For an upcoming contract I'm required to have the CEH certification (even though there won't be much PenTesting) so I'm working through that now. I've gone through all of the reccomended EC Council books but they seem light on the details of specific vulnerabilities and enumeration methods and are more a description of the tools (many of which are outdated).

Resources I've found: mindcert.com mindmaps interesting, the EC Council books to be useless, ethicalhacker.net is always good.

I'm wondering two things:

1.) How does this exam stack up to others I've completed such as:

  • Security+
  • CWSP
  • CCIE (written)

2.) What resources did you find valuable studying for the CEH and what was your feeling about the exam?

  • Does CEH certification better then offensive-security.com courses?
    – Ben
    Mar 6, 2011 at 12:18
  • I'm going through the CEH course now and I'm finding it totally weak. It feels like script kiddy 101. I will still pursue it though. A lot of job postings are asking for this.
    – sybind
    Jul 3, 2013 at 5:59
  • CEH is a pile of crap if you plan on being technical. CEH is what a manager with no experience in security needs to go through to understand what risks could possible be out there. The content is out of date as well
    – McMatty
    Dec 6, 2018 at 20:02

2 Answers 2


CEH as a requirement would suggest that the business area does not totally get what it is they are needing. This exam does nothing to confirm that the person holding the certification can effectively or safely deliver a test.

CEH is based on being able to retain a huge amount of detail that is not directly valuable in the real world. Examples would be around being shown a snort command with flags and being asked to remember what each flag does. Personally I find using the man snort or snort -? works just as well.

The exam was focused on tools and flags for tools - so if your aim is to understand how 200+ tools can be used rather than the best of breed then go for it. Again, 20 different ways to port scan a system rather than understanding how best to use AMAP and NMAP was a frustration, and the section on the use and deployment of real world 'Trojans and Viruses' was a worry as I would not expect a tester to be running around on an internal live network with real Trojans and Viruses!!!

In terms of comparison to CISSP and Security+ - both are focused on information retention and knowing the exam answer rather than the real world way of doing it and I would say to an extent that CEH is the same.

As an alternative and potentially more benefit to you in terms of wider progression, could be gaining the OSSTMM Professional Security Tester OPST which tests your ability to complete a number of real world exercises using the tool of your choice. The exam paper is also marked by a real person and graded rather than a multiple choice computer scored approach or the Global Information Assurance Certification GIAC route. This is a SANS based approach where you can complete training courses run by SANS or have the knowledge required and then complete the relevant GIAC exam. For Penetration testing the relevant course would be the GPEN Certification. I have not personally completed the GPEN but do hold the Certified Intrusion Analyst GCIA award and found the mix of knowledge and application to be of real value.

  • Thanks for the reply and overview. As the division chief I don't get involved enough in the actual testing, and instead spend a lot of time involved in R&D, prototyping, etc. The upcoming contract requires the PM/Chief Systems Engineer (infosec contract) to have the CEH, CISSP and CISA. I'll look into whether or not they are willing to accept the OPST or GIAC in-place, but until I get that endorsement I'll get through this exam.
    – iivel
    Feb 11, 2011 at 1:44
  • @iivel Additionally, their own website was defaced not so long ago - which is pretty weak-sauce: theverge.com/2014/2/24/5441386/… . Some infosec guys also went and investigated their background and came up with it being started in Malaysia by a marketing guy with a thin attempt to give it some chops, rented an office with a desk and a phone in NYC. As mentioned above, OSCP is the one to have (no affiliation with muts and all at offensive-security.com).
    – user53693
    Dec 6, 2018 at 11:58

I have both the Sec+ and the CEH(school related).

The Sec+ was a decent intro to some of the general ideas. Cannot be considered to certify any real level of ability.

The CEH is more like script kiddie training and basic tool use. They cover some methodology stuff a bit in the material. You won't get anywhere near uncovering 0day or reversing 1day with it. Of course this could be to goad you into taking the LPT training that EC-Council offers. More functional certifications might be the ones from Offensive Security, but I don't know that they have industry support.

The CWSP...no comment. I find little use for it. On the other hand, I have very little need to do really high complexity implementations where I am located.

CISSP is probably more employable for ISO compliance or whatever. Definitely a management cert though not a skills cert.

Industry folks seem to like GIAC. Reputation of being skills based.

Cisco security related progression deals less with enterprise wide security and more with how to deploy Cisco products.

Just my 2 cents on the security certification arena.

As to the best study resources, the Sybex book was okay. I had access to some stuff from Cengage and the books were horrific(they didn't even have the domain name registrars on the right continents). They did have additional topic areas and some more depth in certain areas. Some of the CBT stuff is okay. The Hacking Unleashed course for example was fairly reasonable despite the flash stuff was a little buggy under linux, but it served as a decent introduction. I looked more at the open framework stuff and applied common sense to scenarios.

An added note: I passed the CCIE(written) and it was one of the most grueling written examinations I have ever attempted. Not specifically counting the difference in stress from the SANS certifications showing you the score as you go.

  • Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like you've gone through either the WGU or Capella MSISA programs? I was worried that the CEH was a test of exlpoit tools rather than in-depth knowledge. I'm the Chief Engineer for my division and spend a lot of time researching exploits, but certainly don't play with tools enough ... I guess it's time to practice. I do have access to skillsoft, books 24x7, onlineexpert (the hacking unleashed stuff), and some other resources ... but it all seems fairly simplistic. Does the CEH not cover tremendous depth or breadth?
    – iivel
    Feb 11, 2011 at 1:41
  • I couldn't comment on the exact breadth or depth of the test, but the learning material got me a pass (probably adequate). I think you are probably looking at the right study material. On the other hand, I have enjoyed looking at this type of thing recreationally for some time. I might have already known some of it. I was doing Cisco and Sec+ from a community college. I did the MS certs for a job requirement. And yes, WGU. The CIW stuff is a joke. Feb 11, 2011 at 4:37
  • If you want to get into researching exploits etc check securitytube. They often have some interesting videos. The other point worth noting is that CEH is nothing like exploit research, it's just a resume line item. Feb 11, 2011 at 6:23

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