CCNA CyberOps Experience

The ‘Cisco Certified Network Associate – Cybersecurity Operations’ program has been quite of a ride! Coming from a software development background, it wasn’t really my interest getting into computer networks but hey, Cisco offered the training and certification FREE of charges for qualified people! How cool is that? So, yes! I tried applying for the scholarship and blessed to be accepted!

What is it?

CCNA CyberOps is the newest version of the CCNA path as of the time of writing this article. This CCNA version specifically leads to understanding the basics in cybersecurity which discusses more about general network security and security operations. As of this day, this path doesn’t have the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and obviously Cisco Certified Internet Expert (CCIE) yet but according to some administrators from the technical discussion forum, Cisco is going to release these upgrades soon.

Requirements Before Taking

To be honest, taking CCNA CyberOps doesn’t require you to know anything about cybersecurity, that’s the whole point of the training but it definitely helps if you already have a background. Before entering CCNA CyberOps, I already dedicated a lot of time in Offensive Security’s Penetration Testing with Kali Linux which led to OSCP so there were a lot of familiar concepts already although I really wished having a slot in the CyberOps training before I even stepped into the OSCP realm because I understood more about protocols which were being exploited in the PWK labs.

Requirements to Get Certified

‘CCNA CyberOps’ includes two topics that you need to study. The first one is SECFND or Security Fundamentals and the second is SECOPS or Security Operations. This means that there are two exams to pass before having that CCNA CyberOps title. Unfortunately, the applications for scholarship already closed when I checked here so if ever someone is interested, you can visit this link. Be warned, SECFND costs 1500 USD while SECOPS costs 1500 USD too. All in all, the training totals to 3000 USD or around 150,000 Php. Not to mention taking one exam will cost 300 USD wherein there are two exams to get certified so that’s basically a total of 3600 USD worth of investment!

Timeline

11/03/17 – The same day I was taking the OSCP exam, I received an invitation email from Cisco that I can continue the scholarship application for their CCNA CyberOps program. During the time I received the email, I didn’t really mind it because of the OSCP pressure so it wasn’t until the following week when I proceeded with the application.

11/18/17 – Cisco emailed me a reminder that I have been invited for step 2 even though I didn’t receive the first email that I can proceed to step 2. At this point, the requirement was passing the prequalifying exam.

11/21/17 – Cisco emailed me that I have successfully passed the prequalifying exam

11/23/17 – Cisco emailed me the confirmation (Yey!)

11/27/17 – Bought the CCNA CyberOps certification guide (Please note that this is not required. The videos, live sessions, and online labs are enough to pass the certification)

12/07/17 – Certification guide arrived (Paid extra 560 Php to claim the package from FedEx)

12/21/17 – Cisco emailed that an early bird access was given (That’s basically one week before the official start date of the training)

12/26/17 – 01/17/18 – Reviewed all videos and did the online labs

01/27/18 – 01/29/18 – Reviewed chapter 1 of the official cert guide book

01/29/18 – Started reviewing chapter 2 of the official cert guide book

01/30/18 – Received the SECFND exam voucher (The requirement to get the voucher was finishing the online notes and labs)

02/01/18 – Continued chapter 2 of the official cert guide book

02/02/18 – Review chapter 3 of the official cert guide book

02/03/18 – I created a simple quiz maker to assist in my review but I realized that PearsonVue could generate practice tests because I bought the official cert guide book

02/09/18 – Reviewed chapter 4 and started reviewing chapter 5 of the official cert guide book

02/10/18 – Reviewed chapter 5, 6, 7, and 8 of the official cert guide book

02/11/18 – Reviewed chapter 9 of the official cert guide book

02/12/18 – Scheduled the SECFND exam on 02/28/18 in Cebu because that was the nearest city which had a PearsonVue test center from my place

02/13/18 – Reviewed chapter 10 of the official cert guide book

02/16/18 – Reviewed chapter 11, 12, 13, and 14 of the official cert guide book

02/19/18 – 02/23/18 – Final review through the question and answer challenges posted together with the online notes

02/28/18 – Passed SECFND. The passing score was 825 and my score was 843. Talk about spending time to study the book eh?

At this point, SECOPS was next!

03/03/18 – 03/07/18 – Reviewed all videos and did the online labs

03/09/18 – Received the SECOPS exam voucher (The requirement to get the voucher was finishing the online notes and labs) and scheduled the SECOPS exam on 04/05/18. This time, in Manila.

03/19/18 – 03/30/18 – I finished reviewing the SECOPS book

04/04/18 – One day before the exam, I decided to review the recorded live sessions as a recommended exam prep

04/05/18 – Passed SECOPS. The passing score was 825 and my score was 834. I must say that the book didn’t really help here. Better put your attention to the online notes. Unlike the one in SECFND, I found the book useful but not much in SECOPS.

At the same day (04/05/18), around 9 PM, I received an email from Cisco congratulating me on achieving CCNA CyberOps.

Conclusion

The experience was very interesting and fun at the same time. I’ve learned a lot from the training and met new friends. This training made me read and finish two books and I must say that’s an accomplishment on my side because I don’t really read a lot of books. I mean, I haven’t even finished reading these goodies and these were at my shelf since 2016!

P.S. For those who are going to take up the training and planning to get certified, make sure you understand the topic being discussed and not just basing the subject by definition. If you do, you’ll definitely fail the exam. I found the technical discussion forum and live sessions to be very useful during the scholarship so try to make use of them! Cheers!  

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