Network+ 2011 Exam: N10-005 Updates

CompTIA released the latest revision and update to Network+ December 1, 2011. The new exam code N10-005 replaced N10-004, which was released in 2009. Generally, CompTIA revises and updates its collection of certification exams on a three-year cycle. The Network+ exam focuses on skills and knowledge of a general network technician. Network+ covers a broad spectrum of general networking knowledge ranging from networking devices to cables to protocols to networked software. It includes a reasonable balance of theory, configuration, implementation, architecture, and troubleshooting.

As before, there are no actual pre-requisite requirements to be qualified to take the exam. However, CompTIA recommends having A+ certification and nine months of computer network related experience. So, what has changed? In a domain comparison between the new N10-005 exam and the previous N10-004 exam official certification exam objectives as published by CompTIA, I discovered a handful of changes to highlight in this post.

Fewer Domains

The N10-004 exam divided the exam into six targeted topical areas called domains. The new N10-005 exam has five domains, although only three domain names are the same.

As you can see, the percentage of the exam related to the various topics has not really shifted much. However, some people will see the increase in Network Security from 11% to 19% as an indication that the focus on security has significantly increased on Network+. I don’t think this the case. In fact, security has been an integral part of networking for decades, and this was reflected in all previous versions of Network+. The latest revision of this exam simply reorganized all the disparate security material under the security domain.

New Network+
(N10-005) Domains
% Exam Prior Network+
(N10-004) Domains
%Exam
Domain 1: Network Concepts 21% Domain 1: Network Technologies 20%
Domain 2: Network Installation and

Configuration

23% Domain 2: Network Media and Topologies 20%
Domain 3: Network Media and Topologies 17% Domain 3: Network Devices 17%
Domain 4: Network Management 20% Domain 4: Network Management 20%
Domain 5: Network Security 19% Domain 5: Network Security 11%

Don’t stress over this chart, the number of domains, or even the percentage of the exam covered by each domain. In reality, the exam presents questions to you in a random order. While the test is a flat test (as opposed to adaptive), you receive questions randomly pulled from the test pool. Then those questions are randomly ordered #1 – #100. You must approach each question on its own merits, with no knowledge of which domain it belongs to. You should always consider each question in light of the entire collection of Network+ material, not just a single domain. Now, let’s review the updated content for the latest Network+ exam.

Domain 1: Network Concepts

Domain Name System (DNS) records (A, MX, AAAA, CNAME, PTR) (Sub-objective of 1.7)

Five common DNS resource records (RR) are now specifically mentioned in the exam objectives where just generic DNS, DNS ports, DNS server, and wrong DNS were mentioned previously.

Identify Virtual Network Components (Objective 1.9)

If any objective in N10-005 could be labeled as new, this is the most likely candidate. N10-004 did not include the word virtual or cloud. N10-005 does not include the word cloud either, but the sub-objective of Network as a Service (NaaS) is a specific type of cloud computing service.

Domain 2: Network Installation and Configuration

Mismatched Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU/MUT) Black Hole (Sub-objective of 2.5)

MTU is the largest packet size allowed on a segment (MUT is a misspelling or alternate phrasing of MTU). If there is a mismatch between two devices’ interfaces (router, firewall, proxy, etc.) on the same segment, the traffic can be dropped (i.e., black-holed). This does not typically occur on current networks as modern devices support the same MTU for their supported protocols, and there is no practical or benign need to reduce the MTU.

Bad Modules Small Form-factor Pluggable (SFPs), GigaBit Interface Converter (GBICs) (Sub-objective of 2.5)

SFP and GBIC are Cisco hardware components known generically as transceivers. They provide a hot-swappable media interface between various cable types and networking devices. Generally, if a module is bad, you replace it.

Domain 3: Network Media and Topologies

T1 Crossover (Sub-objective of 3.1)

In the rare circumstance where you must directly link two Channel Service Unit/Data Service Unit (CSU/DSU) devices, a T1 crossover cable would be used. This cable is similar in nature to the Ethernet crossover cable used to connect two hubs, two switches, or two PCs directly together.

Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) (Sub-objective of 3.4)

SDH, which is nearly identical to SONET, is a fiber optic-based multiplexing technology supporting numerous high-speed connections or channels.

Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) (Sub-objective of 3.4)

DWDM is a multiplexing technology that places multiple signals, connections, or channels on a single fiber optic cable, each using a different wavelength of light. Of note, this item was on the acronym list of N10-004.

Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and Evolved High Speed Packet Access (HSPA+) (Sub-objectives of 3.4)

LTE is the current name for the IEEE 802.20 standard and is a competitor to the WiMax or IEEE 802.16 concept. LTE is a wireless communications standard that is currently being used as the next advance in mobile phone technology. HSPA+ is an enhancement of the Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) 3G wireless technology which has the potential to offer data speeds similar to that of LTE.

Passive Optical Network (PON) (Sub-objectives of 3.4)

PON is the use of fiber optic cable to the premises. It uses unpowered optical splitters to serve multiple locations simultaneously (such as end-users).

Domain 4: Network Management

Common Address Redundancy Protocol (CARP) (Sub-objective of 4.6)

CARP allows for a set of IP addresses to be shared by a group of hosts on the same subnet. This is to support failover redundancy and is commonly supported by firewalls, proxies, and routers. CARP is a public domain version of Cisco’s proprietary Hot Standby Router Protocol (HSRP) that performs the same function.

Domain 5: Network Security

Independent Computing Architecture (ICA) (Sub-objective of 5.2)

ICA is a Citrix solution to support thin-client or terminal services such as remote control or remote access capabilities. This and other remote access/remote desktop/thin-client concepts were present in N10-004 materials and discussions as well.

Evil Twin (Sub-objective of 5.4)

Evil Twin is a wireless attack tool that will automatically duplicate the identity of a trusted wireless network. Each time the interface is turned back on, it will seek out known networks and attempt to reconnect. The reconnect request includes the original Station Set Identifier (SSID) and base station Media Access Controller (MAC) address. The Evil Twin attack tool captures these reconnect requests and replies with a spoofed identity of the known network.

Nessus and Nmap (Sub-objective of 5.6)

Nessus is an open source vulnerability scanner that has a commercial version known as Tenable Network Security. Nmap is a free network mapper, port scanner, network discovery, and OS/service identification tool crafted by hacker-extraordinaire Fyodor. Both are excellent tools for evaluating a network’s functionality and vulnerabilities as a user, administrator, penetration tester, or criminal.

A Few Final Items

If you have already studied for the N10-004 exam, and you are not comfortable taking a small risk in taking the N10-005 exam, you can still take the 2009 version of Network+ until August 1, 2012. At that time, the N10-004 version of Network+ will be fully retired. If you are already approaching that deadline, either bite the bullet and take the exam or obtain updated preparation material and fine-tune your knowledge for the N10-005 exam.

Please visit www.comptia.org. Here you will see CompTIA’s summary of the exam and can download the official CompTIA Network+ N10-005 Certification Exam Objectives. Take the time to read over each and every item listed on the exam objectives. This will help you grasp how much you may already know and how much you will need to learn in order to be properly prepared to have a positive outcome on the latest revision of CompTIA’s Network+ exam.

Excerpted and available for download from Global Knowledge: Network+ 2011 Exam N10-005 Updates

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