Important! Bring your own system configured according to these instructions!
A properly configured laptop is required to participate in this course. Prior to the start of class, you must install virtualization software and meet minimum hardware requirements as described below. If you do not carefully read and follow these instructions, you will leave the class unsatisfied because you will not be able to participate in hands on-exercises that are essential to this course.
The following are minimal requirements for your laptop:
- Intel-compatible 64-bit dual-core CPU i5 or higher (a faster processor is recommended)
- 8 GB RAM (more memory is recommended)
- 60 GB of available disk space (more space is recommended)
- USB port 2.0 or higher (USB port 3.0 is recommended)
- Ethernet network interface card (NIC) or adapter
- Wi-Fi card or adapter
- Virtualization support enabled in the BIOS; this is sometimes called Intel Virtualization Technology (also known as Intel VT) or AMD-V
Note that your laptop needs to have both wireless and wired network capabilities. You also need the ability to have local administrative rights on the system you will be using during class.
In addition, you need to be able to extract large compressed files. The extraction utilities built into the operating system might struggle with this. For this reason, please download and install the free 7-Zip tool if using Windows or Linux as your base OS. For Mac OS, consider using the free StuffIt Expander Mac utility.
The Need for VMware Virtualization
Please download and install VMware Workstation Pro 11 or higher or VMware Fusion Pro 7 or higher prior to class. Both are commercial tools. If you do not own a licensed copy of VMware Workstation Pro or Fusion Pro, you can obtain a free 30-day trial copy from VMware. Please do this before class and confirm that your trial won't expire until the course ends. Note that the free non-Pro versions of these products (e.g., VMware Workstation Player) are not sufficient for this course because they do not support snapshot functionality, which we will need to use. Also, VirtualBox is not appropriate because of compatibility and troubleshooting problems you might encounter during class.
You will be asked to take multiple snapshots of virtual machines during the course. Experience has shown that students with limited free disk space are more likely to experience snapshot and other VMware performance problems. Please test your ability to run a virtual machine, create a snapshot, and restore a snapshot in a timely manner (creating a snapshot should take less than 90 seconds).
Using Your System for Malware Analysis
Hands-on exercises will involve operating with malicious code. Although VMware will provide you with reasonable isolation, we do not recommend using your day-to-day production system as your laboratory machine. We expect you to exercise due caution when handling malicious code.
Review the following checklist to make sure that your laptop is prepared for the course:
- Your laptop meets hardware requirements outlined here, including an Ethernet card, a Wi-Fi card, sufficient resources, and a 64-bit processor with virtualization enabled.
- VMware Workstation Pro 11 or higher or VMware Fusion Pro 7 or higher is installed and operational with a valid license.
- The VMware license will not expire before the class (if using a trial copy).
If you have additional questions about the laptop specifications, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.