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Ramblings about the world of technology and certification.

Wireshark As a Tool to Introductory Networking

0 August 2, 2019 in Uncategorized by

Mike Meyers

President and co-founder of Total Seminars LLC

I’ve been using Wireshark, or it’s precursor Ethereal, since the late 90s. For those of you who don’t know this amazing tool, Wireshark is a free, well-known, powerful, open source protocol analyzer. Wireshark, along with its built-in capture tools, gives network support people an amazing set of tools to see almost anything you need on the packet/frame level of your networks.

Wireshark is truly one of those “mere moments to understand, a lifetime to truly conquer” type of tools because of the sheer amount of information it provides. You use a capture tool (Wireshark includes two different ones) to grab a bunch of packets, then see those captured frames in the primary interface. This three-part interface is simple: The top part contains your captured frames, each row represents an individual frame. The middle has expandable details of whatever frame you’ve selected from the top area. The bottom third displays the same selected frame in raw (hexadecimal) format.

Using all the features of Wireshark is wildly complex and powerful but I love to use this basic interface as a tool to expose brand-new networking students – and I mean DAY ONE learners – to several fundamental networking concepts. Let’s see what Wireshark does for me instructionally.

Note: I’m not saying that I sit down with students on day 1 in front of a Wireshark screen without anything else. I’m a huge believer in giving students motivation via lecture, toy blocks (just like the ones I use in videos), hats, and plenty of jokes to bind individual concepts. Wireshark comes in after plenty of concept instruction.


Total Seminars has resources to help you study for your CompTIA Certifications

Practice Tests: TotalTester has hundreds of questions in a pool that allows you to create custom exams by exam domain or by chapter. Take exams in Practice mode with assistance (hints and explanations) or in Final mode to see if you are ready for the real exams. Complete explanations for each question.

Lab Simulations: TotalSims for A+ and Network+ have hundreds of online labs. Prepare for CompTIA’s performance-based questions and learn more about technical concepts covered on the exams.

Discount Exam Vouchers: Purchase a CompTIA voucher and save on the cost of your exams.


OSI

I like teaching the OSI model as it gives learners an organization to separate network features, especially layers 1, 2, and 3. Wireshark makes this downright fun by pre-organizing each of these layers in the second field. Note in the following figure how layer 2 MAC addresses and Layer 3 IP addresses show up so clearly. The top line, “Frame 4498” is Wireshark’s method for keeping all the frames in order.

If you’re a brave instructor, go ahead and show the port numbers as well. I love to use the line “IP gets you to the right computer, but ports get you to the right application.” This is also a SCREAMING opportunity to pull out those toy blocks and start talking about Protocol Data Units (PDUs). I’ll go ahead and start defining Ethernet frames, IP packets, TCP datagrams, etc. – and why not? They are literally LOOKING AT PDUs as you speak so why not define them?

Did I mention this is DAY ONE instruction? Heck, this is the morning of Day One!

Packetized Data

At this point, you’ve got the learners eating out of your hands with PDUs. Let’s go ahead and make sure they understand the idea of packetized data and the need for a stream of packets to send one piece of data. My favorite lab is to have them run a capture of a HTTP page (not HTTPS!) and run the “Follow TCP stream” feature to see the raw output. Then close the stream and show them the filter Wireshark adds to filter out all the other frames.

Encrypted/Unencrypted Data

I spend hours of course time on encryption but now that you just showed them unencrypted data why not just grab a quick HTTPS page and make a helluva teaser for those later lessons? Don’t linger on this as it’s just a teaser.

Switch Functions

I know. I’m old. I still lecture on hub vs. bridge vs. switch. Learners often have a problem with the idea of switches without a demonstration. Just plug into a switch and run Wireshark. Let the student look at the destination and source IP addresses – it’s only unicast and broadcast (you might want to avoid multicast this early but I’m still on the fence about that).

This might even be chance to add a column for destination MAC address and a filter for MAC address = FF.FF.FF.FF.FF.FF. These are easy to do in Wireshark.

