The CEH certification is provided by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) and is a proving ground for cybersecurity professionals.
Those who have earned the CEH certification have demonstrated extensive knowledge about information security topics such as cryptography, cybercrime, penetration testing, and network attacks. The amount of information covered by this test is vast and reflects how much work a cybersecurity professional (typically a penetration tester) will do on a daily basis.
In this blog post, we’re focusing on how you can get the CEH certification. We’ll discuss what the CEH exam entails, go over the prerequisites for the exam, and then define how to study for it.
What is the CEH certification?
The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) credential certifies individuals in the specific network security discipline of Ethical Hacking from a vendor-neutral perspective. Ethical hacking is essentially the act of testing an organization’s security systems, typically with prior permission from the system owner.
The purpose of ethical hacking is to find vulnerabilities within a company’s network that can be exploited by black hat hackers (malicious hackers who are looking to cause damage). Once these vulnerabilities are identified, the company can patch these vulnerabilities to protect its network from future attacks.
The Certified Ethical Hacker certification is great for job roles such as:
- Penetration tester
- Social engineering specialist
- Information security analyst, and more
How long does it take to get CEH certified?
Here are the broad strokes of what you need to accomplish to obtain your CEH cybersecurity certification:
- Decide on the way you want to study for the CEH exam.
- Study for the CEH exam using your chosen study method. The total amount of time you’ll need to invest in studying depends a lot on how familiar you already are with ethical hacking topics.
- Apply for the CEH exam. Once you submit your application, the EC-Council will schedule a date to have you take your exam.
- Pass the CEH exam. If you pass the test, then congratulations! You now have an official certification that makes you a specialist in ethical hacking.
How long it takes you to prepare for the exam can vary based on a multitude of reasons. Typically, it can last from a few weeks to a few months, depending on how much prior knowledge and experience you already have with ethical hacking.
What’s the CEH exam like?
The CEH certification is a four-hour long exam that consists of 125 multiple-choice questions.
The passing score of the test isn’t fixed. For the EC-Council to maintain the high integrity of their exams, they create multiple forms of the same exam. A committee of industry experts carefully evaluates each form to ensure that it covers materials relevant to an ethical hacker’s skill set. Each form also has a different difficulty rating; the passing score for the test changes depending on this difficulty rating. Commonly, the CEH exam passing score ranges between 60% and 85%.
Is CEH hard to pass?
The overall consensus from CEH credential holders is that the exam questions can be tricky. Even if you thoroughly studied the material, you’ll probably be taken aback by at least one or two of the questions. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you adequately prepare for the test and pay special attention to details.
The passing score of the test isn’t fixed. For the EC-Council to maintain the high integrity of their exams, they create multiple forms of the same exam. A committee of industry experts carefully evaluates each form to ensure that it covers materials relevant to an ethical hacker’s skill set.
What are the requirements for CEH?
To take this four-hour-long test, you’ll need to have at least two years of cybersecurity experience (or from a security-related field) under your belt.
A CEH exam candidate must also be of legal age in their country of origin/residency.
If they are under the legal age, they can still apply for the official CEH training and the examination. Still, they need to provide written consent of their legal guardian and a supporting letter from their nationally accredited institution of higher learning.
Can I take CEH without experience?
In terms of the required experience, there are a couple of stipulations for exam eligibility:
- Suppose you can provide appropriate proof of at least two years of experience in a security-related field validated through the application process. In that case, you can prepare for the exam in any way you choose.
- If you don’t have any prior cyber security or security-related work experience, you’ll need to enroll in the official EC training courses before taking the test. Without going through the official training, the exam candidate with no experience won’t be eligible to take the examination.
As far as whether you can grasp the course material without knowing much about ethical hacking, to begin with, that isn’t easy to say. It depends on how interested you are in learning about cybersecurity and what kind of background you already have. Suppose you’re going into this exam without much prior knowledge of ethical hacking topics. In that case, it might be a good idea to spend some time learning about the basics online before starting the official CEH certification training courses.
Can I take CEH without a college degree?
A college degree is not important when it comes to taking the CEH exam. If you have at least two years of experience in a related information technology field, you’re eligible to take the test regardless of whether or not you have a degree.
What’s the best way to study for CEH?
There are three main options you can choose from when it comes time to prepare for taking your exam:
If you’re a natural self-starter who likes to study your own way, this might be the best option for you. For self-study, you need to purchase the CEH official training course manuals and do all of the recommended exercises in them. This is one of the most popular options, but it requires effort on your part, as you’re responsible for knowing when and how to schedule your study sessions.
Every effort you put into studying for this test will be worth it, but if you don’t do the necessary work and follow the right approach, your efforts might fall short and not produce results.
- One-on-one training with an instructor
The advantage of having a private tutor is that an instructor can go over the CEH course material with you in-depth. Working with an instructor can help you understand the course content that might otherwise be difficult to grasp, which will make it easier for you to complete the assigned practice exercises and pass your exam.
However, this option does not come free of charge, so expect to pay more than if you were to go down the self-study route.
- Learning in a group
Studying with other people might be beneficial if you’re more comfortable in that kind of environment, but it can also interfere with your learning process. If you decide to study in a group, make sure that the other members are equally committed and willing to put in as much effort as you are.
At the same time, group study is a lot more affordable than private tutoring, so it can be a good option if you’re on a budget.
- Bonus: online or in-person
All of the options where you’re not studying on your own can be both in-person and online. It is entirely up to you to decide which one of these methods fits you the best.
In this COVID-19 era, an online certified ethical hacking course has become a popular choice for many who need to improve their skills and don’t want to expose themselves to the risk of a viral infection. Online training is also lower in cost than in-person training because you don’t have to factor in the price of travel, accommodation, and other expenses.
What happens if you fail the CEH exam?
If you fail the exam on the first try, you can retake it a second time without a mandatory waiting period in between.
However, if you fail the Certified Ethical Hacker exam on the second, third, or fourth attempt, you need to wait at least 14 days before scheduling a new test date.
A candidate cannot take the exam for more than five months in a 12-month period. If for any reason, you fail the exam five times, you will need to wait at least 12 months before attempting to pass the exam the sixth time.
Once you pass an exam, you’re not allowed to attempt the same version of the CEH certification exam again.
In addition to having knowledge of how to protect networks and systems from malware threats, those who have a CEH certification are also eligible for jobs that involve working in a team to fight cybercrime, offering protection against viruses and other attacks.
Obtaining the EC-Council ethical hacking certification isn’t too difficult, but it does require effort on your part. If you put in all of the required work and study, prepare enough for the test, and keep yourself motivated till the end, you’ll be able to pass your exam with ease.
If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to The I4 Group. We specialize in helping people understand difficult concepts and pass complicated tests to help them achieve their goals.