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I'm currently studying for the Comptia Security+ exam

In few months from now, I will have the opportunity to attend a 4 months preparation course for CEH without paying! But I will not try to get the CEH exam because of the price of the voucher a little too high for my pocket.

I read that CEH and Pentest+ are similar certifications, but I did not find much that dug deep on program differences.

Can any of you that have tried both or know someone that has, tell me if the study of the CEH program could put me in a position to face the (cheaper) Comptia Pentest+ exam instead?

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    CEH is... kind of a joke, to be honest. Just want to put that out there. – forest Jan 10 at 23:16
  • @forest My Information Security manager suggested I begin with the CEH as I'm preparing for a penetration testing role, but the negatives far outweigh the positives based on what I've read. Is there a certification/path you recommend for this area? – pancake-house Jan 10 at 23:48
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    @pancake-house OSCP is much better. If you're stuck with a company that demands CEH, you may be stuck with it, but don't treat it like it's serious. When it wants you to say that netcat is the name of a trojan horse, just bite your tongue and agree with it even though you know that's BS. – forest Jan 10 at 23:53
  • @forest I appreciate the input. My job does not require the CEH. I plan on following the Cyber Mentor's advice of learning about IT and system administration (A+), networking (Network+), Linux and PowerShell, and programming (Python) to establish a strong foundation, then move into hacking modules, and finally enroll in OSCP training (tcm-sec.com/so-you-want-to-be-a-hacker-2021-edition). – pancake-house Jan 11 at 0:05
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I have a CEH certification and attended the official training for it. The course material is sub-par in my opinion.

Video Material

The CEH training has quite a lot of video material, which you can consider to be akin to a lecture over the topic. Positive about the video material was that it was spoken in consistent English with an understandable accent, so it should be easy to follow for non-native speakers. My only gripes with the video material is that the instructor seems to repeatedly try to "impress" the viewer with "cool hacker things", while not going into enough technical details to be useful.

Slides

The slides during the video and available separately are unimpressive at best and absolutely horrible at worst. There are slides, which I have shown to penetration testers with years and years of experience, and all I got from them was looks of confusion.

One slide in particular seemed to have been a conflation of two completely different attacks, which was completely non-sensical. Even the instructor was very confused by the slide and just handwaved it away (akin to "So yeah...and as you can see, then the attack succeeds")

For most of the slides, you already needed to have an understanding of the concept in question for the slide to make sense. And if knowing what Cross-Site Request Forgery is and how it works is a prerequisite to understanding a slide aimed to teach what Cross-Site Request Forgery is and how it works - then that slide is not very good.

The practice questions

EC Council offers a 50 question "CEH assessment", which you can find here. I went through a handful of questions, but I had to stop halfway through because I didn't want to subject myself to it any longer.

A some of questions involve "name dropping", such as talking about Spectre and Meltdown, which insinuate that CEH would go into details about these vulnerabilities, how they came to be and how they can be exploited - however, CEH is an entry level exam and not technical by any means. These questions are irrelevant at best and deceptive at worst.

Furthermore, EC Council loves to provide questions where none of the answers are correct, and you are supposed to find the least wrong answer. An example:

In the Permanent Denial-of-service, the attacker will uses the ‘Bricking a system’ method, in order to ________

  1. Send fraudulent hardware updates to the victims
  2. Launch a massive denial of service attacks and compromise websites
  3. Exploit weaknesses in programming source code
  4. Send malicious email attached to the victim

The correct answer is "3. Exploit a weakness in the programming source code". So the question claims that an attacker will permanently destroy a device, in order to exploit it. This makes no sense whatsoever. A lot of the questions are like this, and it's infuriating.

When the questions aren't nonsensical, they're questions about specific flags in specific programs, like "Which flag do you need to pass to hping3 to send an ICMP packet?" - you know, the stuff you look up in 10 seconds in a man page. While tangentially related to "ethical hacking", it doesn't check whether or not the student understood anything, but only asks if they are able to remember meaningless details.

The Exam

The exam is a multiple choice exam with 125 questions. It's advertised as lasting 4 hours, but I took my time and finished in 45 minutes and still passed easily. I'd say 1-2 hours is more realistic.

The exam question were more of the same really, but the amount of nonsensical questions was greatly reduced. There was one question which was completely unrelated to ethical hacking, and I assume that question was supposed to go to a different exam altogether.

The Summary

Should you do the CEH? I would say, if you work for a company that has too much money to burn and requires you to have some certification, then go for the CEH. If you're a pentester, then the test should be a breeze for you. The only questions you need to study for are the "which flag do you use to..."-questions.

In any other case, don't go for it. Do the OSCP or Pentest+ instead.

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Content-wise they appear fairly similar. From reading the syllabus and watching some videos I got the impression that CEH pays more attention to specific tools, while Pentest+ gives more space to the general methodology and process.

The CompTIA Pentest+ is a fairly new exam that started in summer 2018, therefore the CEH is much better known by potential employers. This might level out over the years, but I guess it takes some years until Pentest+ reaches the level of publicity the CEH has.

In my opinion, it makes no sense to have both CEH and Pentest+, the content overlap is too huge for the price tag, especially for a basic certification. Either full on ECCouncil route all the way up to LPT, including all the Practical versions, or Pentest+ as basics and then Offensive Security. (or, if not discouraged by steep price tags, SANS/GIAC)

Personally, I went with a udemy course for each CEH and Pentest+, then took the Pentest+ exam. My decision was based mainly on price. Comptia also had an edge as I had the Security+ from them already.

Afterwards, I went on to OSCP.

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