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Improve Your Security Defense By Going On Offense Using Backtrack Linux

By Danny Stieben2012-12-27

backtrack linuxWe constantly hear about new security threats and companies that have been breached. As such, it’s understandable for some of us to be paranoid about security in order to prevent any possible attacks. If you’re not at least a little bit paranoid, you might want to read up on which site was the last one to have passwords stolen from.

Even if you have good security measures in place for your computer, you’ll also have to place equally heavy emphasis on your home network, as havoc can ensue for anyone who can find their way in. In order to figure out whether you have adequate security set up for your network, you’ll need the right tools.

About Backtrack Linux

backtrack linux

Backtrack Linux is a Linux distribution specializing in network penetration. The distribution is based off of Ubuntu, but includes a very large array of testing tools out of the box as well as other needed patches such as tweaked wireless drivers.

While Backtrack Linux is meant to be used in a LiveDVD environment, it can still be installed onto a computer’s hard drive, which may be recommended if you solely use such a system for network penetration, as you’d then be able to install updates to the included software.

Getting Started

When you first boot off of the CD, you’ll need to take a few simple steps in order to get into Backtrack’s GUI. Power users won’t need to start the desktop environment if they prefer not to, but those who are newer to Backtrack and/or Linux should do so.

backtrack linux security

In case you get a “boot:” prompt at the very beginning, just hit enter and it’ll continue booting up.

backtrack linux security

It’ll then come to a boot menu, where you have a number of different options. You’re welcome to use any of them if you need them, but otherwise I’d go with the first, default selection.

backtrack linux security

Backtrack will keep loading until it reaches a command line prompt. From here, power users can run commands with programs that are already installed on the DVD. However, if you want a GUI, you’ll simply need to enter startx and hit enter, and your desktop environment should launch.


backtrack linux

One of the things that makes Backtrack so respectable as a network penetration testing package is that it includes virtually every tool you could possibly want for the job. Just take a look through the menus, and you’ll see that the software selection is highly customized for its intended purpose.

If you look at the Backtrack category in the Applications menu, you’ll see the full list of all installed programs, and there are definitely a lot of them. There are plenty of tutorials around the Internet that can teach you how to use all of them, but a good start would be James’ guide to cracking a WEP-protected wireless network.

How To Get It

Backtrack Linux can be downloaded from their download page. Once there, you have a couple of choices, such as the architecture and desktop environment. You can even choose between a regular browser download or one using a Torrent client.

Once the ISO image file has been downloaded, you’ll need to burn it to a DVD or write it onto a USB drive. From there, configure your system’s BIOS to boot from the DVD/USB, and Backtrack Linux should be loading.


I’m very glad that Backtrack Linux exists because manually setting up the same environment, including all programs and patches, would take a lot of time and effort. Instead, one can simply load Backtrack from their preferred media, and get down to work in less than a minute. It’ll still take some time to learn how to use all the included programs (or at least those which are applicable to you), but it’ll be well worth it.

If you haven’t already, give Backtrack Linux a try and test out your home network. There’s a reason why it’s on MakeUseOf’s List of Best Linux Distros.  Just please remember to only perform penetration testing on systems which you own or have explicit permission, as it is otherwise illegal in most jurisdictions.

How do you ensure your network’s security? Without sharing sensitive information, what security features do you have set up? Let us know in the comments.


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