Checkpoint CCSA Book Review

NightShade03NightShade03 Member Posts: 1,383 ■■■■■■■□□□
There has been a few posts about self study for Checkpoint lately and being lucky enough to have my job pay for the training materials I thought I'd do a quick review for everyone else considering this path. First I want to start off saying that Checkpoint's website for ordering is horrible! I tried ordering the latest version of this product in three different browsers and their site doesn't recognize their product as an item ncool.gif So instead of buying the R71 version I got the R70 version for $600 instead (they are similar enough). Also as a warning I paid for express 2 day shipping, yet the order took 10 business days to process...so that was pointless. Anyway on to content...

The self study training course includes:
  • 1 Courseware book
  • 1 Lab book
  • 2 CDs that contain all the Checkpoint blade modules
  • 1 Checkpoint backpack
  • 1 Checkpoint mousepad (does anyone use these anymore?)

I read through the course book in 2 days. The editing as far as image placement/quality and grammar checking could have been better. I found a handful of things spelled completely wrong and there are a few images that are just impossible to make out what they are. The book is written by about 10 different engineers that contributed different sections, so the book reads more like a compilation of study notes then an actual book. There are numerous references to R65 products and usage (which you can see in the screen shots as well).

The book is broken down into 12 chapters covering the following topics:
  • Checkpoint software blades
  • How to install/upgrade/manage an R70 security gateway
  • How to setup and manage a security management server
  • Licensing and centralized license management
  • User authentication (including external authentication against LDAP)
  • IPS
  • VPN concepts plus encryption

I'd say if you know nothing about Checkpoint or their products this book might help you clear things up. That being said the book was written for those with 6 - 12 months of experience to take their exam...at which point you'd know how to do most of the tasks in the book. For someone that is seasoned or even some what experienced with Checkpoint firewalls I'd say forget this book as it is not worth $600, poorly written, and you can find most of the documentation for the products more useful than the content laid out in the book.

The lab book is decent for those that wish to practice or have no real world exposure to Checkpoint products. Although the lab book is about 300+ pages and includes 12 labs...much of the content is repeated materials or white space for page filling.

In closing I wouldn't recommend the self study course to anyone...it's not worth the $600, you can do better through research or having someone teach you (a friend or co-worker maybe), and the mistakes/outdated references just add negative feelings toward this course as a whole. There is also no sample test question to help you out either. I'm still on the fence about buying the CCSE course given the quality of this one. Anyone have a different experience or comments please let me know.

Comments

  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,746 ■■■■■■■■■■
    So are you going to take the CCSA exam?
  • NightShade03NightShade03 Member Posts: 1,383 ■■■■■■■□□□
    Yes and the CCSE because they aren't too difficult (multiple choice + 20% scenario based) and I have a plethora of Checkpoint equipment at work to practice on. Their website gives you the "study guide" for free which lists the 20 or so main objectives that their exams cover. I'll just study till I know those and I should be good for the exam. I don't think that their products are horrible I just think their training and certification process could use a good overhaul.
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,746 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I don't think that their products are horrible I just think their training and certification process could use a good overhaul.

    Their website is ridiculous and almost impossible to navigate. The account web site for tools, etc. is even worse.

    I hear you on that. I use CheckPoint FDE and ME and I really like them. There is a good chance that my boss will be sending me and two other coworkers for Check Point training some time next month.
  • NightShade03NightShade03 Member Posts: 1,383 ■■■■■■■□□□
    I'd be interested to see if the classroom training is better than the self study courses. I'd imagine it is because it is the persons job to train you...which means he/she probably knows the products really well (or at least you'd really hope so for that kind of money).

    BTW they have a promotion going on where if you refer someone (including yourself) for their classroom training you get a free ipad.
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,746 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I'd be interested to see if the classroom training is better than the self study courses. I'd imagine it is because it is the persons job to train you...which means he/she probably knows the products really well (or at least you'd really hope so for that kind of money).

    BTW they have a promotion going on where if you refer someone (including yourself) for their classroom training you get a free ipad.

    Ouch... I wish I had known that earlier! icon_sad.gif
  • NightShade03NightShade03 Member Posts: 1,383 ■■■■■■■□□□
    I just went to go book this test...so I look on the front cover of the book to grab the exam number. Turns out that the exam number isn't even correct for the training materials that they sent!!! icon_eek.gif The exam for the CCSA (which is the title of the course book) is 156-215.70. The exam that they list on the book is exam 156.701.70...which is for endpoint security...not even close to what the book covers! I mean seriously people did anyone proof read this book?!
  • Bl8ckr0uterBl8ckr0uter Inactive Imported Users Posts: 5,031 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Wow epic fail.
  • AlanJamesAlanJames Member Posts: 230
    Good post! I was looking at checkpoint supplied material.. $600 - Holy Cow!

    looks like the CBT are doing R70 videos, So I will wait for that I think.

    Has anyone gone through the R65 CBT ? what are they like?
  • core300core300 Registered Users Posts: 2 ■□□□□□□□□□
    The Official Check Point training manuals are not really designed to be used for self study. Using them, a classroom course with a good instructor is always needed.

    If you want an option to learn Check Point via self study through structured practical labs & explanations then the following two eBooks for R75 were released October 2012 and do work as a self study format.

    Check Point R75 Management Essentials - Part 1, Practical preparation for CCSA Certification
    Check Point R75 Management Essentials - Part 2, Practical preparation for CCSE Certification

    Available from Amazon or eLearnCheckPoint.com

    Authors: Neil Mackie & Gus Bouser
    Format: Two column landscape, designed for wide screen monitors.

    You will need to build the suggested virtual network environment to get the most from the training manuals and step through all the labs but doing lots of practical labs really is the only way to learn Check Point.
  • dmuscatodmuscato Member Posts: 10 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the advice.
  • dmuscatodmuscato Member Posts: 10 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Is it hard to do self study?
  • thinguythinguy Member Posts: 22 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Self Study is a Pain In The A$$ for checkpoint. Mainly because there are no quality materials made in the last several years. Also Checkpoints own free study guides are too thin. Even the official checkpoint courseware materials are thin and full of errors and typos.
    I've looked at the ebooks posted above but haven't pulled the trigger on $40 yet. No reviews and specialized 'just checkpoint' site I can't tell how good they are. I'm guessing either really good because the person loves the stuff or fly-by-night junk just can't tell which.
    Also wonder how they handle errors in content. I don't see an errata list on the site.

    I love checkpoint but competitors are gaining ground and if they don't have admins trained, and trained well, its going to get tougher for Checkpoint to retain customers and get new ones.
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