Learning basics of computer networking

Over the past month of April, I’ve been reading up on computer networks and how they work. The resources which I’ve used are books and online videos meant to help prepare for the Comptia Network+ and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification exams.

In my opinion, the study guides for both Network+ and CCNA written by Todd Lammle are the best books as they cover a lot of important materials and they do not bore the reader.

Also in his guides, there are lab exercises we can actually try out. Personally, I am using a free network simulator called Packet Tracer to test out the commands provided in the lab exercises. Apart from it being available at zero cost, it is very easy to use and allows us to create a simple network very quickly. Although it is possible that some commands are not available in this simulator, I still feel it is sufficient for those starting out to learn about computer networks.

Here are is a summary of topics I’ve covered (with adequate depth):

  1. TCP/IP Layers, the protocols and port numbers.
  2. Cabling standards
  3. IPv4 Addressing, Subnetting and Design (including auto-summarization and VLSMs)
  4. IPv4 Static and dynamic (RIPv2) routing
  5. IPv4 Network Address Translation (NAT) and Port Address Translation (PAT)
  6. Router Access Control Lists (ACLs)
  7. DHCP service on router and server
  8. DNS on router
  9. IPv6 Abbreviation and address types
  10. IPv6 Addressing and Design
  11. IPv6 Static routing
  12. Device hardening (passwords, encryption)
  13. VLAN and Trunking
  14. Inter-VLAN routing (using SVI and Router on a Stick (802.1q))
  15. Switch port security
  16. Device management protocols (Telnet/SSH, logging, NTP, CDP/LLDP)
  17. Files management (Saving/Backing up config files locally and on server, IOS upgrades and password recovery)
  18. License management

Initially, this list was meant to be broken down into multiple blog posts, however I felt that it will be easier to view if they are all listed as a single list. In fact, much of the content above covered is equivalent to the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) certification, which is the basic certification provided by Cisco.

Once I’m more familiar with these, I plan on moving on to more in-depth areas such as packet analysis.


Preparing for information security

Many cybersecurity careers may require strong IT experience.

I once worked in IT technical support a few years ago in 2014. It exposed me to working with the hardware of desktop computers, physical network components and managing operations such as service requests and helping end-users resolve technical issues. However, being young and indecisive, I failed to follow through with this path and began trying out different jobs from other areas wishing to find a golden ticket.

Unlike the fortunate individuals who knew exactly what they want to do from the start and dabbled in it from an early age, it took me years of self-discovery and setbacks to realize that IT is indeed something that ultimately appeals to my interest and goals,  Therefore, I guess I’ll just have to work my way into it.

Given my lack of formal IT qualification, it will be hard to convince any employer that I can work and contribute effectively in information technology. Hence, perhaps a lot of self-learning is necessary.