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Being a Firewall Engineer : An Operational Approach: A Comprehensive guide on firewall operations and best practices

Glad to announce the second edition of my book, Being a Firewall Engineer : An Operational Approach: A Comprehensive guide on firewall operations and best practices is now live on Amazon . The firewall technologies and the landscape is rapidly changing and therefore i needed to make multiple changes from the first edition.This is not a configuration guide and is suitable for beginners and junior engineers. The following topics are briefly covered in the second edition of this book. Various Job roles related to Firewalls. What makes you a firewall expert? Know the major firewall vendors and their models. Firewall ranking and benchmarks. Understand the packet flow or order of operation. Understand the different types of firewalls. Daily tasks of a firewall administrator Guidelines on firewall hardening and compliance. Understand Change Management process. Illustration on How to make a firewall change (incorporating Change management process) with a real world example.

Comparison between CEH Practical and eJPT

This month, i have done two certification exams. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Practical and eLearn Security Junior Penetration Tester (eJPT). These were not actually in my plan however when i received the free vouchers, i thought of giving the exams. 

So in this post, i am going to give a detailed comparison between the two certification exams. 

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Practical

I went for the CEH practical exam with an aversion, but i found it not bad. Mostly the basic topics are validated in the exams. However for really really beginners, they might find the practical exam as useful. Most of the guys attempting this exam might sign up for iclass/ilabs for their exam preparation. But in my opinion, that is not necessary. The best alternative exam prep option is to sign up for Tryhackme and then learn + practice. As i mentioned earlier, i got the free voucher and therefore i didn't go through the ilabs/iclass. In the exam, there are some questions based on cryptographic, stegnography tools and i found those as really unnecessary. At least they could have ask questions based on some open source tools like exiftool, stegoveritis but they went with some obscure tools.

Other topics such as sqlmap, password cracking, brute forcing, exploiting web vulnerabilities, traffic analysis were decent. The tools required for the exam is also included in the exam machine.

The exam duration is 6 hours. Since the exam environment is web browser based, you might experience some lag while accessing the servers. For example, if you type "ipconfig" and it may show "ipconfigggggggggg". There is no VPN required and the servers can be accessed using your web browser. Also, the exam is proctored. So you must have a good internet connectivity without any disruptions or else, the exam might get invalidated in the case of a break in the connection.

You can ask for a 15-minute break during the 6 hour exam. Also can use 2 white papers as scratch-pad. Exam is open book based. So you can access the internet or refer the notes. You can also access internet from the exam machines as well (some users mentioned that they couldn't, but the exam was recently updated, so). Note that you cannot copy commands from your host machine to the exam machines or vice-versa.

The exam is hands-on and has 20 questions that has to be answered based on your findings. 15 is the passing score. Once you have submitted the exam, you will get the result and the certificate immediately and can be viewed from your aspen portal. 

eLearn Security Junior Penetration Tester (eJPT)

This exam is more realistic and require more knowledge and practice than CEH practical exam prep. You need to go though almost all phases of the penetration testing. Since eJPT is an entry level exam, the machines are pretty easy to root however you need to find out how to exploit by doing the proper recon and enumerations. 

This exam duration is 72 hours, open book and in my opinion, that is an unnecessary luxury. The training for the course is completely free and you can access it using the INE starter pass. In my opinion, INE has done a great job with the course content and by making a decent certification with a great standard. The free course enough to pass the exam however, doing the easy boxes from Hackthebox and Tryhackme will help with the preparation. 

The exam is accessed over VPN which gives you the possibility of using your own favorite tools and commands, and is non-proctored. So if there is any disruption with the internet connection, you don't need to be worried. The exam is hands-on and has 20 multiple choice questions that has to be answered based on your findings. 15 is the passing score. 

In terms of difficulty and practicality, i would give my thumbs up for eJPT. CEH is more widely accepted as some requirement (like DoD) , might be because they were the one who came up with one of the first certifications on hacking domain. 

For beginners, If you have signed up for the iclass from Ec-Council, then probably you may plan for the CEH exams. But if money is a concern, i would encourage you to go for the eJPT. The course if free and exam experience is great but not as much popular as CEH, but hopefully that will change soon. I can see many posting their eJPT achievement on Linkedin/twitter. Both exam can boost your confidence and help to get a junior level job as well.

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