This question has been asked over and over again across the web, but many answers are either ridiculous or the same. I have tried using OWASPs VM which has a range of purposely built holes in web applications to teach and explain the basics.
Here is the problem those tests are so easy even if you dont know how to pentest you can do them. I have also used hack.me which once again is just web applications (though some challenging) its all about MySQL injections and execution of code.
So here is my question:
What is the best way to legally test out server penetration skills and techniques? but more specifically... on a budget? assuming I have access to servers but little access to network hardware what approach can I take to set my self up a lab that isnt all about XSS, SQL injection and PHP execution?
I hope my question is not to broad and someone can help me and other people interested in penetration testing find a way to study safely.. (I am very knowledgeable in securing servers and encryption but I want to play for the other team!)