Protech - A Linux forensics distro you want


Updated: February 26, 2009

Protech is a young, new distribution, based on Ubuntu and running an extremely streamlined, lightweight Fluxbox desktop. While little known to the public, Protech offers stability, good looks and usability, and a mind-boggling range of administration tools, a very valuable set in the hands of any power user.

The choice of the tools included in the CD makes Protech an almost almighty weapon in the hands of a skilled admin - and this might be exactly the very problem with Protech; like any super-tool, it takes quite a bit of knowledge to operate properly and to maximum extent. Still, Protech can be used just as any other desktop distro. Most users will appreciate the range of tools available, but they will most likely never take full advantage thereof. Enough idle talking. Let's see what Protech offers. Version tested: ONE!

Desktop

Unlike Helix, Protech is a pure Linux distro. It boots into a very spartan, yet business-looking desktop. Right-click is the word here. Like any Fluxbox desktop, it hides away the menu behind the right mouse click.

Boot screen

Applications - a never ending list

Protech has too many of them. Sounds funny, but think just about any diagnostics, benchmarking, backup, rescue, recovery, enumeration, password cracking, sniffing, scanning, analyzing tool ever conceived. That's it. Protech has them all.

I'm going to show you a few of them, just to whet your appetite. For starters, Hamachi VPN, OpenVPN, NTFS configuration tools, VNC server, Wireless Network Drivers configuration tool.

Apps 1

Then, we have the standard Ubuntu Network Tools pack, with the basic set of utilities. We can also use Telnet and RDP to communicate with remote hosts.

Apps 2

Security applications

Security wise, Protech bursts with goodies. Take only the Database toolbox, for reference. If some of the titles look like gibberish to you, I advise you Google or Wiki them. If you're running an SQL database and suspect it might be vulnerable to attacks, Protech gives you enough tools to run a very thorough diagnostics.

Security apps 1

Remember all the rave with DNS exploits back in the summer (of 2008)? Well, Protech allows you to identify vulnerabilities in your DNS and take proactive steps to keep them safe. The same applies to mail, Web or Samba servers.

Security apps 2

How about catching malware trying to infiltrate your network? That's what honeypots are for.

Security apps 3

Network sniffing? You name it.

Security apps 4

And don't forget the Wireless:

Security apps 5

Now, if you're wondering how to use these tools, then do not, under any circumstances, deploy Protech in a production environment. You may cause more harm than good, to say nothing of ringing just about any bell with the IT security department and getting yourself fired in less than 4 seconds.

I am not demonstrating specific uses, on purpose, because it takes thorough knowledge of the network topography, the network stack and the operating system in general to use Protech tools properly. These utilities are a double-edged sword and will cut you if you misuse them.

My warmest suggestion is to invest time learning until you gain enough skills and confidence to wield Protech wisely. Protech will serve you faithfully as a phenomenal system auditor, but only if you show proper respect.

Extras

Protech also comes with other useful tools. The Opera browser is there. But you also get the GpsDrive, a free GPS software.

GpsDrive

More reading

For now, you are also advised to read the first two article of this mini-saga:

Linux Forensics - Introduction

Helix - A Linux forensics corkscrew

Conclusions

Protech is a mighty tool. I'm thoroughly impressed. The distro is fast and stable, it's good looking enough to become a desktop if needed, it contains a broad range of excellent tools, as well as some unique programs that you do not normally encounter in most distros.

Home users will have little need or use for most of Protech's powerful stock. But system administrators in SOHO environments will definitely appreciate it.

I'll get on a limb here and say that I also think Protech would be quite useful as a demonstration / mentoring package in SANS GSEC workshops, as it contains just about any single tool discussed during the course. It does not necessarily have to replace the existing flavors of Knoppix, as this precious, valuable distro has irreplaceable merits of its own, but it would be a great addition to the white-hat arsenal.

I hope the developers of this fine forensics distro keep up their good work. Protech is a definite keeper. In the next article, we'll talk about Backtrack.

Cheers.

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