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Passing CompTIA Security+ SY0-601 Exam: Tips and Resources

Are you considering taking the CompTIA Security+ Certification Exam (SY0-601)? This exam is designed to test your knowledge and skills in areas such as risk management, cryptography, identity and access management, and more. It is a valuable certification for anyone looking to enter or advance their career in the field of cybersecurity.


Here’s what you need to know to pass the SY0-601 exam:

Exam Details

The CompTIA Security+ Certification Exam (SY0-601) consists of 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions that you must complete in 90 minutes. The exam is currently available in English, Japanese, and Portuguese.

You will need to score at least 750 out of 900 to pass the exam. The cost of the exam is $370, and it is available through Pearson VUE.

Exam Objectives

CompTIA has outlined the exam objectives in its Certification Exam Objectives document, which is available on their website. The exam covers the following topics:

  • Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities
  • Architecture and Design
  • Implementation
  • Operations and Incident Response
  • Governance, Risk, and Compliance

Within these topics, you will need to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in areas such as risk assessment, access control, identity and access management, network security, cryptography, and incident response.

While there are no formal prerequisites for the SY0-601 exam, CompTIA recommends that candidates have at least two years of experience in IT administration with a focus on security. Additionally, they recommend that candidates hold the CompTIA Network+ certification.

Study Materials

To prepare for the SY0-601 exam, CompTIA recommends that candidates use a combination of study materials, including:

  • Official CompTIA study guide and practice tests
  • Online courses and study groups
  • Practice labs and simulations
  • Other recommended reading materials

It is important to use a variety of study materials to ensure that you are prepared for the different types of questions and scenarios that may be presented on the exam.

Study Resources

CompTIA provides a range of study resources for Security+ SY0-601 exam candidates. These include official study guides, practice exams, and instructor-led training. In addition, there are many third-party resources available, such as study books, online courses, and practice tests.

One highly recommended study resource is the CompTIA Security+ Certification Exam Objectives Version 3.0 (Exam Number: SY0-601) which is available on the official CompTIA website. This document provides a detailed breakdown of the exam objectives and can serve as a valuable study guide.

In addition to the official CompTIA resources, many candidates also find it helpful to seek out study groups or online forums where they can connect with other candidates, share study tips and resources, and ask questions.

If you prefer video resources, there’s a great video series on YouTube titled "Passing CompTIA’s Security+ SY0-601 Exam: Everything You Need to Know" by Mike Meyers, a.k.a Professor Messer, that covers all the topics you need to know to pass the exam. It’s a comprehensive resource that can supplement your other study materials and help reinforce your understanding of the exam objectives.

Hardware and Software

In addition to studying the exam objectives and recommended materials, it may be helpful to have access to certain hardware and software to practice your skills and prepare for the exam. CompTIA provides a sample list of hardware and software on their website, including:

  • Laptop with internet access
  • Separate wireless NIC
  • WAP (Wireless Access Point)
  • Firewall (e.g., pfSense, Cisco ASA, Fortinet, etc.)
  • UTM (e.g., Fortinet FortiGate, Sophos UTM, Check Point UTM-1, Barracuda NG Firewall, SonicWall TZ Series, Snort, Securita, Etc.)
  • Mobile device
  • Server/cloud server
  • IoT devices
  • Virtualization software (e.g., VMware, XenServer, ProxMox)
  • Penetration testing OS/distributions (e.g., Kali Linux, Parrot OS)
  • SIEM (e.g., Splunk, IBM QRadar, LogRhythm, AlienVault USM, McAfee Enterprise Security Manager, etc.)
  • Wireshark
  • Metasploit
  • tcpdump

While not required, having access to these tools can help you gain hands-on experience and improve your understanding of the concepts covered on the exam.

Exam Format

The CompTIA Security+ SY0-601 exam consists of a maximum of 90 questions, which are a combination of multiple-choice and performance-based questions. Candidates have 90 minutes to complete the exam, and a passing score is 750 on a scale of 100-900.

