory. If you are planning on adding additional hosts, then more memory would be very helpful.

There are great "micro / mini" desktops to be found as second hand units for $50 - $100 that will satisfy these requirements if you need extra hardware.
test@vbox:~/$ sudo apt install virtualbox virtualbox-ext-pack

This will install Virtualbox 6.1.6 from the Ubuntu repository. Keeping things fast and supported with easy updates. The name of the game in building our cyber security lab is to minimise hassle.

We will also install the latest vagrant from Hashicorp (2.2.9 is recommended - Ubuntu 20.04 ships with 2.2.6).

test@vbox:~/$ curl -fsSL https://apt.releases.hashicorp.com/gpg | sudo apt-key add -

test@vbox:~/$ sudo apt-add-repository "deb [arch=amd64] https://apt.releases.hashicorp.com $(lsb_release -cs) main"

test@vbox:~/$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install vagrant

Download the Deployment Files

Download the required files for deployment from github and kick off the prepare.sh script.

test@vbox:~/$ git clone https://github.com/clong/DetectionLab.git 
test@vbox:~/$ cd DetectionLab/Vagrant
test@vbox:~/DetectionLab/Vagrant$ ./prepare.sh 
[+] Checking for necessary tools in PATH...
  [-] Packer was not found in your PATH.
  [-] This is only needed if you plan to build you own boxes, otherwise you can ignore this message.
  [?] Vagrant was found in your PATH
  [?] Your version of Vagrant (2.2.16) is supported
  [?] Curl was found in your PATH

[+] Checking if any boxes have been manually built...
  [?] No custom built boxes found

[+] Checking for disk free space...
  [?] You have more than 80GB of free space on your primary partition

[+] Checking if any Vagrant instances have been created...
  [?] No Vagrant instances have been created yet

[+] Checking if the vagrant-reload plugin is installed...
  [?] The vagrant-reload plugin is currently installed

[+] Enumerating available providers...
Available Providers:
  [?] virtualbox

To get started building DetectionLab, run vagrant up.
If you run into any issues along the way, check out the troubleshooting and known issues page: 

Before starting the vagrant builds, check that you are in a terminal that can launch the VirtualBox Guest GUI's. This means if you are connected to your test machine remotely using ssh you will want to use X forwarding in the session (ssh -X ...) and you will not want to be in tmux.

Essentially what happens with vagrant up is that each machine will be deployed and during the build the VirtualBox GUI will pop up as the machines are started. It is possible to build the hosts individually such as vagrant up logger but launching the following will build all 4 hosts. Depending on the bandwidth and CPU speed this will take some time, however here is the best part; no further interaction is required.

From a terminal the vagrant up process will need to launch the VirtualBox GUI, so we need to run this locally, or in an X forwarded session, if the host is remote & not in tmux:

In the terminal launch:

test@vbox:~/DetectionLab/Vagrant/$ vagrant up

During the installation and provisioning occasionally something may break as there are lots of moving parts. If a machine does not boot correctly check the error but if it is not obvious, you can simply try and re-provision the machine.

Being based on vagrant rebuilding and troubleshooting can be as simple as rebuilding a host.

VirtualBox and DetectionLab Building

To reattempt the provisioning try vagrant reload wef --provision. If this fails you can simply remove the broken machine from the VirtualBox console and rerun vagrant up wef, this will often just work.

These basic functions of vagrant are good to know. If you mess up a machine during testing or when something breaks; rebuilding a single machine is a piece of cake.

Further Resources

The DetectionLab project site has great documentation and resources for further information. Including the excellent network layout diagram linked below and introductory YouTube video.

Detection Lab Information and Credentials
@Chris put together this great overview that includes credentials for access.
DetectionLab Network

Nmap Scan of the DetectionLab Network

Lets take a quick look at the services available on our new host only network. This is configured on the host and is isolated. Note: with these networks, outbound traffic is allowed as the network has a NAT gateway. Keep that in mind if you plan on testing any malicious software.

