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Security Certifications: Qualifying Yourself for System Defense

  • May 9, 2003
  • By Steve Rowe
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Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP)

The CCSP credential offered by Cisco Systems is a relatively new credential. Cisco deemed it necessary to offer IT professionals working with Cisco technologies a professional level certification in planning, designing, and implementing secure networks with Cisco products and technologies. This is considered an upper level, professional certification and interested candidates must hold a CCNA before working on their CCSP credential. The following describe the CCSP program further:

  • Exams cost $125 U.S. and up to $150 U.S. internationally, depending on local currency fluctuations.
  • Training for all Cisco certifications are available. Check your local IT training centers, technical schools, or colleges to see if they offer classroom training. E-learning possibilities are also available, as well as a plethora of study guides from Cisco Press, Que Certification, Sybex, and a host of others.
  • The CCSP credential is valid for 3 years, like all other professional level certifications from Cisco. To renew, you simply need to successfully complete a recertification exam.
  • Pearson VUE and Prometric testing centers offer Cisco exams.

There is little doubt to the prominence that Cisco holds in the networking world. If you are interested in becoming a professional in information technology, holding any Cisco certification will be a great value-add to your resume. The CCSP will be no different. As a matter of fact, being able to implement well designed, secure networks with Cisco technologies may be in high demand in the very near future. The CCSP is definitely a credential you will want to explore and consider. For more information on the CCSP select the "Learning & Events" menu at www.cisco.com.

Microsoft

Surprisingly to some, Microsoft does not have a full security certification as of yet. This probably will not be the case for long, though. Microsoft has indicated that a full security certification is being heavily considered. Not having a full security credential does not mean that there are no security offerings from Microsoft. Microsoft offers security-related classes and exams as part of their 2000 and 2003 MCSE programs. If you will be working with Microsoft technologies as part of your IT career, then you will most likely add value to your credentials by passing at least one of the following exams as part of your certification path:

Windows 2000 MCSE

  • Exam 70-214 — "Implementing and Administering Security in a Microsoft Windows 2000 Network".
  • Exam 70-220 — "Designing Security for a Microsoft Windows 2000 Network"
  • Exam 70-227 — "Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft's Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server, Enterprise Edition."

Windows Server 2003 MCSE

  • Exam 70-298 — "Designing Security for a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network".
  • Exam 70-227 — "Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft's Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server, Enterprise Edition."

Stay tuned to www.microsoft.com/mcse for news on a full Microsoft security certification. Having security knowledge for Microsoft products is sure to be a boost to your professional repertoire.

Conclusions

There is little doubt about the importance of information security. As of this writing, security certification is one of the hottest, if not the hottest, area of IT learning and certification. In a day and age where one must be certain that all avenues are explored and secured on their network infrastructure, the demand for qualified, well-trained people is only growing.

What is the right path for you? This question can be answered by honestly assessing your current skills and situation, your career aspirations, and your ability to pay for and successfully complete training for security exams. If you are relatively new to the IT world, it is advisable to study for and take one of the vendor neutral, baseline exams. This will allow you to build your knowledge and professional foundation so you can begin to work in information security at a junior level and amass the experience to tackle the upper-level exams and vendor specific certifications. Maybe you are a veteran IT professional who has worked in security. Check out what each of these certification tracks offers you. Get in touch with the market and see which track can get you the position you desire, the promotion or pay raise you want, or which track will help educate you to be a better IT professional if advancement is not necessarily your goal. Several security certifications exist, as do training opportunities to back them. Assess yourself and the direction you want to go in your career and launch yourself into one of the security tracks that will bolster your IT knowledge and skills.

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