Switch Security and Security+

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If you’re planning to take the  SY0-401 version or the SY0-501 version of the Security+ exam, you should have a basic understanding of secure network administration principles, including deploying switches securely.

For example, can you answer this question?

Q. Your organization has several switches within the network. You need to implement a security control to prevent unauthorized access to these switches. Which of the following choices BEST meets this need?

A. Disable unused ports.

B. Implement an implicit deny rule.

C. Disable STP.

D. Enable SSH.

More, do you know why the correct answer is correct and the incorrect answers are incorrect? The answer and explanation is available at the end of this post.

Security+ Practice Test Questions

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Over 440 realistic Security+ practice test questions

All questions include explanations so you'll know why the correct answers are correct,

and why the incorrect answers are incorrect.

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Multiple quiz formats to let you use these questions based on the way you learn.
  • Learn mode - randomized. View each of the questions in random order. Learn mode allows you to keep selecting answers until you select the correct answer. Once you select the correct answer, you'll see the explanation. Click here to see how learn mode works.
  • Learn mode - not randomized. View each of the questions in the same order. Use this if you want to make sure that you see all of the questions. Learn mode allows you to keep selecting answers until you select the correct answer. Once you select the correct answer, you'll see the explanation. Click here to see how learn mode works.
  • Test mode - randomized. View each of the questions in random order. In test mode, you can only see the correct answers and explanations after you complete the test. Click here to see how test mode works.
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  • Test mode - 100 random questions. View 100 random questions from the full test bank similar to how the Security+ exam has a potential maximum of 100 multiple choice questions. In test mode, you can only see the correct answers and explanations after you complete the test. Click here to see how test mode works.

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INCLUDES QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU PREPARE

FOR THE NEW PERFORMANCE BASED QUESTIONS 

Bonus - Performance Based Questions

Additional Security+ questions to help you prepare for the new performance based questions. These are included with the full bank of Security+ practice test questions and are divided into different sections. For example, you'll have access to the following links:

- Performance Based Question - Set 1

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match different types of security to mobile devices and servers in a data center. You'll then have two questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 2

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match different types of attacks with the name of the attack type. You'll then have five questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 3

You'll see a graphic showing a network with computers and servers separated by a firewall. The firewall is used to control traffic between the computers and users using rules within an access control list (ACL).  You'll have three questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly identify the relevant components of the rule. The incorrect answers and explanation provide you with insight into how to correctly answer this type of question on the actual exam.

- Performance Based Question - Set 4

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam related to what a forensic analyst would do during an investigation. You'll then have two questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 5

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match protocols and ports. You'll then have seven questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 6

You'll see a list of security controls along with a graphic showing devices and locations within an organization, along with instructions on what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match the controls with the devices and locations. You'll then have four questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 7

You'll see a list of authentication methods and authentication factors along with instructions on what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match the authentication methods with the authentication factors. You'll then have six questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This set also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 8

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match different types of attacks with the name of the attack type. You'll then have five questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This is similar to Set 2 but expands on the possibilities. The set also includes a link to a page showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

New - Performance Based Question - Set 9

New questions recently added using a different testing engine. See a demo here. This set includes drag and drop and matching questions on ports.

New - Performance Based Question - Set 10

A random set of 20 performance-based questions using drag and drop, matching, sorting, and fill in-the blank. This set includes performance-based questions on RAID.

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Switches

A switch can learn which computers are attached to each of its physical ports. It then uses this knowledge to create internal switched connections when two computers communicate with each other.

Consider the figure below. When the switch turns on, it starts out without any knowledge other than knowing it has four physical ports. Imagine that the first traffic is the beginning of a TCP/IP conversation between Lisa’s computer and Homer’s computer.

Preventing Unauthorized Access

 Switch

When Lisa’s  computer sends the first packet, it includes the MAC address of the destination computer. However, because the switch doesn’t know which port Homer’s computer is connected to, it forwards this first packet to all the ports on the switch.

Included in that first packet is the MAC address of Lisa’s computer. The switch logs this information into an internal table. It then directs any future traffic addressed to Lisa’s MAC address to port 1, and port 1 only.

When Homer’s computer receives the packet, it responds. Embedded in this return packet is the MAC address of Homer’s computer. The switch captures Homer’s MAC address and logs it with port 4 in the internal table. From here on, any unicast traffic between Lisa’s and Homer’s computers is internally switched between only ports 1 and 4. Switches will internally switch unicast traffic. However, they pass broadcast traffic to all ports.

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The 401 Version of the Study Guide

SY0-401 Study GuideThe CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide is an update to the top-selling SY0-201 and SY0-301 study guides, which have helped thousands of readers pass the exam the first time they took it.

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Port Security

Port security limits the computers that can connect to physical ports on a switch. At the most basic level, administrators disable unused ports. For example, individual RJ-45 wall jacks in an office lead to specific physical ports on a switch. If the wall jack is not being used, administrators can disable the switch port. This prevents someone from plugging in a laptop or other computer into the wall jack and connecting to the network.

