eCPPT Certified!

This morning I received notification that I passed eLearnSecurity's Certified Professional Penetration Tester v2 exam (eCPPTv2). Here are my thoughts.

The Course

The Penetration Testing Professional (PTP) course offers three available versions - Barebones, Full, and Elite.  The course itself is provided via Powerpoint-like slides comprised of several modules, including System Security, Network Security, Linux Exploitation, Web App Security, and Wi-Fi Security (optionally PowerShell for Pentesters and a module that covers Ruby exploitation are available for those like me who purchased the Elite version of the course).  The lessons are available via browser for the Barebones, Full and Elite versions, or can be downloaded via PDF for Elite versions only.  Many modules have videos that provide a visual representation of the lessons being touched on.  Additionally, the Full and Elite versions come with exam vouchers and access to the eLS's "Hera Labs" environment to practice the concepts learned.

The coursework itself is incredibly intensive.  The modules listed earlier have numerous sections to them, with each of them covering their own concepts.  Some of these sections are hundreds of slides long, while others are shorter, all covering varying amounts of depth on the plethora of concepts covered in that section.  The videos are straightforward practical examples of various concepts and provided in clear English, making them easy to understand compared to other organizations.

The Exam

The eCPPT exam is a comprehensive, "black box" engagement against a given scope.  You have seven days to complete the engagement, and another seven days to complete a professional penetration test report.  The exam does not require scheduling like other organizations, and you simply click the start button to begin.  A link is presented for you to download the scope of your engagement, and you can enter the lab environment through openvpn as most other environments.  From here the time begins ticking, and the seven day window begins.

The mechanism behind the exam allows the environment to remain awake and active through the entire seven days (provided you leave that browser window open).  This ensures that any progress you have made persists, however even if your lab shuts down, it doesn't reset.  Students are free to use any tools and techniques they wish to exploit machines and meet the objectives of the exam.

The Pros

Coursework and Labs

The general premise of eLearn's courses is to build well-rounded, educated professionals, and this is apparent by the significant amount of information provided.  Over two dozen lab environments are available in the course that allow students to practice the concepts learned in the lessons.  The labs are just the right amount of challenging with an appropriate amount of guidance and hand holding through the solutions. The PowerShell for Pentesters module provided in the Elite version of the course is exceptional, and provides an additional vector for engagements.

Ruby Exploitation

For those who purchase the Elite version of the course, the Ruby Exploitation module provides a clear and concise way to perform buffer overflows without the complication provided in the earlier System Security modules, as well as an up to date lab to practice them in.

Cost and Value

When I purchased PTP, I got it for 25% off through a winter-time discount, making it around $1,099.  For the significant amount of education, labs, and exam attempt, this is an incredible price for what is provided.  You aren't going to find another professional level course on the market that provides the educational value that PTP does for the price point it is at (even at full cost).

The Cons

Buffer Overflows

The greatest shortcoming in the course is the coverage of Buffer Overflows, and a lack of a sound lab environment to practice them in.  eLS provides a very out of date and difficult to use Windows XP machine as the lab for this, and over-complicates the Buffer Overflow process throughout the lessons that cover them. I had to fall back on a Udemy course to get through the section, and later the Ruby Exploitation module.

The Exam 

Much of my time in the exam environment I felt as if I was learning on the go.  Things necessary to succeed in the exam are barely glazed over in the lessons and labs, and students could certainly benefit greatly from increased exposure.  Other concepts that are touched on in the materials don't match the experience in the exam at all, and again students are left fending for themselves to figure things out on the fly.  The exam needs to match the materials, or the materials shifted to match the exam.

Student Support

As I added in my PTS review, student support rests solely in a student forum.  Students regularly ask questions in this environment, and are often met with varying responses that teeter on the edge of condescension.  Students are assured direct support from instructors in the agreement when they purchase the course.  That support shouldn't consist of "use the search bar" when they ask questions. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, I am glad that I took this adventure, and have been able to take so many things from it.  I couldn't be more proud of accomplishing this goal and moving forward in my career. While this is probably the last course that I will take from eLS, it certainly will be my most valued.  Please feel free to ask questions in the comments, and I will try to answer them.  (Please note that I cannot give outright answers or information pertaining to the exam)


Hisham said…
Hey joe ,

congrats on this great achievement

i am pursuing this certificate now , any outside sources you recommend for better preparation ? udemy course or books ?

thanks and goodluck in upcoming challenges
Joe said…
I cannot recommend enough practicing on dostackoverflowgood for your Buffer Overflow exploitation.
John Ingram said…
Which hackthebox machines can I use to prepare the exam?
Joe said…
I honestly wouldn't have an answer for you as I never did HTB in preparation for it. The labs included in the course are mostly inclusive for the course. Make sure to pay extra attention to the last XSS lab, and go over the lab covering proxychains a few times.
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