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A Portable Virtual Networking Lab For It Security Instruction

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Information and Network Security

Tagged Division

Information Systems

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.80.1 - 13.80.9



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Paper Authors

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Peng Li East Carolina University

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Tijjani Mohammed East Carolina University

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Lee Toderick East Carolina University

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Chengcheng Li East Carolina University

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Philip Lunsford East Carolina University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Portable Virtual Networking Lab for IT Security Instruction


Information and computer technology programs are facing several challenges such as rapid developments of technologies, outdated lab equipment and materials, and increasing demands for remote labs from on-campus and distance education (DE) students. The purpose of this paper is to propose a solution to some of the issues enumerated above. As part of our ongoing effort to utilize virtualization technology to improve the learning experience of both face-to-face students and DE students, the authors present a viable design for a portable virtual network security lab. Virtual machine (VM) technology makes it possible to deliver lab-based courses with diversified network laboratory experiences at a minimal cost. In preparation for the virtual lab, two virtual machines were built by the instructor for student use. The students installed VMware Workstation on their personal computers and used it to open the pre-built virtual machines. The two virtual machines (VM1 and VM2) form a private virtual network, on which hands-on labs were performed. VM1 used Debian Linux and worked as the client. The students used VM1 to attack VM2 or to analyze the results of captured attacks. VM2 functioned as the server (target), running CentOS Linux. The students set up network defense systems such as Snort from scratch in VM2 and used them to detect and defend against attacks. This approach to virtual labs differs from the centralized remote labs, in that the virtual lab is performed not on university-provided remote servers, but on the students’ home computers. It differs from the live CD solution, in that the students install the virtual machines inside the host operating system on their personal computers. The lab is portable because the virtual machines can be moved to and be installed on different platforms. Most hands-on exercises can be done locally without Internet connection. Compared to the centralized remote lab, the virtual lab is very portable, inexpensive, can be run on the students’ computers, anywhere, and at any time. We have experimented with virtual machines in a number of labs with a high degree of success. Feedback from students indicated satisfaction.

1. Introduction

Information and computer technology programs are plagued by several major challenges. First, computing technologies are evolving at a rapid pace, making it difficult for schools to maintain up-to-date technologies in physical labs due to budget constraints. Second, lab exercises developed by faculty have short life span and need to be updated to reflect new technology. Third, enrollments in our programs have increased significantly, especially in the distance education sections, which has stretched laboratory resources to their limits, making it hard to meet demands for remote labs. With virtual machine technology, it is possible to deploy a diversified virtual network lab at a minimal cost. The virtual machine technology permits rapid changes, deployments, and adaptation of curriculum and laboratory experiences in step with the advances in technology. The purpose of this paper is to present the design and implementation of

Li, P., & Mohammed, T., & Toderick, L., & Li, C., & Lunsford, P. (2008, June), A Portable Virtual Networking Lab For It Security Instruction Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3981

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