MAC address filtering is another example of port security. In a simple implementation, the switch remembers the first one or two MAC addresses that connect to a port. It then blocks access to systems using any other MAC addresses. You can also manually configure each port to accept traffic only from a specific MAC address. This limits each port’s connectivity to a specific device using this MAC address. This can be very labor intensive, but it provides a higher level of security.

Remember this

Port security includes disabling unused ports and limiting the number of MAC addresses per port. A more advanced implementation is to restrict each physical port to only a single specific MAC address.

Flood Attacks and Flood Guards

A MAC flood attack attempts to overload a switch with different MAC addresses associated with each physical port. You typically have only one device connected to any physical port. During normal operation, the switch’s internal table stores the MAC address associated with this device and maps it to the port. In a MAC flood attack, an attacker sends a large amount of traffic with spoofed MAC addresses to the same port.

At some point in a MAC flood attack, the switch runs out of memory to store all the MAC addresses and enters a fail-open state. Instead of working as a switch, it begins operating as a simple hub. Traffic sent to any port of the switch is now sent to all other switch ports. At this point, the attacker can connect a protocol analyzer to any port and collect all the traffic sent through the switch.

Many switches include a flood guard to protect against MAC flood attacks. When enabled, the switch will limit the amount of memory used to store MAC addresses for each port. For example, the switch might limit the number of entries for any port to 132 entries. This is much more than you need for normal operation. If the switch detects an attempt to store more than 132 entries, it raises an alert.

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The flood guard typically sends a Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) trap or error message in response to the alert. Additionally, it can either disable the port or restrict updates for the port. By disabling the port, it effectively blocks all traffic through the port until an administrator intervenes. If it restricts updates, the switch will use currently logged entries for the port, but ignore attempts to update it. All other ports will continue to operate normally.

Another flood guard supported by some switches is a setting for the maximum number of MACs supported by a port. Most ports will typically have this set to 1 to support only a single MAC address. However, consider a virtual machine (VM) running within a physical host. If the VM is set to bridged, it can access the network using the physical host’s NIC, but with the MAC address of the VM. In this scenario, the Maximum MAC setting should be set to 2.


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Online access includes all of the content from the

CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide

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  • Introduction
  • About the exam (including types of questions and strategies for performance-based questions)
  • 100 question pre-assessment exam
  • Mastering Security Basics (full content from Chapter 1 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Exploring Control Types and Methods (full content from Chapter 2 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Understanding Basic Network Security (full content from Chapter 3 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Securing Your Network (full content from Chapter 4 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Securing Hosts and Data (full content from Chapter 5 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Understanding Malware and Social Engineering (full content from Chapter 6 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Identifying Advanced Attacks (full content from Chapter 7 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Managing Risk (full content from Chapter 8 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Preparing for Business Continuity (full content from Chapter 9 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Understanding Cryptography (full content from Chapter 10 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Exploring Operational Security (full content from Chapter 11 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • 100 question post-assessment exam
  • Security+ Acronyms

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Test your readiness with these quality materials

Random 100-question tests

Random practice tests from the all of the practice test questions in the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide. All questions include explanations so you'll know why the correct answers are correct, and why the incorrect answers are incorrect.

34 Simulated Performance-based Questions

Eight sets of performance-based questions with multiple questions in each set. These questions help you understand and prepare for performance based questions.

22 Realistic Performance-based Questions

Two new sets of performance-based questions with a total of 22 questions. These new questions use a new testing engine that includes realistic drag and drop, matching, sorting, and fill in the blank questions.

Flashcard Set

  • 273 Security+ Flashcards to reinforce key testable concepts
  • 280 Security+ acronyms flashcards to help you master the required acronyms
  • 204 Security+ Remember This slides

Audio - SY0-401 Security+ Remember This Audio Files

Learn by Listening. Over one hour and 15 minutes of audio (MP3 downloads.)

Audio - SY0-401 Security+ Question and Answer Audio Files

Learn by Listening. Over three hours hour and 15 minutes of audio (MP3 downloads.)

Bonus #1

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Bonus #2

Subnetting mini-tutorial that will help you answer two key question types:
  • Identify how many hosts a subnet supports
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Bonus #3 

Access the study materials for a total of 60 days because sometimes life happens.

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Q. Your organization has several switches within the You need to implement a security control to prevent unauthorized access to these switches. Which of the following choices BEST meets this need?

A. Disable unused ports.

B. Implement an implicit deny rule.

C. Disable STP.

D. Enable SSH.

Answer is A. You can prevent unauthorized access by disabling unused physical ports on the This prevents the connection if someone plugs their computer into an unused disabled port.

An implicit deny rule is placed at the end of an access control list on a router to deny traffic that hasn’t been explicitly allowed, but it doesn’t affect physical ports differently.

Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) prevents switching loop problems and should be enabled.

Secure Shell (SSH) encrypts traffic but doesn’t protect a switch.

See Chapter 3 of the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide for more information on basic network security.

 


If you’re studying for the SY0-501 version of the exam, check out the CompTIA Security+ Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide.

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