What Is the CompTIA PenTest+ Certification?

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CompTIA PenTest+ is a vendor-neutral certification for cybersecurity professionals specializing in penetration testing and vulnerability assessments. The CompTIA PenTest+ validates an applicant’s knowledge of the processes, tools, and techniques used for penetration testing. In this blog post, we will explore the basics of the CompTIA PenTest+ certification, from what it is and how it works to what skills it allows an applicant to gain.

What is the CompTIA PenTest+ certification?

CompTIA PenTest+ is an intermediate-level cybersecurity certification focusing on offensive skills through penetration testing and vulnerability assessments. Cybersecurity professionals who earned the CompTIA PenTest+ not only know how to exploit security vulnerabilities, but also how to plan, scope, and manage penetrations tests. The CompTIA PenTest+ certification is a globally recognized certification that validates an applicant’s penetration testing and vulnerability assessment and management skills in determining the security level of a network against current cyber threats.

Who should get the CompTIA PenTest+ certification?

CompTIA PenTest+ is for IT cybersecurity professionals with three or four years of hands-on related experience or the equivalent in training who want to launch or advance a career in penetration testing. The CompTIA PenTest+ certification is perfectly suited for entry-level penetration testers and cybersecurity analysts.

How does the CompTIA PenTest+ certification exam work?

The CompTIA PenTest+ certification exam is a 165-minute exam of a maximum of 85 performance-based and multiple-choice questions. The passing score is 750 on the range of 100-900. Among the recommended experience or prerequisites are the following:

  • Experience or equivalent knowledge in network security.
  • Minimum of 3-4 years of hands-on information security or related experience.
  • Completion of the CompTIA Security+ or equivalent experience.
  • Technical, hands-on focus.

What domains the CompTIA PenTest+ certification exam covers?

Domain 1: Planning and scoping

This domain covers three sections:

  1. Compare and contrast governance, risk and compliance concepts.
  2. Explain the importance of scoping and organizational/customer requirements.
  3. For a given scenario, demonstrate an ethical hacking mindset by maintaining professionalism and integrity.

Domain 2: Information gathering and vulnerability scanning

This domain divides into three sections:

  1. Given a scenario, perform passive reconnaissance.
  2. Given a scenario, perform active reconnaissance.
  3. Given a scenario, analyze the results of a reconnaissance exercise.
  4. Given a scenario, perform vulnerability scanning.

Domain 3: Attacks and exploits

The domain includes seven sections:

  1. Given a scenario, research attack vectors and perform network attacks.
  2. Given a scenario, research attack vectors and perform wireless attacks.
  3. Given a scenario, research attack vectors and perform application-based attacks.
  4. Given a scenario, research attack vectors and perform attacks on cloud technologies.
  5. Explain common attacks and vulnerabilities against specialized systems.
  6. Given a scenario, perform a social engineering or physical attack.
  7. Given a scenario, perform post-exploitation techniques.

Domain 4: Reporting and communication

This domain is made of the following four sections:

  1. Compare and contrast important components of written reports.
  2. Given a scenario, analyze the findings and recommend the appropriate remediation within a report.
  3. Explain the importance of communication during the penetration testing process.
  4. Explain post-report delivery activities.

Domain 5: Tools and code analysis

This domain has the following three sections:

  1. Explain the basic concepts of scripting and software development.
  2. Given a scenario, analyze a script or code sample for use in a penetration test.
  3. Explain use cases of the following tools during the phases of a penetration test.

What skills does the CompTIA PenTest+ certification allow to gain?

The CompTIA PenTest+ certification validates the successful candidates’ skills for recommending effective, best-practice strategies to improve an organizations’ security posture. To that end, the CompTIA PenTest+ certification allows its candidates to gain the intermediate-level skills required to customize assessment frameworks in generating report findings and collaborating effectively around these findings. These skills include the following:

Planning and scoping

These skills allow successful candidates to focus on governance, risk, and compliance concepts, but also to define the scope of a project along with its organizational/client requirements, and to demonstrate an ethical hacking mindset.

Information gathering and vulnerability scanning

These skills allow successful candidates to perform vulnerability scanning and passive/active reconnaissance, vulnerability management, and also the analysis of the results resulting from the reconnaissance exercise.

Attacks and exploits

These skills allow successful candidates to expand their attack surfaces, research social engineering techniques, perform network, wireless, application-based and cloud technology attacks, and to perform post-exploitation techniques as well.

Reporting and communication

These skills allow successful candidates – during the penetration testing process – to focus on effective reporting and communication within an increased regulatory environment by analyzing the findings and recommending proper remediation measures.

Tools and code analysis

These skills allow successful candidates to identify scripts in various software deployments, analyze a script or code sample, and explain use cases of various tools from the penetration testing phase. It is important to note that no scripting and coding is required.

What preparation options is offered for the CompTIA PenTest+ certification?

CompTIA offers several exam preparation options to help candidates get ready for their CompTIA PenTest+ certification exam, including the following:

eLearning with CertMaster Learn™ for PenTest+

This interactive and self-paced tool includes a customizable learning plan and performance-based questions designed to keep you on a path of continuous preparatory learning.

Interactive Labs with CertMaster Labs™ for PenTest+

This other tool will help you develop the required hands-on skills for your PenTest+ certification exam, gain a deeper understanding of penetration testing, and reinforce your practical aspects towards certification exam objectives.

Exam Prep with CertMaster Practice™ for PenTest+

This consists of an adaptive online companion tool assessing your knowledge and exam readiness, confirming your areas of strength and addressing your knowledge gaps, also helping you feel more prepared and confident when going into your certification exam.

Final thoughts

As it covers all the stages of the penetration testing process, the CompTIA PenTest+ certification appears as one of the best cybersecurity certifications for aspiring penetration testers. It can also be a great tool to validate the skills of any self-taught penetration testers or expand the skills of experienced testers. With the right preparation, CompTIA PenTest+ can be your stepping stone into a successful career in penetration testing.

Contact us if you need help with your penetration testing project.

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