Protocols

OK, I don’t do this on day one, but with a good intro to Wireshark early in the course I can turn back to it over and over. I love to show protocols at work using Wireshark. One of my favorites is DHCP. Here’s a screen of a four-step DHCP process. Quiz: Why does DHCP take four steps? Couldn’t it work in just two or maybe three? I’ll answer this in a few days.

These are just some ideas that you’ll want to consider next time you’re teaching an introductory networking course. I think Wireshark is an amazing tool with a simple, intuitive interface that wonderfully reinforces so many fundamental networking concepts. Give it a try!

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9 Skills to Master for the New CompTIA A+ Exams

0 August 2, 2019 in Uncategorized by

Mike Meyers

President and co-founder of Total Seminars LLC and Udemy for Business instructor

What’s new in the CompTIA A+ exams and what skills will you and your IT team need to master? First launched in 1993, the CompTIA A+ certification is considered the foundation for IT careers. It’s ideal for system administrators and IT specialists of all levels since it casts such a wide net across IT topics and is vendor-neutral, unlike AWS or Microsoft Azure certifications.

As of July 31, 2019, the 220-901 and 220-902 exams for the A+ certification were officially retired for the English version of the exams. The translation versions (non English) will be retired October 1, 2019. Changes are made to these exams about every three years to align with the evolution of IT trends and services. The new A+ Core Series replaces the 901 and 902 exams. The A+ Core Series is made up of the Core 1: 220-1001 exam and the Core 2: 220-1002 exam, both of which must be passed to receive the A+ certification.

What is CompTIA?

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), a non-profit trade association for IT professionals, is best known for providing vendor-neutral training and certifications for the IT industry. The association counts 200+ IT vendors as members including AT&T, Intel, and Cisco; over 9,000 IT professionals, educators, and students in the US are CompTIA members.

The CompTIA A+ certification is an important credential for those in the IT industry and has seen major changes this year, which I’ll explore in detail here.

What’s new in the CompTIA A+ certification exam?

The new CompTIA A+ exam requires IT specialists to exhibit more knowledge on networking, cloud computing, and virtualization than previous exams. The prior emphasis on hardware and Windows software is now balanced with these additional focus areas:

  • IT security fundamentals, including physical security versus logical security, as well as topics like malware detection and removal
  • Configuration and support of IoT hardware and knowledge of related network protocols
  • Managing network and device connectivity
  • Scripting basics so that specialists can readily identify malicious code
  • Handling privacy concerns, especially around GDPR
  • Basic disaster prevention and recovery

Total Seminars has resources to help you study for your CompTIA Certifications

Practice Tests: TotalTester has hundreds of questions in a pool that allows you to create custom exams by exam domain or by chapter. Take exams in Practice mode with assistance (hints and explanations) or in Final mode to see if you are ready for the real exams. Complete explanations for each question.

Lab Simulations: TotalSims for A+ and Network+ have hundreds of online labs. Prepare for CompTIA’s performance-based questions and learn more about technical concepts covered on the exams.

Discount Exam Vouchers: Purchase a CompTIA voucher and save on the cost of your exams.

9 Skills to master for the CompTIA A+ 1001 and 1002 exams

The two CompTIA A+ exams cover high-level domains foundational for IT specialists. Those domains are then broken down into much more detailed subdomains. The exams themselves are a mix of multiple-choice and scenario-based questions plus performance-based questions to help visualize the real-world application of common technical issues. Each exam is comprised of 90 questions which must be completed in 90 minutes.

Here are the 9 skills areas to focus on as you prepare for the new CompTIA A+ exams, which I cover in detail in my courses for the CompTIA A+ 1001 exam and the 1002 exam.

1. Mobile devices

IT teams have to manage technology that is becoming increasingly mobile. You’ll need to know how to install and configure laptop hardware components and troubleshoot key features on most laptops. Mobile devices go well beyond laptops and exam takers will need to learn their characteristics as well as how to configure tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, e-readers, GPS devices, and even VR headsets.

