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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 Crack Your Own WEP Network to Find Out Just How Insecure It Really Is How to Crack Your Own WEP Network to Find Out Just How Insecure It Really Is We’re constantly telling you that using WEP to 'secure' your wireless network is really a fools game, yet people still do it. Today I’d like to show you exactly how insecure WEP really is, by... Read More .

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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  1. Igor Rizvi?
    January 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Great tools,but sucks cuz i cant use them... sharing

  2. kentucky6996
    January 4, 2013 at 1:06 am

    i prefer bugtraq 2. its better in almost every way.

  3. Jay Maynard
    December 29, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    I use BT and another auditing distro.

    1. A pentesting distro should not be your first introduction to Linux, as most of the tools use the terminal. If you want to learn how to use these tools, and understand what they are doing, you will be splitting your time between learning the tools and Linux command line. It can be done, just don't expect immediate results.

    2. Try BT from the live disc, but if you decide you want to use it, install to a USB drive (persistant), a VM, or directly to your HDD. Some of the packages/tools in BT are "broken", and you will need to update, re-install, etc., to get them to work properly. You cannot do this, if you're only running from a live disc.

    3. Google. This will help immensely in using the various tools. My suggestion would be to use the BT forums only to search for an answer to whatever question you have, as they seem to expect you to be an extremely experienced Linux user BEFORE attempting to use a pentest distro, and there is a good chance you will get flamed.

    4. BT is not the only security distro out there, but has pretty much the largest user base. Another one I would suggest, is THS-OS, available for members at They (we) are very friendly and helpful, even to noobs. There is also an entire section of the forum there, devoted to BT. Some of the members there are EXTREMELY knowledgeable and helpful. A lot of them have their own blogs and YouTube channels. Just Google R4V3N747700, n1tr0g3n, a day with tape, and em3rgency, to name a few. Also if you look around, there might be a way to get reading material on the use of the various pentesting tools (try sending ShadowGhost a PM). ;)

    • Danny Stieben
      December 31, 2012 at 4:22 am

      Thanks for the suggestion, Jay!

  4. Jay Maynard
    December 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm
  5. Patrick Jackson
    December 29, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I liked the article very well, not because I didn't know about it, but due the way you have explained Danny.

    I know that the distro is built on Ubuntu, so I was thinking what all meeds to be installed so that I can add them to my existing Ubuntu installation. So please someone who's using it can tell me what all is installed in it.

    If you don't know how to, just in terminal or without starting the GUI run the following command;

    dpkg --list

    Please copy what all is stated and post it as reply.

    Thanks all and happy holidays!

    • Danny Stieben
      December 31, 2012 at 4:20 am

      This is technically possible, but please remember that you won't be getting a Linux kernel that is tweaked to include wireless driver patches and the like.

      Plus, I have a feeling that the list would be too long for a comment here on the site.

      • Patrick Jackson
        January 1, 2013 at 9:57 am

        How about you e-mailing it to me, please?

  6. Timothy Liem
    December 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Finally! article covering Linux! I'm fed off of bitten fruit thingy and the flat thingy *if you know what I meant*. and best of all, BackTrack! the securest distro so far (IMHO). thanks, Dan!

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      December 28, 2012 at 6:22 pm

      MUO has variety of articles, and I think they cover Linux pretty well (the last one is about Mageia 2, if I'm not mistaken)-A little late, perhaps, but given the number of Linux distros out there it's not that bad.
      Indeed it's much harder to find compared to earlier days before mobile OS came to play, and that bitten fruit got so famous.

  7. Irving Rambaud
    December 28, 2012 at 11:35 am

    My favorite Linux OS.

  8. Chew Jian Yue
    December 28, 2012 at 4:19 am

    Did not know how to get into the GUI version of backtrack before I seen this article.

    • Danny Stieben
      December 31, 2012 at 4:18 am

      Glad I could help you with that!

