Managing a Dedicated Lab

Learn how to provision content to your Dedicated Lab and manage lab settings.

Ryan Gordon avatar
Written by Ryan Gordon
Updated over a week ago

Admins and Moderators have the ability to manage and provision Dedicated Labs. This includes adding and removing Machines and Challenges to and from the lab.

Dedicated Labs have a Lab Capacity that determines how many Machines and/or Challenges can be added to the lab. You can choose which content you want to provision to your lab to fill these slots and have the ability to swap out content as you please.


Creating and Understanding Spaces

Spaces enable you to partition your lab into distinct "virtual labs," each with its own unique content, users, and reporting capabilities.

Rather than relying on one space where all users access content, you have the flexibility to establish multiple spaces. This allows you to organize diverse content types and allocate different users accordingly. Alternatively, you could opt only to use the Machine Training Lab, which everyone whom you've given a Dedicated Lab seat will have access to.

Creating a Space

In the Navigation Pane on the left of the platform, you'll find the option Create New Space. Clicking on it will pull up the Space Creation Menu.

You'll be prompted to add a name for your Space. We'd recommend that you keep this short but descriptive. You'll also have the option to make the Space private, which will make it visible only to those who you've assigned to it.

After creating the space you can start assigning users to it, all users are assigned automatically to the Machine Training Lab space and you can assign them to every other space as well, they will occupy only one seat.


Adding Content to Your Lab

To provision content to your Dedicated Lab, navigate to your lab's page and press the Manage button.

On the Assigned tab, you can view the list of content you already have :

To add new content, you can navigate to the Machines tab and scroll through the list of Machines in its entirety. By clicking on the content, you can preview its description, the Area of Interest, Technologies, Security Tools, and Techniques. This preview will help you get more details about specific content to assist you in choosing whether to add that content to your lab or not.

Once you've chosen a Machine, you can provide it to your Dedicated Lab by pressing the Add to Lab button. The same process applies to Challenges as well.

Note this button won't be clickable if you already have provisioned your lab to its maximum slot capacity for the given content type. If you are trying to provision a Machine, you'll need to remove a Machine from your lab first, and likewise for Challenges.

To help you find the content you are looking for, you can search the Machines by Name or use filters by Difficulty, Operating System, Area of interest, Technology, and Vulnerabilities :

Removing Content from Your Lab

Deprovisioning content from your lab is just as simple as provisioning it. Scroll to the Machine you want to remove from the Assigned tab and then click Remove from Lab.


Managing Paths

Dedicated Lab Paths are groups of Machines and Challenges focused on a specific skillset or cybersec job direction. These groups are curated by Hack The Box staff to provide coverage over an area of interest. Each Path typically consists of up to 10 Machines or Challenges.

Hack The Box has a lot of content to offer, and sometimes navigating through that ocean can be daunting. With Dedicated Lab Paths, we lift a part of this responsibility by offering a one-button solution to provision the content most relevant to you and your team.

Expanding a Path will show :

  • A paragraph describing what this Path is about, along with a bullet list of learning outcomes

  • A list of content included in the Path (Machines or Challenges), usually up to 10 items

  • An option to add all Machines of the Path in the lab

  • A separate Add to Lab button for each Machine

You can use the ADD ALL button to add all Machines and Challenges inside that Path to your lab.

You can still add a Machine manually to your lab if you are looking for high-level customization to your content.

You can also use the REMOVE ALL button to remove all the Path's Machines or Challenges from your lab or REMOVE specific Machines from that Path after adding them.


Tracking Skill Progress

Using the Skills panel, you can see a breakdown of the current Lab progress based on currently assigned users and currently assigned content to the Lab. This will give you insights on team progress and their area of interest.

You can view this progression breakdown for Machines, showing a spider chart and bar chart progress for the Areas of Interest. You can drill deeper into a specific category by clicking on the All Areas dropdown to select a specific Area of Interest and see a spider graph and bar chart for the categories of that specific Area of Interest.

You can also see the Skill progresses on two tags: Technology and Vulnerabilities. You can select one of the two skills from a dropdown on the top right and see a list of all relevant skills listed in descending progress order:

You can also find a Categories progress breakdown for Challenges in the Lab, displayed in a spider graph alongside a progress bar for the top 10 categories of the Challenges.

The last part of the Skills panel is a Categories progress breakdown for Sherlocks in the Lab, displayed in a spider graph alongside a progress bar for the top 10 categories of the Sherlocks.


Adding Custom Machines to Your Lab

Before proceeding, make sure your custom machine meets the following criteria:

  • The Machine image can be an OVA file (for virtual machines) or a Docker image.

  • The image size should not exceed 40GB.

  • The Machine should have a clear user flag and root flag.

  • Eligible Plans: Dedicated Labs Professional and All Bundles except for Lite.

Preparing Your Machine

Step 1: Setting up the Machine Image

You can choose to submit an OVA file or a Docker image.

  • OVA Files: These are typically used for VirtualBox or VMware. Ensure your virtual machine is properly configured and exported as an OVA file.

  • Docker Images: If you're using Docker, ensure your Docker image is properly built.

Step 2: Integrating User and Root Flags

Ensure your Machine has a clear user flag and a root flag integrated. These flags serve as milestones for the users to confirm they've successfully exploited a part of the system.

Submitting Your Machine

Once your Machine is set up and meets all the criteria, you're ready to submit it for review.

Step 1: Compressing the Image

Before submitting, compress your Machine image to ensure it is in a respectable size to share.

Linux

For Linux, we recommend the following tools be used:

  1. bzip2: This is a common tool on Unix-based systems. It typically achieves better compression ratios than gzip but is slower. The command to compress a file using bzip2 is bzip2 filename.

  2. xz: This tool uses the LZMA/LZMA2 algorithms, which typically achieve the best compression ratios, but it is slower than gzip and bzip2. The command to compress a file using xz is xz filename.

Windows

For Windows, we recommend the following tools be used:

  1. 7-Zip: This is a free and open-source tool that supports a variety of compression formats. It's known for its high compression ratio, especially when using the 7z format with the LZMA/LZMA2 algorithm.

  2. WinRAR: This is a trialware file archiver with a high compression ratio. It supports RAR and ZIP formats, but you can also unpack various other formats.

Step 2: Sending the Image

Email the Machine image to [email protected]. In your email, provide a brief description of the machine, including its purpose, any special features, and the intended level of difficulty.

Step 3: Awaiting Review

After submitting, your Machine will be reviewed by the Hack The Box team. They will check for any issues and may contact you for further information or clarification.

For more information on the Enterprise Platform, visit our Enterprise Help Center:

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