2. Networking

The exam emphasizes the hardware side of networking with comparisons of the most common networking devices like switches, routers, and firewalls. You’ll also want to be familiar with wireless networking protocols and network configurations concepts.

3. Hardware

The 1001 exam’s hardware emphasis requires knowledge of installing and configuring CPUs, motherboards, RAM, and peripheral devices as well as familiarity with the cabling of these tools. For example, can you identify RJ45 cables and the various connectors needed to support an office-wide Ethernet setup?

4. Virtualization and cloud computing

While you’ll need to show knowledge of fundamental cloud computing concepts like common cloud models and virtual desktops, the exam will also provide scenarios for you to set up and configure client-side virtualizations.

5. Hardware and network troubleshooting

IT technicians are the front line for any sort of hardware and networking issues that occur in the workplace. By carefully learning best practices and troubleshooting for common problems, you’ll not only pass the 220-1001 exam, but you’ll also be a standout at work.

6. Operating systems

We now move on to the skills needed for the 220-1002 exam, which begins with learning the common operating systems including Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. You’ll need to know installation and upgrade methods, command line tools, and how to solve for common operating system questions you’ll face on the job.

7. Security

Learn to keep individual computers and office networks safe by employing host-based and network-based security measures such as encryption, website authentication, and malware removal. You’ll also want to know the basics of physical security to keep your company’s hardware secure.

8. Software troubleshooting

To measure your comprehension of the software and operating systems you’re likely to work closely with, the CompTIA A+ 1002 exam will provide common scenarios that you’ll troubleshoot such as slow computer performance, short battery life on a tablet, or printing issues.

9. Operational procedures

IT technicians will inevitably face tasks that require documentation. This is necessary for inventory management, tracking regulations and compliance, and toxic waste handling, among many other best practices that may affect an IT department. 

Why get A+ certified?

The IT industry is built on certifications. I’ve been in the industry for over 25 years and am still getting certifications. They serve as a reference point for your overall experience level. If the world of IT is built on certifications, the CompTIA A+ should be the first certification pursued in an IT career. In fact, the A+ certification is named among CIO.com’s top 10 certifications to kickstart an IT career.

For individual IT professionals, a certification like the A+ will get you in the door to a company. Certification names are often used as the keywords recruiters and hiring software screen for in open roles. Even when candidates are hired without an A+ certification on their resume, I often see employers insist the new employee take the CompTIA A+ exam within the first 6 months on the job since it’s such a well-known part of an IT specialist’s toolkit.

For IT managers, ensuring your team receives industry-standard certifications validates the team’s knowledge of essential skills required for most IT tasks within the company or with any IT work that may affect customers and clients.

Finally, there are quite a bit of new topics covered in the A+ Core Series exams, so be sure to take the time to study and adequately prepare yourself before sitting for the exam. As topics like cybersecurity, networking, and the internet of things become ubiquitous across organizations of all sizes, it’s important for IT pros to keep their professional skills razor-sharp with the concepts and best practices outlined in certifications like the CompTIA A+. Future-proof your career and team by keeping your certifications current.




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Testing Strategies for CompTIA Exams

0 April 15, 2019 in Uncategorized by

CompTIA includes performance-based questions on their exams to make them more practical and keep up with trends in certification testing. Knowing what to expect and how to approach the new question types is key to your success in passing the exams. First, let me fill you in on some facts about the exams.

Exam facts:

There are several different types of questions that may be included in your CompTIA exam:

  • Multiple choice – the standard question, pick the right answer
  • Multiple response – question, pick all that apply with more than one correct answer
  • Fill in the blank – question, fill in the answer to the question
  • Drag and drop – image or question where you drag answers to match the image or text
  • Exhibits – answer questions relating to an attached picture or diagram (variation to Multiple choice)
  • Performance-based – detailed question, open dialog boxes or other configuration windows and configure as needed.