Starting Nmap 7.80 ( https://nmap.org ) at 2021-07-30 13:08 AEST
Stats: 0:02:19 elapsed; 0 hosts completed (4 up), 4 undergoing Service Scan
Nmap scan report for
Host is up (0.00053s latency).
Not shown: 93 filtered ports
53/tcp   open  domain?
| fingerprint-strings: 
|   DNSVersionBindReqTCP: 
|     version
|_    bind
88/tcp   open  kerberos-sec  Microsoft Windows Kerberos (server time: 2021-07-30 03:08:10Z)
135/tcp  open  msrpc         Microsoft Windows RPC
139/tcp  open  netbios-ssn   Microsoft Windows netbios-ssn
389/tcp  open  ldap          Microsoft Windows Active Directory LDAP (Domain: windomain.local, Site: Default-First-Site-Name)
445/tcp  open  microsoft-ds  Windows Server 2016 Standard Evaluation 14393 microsoft-ds (workgroup: WINDOMAIN)
3389/tcp open  ms-wbt-server Microsoft Terminal Services
| rdp-ntlm-info: 
|   Target_Name: WINDOMAIN
|   NetBIOS_Domain_Name: WINDOMAIN
|   NetBIOS_Computer_Name: DC
|   DNS_Domain_Name: windomain.local
|   DNS_Computer_Name: dc.windomain.local
|   DNS_Tree_Name: windomain.local
|   Product_Version: 10.0.14393
|_  System_Time: 2021-07-30T03:10:25+00:00
| ssl-cert: Subject: commonName=dc.windomain.local
| Not valid before: 2021-07-27T06:16:20
|_Not valid after:  2022-01-26T06:16:20
|_ssl-date: 2021-07-30T03:11:05+00:00; 0s from scanner time.
Service Info: Host: DC; OS: Windows; CPE: cpe:/o:microsoft:windows

Host script results:
|_nbstat: NetBIOS name: DC, NetBIOS user: , NetBIOS MAC: 08:00:27:a9:3b:cf (Oracle VirtualBox virtual NIC)
| smb-os-discovery: 
|   OS: Windows Server 2016 Standard Evaluation 14393 (Windows Server 2016 Standard Evaluation 6.3)
|   Computer name: dc
|   NetBIOS computer name: DC\x00
|   Domain name: windomain.local
|   Forest name: windomain.local
|   FQDN: dc.windomain.local
|_  System time: 2021-07-30T03:10:25+00:00
| smb-security-mode: 
|   account_used: guest
|   authentication_level: user
|   challenge_response: supported
|_  message_signing: required
| smb2-security-mode: 
|   2.02: 
|_    Message signing enabled and required
| smb2-time: 
|   date: 2021-07-30T03:10:25
|_  start_date: 2021-07-28T06:16:29

Nmap scan report for
Host is up (0.00027s latency).
Not shown: 99 filtered ports
3389/tcp open  ms-wbt-server Microsoft Terminal Services
| rdp-ntlm-info: 
|   Target_Name: WINDOMAIN
|   NetBIOS_Domain_Name: WINDOMAIN
|   NetBIOS_Computer_Name: WEF
|   DNS_Domain_Name: windomain.local
|   DNS_Computer_Name: wef.windomain.local
|   DNS_Tree_Name: windomain.local
|   Product_Version: 10.0.14393
|_  System_Time: 2021-07-30T03:10:26+00:00
| ssl-cert: Subject: commonName=wef.windomain.local
| Not valid before: 2021-07-29T00:33:11
|_Not valid after:  2022-01-28T00:33:11
|_ssl-date: 2021-07-30T03:11:05+00:00; 0s from scanner time.
Service Info: OS: Windows; CPE: cpe:/o:microsoft:windows

Nmap scan report for
Host is up (0.00089s latency).
Not shown: 98 filtered ports
135/tcp  open  msrpc         Microsoft Windows RPC
3389/tcp open  ms-wbt-server Microsoft Terminal Services
| rdp-ntlm-info: 
|   Target_Name: WINDOMAIN
|   NetBIOS_Domain_Name: WINDOMAIN
|   NetBIOS_Computer_Name: WIN10
|   DNS_Domain_Name: windomain.local
|   DNS_Computer_Name: win10.windomain.local
|   DNS_Tree_Name: windomain.local
|   Product_Version: 10.0.18362
|_  System_Time: 2021-07-30T03:10:25+00:00
| ssl-cert: Subject: commonName=win10.windomain.local
| Not valid before: 2021-07-29T00:43:18
|_Not valid after:  2022-01-28T00:43:18
|_ssl-date: 2021-07-30T03:11:05+00:00; 0s from scanner time.
Service Info: OS: Windows; CPE: cpe:/o:microsoft:windows

