I did not look into Todd's new CCENT book so not sure if a reader must have some sorth of basic knowledge of networking.
what does he write about in introduction ? who is the book for ? etc. if you have problems understanding when reading, then look into a Network + book or some book on intro to networking.
you don't have to pass the Network + test, just get some knowledge.
the best book ever for intro to networking is
Then you need Packet tracer software from Cisco. PT lets you build networks and see "trafic" one by one and step-by-step in slow motion in PT Sim mode.
Some PT come with labs in package; but likely you will neet to get those from many sites or build by yourself.
If you have no experience and want to get into computer forensics, I would suggest getting your feet wet in many areas first. A few years down the road you will be a swiss army knife type of engineer. At that point I would revist specializing in computer forensics. My concern is that you need a very broad knowledge before diving into a specialty like that. Also worth mentioning is that while CCNA is part of gaining that broad knowledge, it is a very small part of it. I would actually suggest some of the SANS related instruction.
To add to what people have said, to gain an understanding of networking, the book i started out with was "Data Communications and Networking, by Forouzan". I found this a great resource as it goes into more depth about networking in general. Then i have now started CCNA study with books from cisco press such as "W. Odems, CCNA Exam prep" and "Steve Mc Querry CCNA prep library" which are not as in depth as the Forouzan book in the concepts of networking. Onto security
As Paul mentioned, Yes the SANS Insitute is great. To get you hands dirty which is essiatial to everything in the IT game, i recomend
Wireshark Network Protocol Analyzer www.wireshark.org
nmap-zenmap www.nmap.org a great network scanner
backtrack linux www.backtrack-linux.org which is a large set of tools for penertration testing, cracking, sniffing and many more built on a cut down version of unbuntu. U can use backtrack as your main OS or run it from a bootable DVD or USB drive. Bactrack also comes with a large range of NIC driver patches to make connnecting to a network easy.
last but not least, a good book from Bruce Schneier, check out www.schneier.com
His monthly cryptogram is pretty interesting aswell.
Good luck with your studies
As someone who worked in an ISP on transmission equipment but could never get the chance to work on cisco equipment to see my paper learning come to life. I studied about 5 years ago, but didn't get my head around a lot of the show/debug or troubleshooting techniques and consequently failed. I'm back to try again.
I highly recommend getting hold of the free emulation software, so that after you study each chapter you can reinforce your learning with practical work.
Packet Tracer 5.3 has come a long way since the first time I studied for my CCNA and has everything you need except for SDM emulation
GNS3 - processor intensive so I only use it for a single router and by creating a looopback interface on your PC you can configure the router using SDM
Hope that helps
I disagree; Todd's book is perfect for beginners without labs;
Odom's book is written as a re-view for exam; as a cert exam prep;
there are foundation learning books for CCNA that we supposed to read before reading cert exam.
For Cisco Press books you need labs either from Net academy or other sources.
Not critisizing Todd Lamelles book. I've used it, and while it walks you through the configuration, I need to punch the commands in/write them out to commit them to memory. The simulators are an easy/cheap way to do this.
Also my point about the cert book is that it isn't 'straight to the point' and uses a lot of fluffy language where fact and diagram would serve the purpose.
I am reading the OSPF chapter at the moment. This is the opening paragraph about Hello protocol at the end of page 347.