CompTIA is adding more of the newer Drag and drop and Performance-based questions to their exam pool. You may get as few as 2-3 or as many as 10-12 of these newer type questions depending on which exam you are taking. The more of these new type questions you get the fewer of the traditional multiple choice, multiple response or exhibit type questions you will have, depending on the difficulty of the performance-based questions you get.

How new question types are graded:

Two important pieces of information about the new drag and drop and performance-based questions that you need to know:

  1. Partial Credit; Scoring credit may be offered if a candidate answers only part of a question correctly.
  2. No Negative Credit; CompTIA does not employ negative scoring on exam questions. In other words, scoring credit is not taken away for incorrect answers. A candidate should answer every exam question, even on the ones where they are not sure of the answer.

Testing Strategies:

The new question types like drag and drop and performance-based questions will be presented at the beginning of the exams. These questions can be more complex and take longer to answer than traditional multiple choice questions. DON’T GET BOGGED DOWN WITH THE PERFORMANCE-BASED QUESTIONS. You can skip questions and come back and answer them at the end. Here are some strategies to use when taking the exams:

  1. Skip the Performance-based questions and come back at the end to answer them so you don’t get bogged down and run out of time.
  2. Count the performance-based questions as you skip them so you know how many you have to do when you come back to them at the end.
  3. Read over all the performance-based questions and answer the ones you are most comfortable with first. Leave the ones you are less confident about until last.
  4. If you are not sure about some of the steps in the performance-based or drag and drop questions, give it your best guess. You may receive partial credit. Since CompTIA does not employ negative scoring a wrong answer does not hurt you any more than an unanswered question. Make your best guess, it can’t hurt you.

CompTIA provides information that may be helpful in preparing for the exams at the following links:

Save on your CompTIA exams by purchasing Discount Vouchers from our web site.

Total Seminars’ TotalSims and TotalTester products will help you prepare for your CompTIA exams and make sure you are ready to pass. TotalSims help you prepare for the performance-based questions and let you do hands-on exercises to reinforce the concepts you learn while studying for the exams. Total Tester provides hundreds (A+ and Net+ have over 1000) of questions to create practice exams. You can create custom exams that focus only on objectives or chapter content you are having trouble with.

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IT Career Path <-> Certification Path Map

0 March 20, 2019 in Certifications by

An IT Career is all about validating your skills, staying current and always learning more. No matter what IT Career you choose you need to continue to add certifications to your resume. Check out my blog: More Certifications = More $$.

The biggest question is where to begin? Start by deciding What IT Career is right for you. The next question is What Certifications Do I Need to succeed in the Career Path I have chosen? Below is a detailed Certification MAP that lays out a series of certifications you should consider as you build your skills towards each specific IT Career Path.


Click for a more details about the Certification Map from CompTIA.

Make sure you are ready to pass the CompTIA exams with the:

A+ Total Sims and  Total Tester bundle or the Network+ Total Sims and Total Tester bundle .

Total Tester; is an interactive practice test software with over 1000 practice test questions. You can create custom exams by chapter in Mike’s book or by exam objective. TotalSims; prepare for CompTIA’s performance-based questions and learn more about technical concepts covered on the exams.

You can also save on the cost of the exams with CompTIA Discount Vouchers.

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CompTIA A+ Certification: NEW Exam Launch

0 February 5, 2019 in Uncategorized by

CompTIA launched a new version of the CompTIA A+ Exams in January 2019. You still have until July 31st, 2019 to take the 901/902 exams. I recommend you take the 90x series while you can. No one ever asks which exam version you took. Either series makes you A+ Certified and current for 3 years from the date you take the exams.  After 3 years you must earn Continuing Education credits, pass new A+ Exams or a higher-level CompTIA exam such as Network+ or Security+.

The new exams are called:

CompTIA A+ Core 1 (220-1001)

CompTIA A+ Core 2 (220-1002)

The Current 220-901 and 220-902 exams will continue to be offered until July 31, 2019.

