Saturday, March 28, 2015

Certification tip of the day... Get many sources!

As I am working through my Comptia Security + I am finding that this was a far bigger undertaking than I initially gave this certification credit for.  I really think that I assumed that a couple of weeks working on this full time and I would be able to knock this out and move onto the more exciting and interesting stuff that I am looking forward to getting my hands on in my security and networking career.  Well to my surprise the volume of info they try to cover in Comptia Security + is frankly A LOT, and they really have to just gloss over many topics and throw out some high level points about that topic.  There just isn't the time, or really ability in this one cert to give all areas the coverage needed.  You would have to break out multiple levels of certs with specific areas of focus.  So for those thinking about Comptia Security + be prepared to take some time.  It is taking me a lot more time than I expected.  So far I have spent 3 or 4 weeks working this as much as possible daily between other obligations.  I think I will be ready next week to schedule my test.    Which brings me to the topic of the day that I want to discuss.

When I decided to jump into the certification training I did a quick Startpage search and looked around for the materials that people seemed to be talking about.  I found a lot of references to CBT Nuggets.  So I decided I had better give that a shot.  Those courses are helpful, they go over the topics quickly, and the coverage seems decent.   I also ordered the David Prowse Cert Guide and practice exams with the Deluxe Edition.  I also bought another practice exam software.  Now is this overkill?  I am here to tell you NO, it wasn't overkill.  As a matter of fact I am finding that in many ways each of the tools that I have paid for or paid to have access to have been strong in some areas and weak in others.  So I first watched the CBT Nuggets course.  Then started looking at the practice exams... Oh boy, what a disaster... I was failing terribly, so I found myself searching through my Cert Guide book for some clues.  This helped, but that seemed incomplete in many areas as well.  So Startpage was my friend.  I started digging around for what I obviously didn't get in the video course(or so I thought), and found more info.  I kept retaking the practice exams.  There were a LOT of practice exams and a LOT of questions and as I kept working through them I kept finding huge holes in my understanding.  Then I decided to watch the CBT Nuggets course again... And strangely enough a lot more information stood out to me that I didn't even notice before that helped fill in more blanks or weak areas. 

So what is the point of all of this?  My practice tests are looking better, but I most certainly cannot recommend any one product to do it all for you.   They are just not complete enough, I have found quite a few mistakes in the practice exams.  Everything from bad typo errors, to completely wrong use of terminology, and on occasion the answers are point blank wrong.  So make sure you have several sources of training materials and as many practice exams as you can get your hands on and keep hammering them and looking up the material until your passing them comfortably... Not just squeaking by, but comfortably passing them.  I don't believe it is good enough to just know the question and the answer, but take some time to look up the topics you don't have a good understanding of and dig into them a little and try to grasp some of the background.  I don't think anyone expects a person taking the Security + cert to be a security "expert", but it should lay a foundation for you to decide if you want to continue your studies on this path.

So get as many sources of material as you can.  Compare and take as many different practice exams and virtual exams as you can.  I do recommend getting access to video training courses as a huge way to fast start your training.  Especially if your trying to do this on your own and not pay to take a course.   Most of the materials that I have are not complete enough that I could just use them alone to get passing scores on the practice exams.... I have found that I have had to review the materials, and to do a lot of internet searches.  If your persistent and work at it you will do well.

I have to admit I have been impatient with this because I expected this training and cert to be done in a couple of weeks.  I don't think I was quite expecting to find so much information and so much to learn in a foundation course like this.  It has been a good learning experience and I am looking forward to getting this test completed.  I have more training lined up after this and there are just so many exciting topics to cover.

I do recommend CBT Nuggets.  I think they are a little spendy, but the coverage of the courses is quite broad and when you sign up you can take any course you want.  So you might start on Security + and decide you want to get into Wireshark, Kali Linux, and CEH training... It is all in there and tons more.  Your subscription gets you access to all of it.  So of the materials I have paid for the one that I most certainly recommend is the CBT Nuggets.  The other materials have been useful, but the jury is still out.  Once I take my cert exam and see how I do based on the practice materials that I have been working with then I will let you know how well I think these materials prepare you for the exam.  Right now given the gaps I see between the materials in the practice exams I am not sure of the coverage or quality of the exams and book.  So I will let you know after I take the test what my feelings are then. 

And for those of you who are "Security" junkies and like to listen to this stuff for entertainment I recommend the Security Now podcast, and you want watch it on YouTube also.  Great way to stay aware of what is going on. 

Well that is all for now... I have to get back to my Security Now podcast, and take a couple of practice exams today before I run off and take care of my yard and garden work.  I hope your having an awesome day...

Remember keep it patched, turn off those ports your not using... And smile... :-)

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