Cisco recently announced new entry-level certifications in networking and cybersecurity that come out in April 2023. They introduced the Cisco-certified support technician (networking) and the Cisco-certified support cybersecurity option. both courses are meant to introduce the learner to the field of either networking or cybersecurity from the ground level.
The support technician networking course is divided into 4 modules.
- Networking basics.
- Networking devices and individual configuration.
- network addressing and basic troubleshooting.
- network support and security.
This is the first module and also takes the most time to complete. It took me 3 whole days to complete and I still go through it from time to time to refresh my knowledge. this module will introduce all the topics you will go through during the entire course hence its length. I learned about the different network types and components of a home network.
I also suggest you attempt the packet tracer labs to help you get hands-on with how networks and protocols actually work. As a practice for myself in this section I reset my Mikrotik home router and rebuilt the network from scratch just from the knowledge I learned in this module. it took me a whole day but I can now fix any home router with no issue as I understand how to create private IPs that don’t clash, enable DHCP& secure my wifi network.
This module will also introduce you to the OSI reference model which is the basis of networking. the OSI model is very important and if you feel you have an issue grasping 7 layers of the OSI model don’t worry it took me numerous videos articles and practice to fully understand it.
I learned about IPV4 address structures that I didn’t know, unicast, broadcast, and multicast modes of transmission, MAC addresses, and public and private IP addresses.
|Network address and prefix||RFC 1918 private address range|
In this module, I also learned about NAT which stands for network address translation which translates private IPs to public IPs assigned by my ISP to be able to communicate on the World Wide Web.
There are 3 classes of IPs
CLASS A- /8 large networks with 16 million host addresses
CLASS B– /16 medium-sized networks with more than 65000 host addresses.
CLASS C- /24 small networks with up to 254 hosts used in homes or small offices.
this module also introduces you to the new version of IP the IPV6 addressing formats and rules. after finishing this module you will have the requisite knowledge of how information flows from the physical layer(1) to the presentation layer(7) and vice versa.
Network devices and individual configuration
Reliable networks need to be fault tolerant, secure can scale, and have quality of service. this module focuses on the architecture of networks and the design of efficient networks.
since I come from a cloud background I enjoyed the module on cloud and virtualization and learned about the 2 types of hypervisors. Type 1 hypervisors also known as “bare metal” are installed directly on the hardware. They are found in enterprise servers and data center networking. Type 2 hypervisors are hosted and are the most common and are found on Virtual machines that are common on the cloud like AWS EC2 or GCP compute engine.
There’s a lab at the end of this module where you can install a virtual box and install your VM running on top of your current OS an example of Type 2 hypervisor.
I also learned the number system and converting binary to digital and vice versa and how they are important. Binary is the language machines understand and digital is what we understand.
|8 BITS||8 BITS||8 BITS||8 BITS|
|NETWORK PORTION||NETWORK||NETWORK||HOST PORTION|
An IPV4 address is broken down into 4 sections each 8 bits long making it 32 bits.IPV6 on the other hand is base 16 and has 0-9 and A hence hexadecimal.
Use Cisco’s own binary game to practice your conversions.
other modules focus on the ARP which is used by devices to determine the destination MAC address when it knows the IPV4 address.ARP provides two basic functions: resolving IPV4 addresses to MAC addresses and maintaining a table of IPV4 to MAC address mappings.
As I said earlier the focus of this course is the make the learner understand the OSI Model in-depth. this module focuses on the transport layer which is TCP and UDP. TCP uses the 3-way handshake which is SYN-ACKSYN-ACK, it’s slower because it has flow control, unlike UDP which doesn’t.UDP is best used in streaming services like Zoom or YouTube Live while TCP is good with the web where sequential arrival of packets is necessary.
Understanding port no is necessary and practicing your knowledge with real-world applications like Wireshark, ping, etc. There are many labs in this module to practice.
Network Addressing and Basic Troubleshooting
This module explores key concepts for Internet Protocol (IP) addressing and basic network troubleshooting. Learn about the physical, data link, and network layers and how they work together to provide end-to-end connectivity. Understand how IP addresses are calculated and assigned. Then practice your troubleshooting skills to keep a network up and running.
This module goes deeper into layers 1 and layer 2 of the OSI model. Layer 1 which is the physical layer is made up of all you can see and touch in the network like routers, switches, fiber or copper cables, etc.. the datalink layer marries the physical and the logical. I was introduced to the 3 common WAN topologies which are point-to-point, hub and spoke, and mesh networks.
Did you know that WLAN like your home router WIFI uses (CSMA/CA) stands for carrier sense multiple access collision avoidance. this property in wireless networks ensures there’s no traffic collision by waiting for a signal before transmitting.
Routing tables are used by routers to assign packets to the correct destination by conforming the destination IP on the routing table if it’s not present it forwards it to the default gateway.IPV6 is also dwelled upon in depth in this module with the 3 broad categories of IPV6 being Unicast, multicast, and anycast.
The last module in this section introduces network troubleshooting and structured troubleshooting methods like bottom-up, top-down, divide and conquer, and substitution among others are looked upon in depth here. Go to this section to learn more about troubleshooting.
Network support and security
The last module of this course focuses on security and will teach you aspects of both network security and cyber security. before taking this module I had this false confidence that since I used a complex password and used MFA all my information was safe online. how wrong I was. security is important not just for an organization but also for you as an individual. threat actors take advantage of vulnerabilities to carry out attacks that wreak havoc.
This module goes through types of malware, types of cyber threats types of layer attacks like layer 2 attacks like spoofing or flooding, or layer 7 attacks like cross-site scripting or SQL injections.
I also learned through this module how to secure my network and endpoints, secure data both at rest and in transit, ensure data integrity & availability and enforce strict access control policies both on online accounts and devices.
This module was the reason I jumped to the cyber security technician course after finishing this course it was because I felt I had gained a lot of useful information that could not help not only me but others in a positive way.
why did I take this course?
After completing my associate cloud engineer course and getting certified I realized I had a lot of knowledge gaps when it came to understanding how networks worked. One day while lazily scrolling through my Twitter feed I bumped into a post by Cisco Networking Academy announcing this new course they were about to launch I quickly signed up and it turned out to be what I actually needed.
while my goal was just networking I have ended up gaining even more, especially on security which I think is very important. In our time social engineering schemes and MITM attacks have become so common that hardly a week goes by before I read or hear a story of a person who has been duped of their life savings or retirement monies.
I feel deeply it’s upon me not just to be a knowledge reservoir but to also share my knowledge to help others and impact positive change in my generation.