Either set of exams will qualify you as a CompTIA A+ Certified Tech. You must take two exams from the same series. You can’t take 901 and 1002 for example.

The new CompTIA A+ Core Series covers expanded content on growing parts of the IT support role including an expansion of baseline security topics and a different approach to defining competency in operational procedures.

Exam Details

Exam Codes CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902
(Academy customers use the same codes)
CompTIA A+ 220-1001 (Core 1) and

220-1002 (Core 2)

Launch Date December 15, 2015 January 15, 2019
Exam Description  

CompTIA A+ 220-901 covers

PC hardware and peripherals,

mobile device hardware,

networking and troubleshooting hardware

network connectivity issues.




CompTIA A+ 220-902 covers

Operating systems Windows, iOS, Android, Apple OS X and Linux.

Security,

Cloud computing

Operational procedures.

 

CompTIA A+ 220-1001 covers

mobile devices, 14%

networking 20%

hardware, 27%

virtualization and cloud computing 12%

Hardware & network troubleshooting 27%



CompTIA A+ 220-1002 covers

Operating systems, 27%

Security, 24%

Software troubleshooting 26%

Operational procedures 23%

Number of Questions  

Maximum of 90 questions per exam

 

 

Maximum of 90 questions per exam

 

Type of Questions  

Multiple choice questions (single and multiple response), drag and drops and performance-based

 

 

Multiple choice questions (single and multiple response), drag and drops and performance-based

 

Length of Test  

90 Minutes per exam

 

 

90 Minutes per exam

 

Passing Score  

220-901: 675 (on a scale of 100-900)
220-902: 700 (on a scale of 100-900)

 

 

220-​1001: 675 (on a scale of 100-900)
220-1002: 700 (on a scale of 100-900)

 

Recommended Experience  

9 to 12 months hands-on experience in the lab or field

 

 

9 to 12 months hands-on experience in the lab or field

 

Languages  

English, German, Japanese, Portuguese, French, Spanish (Modern), Simplified Chinese and Thai

 

 

English at launch​. German, Japanese, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese and Spanish in 2019

 

Retirement English will retire July 31, 2019

Other languages are TBD

TBD – Usually three years after launch
Price $219 USD

SAVE with Total Seminars Discount Vouchers.

$219 USD

SAVE with Total Seminars Discount Vouchers.


Training:

Total Seminars has video courses, lab simulations and practice tests to prepare you for the CompTIA A+ Exams. Save with our A+ Tester + Simulation Bundle


Total Tester; is an interactive practice test software with over 800 practice test questions. You can create custom exams by chapter in Mike’s book or by exam objective.

TotalSims; prepares you for CompTIA’s performance-based questions and reinforces the technical concepts you learn in Mike’s books and videos. A+ TotalSims has over 200 lab simulations.

 

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Save on CompTIA Exams with Discount Vouchers

0 November 2, 2018 in Uncategorized by

You can save on the cost of your CompTIA exams by purchasing Discount Vouchers from our web site.

Here’s how it works: CompTIA member companies like Total Seminars are able to purchase vouchers for the CompTIA exams and resell them to our students at a discount to the full price you would pay when you register with VUE or buy at the CompTIA web store.

Before you register for your CompTIA exam, go to Total Seminars web site and purchase a Discount Voucher. Your order will be processed and you will receive an email with your voucher number.

When you register for your CompTIA exam online at the VUE web site, you have an option to pay by credit card or by voucher. Select “voucher” and type in the voucher number you received by email when you purchased the Discount Vouchers from Total Seminars.

Example: you can save over $38* on the cost of the two CompTIA A+ Exams.

When you purchase a discount voucher it is good for up to 11 months (the exact date the voucher expires is included in your email). You must register for your exam online with VUE before the date the discount voucher expires.

NOTE; The vouchers sold on Total Seminars web site are only good in the US and Canada. Sorry we don’t have international vouchers.

