CCNA Security – 210-260 IINS passed..

15 05 2016

Passed the 210-260 last weekend. I was obviously pretty happy about this, but, what I was even more happy about was the updated syllabus for the cert.

I would estimate around 30-40% difference in content. The general security concepts (which make the first part of the course pretty dry, depending on whether it’s stuff you’re already pretty familiar with or not), remained, as expected, as did a lot of the details about L2/3 security on Cisco devices.

The major changes were the complete removal of CCP to manage routers (with Zone Based Firewall config); this gave way to Cisco ASA configuration – certainly much more relevant to my role and reflective of industry too. Configuration for the ASA was only via ASDM too; if I remember rightly, this was via the command line in the last syllabus and very basic in comparison.

In addition, the way the course is delivered, via online labs rather than locally hosted equipment (which I had to use, and share last time) is superb.

Linux Certs

21 03 2016

I decided to study for the LPI L1 certification, to truly round out my certifications.

I’d had a CBT Nuggets series and a book for some time, but had prioritised Cisco certifications, with a slight detour for the Certified Ethical Hacker.

I bought a series by Jason Cannon from the fantastic (always wait for one of their frequent sales rather than buying full price), which is superb, but doesn’t cover some content in the depth required by LPI. It’s not tied to the LPI exam syllabus, so not necessarily surprising.

So I also went with a monthly subscription from This works out at £21 per month, and has lots of Linux related content, as well as AWS, Openstack and DevOps related material.

A fantastic feature is the ‘Server Lab’ feature, which allows you to spawn up new Linux servers in less time than it takes in AWS! There’s little barrier to building your own Linux server, but, this feature is great for very quick, effort-free respawning.

I gave myself about six weeks to study, and found that LPI also have the ‘Linux Essentials’ certificate. This is a cut down version of the LPI L1, and has a massive amount of content cross over.

Although it’s a ‘certificate’ and not technically a certification apparently – there is no Job Task Analysis associated with it, and it doesn’t expire.. I decided to book it on the same day as the LPI L1.
The nearest test centre in terms of travel time is 50+ miles away, so I thought I may as well. I booked it as the second exam.

I completed the first exam in about 50 minutes, and passed pretty comfortably, and opted to go for the second after a 20 minute break – it should technically have been about two hours but I was able to start early. I was out within 25 minutes from that, with a decent score.

If anything, some of the questions from the Essentials were harder than those on the LPI.

I now need to study for the LPI L1 exam. 2, in order to be LPI certified. That’s got much less familiar content, including MySQL, scripting and more, so should be fun!

I then have another detour in the form of the CCNA Security, before moving back to the CCNP, for the ROUTE exam.

Overall a productive day! Onwards!

Oh dear, Juniper :(

23 12 2015

AWS Private Keys with Puttygen

28 09 2015

So I’ve fired up an AWS account finally, to have a practise, using only Free-tier instances etc.

To generate my private keys for logging in to the Linux instances, I created a new one with each instance, converted it to Putty format using Puttygen, and then added it in to the config for the instance under SSH –> Auth for the settings for each instance in Putty.

Although it worked fine intially, creating keys started to throw up errors after a while when attempting to import them in to Puttygen for the purpose of converting to .ppk format. Sometimes it would work using exactly the same process, and sometimes not. The specific error was ‘Couldn’t load private key (unexpected end of file)’.

I Googled, but couldn’t find anything of much use – mostly people moaning at Amazon on forum posts from 2011 🙂

I had a play and have now found that adding an extra ‘Carriage Return’ (pressing ‘Enter’) at the end of the .pem file, before loading in to Puttygen, consistently results in a smooth import process. I’ve tested by creating multiple instances, generating a new private key for each, and then adding the new line if it errored upon import to puttygen. I then deleted the instances and repeated the process. I haven’t had an error yet when doing it this way.