Performance-based questions require candidates to perform a task or solve a problem in a simulated environment, and are designed to test practical, real-world skills. These questions may require candidates to configure a firewall, analyze logs, or identify vulnerabilities.

Exam Objectives

The Security+ SY0-601 exam covers a range of topics related to information security, including:

  1. Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities
  2. Architecture and Design
  3. Implementation
  4. Operations and Incident Response
  5. Governance, Risk, and Compliance

Within each of these areas, the exam covers specific subtopics, as follows:

  1. Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities

The Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities domain of CompTIA Security+ certification exam covers the following topics:

  • Identify types of malware: Malware refers to malicious software designed to harm computer systems or steal data, and includes viruses, worms, trojans, ransomware, and more. Being able to identify these different types of malware is essential for preventing and responding to attacks.

  • Identify types of attacks: There are various types of attacks that can be carried out on computer systems and networks, including denial-of-service (DoS), distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), man-in-the-middle (MitM), phishing, and more. Understanding these different attack types and how they are carried out is critical for effective security.

  • Identify social engineering attacks: Social engineering attacks are designed to manipulate people into performing actions that are harmful to themselves or their organizations, and include phishing, baiting, pretexting, and more. Being able to recognize and defend against these types of attacks is essential for protecting sensitive information.

  • Identify application attacks: Application attacks target vulnerabilities in software applications to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data or execute malicious code. Examples include SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and buffer overflow attacks. Understanding these types of attacks and how to defend against them is important for securing applications.

  • Identify network attacks: Network attacks target vulnerabilities in network protocols and devices to gain unauthorized access to data or cause disruption. Examples include port scanning, packet sniffing, and man-in-the-middle attacks. Knowing how to detect and defend against these types of attacks is critical for network security.

  • Describe vulnerability scanning concepts: Vulnerability scanning involves using tools to identify weaknesses in computer systems and networks. This process helps organizations identify potential security risks so that they can be addressed before they are exploited by attackers. Understanding vulnerability scanning concepts and tools is important for maintaining a secure environment.1

  1. Architecture and Design

The Architecture and Design domain of CompTIA Security+ certification exam covers the following topics:

  • Implement secure network architecture concepts: This includes designing and implementing secure network topologies, such as perimeter networks, demilitarized zones (DMZ), and VLANs. Additionally, it covers the implementation of network security devices, such as firewalls, routers, and switches.

  • Implement secure systems design: This involves the implementation of security controls in the design of systems, such as operating systems, applications, and databases. It also covers the integration of security controls into the software development life cycle (SDLC).

  • Implement secure mobile and small form factor devices: This includes implementing security controls for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and small form factor devices, such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices and embedded systems.

  • Implement secure cloud and virtualization technologies: This involves implementing security controls in cloud-based and virtualized environments, such as securing cloud storage and virtual machines, and implementing secure virtual network architectures.

  • Explain the importance of physical security controls: This covers the implementation of physical security controls, such as surveillance, access controls, and environmental controls, to protect physical assets, such as servers, networking equipment, and data centers. It also covers the importance of proper disposal of electronic devices and media.

  1. Implementation

The Implementation domain of CompTIA Security+ certification exam covers the following topics:

  • Install and configure identity and access services: This includes configuring user authentication, authorization, and accounting, as well as implementing directory services, such as Active Directory and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP).

  • Install and configure network components: This involves installing and configuring network components, such as firewalls, switches, routers, and wireless access points. It also covers the configuration of virtual private networks (VPNs) and remote access solutions.

  • Install and configure security controls: This includes the installation and configuration of security controls, such as intrusion detection/prevention systems (IDS/IPS), antivirus/antimalware software, and data loss prevention (DLP) solutions.

  • Install and configure basic forensic tools: This involves installing and configuring basic forensic tools, such as packet capture and analysis tools, file recovery tools, and system and network monitoring tools.

