March 20, 2017

On the Training Train

One more week and the INE Security Boot Camp begins. I'm hoping that they tape that course so they can upload the videos and release version 5 workbooks and labs. The rack rentals are basically "fully booked" for the next two weeks. I'm guessing that this week is being used for building and next week is completely reserved for the boot camp. I have my fingers crossed on this one.

In the meantime, I've been checking and documenting my continuing education credits for the CISSP, C|EH and WCNA (Wireshark Cert). I am well above all the required credits and I'd like to give thanks and credit to INE for their help. I found that the C|EH now requires credits to be entered in their portal. So I had to catch up - but basically it was just documenting the training already listed in the other two certs' portals. The one wrinkle is that they expect you to upload certificates of completion for these courses. INE's portal (where I have done a massive amount of training) does not provide a certificate at completion. As you watch the course's videos, a progress bar is displayed on the course home page. For most of the classes, a screen capture of this was adequate. However, there were two classes that were rejected for credit that required a certificate. I wrote to INE and they very quickly verified my account, completion of the courses and provided certificates. The quick turnaround was helpful and I've always experienced great customer service from INE.

For future reference - the WCNA portal and the FedVTE portal both provide online downloadable certificates of completion for their courses. This may not help everyone - but might be useful to someone. The WCNA portal is only accessible to those who have passed the Wireshark Certification exam. The FedVTE portal has a bunch of free online cybersecurity training for government employees and veterans.

Note that a lot of the training is somewhat outdated. For example, the site will have the course for C|EH v8 and the current version of the exam is version 9. So don't think this is going to be a one-stop shop for getting any cybersecurity credentials. But the training is good (and cybersecurity principles don't change) and it's good to refresh the concepts. For veterans looking to get some training, it's a good first step. [Then get some study guides to focus on the specific current version of the exam.]

Logo and link below for any vets that are interested. If you have a .gov or .mil address, use that to sign up. If you don't have one of those (veterans), follow the instructions and the link on the page to get your veterans status verified by the "hire our heroes" site. It takes a bit of effort to go through the process, but once you get access you will have quite a bit of [FREE] training at your fingertips.

Posted by BlueWolf on March 20, 2017

January 30, 2017

A Swing - and a Miss

After yesterday's post - I sat and thought about it for a while. I had just gone through 90% of the blueprint and all I had left was one measly book to read. I had gone through a number of videos on the material - so just that one book. And it was only 10% of the exam. I really didn't want to waste all that effort. With just a little push...

So I scheduled the exam. I spent the entire day reading that book. Yes, 450 pages of technical material read in one sitting. I finished the book at 2:30 am. The exam was scheduled for the afternoon - so I was able to get some sleep. And then I got up and reviewed my notebook. I was as ready as I was ever going to be for this exam.

There were a lot of positive signs. I knew the material. I had gotten some sleep. I got to the testing center early.

I did not pass. Once again, it seems that I had studied for one version of the material and the actual test was very different. As I went down the blueprint, I sought out things that would make good questions. It wasn't that they didn't ask what I expected - they asked different TOPICS than I expected. It was very frustrating. But at least now I know that I did at least take a swing at it - even if I "wiffed." I think that's a lot better than wondering what would have happened "IF" I took the test. [woulda, coulda, shoulda]

I'm really just shaking my head at this and wondering how to tackle the dissonance between what I'm seeing in the blueprint and what I'm seeing on the exam. And that's only the beginning of it.

So now the current version of the CCIE Security Written is version 5.0. There is no Study Guide available for version 5. There are no videos to watch on version 5 topics. INE does have a "bootcamp" for version 5. The first class starts at the end of March and is sold out. The next class is at the end of July. It costs $5000. There are no version 5 racks to rent and no version 5 workbooks to work through.

This is worse than being between seasons of Game of Thrones!

So the best I can do is get my study site re-organized and start with the version 5 blueprint. All I can do is take those topics and research each one. I have to create my own Study Guide and create my own practice exercises - with whatever equipment may be available in the version 4.0 racks. Some things might be able to be practiced, some may not. I will do what I can - while I can. And when the materials finally do become available I will use them - but I can't wait on them.

There's one more other curious thing that happened today. All the signs for this were positive. Yet, the immediate outcome was not what I expected (based on those signs). The last time that happened, something _else_ came of it that was actually more positive than the original action. Guess this is something that I'm going to have to wait to see play out. Stay tuned.

Posted by BlueWolf on January 30, 2017

January 29, 2017

And it changes again

Sometimes this stuff really makes me want to scream. Of course, I have seen this before - but it really struck me today and there's not a lot I can do about it.

