CEH vs. OSCP
If you are looking to get into cybersecurity and hacking, then you have probably heard of CEH and OSCP. Both of these certifications are concerned with IT security and penetration, however, they are not the same, and you should be aware of their differences before deciding on one. So, in what ways are CEH and OSCP different?
CEH is more focused on theoretical knowledge, and it is perfect for candidates who do not possess a lot of experience. On the other hand, OSCP is more oriented towards self-study and hands-on experience, meaning that it requires performing the methods included in the exam and real-life situations.
In this article, I will explain the differences between CEH and OSCP, so you could understand why sometimes one of them can be more suitable than the other. They have similarities, and they are concerned with the same field, but they do not lead to the same end results. Therefore, making the distinction between the two is essential, and this overview of the certifications will help you to realize that.
What Is CEH Certification?
CEH stands for Certified Ethical Hacking and it is a certification provided by EC-Council. It is not an entry-level certificate; therefore if you intend to take this exam, you will need to possess at least two years of experience in the security field.
The CEH certification is designed to assess candidates’ skills in the network security branch from a vendor-neutral perspective. This means that this certificate includes more general skills and concepts, i.e. knowledge and techniques that are not specific only for a certain vendor or company.
The CEH exam is oriented towards theoretical knowledge, and it offers concepts rather than hands-on experience. This does not mean that this exam does not include the hands-on labs, but that the practice is limited. Therefore, CEH is ideal for those candidates who do not have great offensive security knowledge.
However, the exam trains you to think ‘like a hacker’, i.e., it provides the skills to perform actions or attacks, but in a totally legal way. That is why the certification includes the word ‘ethical’ in it. Furthermore, CEH consists of a great set of penetration tools and testing, which enable you to detect issues and security breaches and design a protection plan for the same.
CEH is designed for those who do not possess detailed knowledge of security concepts, but it covers all the steps of penetration testing. It includes security in network and web, cloud and mobile. It also includes tools and techniques used to provide security, with some countermeasures.
The exam theoretically explains the attacks that happen on the internet, but offers fewer hands-on labs. Therefore, if your offensive security experience is limited, the CEH certification is definitely for you. If you do not have a clear understanding of the concepts, this exam will help you get there.
The exam includes 125 multiple-choice and single answer questions, and you have four hours to do it. Generally, candidates need five days of preparation if they do eight hours of studying and training each day. However, this is an average estimate, meaning that you can individually plan your preparation time, according to your needs.
What Is OSCP Certification?
OSCP or Offensive Security Certified Professional is a certification that also focuses on security and penetration testing, but it has a more self-study approach. This means that this exam involves more hands-on experience rather than theoretical explanations. It is more technical, and explains the attacks in detail.
Unlike the CEH, OSCP provides tools and hacks that are used in the attacks, and you will be required to focus more on that. In the exam, you will be provided with videos and pdf explaining certain attacks, and not questions about the methods in theory. What is more, you will need to gain access via VPN and hack over 50 servers.
Therefore, as this exam is more self-study, during the preparation process, you will have to do a lot of research and use different resources to obtain and learn the needed techniques. Only by real and constant practice you can pass this exam. So, you will not need to explain the attacks, but perform a real one by yourself, without help and without an instructor.
The OSCP certification is quite difficult and you will be required to practice a lot. Depending on your prior knowledge you can decide how much time you will need for the preparation process. The length of the preparation cannot be measured generally since each candidate has a different level of knowledge, and different terms on which they learn.
Unlike the CEH exam which takes only four hours, the OSCP has the duration of 48 hours, or two days. You have to cover two parts, i.e. in the first 24 hours you have to hack five servers, and in the other part you have to write your report. The exam is quite demanding, and you need to be really prepared in order to pass it.
You need to understand that the preparation for this exam will take a lot of your free time, and it requires a real commitment. So, if you are not really prepared to devote fully, then maybe this exam would not be suitable for you.
Which One Should You Choose?
It is a fact that both of the certifications are good and highly valued, but they take you to different end goals. However, if you are a beginner, it is better to opt for CEH and then OSCP. You should understand that OSCP is difficult, and without prior knowledge, you cannot pass it for sure.
So, if your knowledge is limited, it is better to opt for CEH and understand the concepts of hacking and security in detail. You will gain a greater in-depth knowledge which will lead your way towards the next step, i.e. the OSCP certification. The OSCP is not impossible, but you have to cover some steps before you obtain it.
You can probably see that there is a big difference between CEH and OSCP, even though they are concerned with the same objectives. It is important to understand the distinction and be honest with yourself about your knowledge, if you want to reach a high level in the IT industry.