Link has been copied to clipboard
Jun 16, 2023
May 25, 2023

A Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Virtual Testbed with Network Monitoring using GNS3

Posted by
Posted by
Share Article
Posted in
No items found.

We know that getting started with new digital systems may not always be easy to navigate, so we're spotlighting a recently released video tutorial we created called, "Beginner's Guide: Create a Virtual Testbed with Network Monitoring using GNS3." We believe it's an invaluable resource for anyone interested in network security and digital transformation. So, check it out and leave a comment on the video if you want to see anything else.


In this detailed walkthrough, you get a step-by-step on setting up a virtual testbed using GNS3 and VirtualBox. This involves downloading and installing several virtual machines, including Kali, Metasploitable 2 and 3, Ubuntu, and a Windows virtual machine. Once these are set up, you'll see the process of integrating them with GNS3 and setting up a network switch. The tutorial ends with testing port mirroring and monitoring network traffic using Wireshark.

Basic steps

  1. Download and install VirtualBox from Choose the package that's associated with your operating system. For example, if you're using Ubuntu, download the Ubuntu package.
  2. Kali Linux from
  3. Metasploitable 2 from
  4. Metasploitable 3 (OVA file)
  5. A Windows VM for VirtualBox from
  6. Ubuntu VM (20.04.4 version)
  7. Note: For each VM, you need to extract the downloaded file and create a new virtual machine in VirtualBox, adjusting the base memory and number of processors as needed.
  8. Download and install GNS3 from Ensure to copy each section during the install for the GNS3 GUI, GNS3 server, Docker CE. Add your user to the following groups: ubridge, Wireshark, Docker, and KVM.
  9. Once GNS3 is installed, run it and select to run it on your local computer during the setup wizard.
  10. Download a switch from (like the openvswitch) and install the appliance in GNS3.
  11. Create a new project in GNS3, then add a switch and the NAT Cloud, which will provide internet access to the machines on GNS3.
  12. Add a new template in GNS3 to import the virtual machines. For each VM, allow GNS3 to use any configured VirtualBox adapter, then connect the VMs to the switch in GNS3.
  13. Start all the devices in GNS3. Then, log into each VM and check their IP addresses.
  14. Enable Port mirroring on the openvswitch. You can do this through the console in GNS3.

Why It's Useful

As we move towards an increasingly digital world, understanding how to set up and monitor a virtual network becomes crucial. This tutorial provides a practical, hands-on approach to learning these skills. It allows you to experiment and learn in a safe, virtual environment, which is a great way to get started in network monitoring and security.

Furthermore, the process of setting up port mirroring provides valuable insights into how network traffic can be monitored and analyzed for potential security threats. The ability to monitor and analyze network traffic is a crucial aspect of maintaining cyber-physical security in our ever-connected ecosystem​​.

Who Might Be Interested

This tutorial is ideal for anyone looking to enhance their knowledge and skills in network security and monitoring. Whether you're a cybersecurity enthusiast, an IT professional, a student in the field, or a business owner looking to understand how network security plays into your digital transformation journey, this guide is a useful learning resource.

  1. Practical Learning and Experimentation: By creating a virtual testbed, IT professionals, cybersecurity specialists, and network engineers can simulate network configurations for learning and testing purposes without the cost and complexity of physical setup. This can be particularly useful for students or professionals looking to enhance their networking or cybersecurity skills.
  2. Cybersecurity Analysis and Training: The guide includes the setup of multiple virtual machines, such as Kali Linux and Metasploitable, which are widely used in penetration testing and ethical hacking. This makes the guide a valuable resource for cybersecurity enthusiasts who want to practice and enhance their penetration testing skills in a safe and controlled environment.
  3. Network Monitoring and Troubleshooting: The guide also walks through the process of setting up network monitoring using Port mirroring, allowing users to analyze network traffic in real-time and troubleshoot any issues. This could be beneficial for network administrators and IT professionals responsible for maintaining network health.
  4. Cost-effectiveness: By leveraging free and open-source tools like GNS3, VirtualBox, and various virtual machines, users can create a robust virtual networking environment without incurring significant costs.

Exalens: Committed to Empowering Cyber-Physical Security

Here at Exalens, we're passionate about providing the necessary tools and knowledge to securely enable connected-industry and cyber-physical systems​. Setting up a virtual testbed and monitoring network traffic is an essential skill in today's digital landscape. We hope the tutorial provides a solid foundation for those new to the field or anyone looking to refresh their skills. Stay tuned to our blog for more insights and tutorials, and remember, if you have any questions or comments, we are here to help!

For more information about Exalens and our Cyber-Physical Detection and Response platform, please visit the rest of our website or get in touch.