Here’s some tips for effective management and connectivity for your Virtual Machines.
- Remote Management – Since you’ve got Windows running on both the Host and the Virtual Machines, you have the option of using Windows Remote Desktop to connect to either of them from your personal workstation. Remoting to the Host is probably preferable since it gives you access to all of VMware’s controls and you can keep network access to the VM locked down with RDP disabled.
- Shutting Down – With VMware you can “suspend” a VM when you’re temporarily finished with it to “freeze” its state. This allows you to return to where you were later on without having to boot it back up. The suspended state persists even after the host is rebooted. When you want to shut down the host remotely, you can suspend the VMs, then press ALt+F4, which gives you the option to Shut Down over Remote Desktop.
Software, Tools and Malware
To introduce new software, tools and malware into the Virtual Machine you have a myriad of options. At the most simple level you can just have Shared Folders back to the Host and direct Internet Access. At the most locked down you can use a separate “FTP Server” virtual machine. The steps below are advisable for giving VMs access to a central file repository on the Host.
- Create a new Virtual Machine named “FTP Server”
- Create a shared folder to a software/file repository on the Host, e.g S:\
- Configure an FTP server software to provide read only access to the shared folder.
- Configure an FTP client on each VM with the read-only FTP account to access the FTP Server virtual machine.
- On each VM, to access software, use the FTP client to FTP to the FTP server and download files from its shared folder.
To access malware your route will be determined by where the malware is. We would advise you follow this approach for a central malware repository, located entirely inside a VM.
- Create a new Virtual Machine named “Malware Repository”.
- Give the Malware Repository VM access to the Internet.
- Create a directory on the VM to host malware.
- Install Antivirus software on the VM and set it to exclude the malware directory.
- Provide access to the malware directory for other VMs by either:
- Install an FTP server (as above) (recommended)
- Create a shared network drive for read only access to this folder
- Download new malware from inside the Malware Repository VM.
- Other VMs pull malware from the Malware Repository VM.