The best way to learn it to get hands-on.
Virtualization provides a way to run a simulated “guest” system on your “host” device. These guest systems are called virtual machines. Virtual machines (VMs) allow you to experiment with a different (or same) operating system in an isolated environment, where what you do can’t harm your host device.
You can host virtual machines yourself using software like VMware Workstation and Oracle VirtualBox. Or you can pay a cloud provider like AWS, Azure, or GCP to host virtual machines for you. AWS has a great free tier that will let you get started. Azure tends to be more expensive, but as a student you may get free credits. If you are new to cyber, we recommend picking either Windows Server or a common Linux distribution (Ubuntu, CentOS, etc) to get started with. Set up a virtual machine to test with and get your hands dirty.
If hosting your own virtual machines with Workstation Player or VirtualBox, you will need to get a .iso file that contains the installer for the operating system you chose. For example, Ubuntu ISOs can be acquired here. Windows Server ISOs can be downloaded from the Microsoft Evaluation Center.
In HPCC0, competitors defended Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, Ubuntu 20, and CentOS 7 systems.
As part of Hack@UCF’s Fall curriculum leading up to HPCC1, we will be teaching the fundamentals of cyber defense on Linux, Windows, and pfSense. As that curriculum is released, it will find a permanent home here.