Total Seminars’ TotalSims and TotalTester products will help you prepare for your CompTIA exams and make sure you are ready to pass. TotalSims help you prepare for the performance-based questions and let you do hands-on exercises to reinforce the concepts you learn while studying for the exams. Total Tester provides hundreds (A+ and Net+ have over 1000) of questions to create practice exams. You can create custom exams that focus only on objectives or chapter content you are having trouble with.

* prices change from time to time, at the time of this blog the savings sighted in the example were available on the Total Seminars web site when purchasing the “Two VUE A+ Certification Vouchers” bundle.

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CompTIA Raises Exam Prices – Buy vouchers before we raise our prices.

0 October 4, 2018 in Uncategorized by

Effective October 1, 2018 CompTIA is raising prices on all their exams. Total Seminars sells Discount Vouchers and we are holding our voucher prices as long as supplies last. Here’s a summary of the retail pricing:

Exam                     Old Retail Price       New Retail Price       TS Discount Voucher (while they last)

A+ (each)                             $211                          $219                          $194.99

Network+                            $302                           $319                          $282.99

Security+                             $330                           $339                          $309.99

CySA+                                  $346                           $349                          $314.00


Here’s how it works: CompTIA member companies like Total Seminars are able to purchase vouchers for the CompTIA exams and resell them to students at a discount to the full price you would pay when you register with VUE or buy at the CompTIA web store.

Before you register for your CompTIA exam, go to Total Seminars web site and purchase a Discount Voucher. Your order will be processed, and you will receive an email with your voucher number.

When you register for your CompTIA exam online at the VUE web site, you have an option to pay by credit card or by voucher.  Select “voucher” and type in the voucher number you received by email when you purchased the Discount Vouchers from Total Seminars.

Example: While supplies last you can save over $48 on the cost of the two CompTIA A+ Exams.

When you purchase a discount voucher it is good for up to 11 months (the exact date the voucher expires is included in your email). You must register for your exam online with VUE before the date the discount voucher expires.

Act now before we have to raise our prices!

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You’ve Earned an IT Certification — Now What?

0 December 14, 2017 in Uncategorized by

You studied hard, left sweat on the testing center mouse and BAM you passed your certification exam. You are officially certified as an IT pro now what? Beyond the social high-fives, like telling your friends, there are some strategic moves you can make to get the most traction from your new technology certification. Here are four ways to take immediate action.


1. Tell Everybody Online and in Real Life

Update the certifications section of your LinkedIn profile and plug your new credential into the education and certification sections of Indeed and Monster. Spell out acronyms like the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) certification and include the abbreviation in parenthesis.

There are a lot of searches being done out there that aren’t going to be looking for a specific person, but a specific set of skills. Recruiters have a better chance to find you if your certifications are on your profile and your profile is up to date.

CompTIA alumni use the hashtag #CompTIACertified to announce the news and connect with hiring managers. If you’ve already got a job, tell your boss about your new cert. Print it out and hang in on the wall. Advanced skills could lead to more money and power.


2. Search for Jobs Asking for Your Specific Certification

A certification shows your commitment to technology and builds instant confidence in people looking to hire. By earning a certification, you’ve ticked the right box for some people. If you’ve earned your CompTIA A+ and find an ad reading Education: A+ preferred, you’re ahead of the curve go find out who wants your skills.

Search Twitter for the name of your certification or try #CompTIACertified to find posts related to IT job openings. Scroll IT job boards for your cert and start looking for patterns. What kinds of jobs require the IT certification you have?

Work with recruiters, find hiring managers and talent scouts online, and use tools for the IT job hunt to start navigating the landscape.

Even if it’s not the position you think you’re qualified for, it’s worth linking up with those posting firms. Look for what they post next. It’ll probably also be something you’re interested in.


3. Meet Up with IT Pros and Recruiters

Use the momentum of your new certification to contact recruiters directly, and open with the news that you’re now IT pro certified.