Nmap scan report for
Host is up (0.00023s latency).
Not shown: 95 closed ports
22/tcp   open  ssh        OpenSSH 7.6p1 Ubuntu 4ubuntu0.3 (Ubuntu Linux; protocol 2.0)
| ssh-hostkey: 
|   2048 1f:9d:24:3e:07:2b:74:0c:6a:26:76:4f:0f:db:0f:01 (RSA)
|   256 60:2b:09:3a:f4:17:42:b9:54:8f:9b:37:df:1b:31:b0 (ECDSA)
|_  256 25:c4:3c:ee:32:1f:a5:88:65:ad:9e:01:8e:51:bc:b3 (ED25519)
111/tcp  open  rpcbind    2-4 (RPC #100000)
| rpcinfo: 
|   program version    port/proto  service
|   100000  2,3,4        111/tcp   rpcbind
|   100000  2,3,4        111/udp   rpcbind
|   100000  3,4          111/tcp6  rpcbind
|_  100000  3,4          111/udp6  rpcbind
8000/tcp open  ssl/http   Splunkd httpd
| http-robots.txt: 1 disallowed entry 
|_http-server-header: Splunkd
| http-title: Site doesn't have a title (text/html; charset=UTF-8).
|_Requested resource was
| ssl-cert: Subject: commonName=logger/organizationName=SplunkUser
| Not valid before: 2021-07-28T06:04:33
|_Not valid after:  2024-07-27T06:04:33
8080/tcp open  http       Apache Tomcat
| http-methods: 
|_  Potentially risky methods: PUT DELETE
|_http-open-proxy: Proxy might be redirecting requests
|_http-title: Apache Tomcat
9999/tcp open  ssl/abyss?
| fingerprint-strings: 
|   FourOhFourRequest: 
|     HTTP/1.0 302 Found
|     Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
|     Location: /app/index.html
|     Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2021 03:08:46 GMT
|     Content-Length: 38
|     href="/app/index.html">Found.
|   GenericLines, Help, Kerberos, LDAPSearchReq, LPDString, RTSPRequest, SSLSessionReq, TLSSessionReq, TerminalServerCookie: 
|     HTTP/1.1 400 Bad Request
|     Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
|     Connection: close
|     Request
|   GetRequest: 
|     HTTP/1.0 302 Found
|     Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
|     Location: /app/index.html
|     Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2021 03:08:21 GMT
|     Content-Length: 38
|     href="/app/index.html">Found.
|   HTTPOptions: 
|     HTTP/1.0 302 Found
|     Location: /app/index.html
|     Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2021 03:08:21 GMT
|_    Content-Length: 0
| ssl-cert: Subject: commonName=VelociraptorServer/organizationName=Velociraptor
| Subject Alternative Name: DNS:VelociraptorServer
| Not valid before: 2021-04-14T03:25:30
|_Not valid after:  2022-04-14T03:25:30
Service Info: OS: Linux; CPE: cpe:/o:linux:linux_kernel

Post-scan script results:
| clock-skew: 
|   0s: 
Service detection performed. Please report any incorrect results at https://nmap.org/submit/ .
Nmap done: 4 IP addresses (4 hosts up) scanned in 185.53 seconds

There is a bunch of stuff here to poke at with your penetration testing tools. Deploy Kali Linux on another host in the network, or simply start looking through the logs and data coming into Splunk.


There are many things here to test, play with and explore. This is one of the great things about this setup. Fire it up and get your hands on tools that are preconfigured and ready to go. In case you did not notice from the previous praise, DetectionLab comes highly recommended whether you are just getting started in Cyber Security or you have been breaking computers for years.