New Features: Lab Progress & Machine Information

Today we’re excited to announce some new features that we’ve been working on for the last couple weeks. All features rely on a new student panel that will form a solid basis for new features around the lab machines to be developed in the future.

Lab Progress Tracking

The first new feature was requested by one of our students and is a user panel that can be used to track your lab progress. Essentially this progress tracker works the same as the progress tracking functionality that is implemented in the online version of the courseware. The progress bar will reflect the percentage of lab machines that have been marked as completed in the same way as the Courseware Page. The Lab Progress Page can be accessed by all students with an active membership from the courseware page after signing in.

Hints for lab machines

The second new feature is particularly useful for those who are stuck at a lab machine and require some help to move forward. At the Virtual Hacking Labs we believe that most is learned from a black box CTF approach in the labs. This means that students have to find solutions for problems by understanding the vulnerabilities and misconfigurations on a level that allows them to take advantage of it and to formulate counter measures. We’re also aware that some students get stuck and are unable to move forward. For those students we have created a page for all beginner and advanced machines on the lab that contains the following information:

  • Name, host number, difficulty and operating system.
  • Tags that indicate specific topics that apply to the machine.
  • The IP address for each machine in the different labs.
  • The courseware chapters that are related to the lab machine.
  • Categorized hints for different stages: enumeration, limited shells and privilege escalation.

With this new feature you can decide for your self what your learning path will look like and if you want to use hints to move forward. The hints provided on this panel are not direct solutions for the lab machines but they contain enough information to push you in the right direction. In some cases the tags and the referenced courseware will be sufficient. To keep the Virtual Hacking Labs challenging for everyone we have excluded the advanced+ machines from hints. The advanced+ machines are generally the harder advanced machines and should be attempted only after finishing the beginner and advanced machines.

New Features

In the upcoming weeks we’ll be working on implementing a collaboration and communication platform for all students. This platform can be used to chat with other students, work on lab machines together and to host webinars. As soon as the platform is available we will be posting an update in the news section of the website.

Do you have ideas for new features that you would like to see added in a next release? Please let use the contact form to let us know!