Maybe when the next opportunity comes up, they reach out to you directly instead of posting the job, or suddenly you’re on the short list of people who are competent and who they’d like to trot out for a job. Even if you don’t get a position through that recruiter, you can go back to them and say, Hey, we talked a while ago, and now I’ve been doing this for six months and I have all these skills.

You can also meet up with other IT pros in your area, certified in the same skills. Try online groups or IT professional groups like the CompTIA Association of IT Professionals (AITP), with chapters all over the country. You can also find online gatherings for IT certifications, like the CompTIA Certified Professionals LinkedIn group.

Make relationships. Relationships are how things move forward.


4. Mark Your Calendar

Circle the date you passed the exam on your calendar to celebrate your success, and then flip three years into the future, when the exam recertification time comes around. Set a calendar reminder for that far-off date so you won’t be caught off-guard and can give yourself plenty of time to refresh and renew your certification.

Continue learning. Start studying for the next higher certification. This will keep you current on technology, improve your resume and keep your current certifications up to date.


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The CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway

0 October 18, 2017 in Uncategorized by


IT Fundamentals > A+ > Network+ > Security+ > CySA+ or PenTest+ > CASP

With the increase in cyberattacks and the number of new connected devices, the need for skilled cybersecurity professionals is growing at a rapid pace. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of information security jobs will increase 18 percent from 2014 to 2024, making it one of the fastest-growing fields. Employers, from government to Fortune 500 companies, value CompTIA as an authority in cybersecurity certifications.

How to Get into Cybersecurity

The CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway helps IT pros achieve cybersecurity mastery, from beginning to end. The centerpiece is the CompTIA Security+ certification. It establishes the core knowledge required of any cybersecurity role and provides a springboard to intermediate-level cybersecurity jobs.

CompTIA just released a new updated CompTIA Security+ (exam code SY0-501). The new version continues to validate the foundational skills necessary to perform core cybersecurity functions. With performance-based questions, it emphasizes the hands-on practical skills used by junior IT auditor/penetration testers, systems administrators, network administrators and security administrators.

After earning CompTIA Security+, cybersecurity professionals can take the next step by pursuing CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+). It assesses the skills needed to apply behavioral analytics to networks to improve the overall state of IT security. The certification covers tools such as packet sniffers, intrusion detection systems (IDS) and security information and event management (SIEM) systems. After the seminal Target attack of 2014, the security analyst job role has gained more importance, making these skills essential for most organizations.

The progression from CompTIA Security+ to CompTIA CySA+ is logical because Security+ assesses the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) an IT professional demonstrates after two years of cybersecurity field work, and CSA+ assesses three to four years of cybersecurity field work.

An alternative or additional certification is the newly released PenTest+ PT0-001 exam. It assesses the skills needed to do Cybersecurity Penetration testing. Show you can Hack systems and propose fixes to close the door.

After CompTIA CySA+, IT pros can pursue CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) to prove their mastery of cybersecurity skills required at the 5- to 10-year experience level. CASP is the pinnacle of cybersecurity certifications and includes performance-based questions. It is intended for those who wish to remain immersed in hands-on enterprise security, incident response and architecture, for example, as opposed to management of cybersecurity policy and frameworks.

The Building Blocks of Cybersecurity

But how do you get into cybersecurity with no experience? If you aren’t quite ready to start with CompTIA Security+, then you’ll need to start earlier on the pathway.

If you are new to IT, start with CompTIA IT Fundamentals. It provides a broad understanding of the IT profession. It helps answer the question, Would I enjoy a career in IT?

If you already know that IT is right for you, begin with CompTIA A+. It validates understanding of the most common hardware devices and software technologies in business and certifies the skills necessary to support complex IT infrastructures. Consider the large number of devices connected to networks that must be supported by IT help desks, including smart phones, internet of things (IoT) devices and laptops.

That fact makes CompTIA Network+ the next logical step. It validates the essential knowledge and skills needed to design, configure, manage and troubleshoot wired and wireless networks. To best support devices that exchange information on your network, you must understand how the network functions.

