Disclaimer: I was lucky enough to receive admission to PTX as part of VetSec’s partnership with eLearnSecurity and was given access to the Elite version of the course for free. So first, a huge thank you to the fine folks at eLearnSecurity and the Board of VetSec. Please consider this content to be sponsored by both VetSec as well as eLearnSecurity. However, they have both made it clear that they want my honest opinion of the content as well as my experience as a cybersecurity practitioner and my writing will reflect this. For the sake of transparency, the Elite version of the course is $1,999 and includes lab access and an exam voucher. Alright, enough of that. Onto the article!
Hey everybody! HuskyHacks the hacker-hiker here.
Just three short months ago, I was blazing trails through great Appalachia and all was right in the world. Since then, I’m confident in saying that my life changed very quickly. In just a couple of whirlwind months, I was forced to return home from the Appalachian Trail, took some great certification courses, moved to the city that will be my home for the next five years, landed an amazing gig at an awesome company, drafted up plans to start a scholarship at my old high school, and started back up with my graduate education. Meanwhile, I’ve continued to hone my skills with any training that I can get my hands on and continue to learn and teach everything I know. And none of that even touches the plans that I have in the works for other things this year which are so exciting that I dare not even type them out long form for fear they will evaporate from mere mention.
Yeah, life got busy. But I believe that time expands and contracts around the things you prioritize, and while this isn’t what I envisioned I’d be doing at this point in the year (I thought I’d be hobbling across the halfway point of the AT at Harper’s Ferry by now), the return to my craft has brought tons of things to prioritize and be excited about. When people say “find what you love and let the time disappear,” I can’t help but recognize that as what is happening currently with my journey towards mastery of this field.
So even though my docket looks completely full, I’m never in a position to turn down amazing opportunities for professional and personal growth. That’s why when I got the message from Tom of VetSec that they had picked me to receive a voucher to eLearnSecurity’s flagship red-teaming certification course, Penetration Testing Extreme, completely free in exchange for my thoughts in blog post form, I simply couldn’t say no. In fact (and cue the Who lyrics) I call that a bargain.
For some background, I’ve been in IT for about eight years now and have been in InfoSec for the last three. I have no strong specialization, but if I had to pick a single class to spec into it would be red-side technical work. I have a bachelor’s degree in IT and have built a collection of certifications over the last few years, with my most recent additions being OSCP and eCPPT. My main gig in this field is building customized cybersecurity content for clients, which includes CTF ranges and learning modules. Overall, I’m not the best by a longshot, but I’m not the worst and have been steadily chipping away at mastery for a while now. PTX represents a whole new level of challenge that I’ll happily immerse myself in.
Over the next few months, I’ll step in the ring with this beast of a course and report the results: the good, the bad, the triumphs, and (mostly) the struggles. PTX is the highest tiered red-teaming certification that eLS has to offer and covers many topics that could be accurately described as real world red team tradecraft. A brief glance at the course syllabus is enough to determine that I have my work cut out for me.
The module list seems scant but don’t let it fool you. Each of these topics are so deep that they all warrant their own courses. A cursory scroll through the accompanying PDFs of each module shows that there are actually over a thousand slides of content cumulatively. I like what I see for the content that I’ve seen so far, but I’ll leave the in depth discussion for a later day.
I sang praises of the structure, user experience, and overall feel of eLS courses in my review of PTP, so please view that post if you would like to hear what I think about the platform. In short, I love it. Content is easy to find, the exam can be started at any time, labs are simple to set up, and the company seems to really care about communication with its students. All of this makes for fantastic form by a company that wants to step up in the InfoSec world as a premiere training platform.
My run through this gauntlet will culminate with the PTX exam. I’m calling it right now; I will probably get walloped by the exam the first time. And that’s ok, it’s all part of the fun! I expect it to be similar to the eCPPT exam but a lot more intense and condensed into a 48 hour period. Despite my musings, I’ll hold off making further assumptions on the exam and just let it be a surprise.
I have my work cut out for me, for sure. But this is an amazing opportunity to dig even deeper, get mired in technical, get frustrated, and learn. I’m thankful for the opportunity and look forward to sharing it all with you! Please stay tuned!
About the Author: HuskyHacks is on a path to mastery and ready to stumble over every rock on the way! He is a USMC veteran and served as the lead embedded cybersecurity analyst at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory Space Systems and Technology research division. He has hiked Mount Kilimanjaro and 1/20th of the Appalachian Trail. His credentials include the OSCP, eCPPTv2, BS-IT from Northeastern, and an Advanced Certificate in Cybersecurity from RIT. His main blog is huskyhacks.dev.