Hey everyone!

First off I wanted to take a second and introduce myself, I just turned 21, working for IBM and going to school. Ive been brought up around computers and have always loved em. Im familiar with programming in PHP, SQL, HTML, C, C++, VB. Through about the last year, year and a half (since I first stumbled upon backtrack), I've grown to have a very strong interest in penetration testing, computer security, etc. Im looking to focus on learning more about it and getting certified in school.

As far as school, certificates, degrees, etc, I feel confused as to what people, companies, are looking for, what qualifications are generally accepted nad used across the board? What are the best ways to go about getting these certificates and degrees?

In order to grow more in my knowledge of systems, Ive decided to start to put together my first 'powerful' machine at home, so far Ive purchased:

ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard
newegg/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131365]Newegg.com - ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Intel Motherboards

Intel Core i7-920 Bloomfield 2.66GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor
newegg/product/product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115202]Newegg.com - Intel Core i7-920 Bloomfield 2.66GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor - Processors - Desktops

CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply
newegg/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139006]Newegg.com - CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Power Supplies


I still need to get graphics card as well as Hard drives and RAM.


My idea is to make the systme multiple boot, thinking Windows XP, Windows 7, and backtrack. Within each OS I was going to run VMware Server, and then Id have multiple VMs of different operating systems, that way I can boot into whatever primary os, and then run vmwares of wahtever os to use for attacking into.

I was wondering though, is this type of environment practical? Is there an amount of RAM you guys suggest? I specific type of Graphics card? Im not planning on playing games or anything, strictly using this for pen testing education and work, I was thinking of getting a beefy graphics card so I can generate rainbow tables and such faster, but how well will my processor be able to do that? How much should I spend on a good card? Im hoping to be able to run and try anythign and everything, from wireless security, to operating system vulnerabilities, etc. I've also heard of different vmwares that are setup strictly for attacking, are there any that you all have found to be more beneficial than others?

If theres any advice or questions you guys have for me, feel free to send any information my way.