I studied for and took the CCIE Security Written 4.0 Exam in January of 2016. I did not pass - it seemed like I had studied for some previous incarnation of the exam. Okay. So I went back and started digging into as much "current" information as I could find. In July, Cisco changed over to the 4.1 version of the exam. Okay. So I printed out the blueprint and started studying the 4.1 material. I studied as hard and fast as I could. I really went deeply into the material. I read all the books. I watched all the videos. Then I blogged about it. This really drove the material home.

Today I finished section 7. Only one more section to go. Section 8 is the "Evolving Technologies" section.

Tomorrow is the last day to take the version 4.1 exam.

Ya know... this is why you can't find any current study material for any of these Security exams. It changes too fast and publishers just can't keep up. This is ridiculous.

So I'm not going to let this beat me. The name of this game is "I WIN." I'm going to finish the Version 4.1 blueprint and then use the 5.0 blueprint to create "Delta" posts.

INE has a post on the Version 5 blueprint. Looking at this, it looks like I don't have all that much of a delta to catch up to the new version. For example - the TrustSec with SGT and SXP is already something I have studied. I know that part. FirePOWER is another item that I shouldn't have a problem with - since it was in the Next-Generation Security Solutions book I already read. But there are a few items on that list that I don't recognize.

I have to admit - it's very discouraging. I'm not sure why I didn't notice this sooner. Even if I did, I don't think I could have gotten this material down any faster. On the good side - the blogging has helped to develop the habit of finding the material on Cisco's documentation. Now I have to continue to do more of that. And faster.

A chocolate bar and a good movie would do wonders right now.

Posted by BlueWolf on January 29, 2017

January 24, 2017

Section 5 is now done!

I've finally made it through Section 5 of the blueprint. Granted, I've already done the reading and watched the videos - and now I'm just reviewing and blogging about it. But, still it's an accomplishment. I have to admit that it is adding about an extra two months to my study time. However, I am reviewing each topic and becoming very confident about the material.

I've actually started reading the Evolving Technologies book. By the time I get to that section, I should be done with the book.

It is taking a lot of perseverance to continue blogging the blueprint. As I go through each topic, I'm looking at it and saying...hey, I know this. And I want to just finish up that last book and take the test. But there's not much more left (66% done) and I will have a really good, tangible demonstration of my efforts to look back on. And - it's also a way to keep my notes to review as I'm going through the lab material. Yes - all this and all it does is qualify me to sit for the lab. Hopefully the effort I'm putting "up front" in the written will pay off with a shorter lab effort.

Posted by BlueWolf on January 24, 2017

January 05, 2017

Section 3 done!

OMG. This is amazing. I actually just finished section 3 of the blueprint. [Despite the lure of a TZ marathon.] That means I've covered 38% of the blueprint already. I'm only blogging about this so I have an idea of how long this is taking. Section 3 went faster than Section 2, so there's not really a way to plan out a schedule and estimate an end time.

Some of the topics within the blueprint are more "meaty" than others. And some topics take up more discussion than others. But I am satisfied with the way things are going with this study method. And I'm very confident about the first three topics - and therefore about 38% of the test so far.

The next section covers "Threats, Vulnerability Analysis and Mitigation." It's about 10% of the exam - so out of all those 18 listed topics, only about 10 questions will be from that section. I'm looking forward to it because those are really topics from C|EH and CISSP study materials. It should not take that long to finish. The section after that may prove a little bit more lengthy. Section 5 is "Cisco Security Products, Features and Management" and covers about 18% of the exam. There are 15 sub-topics - each with their own sub-topics. That's probably going to take some time to tackle.

I've already gotten myself into the habit of writing on the topics. And I've overcome the inertia associated with starting any new project. Sections 5 and 6 are going to be the "heavy lift" of this process. Together they are worth 34% of the exam. But once that's done, it's a brief coast to the finish! Section 7 - "Security Policies, Procedures, Best Practices and Standards" - is only worth 8% of the exam. However, last time I took the exam, this was the section that I really knocked out of the park. Of course, it was a different version of the exam (4.0), but that section probably hasn't changed much - even if the questions about it change. And then the last section is about "Evolving Technologies." This is yet another section that's only 10% - and I think I have the ideal book to cover this material.

Yes, this is a lot of work. That is the other reason I'm blogging about it - so it's visible. Once you take the test and pass it, people no longer see the effort that went into it. I want to be able to have something to point to and have something visible - so they understand what it takes to get there. You can tell them it's a lot of hard work - but if you show them your work, it's a bit more comprehensible. And there's still so much to go...


Posted by BlueWolf on January 05, 2017