Five Hot Cybersecurity Certs for 2017

Security concept contemplating blue lock

It seems as if data breaches are on everyone's lips lately. Cybersecurity news sites, forums, blogs or online magazines all tell of egregious incidents of large organizations having their data compromised, and the negative impacts that result.


In some incidents, the cost of a breach can reach billions of dollars due to the disclosure of sensitive customer data, including credit card numbers, account passwords, and other personal information. Failure to protect customer data comes with a high-cost monetarily, but also to the reputation of the business.


Fortunately, as more breaches are made public, employers are coming to believe strongly in the value of security professionals as a shield to protect customer data and the life of the business itself. Employers are seeing the value of paying premium salaries to security professionals to safeguard their data.


This rush for security is driving the market for trained and certified security pros to unprecedented levels. This demand is has also led to a shortage of cybersecurity pros who are able to handle the demands of cloud computing and billions of mobile devices.


While you don't necessarily need a certification to land a positon in cybersecurity, having one does increase your odds of garnering an employer's interest — that crucial first step in getting hired. Employers increasingly take comfort in hiring an individual with a certification because they see the credential as validation from a vendor neutral third-party that the potential employee has the training and skills to do the job.


Certification from a reputable organization is an effective and efficient source of knowledge that helps put you ahead of other job candidates. While it costs a bit of money and effort to achieve, it will pay off over the long term.


Below are five of the top certifications to pursue for the aspiring network security professionals. The list contains entry level certifications covering basic security concepts, as well as advanced credentials for more experienced security pros at the top of their game. The list also covers certifications directly related to cloud security — an increasing concern for companies migrating their services to the cloud.


CompTIA Security+


Security+ is a globally recognized, vendor-neutral foundational security certification covering both computer systems and business-related concepts such as risk management. The certification covers a broad swath of security topics including networks starting from host-security and extending to securing different IT systems and elements.


Security+ also introduces students to data security, compliance, threats and vulnerabilities, access control, identity management, and cryptography. This broad foundation makes CompTIA Security+ an attractive and recommended option for individuals seeking entry into the field.


GSEC: GIAC Security Essentials Certification


While GSEC is another foundation level security certification, it is more comprehensive and in-depth than CompTIA Security+. GSEC is suitable for IT professionals who not only understand security terminology, but also have hands-on experience with security roles in organizations.


The certification is rich with knowledge in areas such as access control, common types of security attacks, cryptography, firewalls, IPv6, Linux, networking systems, vulnerability management, wireless attacks and many other security domains. While CompTIA Security+ is an attractive foundation-level certification for IT professionals new to security, GSEAC is the perfect choice for those with some background in the field.


CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional


Security concept satisfied guy

CISSP is an advanced level vendor-neutral certification that is always found on any lists of top security certifications. Supported by the nonprofit organization (ISC)2, CISSP is seen as an excellent certification validating an advanced level of proficiency.


CISSP is very comprehensive, covering a wide range of security concepts with deep dives that provide the knowledge and understanding required for ensuring information security in any organization. The certification exam tests applicant's competence across eight domains:


? Security and Risk Management
? Asset Security
? Security Engineering
? Communications and Network Security
? Identity and Access Management
? Security Assessment and Testing
? Security Operations
? Software Development Security.


Because CISSP covers systems as well as physical security, it is ideal for technical engineers as well as IT security managers and security directors.


CISM: Certified Information Security Manager


CISM is an information security management certification designed for experienced security professionals — candidates are required to have at least five years of information security work experience. CISM certified individuals possess an in-depth knowledge of information security concepts and best practices to help any organization achieve their broader business objectives and goals. Globally recognized as an excellent advanced level certification, the demand for CISM certified professionals is on the rise in the information security job market.


CISM certifications covers five domains called Job Practice Areas:


? Information Security Governance
? Risk Management
? Information Security Program Management
? Information Security Management
? Response Management


The certification exam is extremely comprehensive, consisting of 200 multiple-choice questions, designed to achieve better integration between IT auditing and information security. CISM targets professionals in higher-level management positions as well as experienced security professionals. It is suitable for CIOs, CSOs, Information Security Managers, and Information Security Professionals.


CCSP: Certified Cloud Security Professional


As more companies migrate to the cloud, their greatest concern is security. CCSP is fast becoming a hot security certification. CCSP is designed and offered by (ISC)2 in partnership with the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA). Their aim in developing the certification was to meet the highest standard of cloud security.


CCSP is an advanced level certification for professionals whose jobs require critical security skills in the cloud security market. Candidates for the CCSP are expected to demonstrate capabilities in six domains:


? Architectural Concepts and Design Requirements
? Cloud Data Security
? Cloud Platform and Infrastructure Security
? Cloud Application Security
? Operations
? Legal and Compliance


As cloud adoption is expected to continue growing, CCSP will continue to be one of the industry's favorite cloud security certifications.


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author
Ahmed Badr

Ahmed Badr is a network consultant with more than 10 years of experience designing, implementing and operating large scale network infrastructures. He holds a BSc in Communications and one in Electronics Engineering, and a Master of Business Administration. He also holds a CCIE certificate in Routing and Switching since 2008. Ahmed can be contacted at: