Free Network Security training

The Brief: A UK training company, ISCI, have made an introductory training course, the Certified Network Security Specialist, free for the month of May. This course would be good for a junior cyber security engineer, a networking engineer, or SOC Analyst. It would be useful for those preparing for intermediate CompTIA certifications, such as the Security+ or CySA+ certifications, or as a vendor agnostic addition to your studies for the Cisco CyberOps certification.

  • Please note this article was originally published on Peerlyst in May 2020
Image shows front panel of a networking device
Image shows front panel of a networking device

As of May 1st, the International Cybersecurity Institute or ISCI, a UK based training organisation, announced that their entry tier Certified Network Security Specialist training course is going to be free for the month of May, with the offer being valid until 05/31/2020. Normally at a value of £500 (about $625) this consists of 13 modules of video and text, with a quiz of ~10 questions at the end of each module to reinforce the lessons learned.

It does not, however, cover access to their online labs, nor does it cover a certifiable exam at the end. These can be obtained for a cost of £75 (about $94). It does, however, provide digital certificate of completion. This confirms you successfully completed all modules and gained a score of at least 60% in each of the end of module quizzes.

The modules are surprisingly hands on, with most consisting of video demos or more correctly “guided exercise videos” which clearly, though silently, demonstrate how a network security specialist would use each tool or technique covered. Examples would include in Module 1: Introduction to Network Security, there are individual videos on using Wireshark to analyse HTTP (port 80) traffic and Telnet (port 23) traffic individually.

When relying on screenshots, the course tends to show the similar results from both a Windows and Ubuntu machine, which I think is great, as some students might be more familiar with one than the other and this acts as a great bridging point. All the screenshots are clearly and concisely presented and explained, and theres enough detail there for both the absolute beginner and intermediate student to gain some insight from.

As I mentioned already, the course is split into 13 domains, and these are:

  1. Introduction to Network Security
  2. Types of Attacks
  3. Fundamentals of Firewalls
  4. Intrusion-Detection Systems
  5. Fundamentals of Encryption
  6. Virtual Private Networks
  7. Operating System Hardening
  8. Virus Attacks and How to Defend
  9. Security Policies
  10. Assessing System Security
  11. Security Standards
  12. Physical Security and Recovery
  13. Attackers Techniques

Overall I found the content light in detail or depth, but engaging, and ideal either as a primer before starting the CompTIA Security+ certification, or as a refresher either before sitting the Security+ or CySA+ exams. That is, at its current low low prices of totally free. As a £500 expense, the content may not hold enough value or ROI when compared to the likes of Dion Acadamy or the Linux Acadamy courses.

As for the £75 investment for the labs and the exam voucher? Well, that really depends on the individual. For many, access to the labs might well be worth the small investment. Remember, this gives you access for six months, so if you’re without a home lab, and can only access the internet from a library computer etc, this is absolutely great value for money.

For some, sitting the exam for such a low fee would well tick a box for their quarterly performance review, or build confidence in exam taking before they move on to take a more technically engaging exam like the CompTIA Security+, (ISC)2 SSCP, or GIAC GSEC certifications.

I think this course would be of most benefit for the following:

  • HelpDesk engineer
  • Deskside Support engineer
  • Junior NOC analyst
  • Network engineer
  • Level 1 SOC analyst
  • Junior Information Security Engineer

Keep in mind, though, that the International Cybersecurity Institute or ISCI is relatively unknown compared to other heavy hitters in the certification business, and I’m not sure how much weight any of their certifications would add to your CV in the eyes of most recruitment managers or HR departments. As the Romans would have said “caveat emptor”, buyer beware!

So, as per the top of the page, use the coupon code #StaySafeHome when signing up here: https://www.icsi.co.uk/courses/icsi-cnss-certified-network-security-specialist-covid-19

I really enjoyed writing this article, and would love to hear your feedback!

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I’m passionate about cybersecurity, cloud technology and houseplants | Twitter @2wiredSecurity | Awesome August: https://bit.ly/33hVzJ7