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Security Objectives on the 220-702 Exam

The CompTIA A+ Certification 220-702 (IT Technician) exam is designed to test the knowledge of an entry-level IT professional with at least 1,000 hours of hands-on experience in lab or field work. To receive CompTIA A+ Certification, you must pass both 220-701 (Essentials) and 220-702.

The IT Technician exam stresses hands-on knowledge, and 13% of the examination deals with questions from Domain 4.0 (Security). So, what are the Security objectives that may be included in your exam?

Security 4.1—Given a Scenario, Prevent, Troubleshoot, and Remove Viruses and Malware

For this subobjective, you should understand the following:

  • How to use antivirus software
  • How to identify malware symptoms
  • How to quarantine infected systems
  • How to research malware types, symptoms, and solutions (virus encyclopedias)
  • How to clean up infected systems (virus and malware scans, tools to remove specific malware, and so on)
  • How to update antivirus software signatures and engines automatically and manually
  • How to schedule antivirus and antimalware scans
  • How to repair boot sectors using Recovery Console (XP) and Recovery Environment (Vista)
  • How to enable easier removal by booting into safe mode or by making other changes to the boot environment with MSConfig.exe (System Configuration)
  • How to educate end users on common threats (spam emails, phishing, and so on)

What can you do to better understand these objectives? Try the following exercises on a computer you use specifically for testing:

  • Try the different scan features in your antivirus and antimalware programs (scan a drive, folder, file, entire system; see Figure 6).
  • Figure 6 Scanning a system for threats with TrendMicro Internet Security

  • Download and run free threat-removal programs available from Symantec, McAfee, and Microsoft (among others) even if your system is not infected with a particular threat.
  • Install and run antimalware programs such as Spybot Search & Destroy and Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware for an extra layer of protection, even if you already use a resident antimalware program or suite.
  • Manually check for updates for the antivirus and antimalware programs you use (Figure 7).
  • Figure 7 Updating Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware

  • Set up or change scan schedules for the antivirus or antimalware programs you use.
  • Practice the use of Recovery Console (Windows XP) to run boot-repair programs such as Fixmbr and Fixboot. Cancel out of these processes before completing them unless the boot files or boot sector are damaged.
  • Practice starting Windows Vista with the Vista DVD and starting the repair process.
  • Use the boot.ini (XP) or Boot (Vista) tabs in MsConfig.exe (System Configuration Utility) to see the boot options available (Figure 8).
  • Figure 8 Using MsConfig for Windows XP to display boot options

  • Press the F8 key at startup to display the boot options menu (which includes Safe Mode and other options). Select Safe Mode with Network Support and use it to run and update antivirus programs. Using Safe Mode with Network Support can prevent some types of malware from running, thus making repairs easier.
  • Explain to friends, family, or co-workers some of the typical dangers of opening email from unknown sources, clicking on unfamiliar links, and other threats.

Security 4.2—Implement Security and Troubleshoot Common Issues

For this subobjective, you should understand the following:

  • How to use security settings in Windows operating systems, such as local users and groups (Administrator, Power Users, Guest, Users)
  • How Vista User Access Control (UAC) works
  • How NTFS and Share (network) permissions are different, including allow versus deny, differences between moving and copying folders and files, and file attributes, among others
  • How shared files and folders provide security, including administrative shares vs. local shares, permission propagation, and inheritance.
  • The names and uses of system files and folders
  • How to use EFS and BitLocker encryption systems and how to authenticate users
  • How to use BIOS-based security settings for hardware, including drive lock, passwords, intrusion detection, and TPM

These exercises will help you better understand these objectives. Perform them on a computer you use specifically for testing:

  • Set up new users in Windows (Figure 9) and assign them to different groups (Administrator, Limited, Guest, and so on). Try running tasks that require higher levels of access (such as Device Manager, Manage Windows, etc.) with each user and note how some types of users cannot perform these tasks (XP) or prompt you for administrator credentials (Vista UAC).
  • Figure 9 Setting up a limited user in Windows XP

  • Set up a shared folder and configure it with different levels of access. Try performing file copy, move, deletions, or changes across the network from a different system and note which access levels permit changes, and which do not.
  • Set up a folder in the Public or Shared folders and configure it for different levels of access by different users with different levels (Figure 10). Try performing file copy, move, deletions, or changes by different users and note which access levels permit changes, and which do not per user. See NTFS Permissions for helpful background. Note that Windows XP users must disable Simple File Sharing first.
  • Figure 10 Preparing to change permissions for a folder

  • By default, Windows hides system files and folders from view in Windows Explorer, (My) Computer, and other file management programs. To see these folders in Windows, use Folder options' View tab and select Show Hidden Files and Folders.
  • If your version of Windows supports EFS (encrypted file system), encrypt a file or folder, and decrypt the file or folder. Copy a file or folder to a flash drive or hard disk formatted with NTFS, encrypt it (Figure 11), and try to read the encrypted information on another computer.
  • Figure 11 Preparing to encrypt a file or folder

  • If your version of Windows Vista supports BitLocker (Enterprise or Ultimate), download the BitLocker Drive Preparation tool, use it to prepare the hard disk for BitLocker, and encrypt your drive. If you do not have a TPM, see BitLocker Drive Encryption Overview for help in configuring Group Policy to allow you to use BitLocker without a TPM (Figure 12).

Figure 12 Configuring Group Policy to allow BitLocker full-disk encryption without a TPM

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