A laptop is very essential in this digital era. When we are talking about cybersecurity, laptops are a must have thing. In this detailed article we discuss which kind of laptops will be best for penetration testing and cybersecurity jobs.

Credit : kali.org

Not every laptop we can use in the cybersecurity field. For ethical hacker and digital forensic experts jobs we need a special kind of laptop. We don’t list them because models are changed on a monthly basis.

Here we discuss what we need on a laptop for our cybersecurity work. If we know this then we can easily choose our best companion on cybersecurity, so please read the full article very carefully.

1. Running Linux

Most of the techie guys use Linux, and for cybersecurity we must have good knowledge on Linux specially Kali linux.

Kali Linux is a Linux distribution made for cyber security experts. When we are going to buy a new laptop for an infosec job we need to be careful that our device supports Linux distribution alongside Windows. In modern day we also can use virtualization systems using VMWare and VirtualBox that is also an effective way to run Linux on Windows.

Funny thing is we use Linux as a primary OS and run Windows under it using VirtualBox.

To learn and understand the Linux system we recommended installing Linux as a primary install. Kali Linux, Parrot Security and Back arch are very good Linux distro for penetration testing Jobs. Here is a list of best laptops for Kali Linux.

2. Portability

Before other performance hardwares (Processors, RAM, Storages) we want to talk on portability. Main thing is that laptops are made for portability and for cybersecurity works portability matters a lot. 

Who loves technologies and spends a lot of time in front of laptop screens only he knows how much portability is important. Powerful small laptops  (ultrabooks) are best in performance and solid portability. We can use them easily in the metros and buses.

During penetration testing in a corporate environment we found most portable laptops like GPD Micro PC and Raspberry Pi are best. They are not very powerful but very good at networking jobs.

3. Processor

Processors are very important to get the fast performance on a laptop. We can choose anything between Intel and AMD both are the leading in the market. AMD is now slightly better than Intel now in performance and gaming.

But if we are talking about supporting Linux as a primary OS, Intel is very compatible with Linux. AMD is also good but some processors have some compatibility issues with Linux 

(Those issues can be fixed with a depth level of knowledge). But if we are going to use virtualization then processors are not an issue.

Whatever we choose (AMD or Intel) we should keep in mind that the processor will be the latest generation. In Intel, 10th generation is currently the latest (11th is going to release very soon) and AMD just launched their Ryzen 5 series.

4. RAM

RAM will help us to do multitasking. For a modern day cybersecurity laptop we recommended at least 8 GB DDR4 RAM. But more RAM will help to do more tasks together, more opened tabs on our browser.

5. Graphics Card

Frankly speaking, a graphics processing unit is not necessary for penetration testing works. penetration testing tools are not so much graphics consuming. So if we choose a non graphics card laptop will be good.

But for password hash cracking or brute-force attack we may need a GPU to do it faster. If we think that we need to do a brute-force attack then we can choose a laptop with GPU. In the modern world brute force attacks are going to be useless day by day. Encryption is getting stronger from time to time. 

For an example to crack a 256 bit encryption password using brute force will take some million years. Even if we use Tianhe-2 (MilkyWay-2), the fastest supercomputer in the world, it will take millions of years to crack 256-bit AES encryption using brute force.

6. Battery

Battery is one of the most important things in a laptop machine. On an average battery takes 5-6 hours to drain out. Some laptops like Macbook Pro and XPS 13 give us ultra battery life.

To work for a long time out of home good battery life is very essential for a machine. Although fast charging is necessary. We need to fill the battery bars as soon as possible for a continuous work.

7. Build Quality

Everyone knows that good build quality is good. So here we need to tell something about the things we need to be aware before buying a laptop.

We must check the keyboard quality. Believe us in the cybersecurity field we need to type a lot. During programming or typing a long command we have to type, so a good keyboard with led backlit will be great.

Also we need to check for connectivity options. The LAN port, extra USB ports and thunderbolt ports will be better otherwise if we choose laptops like MacBooks then we need to carry a dock in our bag.

8. Storage

We just don’t look on the Hard Disk Drives. They are very slow. We must need to go with a Solid State Drive or SSD. SSD’s are 10 times faster than a HDD. In the ethical hacking field we don’t require so much storage on our device. Tools for penetration testing are small enough. 

So we suggest at least 120 GB SSD minimum as a storage. If we need to consume media and movies then it’s better to have an external drive to store them.

Conclusion

Penetration testing is not a CPU heavy task and doesn’t require graphics cards so we should choose a budget laptop with a slim and small form factor. Some must things (minimum) are latest processor, 8 GB RAM, Backlit Keyboard, Good or average battery life and SSD.

Some websites will claim that cybersecurity is a heavy task and we need a powerful laptop for this. But actually they want to sell expensive laptops to earn more affiliate revenue. We have been in this field for many years and we suggest you to buy a decent budget laptop with the qualities we mentioned above.

If you are a pro in the cybersecurity field and this is your job then we suggest you to buy an ultrabook like XPS 13 or MacBook pro 13 or Razer Stheth 13.

Hope this article will help you to choose your right laptop in penetration field. Happy hunting.

About the Author
Jharna is Cybersecurity Researcher Specially Focused on Web Pentest and Social Engineering. Can be Contact on Github.

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