The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Certification Guide

The Certified Ethical Hacker, or CEH certification, shows employers and other professionals that you keep up with the latest technology and strategies to protect IT systems and networks from threats.

  • Learn how to apply the five phases of ethical hacking
  • Master over 500 attack techniques
  • Practice real-world ethical hacking exercises

Key facts

Start your journey to becoming a certified professional with Infosec.

CEH exam overview

Certified Ethical Hacker certification is one of the most popular penetration testing qualifications in the cybersecurity industry. A CEH certification shows that you can comprehend and mirror the strategies and attack methods of some of the most skilled hackers in the world, giving you the knowledge to protect a wide range of information systems and networks. Offered by the EC-Council, this popular certification meets compliance requirements for several Department of Defense 8570/8140 positions.

The CEH v12 training (which, somewhat confusingly, prepares you for v4 of the exam blueprint) helps you keep up with the latest ethical hacking methodologies and threats. The current version of the CEH exam covers nine knowledge areas, or domains.

Information security and ethical hacking overview (6%)
  • Hacking concepts
  • Introduction to ethical hacking
  • Cyber kill chain concepts
  • Information security laws and standards
  • Information security controls
Reconnaissance techniques (21%)
  • Footprinting and reconnaissance
  • Scanning networks
  • Enumeration
System hacking phases and attack techniques (17%)
  • Vulnerability analysis
  • System hacking
  • Malware threats
Network and perimeter hacking (14%)
  • Sniffing
  • Social engineering
  • Denial-of-service
  • Session hijacking
  • Evading IDS, firewalls and honeypots
Web application hacking (16%)
  • Hacking web servers
  • Hacking web applications
  • SQL injection
Wireless network hacking (6%)
  • Wireless concepts
  • Wireless encryption
  • Wireless threats
  • Wireless hacking methodology
  • Wireless hacking tools
  • Bluetooth hacking
  • Wireless countermeasures
  • Wireless security tools
Mobile platform, IoT, and OT hacking (8%)
  • Mobile platform attack vectors
  • Hacking Android OS and iOS
  • Mobile device management
  • Mobile security guidelines and tools
  • IoT concepts and attacks
  • IoT hacking methodology and tools
  • IoT countermeasures
  • OT concepts and attacks
  • OT hacking methodology and tools
  • OT countermeasures
Cloud computing (6%)
  • Cloud computing concepts
  • Container technology
  • Serverless computing
  • Cloud computing threats
  • Cloud hacking and security
Cryptography (6%)
  • Cryptography concepts
  • Encryption algorithms
  • Cryptography tools
  • Public key infrastructure
  • Email encryption
  • Disk encryption
  • Cryptanalysis
  • Countermeasures

CEH exam details

ECC CEH 312-50 covers reconnaissance techniques, attack techniques, cryptography, system hacking phases, cloud computing basics, and hacking for mobile, networks, web applications, and perimeters.

Exam code: 312-50 CEH exam cost $950 from EC-C; $1199 from Pearson VUE; $100 non-refundable application fee
Launch date: 2003 Last update: January 2021
Number of questions: 125 Type of questions: Multiple choice
Duration of test: 4 hours Validity duration:  3 years
Recommended experience: 2 years working experience Languages: English, German, Japanese

CEH exam additional resources


CEH study guides and CEH books

A number of study guides and books are available to help you prepare for the CEH exam. You can find them at your local library, bookstore or online stores like Amazon. Two of the most popular are:

  • CEH v12 Certified Ethical Hacker Study Guide by Ric Messier
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) v12 312-50 Exam Guide by Dale Meredith and Christopher Rees

You can also find a number of free video walkthroughs of key concepts and tools, such as this video featuring Infosec Skills author Mike Meyers demoing password cracking.

CEH practice questions and exams

Practice questions and exams are a great way to gauge your progress when studying to achieve ethical hacker certification and identify topics that might require additional focus. Some sources of CEH practice questions include:

In addition to these options, many CEH training courses and content include practice questions. For example, Infosec Skills CEH training includes a customizable practice exam with more than 1,000 questions.


Other free CEH training resources

Books and practice exams are great resources to help you prepare, but don't be afraid to join online communities as well. Some other places to look for free CEH training materials include:

  • Forums: TechExams, Reddit and similar forums commonly include posts by people preparing for the CEH exam or who have already taken it.
  • Podcasts: The CEH exam is designed to help advance your career in cybersecurity. Learn more about career and training journeys with podcasts like Cyber Work.
  • Other social media: The CEH is a popular exam, and many people have created free training videos on YouTube, TikTok, Twitch and other platforms.

CEH jobs and careers

The CEH is one of the most requested certifications in security job postings in the U.S. and is one of the certifications included in the DoD Directive 8570/8140. Learn more about the job outlook for CEHs.


Common roles for CEH holders

Some of the more commonly held positions for people who have a CEH certification are:

Learn more about the job outlook for CEHs.

CEH live boot camps and self-paced training

How long you need to study for the CEH exam depends on your existing knowledge and experience — and your method of training. Paid training is a great option for those looking to get certified quickly or those who want some expert assistance mastering the concepts covered on the exam.

CEH comparisons and alternatives

The CEH is designed to prepare you to be an ethical hacker or pentester, but it is not the only option available. Here is how Certified Ethical Hacking certification stacks up to other related certifications.

CEH vs. CompTIA PenTest+

The PenTest+ certification from CompTIA has a nearly 80% overlap with CEH, and both strongly focus on penetration testing. Both are accredited by ANSI and are included in the DoD Directive 8570.

There are some differences, though. CEH is generally considered a beginner-level certification, while PenTest+ is more for intermediate practitioners. Similarly, PenTest+ certification may be more appropriate for professionals seeking wider, manager-level network protection skills, while CEH is geared more towards ethical hacking. There is a stricter continuing education credit requirement for CEH certification renewal than for PenTest+.


The Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) certification is a more advanced penetration testing certification than the CEH. 

OSCP takes a more hands-on approach than the CEH's knowledge-focused test and includes a nearly day-long practical pentesting portion of the exam. Because of this, it’s safe to say that OSCP focuses more on penetration testing than ethical hacking and is considered one of the most difficult cybersecurity certification exams.


The Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (CHFI) certification is similar to CEH in teaching professionals to defend organizations against hacking threats. The skills learned in both can be invaluable while auditing systems and networks to identify weak spots.

However, as its name implies, CHFI focuses more on the investigative side of hacking prevention than CEH. Both certifications are like two sides of the same coin; while CEH teaches professionals skills to perform ethical hacks, CHFI provides skills to collect evidence of hacking and properly report it.

Other alternatives to the CEH

 Which is better for your career? Is the CEH the best certification for you? That all depends on you and your career goals. Check out these articles to learn more:

Explore Infosec certifications to find the best fit for your career goals.