  • Explain the importance of secure staging deployment concepts: This covers the importance of implementing secure staging and deployment concepts, such as change management, patch management, and configuration management, to ensure that changes to systems and applications are implemented in a secure and controlled manner. It also covers the importance of testing and validating changes before deploying them into production environments.

  1. Operations and Incident Response

The Operations and Incident Response domain of CompTIA Security+ certification exam covers the following topics:

  • Given a scenario, implement incident response procedures: This involves implementing incident response procedures, such as incident identification, containment, eradication, and recovery. It also covers the importance of communication and documentation during incident response.

  • Explain the importance of digital forensics: This covers the importance of digital forensics, such as collecting and analyzing digital evidence, for incident response and investigation purposes.

  • Explain the importance of disaster recovery and continuity of operations: This includes the implementation of disaster recovery and business continuity plans, such as backup and restore procedures, and high availability solutions, to ensure that critical business functions can continue in the event of a disaster.

  1. Governance, Risk, and Compliance

The Governance, Risk, and Compliance domain of CompTIA Security+ certification exam covers the following topics:

  • Compare and contrast various types of controls: This includes the comparison of administrative, technical, and physical controls, and the importance of implementing them in a layered defense strategy.

  • Explain the importance of applicable regulations, standards, or frameworks that impact organizational security posture: This covers the importance of complying with applicable laws and regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and industry standards and frameworks, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework.

  • Explain the importance of policies and procedures: This involves the development and implementation of security policies and procedures, such as acceptable use policies and incident response plans, to ensure that security measures are consistent and effective. It also covers the importance of user awareness and training programs.

Test-taking Strategies

In addition to studying the exam objectives and using the recommended materials, there are a few test-taking strategies that can help you pass the SY0-601 exam:

  • Pace yourself: You have 90 minutes to complete the exam, which means you should aim to spend no more than one minute per question. This will give you enough time to read and answer each question without feeling rushed. CompTIA exams let you go back and forward between questions. If you can’t figure it out immediately, flag the question, come back to it later.
  • Eliminate wrong answers: If you are unsure of an answer, try to eliminate any obviously incorrect options to improve your chances of selecting the correct answer. CompTIA commonly likes to give two wrong answers and two right answers to trip people up with existing experience. Eliminate two off the bat and carefully consider the remaining answers.
  • Read carefully: Read each question and answer option carefully to ensure that you fully understand what is being asked. Don’t rush through the questions, as this can lead to misinterpretation and incorrect answers. Be aware that CompTIA likes to trip you up with double negatives and specifics.
  • Review your answers: Once you have completed the exam, if you have time, review any questions you’ve left unanswered.

Tips for Passing the Exam

  1. Start with the exam objectives: The exam objectives provide a clear outline of the topics you need to study. Use this as a guide to focus your study efforts.

  2. Create a study plan: Develop a study plan that includes specific goals and deadlines. This will help you stay organized and on track.

  3. Use a variety of study resources: Don’t rely solely on one study resource. Use a combination of official study materials, third-party resources, and study groups to gain a comprehensive understanding of the exam material.

  4. Practice, practice, practice: Take as many practice exams and performance-based questions as possible. This will help you become familiar with the exam format and identify areas where you need to focus your study efforts.

  1. Stay current with industry trends: Stay up-to-date with current industry trends and news related to information security. This will help you contextualize the exam material and understand how it applies in real-world situations.


The CompTIA Security+ SY0-601 exam is a challenging but valuable certification for anyone looking to enter or advance their career in the field of cybersecurity. To pass the exam, you will need to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in a range of areas related to information security, including attacks, threats, and vulnerabilities, architecture and design, implementation, operations and incident response, and governance, risk, and compliance.

To prepare for the exam, use a combination of study materials, including official CompTIA resources, third-party resources, and study groups. Additionally, consider practicing with the recommended hardware and software tools to gain hands-on experience and improve your understanding of the concepts covered on the exam.

By following these tips and strategies, you will be well-prepared to pass the SY0-601 exam and take the next step in your cybersecurity career.