Security+ Exam Prep

I’m currently studying for the Security+ exam. Well, I’m done studying. I’m waiting to get my exam voucher from WGU now and go take the exam. Most of it is pretty straight forward stuff. If you have even a passing interest in infosec, most of it should be review. What I found most interesting while studying was disaster recovery and cryptography.

The DR was interesting just because I haven’t really given it a lot of thought before. I make onsite and offsite backups of my personal data and have read and (try to) live the Tao of Backup, but formal DR plans and procedures aren’t something I’ve done. I find it really interesting, especially from mindset of availability being one of a security officer’s responsibilities in conjunction with general IT staff.

My study also included some brush up on cryptography. I’ve always enjoyed learning about cryptography. I read Simon Singh’s “The Code Book” when I was younger and really enjoyed it (great book if you’re interested in learning about crypto and its impact on history). Even though math hasn’t always been my favorite subject, I always enjoyed reading about crypto and how it worked. Of course I knew about symmetric vs asymmetric cryptography and RSA/PGP, but I learned things like the differences between block and stream ciphers, how RC4 is used securely in SSL and insecurely in WEP, Twofish being beat by Rijndael for the AES standard, Blowfish was designed by Bruce Schneier (who I love), etc.

People on the Techexams forums have been singing the praises about Darril Gibson’s Security+ book. Though WGU provided adequate learning resources and only a dead tree edition is available, I decided to just go ahead and buy Darril’s book anyway. I wasn’t at all disappointed that I did, even if I bought it just before Amazon decided to drop the price from list price. 🙁 Hopefully a Kindle edition will be available soon. Last I heard from Darril in a blog post was sometime in the next 3 months. Anyway, you’ll find an excerpt from my review below.

I just finished reading Darril Gibson’s updated Security+ exam preparation guide “CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-301 Study Guide“. The book is well written and seems to throughly cover the exam objectives of the SY0-301 as posted by CompTIA. I haven’t sat for the exam yet, but feel completely confident I will pass due in part to this guide.

As with most exam prep guides, this book contains practice questions and exams. The one thing that sets this book apart from others is the inclusion of detail explanations as to the correct answer for each question. Sometimes you’re left wondering about the rationale behind a certain answer being correct or the “best” answer, but this book leaves no mystery with its detailed answer keys. This is one feature I’d definitely like to see in more exam prep books.

Nmap Network Scanning Review

Nmap Network Scanning by Fyodor
Title: The long winded title for this book is Nmap Network Scanning: The Official Nmap Project Guide to Network Discovery and Security Scanning, but I’ll just be calling it NNS.
Author: Gordon “Fyodor” Lyon
Rating: *****
Bottom Line: The definitive nmap book, for all your network scanning needs.

From the moment you start to read NNS, it is engaging and informative. The wealth of information contained in this book will have even hardcore nmap experts learning a thing or two about the preeminent network scanner. Of course, I expected nothing less from NNS because the author is nmap’s chief architect and programmer, Fyodor. Inside you’ll find his 11 years of network scanning experience distilled down into the ultimate nmap guide.

The material is presented in an engaging way, and wherever possible examples are given where the techniques described are applied in real world scenarios. The book is also littered with command line and output examples as well as diagrams. These items in addition to the text allow one to enjoy and learn from the book without having to sit in front of a command line and try every single command yourself. That said, it took me a bit of time to get through the book because I kept stopping to play with new options I’d learned. 🙂

From introductory network scanning (What’s a stealth SYN scan?), to scan optimization (Why is it taking so long?!), to advanced techniques (Learn how to write your own nmap plug ins!), NNS covers the gamut. Anyone who does even occasional network scanning with nmap (And you are scanning your network on a regular basis aren’t you?) owes it to themselves to pick this one up.