Secure Lab: Network Appliances


As someone who has been working in the computer field for many years, I firmly believe that tools are what make us capable and special as humans. From the discovery of fire to the present day, our ability to build tools has been essential to our progress. In the field of computers, building a personal computer lab is crucial for making progress with your tools, which in this case means machines and software.

You cannot solely rely on companies to provide the resources you need to learn and create. It’s important to create your own failure space where you can fail without judgement. Some companies do not forgive failure, and that can be frustrating.

Boss Firing Employee Funny

Therefore, the first idea that came to my mind when building my computer lab was networking and online security.

The question I asked myself was, “How can I build the ultimate network security for my computer lab during the most aggressive period of the internet?”.

I’m willing to invest in my computer lab but i needed to protect my work & experience, which comes from my 13 years of work in the field.

IT’S MY CURRENCY, losing it is a catastrophe.

Building a computer lab requires investing in several sectors like Network Storage, VMWare Cloud, Network Infrastructure, Fault-Tolerance, Observability, and Cyber Security (Network & OS). However, I started with security as my first concern. If you cannot secure your work, you can expect ransomware, malware, backdoors, and other catastrophes at any time.

My main project from four years ago was Virtualization & Network Security, which involved building ready-to-use appliances that I could clone to any machine. With a simple installation process, I could build the functionality on demand in any network I had.

To achieve portability for my network security appliances, I built them as VMs using VMWare ESXI as the base hypervisor that I could install on any machine, workstation, or portable powerful mini-pc. These appliances provide not only network security but also network connectivity. I can use Site2Site VPN to link myself always anywhere with my lab infrastructure, which is a brilliant investment.

In this article, I will explain my experience and the design of the network. I will also discuss the tools I used to build such a network. By following my approach, you can create a secure lab network that meets your specific needs.

Network Architecture

I have implemented a secure network appliance with outbound and inbound topologies to ensure the anonymity and protection of my lab network from directed attacks.

Outbound Topology

The outbound topology is used for sending traffic outside the network, such as browsing the internet or torrenting. To ensure secure browsing, I access the internet behind a VPN that is obfuscated with Secure Proxy through Firewall and Internet Balancer. This ensures that the secure network behind the firewall is anonymous and protected from directed attacks as my actual IP address is not exposed.

Inbound Topology

The inbound topology is used for sending traffic inside the network, such as accessing the network from outside with VPN to access my lab resources. To ensure secure connectivity with my lab network without leading to a breach, I activate IDS/IPS to secure the network layer.

Required Tools

To implement the secure network appliance, I used the following hardware and software:



  • VMWare ESXi as the virtualization software
  • OPNSense as the software firewall on VM
  • PiHole as the DNS sinkhole on VM
  • Secure proxy on VM
  • Sensei (Application Layer Firewall) included in OPNSense VM
  • Suricata (Network Layer IDS/IPS) included in OPNSense VM

Internet Services

  • Dynamic DNS (DDNS) which is a system used to associate a domain name with a changing IP address.

By using a DELL PRECISION T3500 Workstation as the Network Appliance Host and implementing the software tools on virtual machines using VMWare ESXi, I was able to create a secure and efficient network appliance. OPNSense serves as the software firewall, while PiHole provides DNS sinkhole services to block ads and malware. A secure proxy that provides secure browsing, and Sensei and Suricata are application and network layer IDS/IPS, respectively, that protect against potential security threats like Heartbleed Exploit.


In conclusion, building a personal computer lab, whether on-premises or in the cloud, is a wise investment in today’s era of computing. It can improve your skills and expand your toolset, giving you an edge in the upcoming world where artificial intelligence and cyber warfare may dominate the internet and threaten to destroy your legacy. By investing in network security, virtualization, and other key components, you can build a lab that is tailored to your specific needs and provides the tools necessary to stay ahead in the rapidly evolving world of technology. So, take the initiative and invest in your personal lab today to secure your place in the digital world of tomorrow.


This piece of writing has been generated by ChatGPT to assess its ability to compose articles and books.

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