  9. Junil Maharjan
    December 28, 2012 at 4:14 am

    Backtrack has lots of tools to test and i had used it once, but could not make it work as a live usb. time to try it again.

  10. Gerwell Taroma
    December 28, 2012 at 12:55 am

    and btw, is there a way i could buy an bt dvd, 'coz my connection here is too slow that i need to wait months before i could download the torrernt...i'd really love to have a copy...or maybe there's someone out there who could give it for free..thanks...

    • Timothy Liem
      December 28, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      download the file directly will give you boost on download performance. I rarely downloading via torrent cz sadly many files I need to download have no seeder.

      • Lisa Santika Onggrid
        December 28, 2012 at 6:16 pm

        Yeah. A lot of files I want are old thus have no seeder, but Linux distro is an exception. Aside than Puppy, I download all my distros via Torrent, because they're always well seeded.

        • Danny Stieben
          December 31, 2012 at 4:18 am

          I have to agree that Linux distros are much more easily downloaded via torrents. See, there is a legal use of torrent clients. ;)

    • Timothy Liem
      December 28, 2012 at 1:45 pm

      or you can buy it from DVD/CD provider near to you. use Google. there are so many people willing to help. that's why I love Linux.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      December 28, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      I understand your predicament. Try to go to Backtrack's forum (or any distro you're interested in) and ask someone there. Maybe you'll need to disclose some donations or maybe someone would send it to you freely, but it's good to try.
      When downloading large files that my connection isn't fast enough to, I usually go to cyber cafe because they have faster connection. Maybe you can do it too.

      • Gerwell Taroma
        December 29, 2012 at 10:19 am

        sure i will..thanks

  11. Gerwell Taroma
    December 28, 2012 at 12:52 am

    i've always wanted to learn how to use bt5's utilities but i haven't found any comprehensive tutorial/how-to yet...maybe muo could provide us one, just as what you do best!

    • Timothy Liem
      December 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      sorry, the comment above is for your comment below.
      btw if you want to learn how to use BT5, you'll always be welcomed on BT forums, whether it's the main forum or local forum. they are so helpful. but don't forget to read the rules, the FAQ, and the solved thread or you'll be accussed as spammer :D

  12. Márcio Guerra
    December 27, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    I'm on Linux now (Peppermint), but I still can't find my way around here. Although, I must say, MUO is a very helpful site for me to start finding my way...

    Thank you! Cheers!

    Márcio Guerra

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      December 28, 2012 at 6:14 pm

      I'd say Backtrack isn't something for Linux beginner. Along with solid knowledge about how network works, some of the tools aren't that user friendly. Average home users might not have much use of it, though I think trying to penetrate your own security might be fun.
      Since you use Peppermint, may I ask why you choose that distro over the others?

      • Márcio Guerra
        December 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm

        Of course you may ask, ehehhe. I've chose because... it was the one MUO suggested a while ago, and I created a pen to start up my pc. Meanwhile, my HDD finally broke up (was bad by the time I've created that start up pen with Peppermint) and then since I was starting to get used to it, and the discs with Vista that I've created (according to Acer's instructions) are not working, it does not recognize now my new HDD and says it cannot install with current specs, so, I've installed Peppermint in the end, via the USB drive I've made... I'm on it right now. Since I'm a Chrome user, Chromium is 98% or 99% the same, so, no problem for me. My biggest problem, indeed, is to get some Adobe software to work were in Linux. I'm trying to install some stuff with WINE but having some difficulties because of... well... lets just say «originals»... But WINE proves, for a newbie, helpful in original PC software.

        Regarding Backtrack, well, I probably won't try it until I feel very confidant using Peppermint. I can't yet understand very well how to use the command line, and I an old MS-DOS user... So far, I'm yet «getting into the feel»...

        Cheers and Great 2013 all!

        Márcio Guerra

  13. FM
    December 27, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    BackTrack is good for pentesting. Who uses a Raspberry can also use "pwnpi" ;-) !