The progression is logical because CompTIA A+ assesses the KSAs that an IT professional demonstrates after six months of field work, and CompTIA Network+ assesses nine months of field work.

CompTIA Network+ is also an important recommended prerequisite to CompTIA Security+. Before you can secure a network, you must understand how it functions. In other words, you shouldn’t skip algebra to start with calculus. Otherwise, you are learning security skills and applying them to a network you don’t understand.

Total Seminars has video courses, lab simulations and practice tests to prepare you for each of the Cyber Security Pathway certifications. Click here to get CompTIA Discount Exam Vouchers.

Now that we’ve covered the certifications in the cybersecurity pathway, let’s explore some of the common questions surrounding it.

Questions About the CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway

Where should I start on the CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway?

The pathway is intended to help people get into the field of cybersecurity. IT pros can enter at any point, depending on their IT experience, existing certifications or course of study. There are no required prerequisites for these CompTIA certifications. For example, if you have two years of IT security experience or equivalent knowledge, you can jump into the pathway at CompTIA Security+ to prove your knowledge. If you already have CompTIA Security+, you can jump in at CompTIA CSA+, etc. See the CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway graphic to find your place on the pathway.

Do I need to take these certifications in order? Do I need to take all of them?

No. This is a recommended pathway, but it’s not a requirement. Some people may skip CompTIA CSA+ and go directly to CASP if they aren’t looking for IT security analyst skills. It depends on your job needs or interests. Some people will take CompTIA Network+ before CompTIA A+ because thats the way their class schedule worked out. In general, the pathway follows a hierarchy of skills needed for IT security; each certification builds upon the skills from the previous one.

Can I take these exams with no IT or cybersecurity experience?

Yes, you can. Many academic institutions base their IT courses on CompTIA certifications, which are part of diplomas, associate, bachelors and even masters degrees. CompTIA certifications mirror the current job roles of IT professionals, so it makes sense to earn these certifications to gain the knowledge and hands-on skills currently being used in the workforce, whether you have job experience or not.

Do these certifications replace on-the-job experience?

If you are an IT professional or an employer, you understand the value of on-the-job experience. IT certifications are a great place to start, but they do not replace hands-on experience. If you have CompTIA certifications and on-the-job experience, you have the best of both worlds. In summary, the recommended CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway offers guidance for IT pros, employers, instructors and students. You can start wherever it makes sense, depending on your personal background, job requirements or course of study. The pathway is unique because it offers vendor-neutral skills for IT professionals to achieve cybersecurity mastery, from beginning to end.

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CompTIA Raises Exam Prices – Buy at last year’s prices while supplies last.

0 January 3, 2017 in Uncategorized by

Effective January 1, 2017 CompTIA is raising the price for all their exams. A quick summary of the old and new full retail prices:

Exam               Old Price         New Price

A+ (each)         $199.00           $205.00

Network+         $285.00           $294.00

Security+          $311.00          $320.00

Total Seminars (www.totalsem.com) sells discount vouchers (priced below the CompTIA web store retail prices) for these CompTIA exams. We are holding last year’s prices until our inventory runs out. Purchase yours now while supplies last.

If you plan on taking your exams this year be sure and purchase your vouchers now before we have to raise our discount voucher prices to reflect the higher CompTIA prices!

Act now before we have to raise our prices!

Here’s how it works: CompTIA member companies like Total Seminars are able to purchase vouchers for the CompTIA exams and resell them to students at a discount to the full retail price you would pay when you register with VUE or buy at the CompTIA web store.

Before you register for your CompTIA exam, go to Total Seminars web site and purchase a Discount Voucher. Your order will be processed and you will receive an email with your voucher number.

When you register for your CompTIA exam online at the VUE web site, you have an option to pay by credit card or by voucher. Select “voucher” and type in the voucher number you received by email when you purchased the Discount Vouchers from Total Seminars.

When you purchase a discount voucher it is good for up to 11 months (the exact date the voucher expires is included in your email). You must register for your exam online with VUE before the date the discount voucher expires.

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