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Online Certification Programs in Cyber Security

Apr 16, 2020

Overview of Online Cybersecurity Certification

There are many types of cybersecurity certifications, depending on the user's needs and expertise. The EC-Council has the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) designation, the ISACA has the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) credential, and CompTIA has the CompTIA Security+ certification. In a US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) interview with a cybersecurity consultant, however, it was established that one of the foremost certifications in cybersecurity is from the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, or (ISC)2, and is called the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification. The CISSP certification validates one's ability to manage a cybersecurity program and is, therefore, ideal for seasoned employees and executives working in the field. Typical takers of the CISSP exam include security analysts and auditors, network architects, IT directors, and chief information officers.

The CISSP is an advanced-level certification; to qualify, exam takers need to have work experience in cybersecurity. Training courses are not required but are extremely helpful. They may be delivered online or in a classroom and can span anywhere between hours to days. The certification exam, however, is always taken onsite.

Cybersecurity Certification Requirements

The CISSP certification exam content is designed around the eight domains of the CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). Successful applicants will need to know about cyber operations, systems architecture, and devising strategies for improving cybersecurity systems.

Information and Requirements

Before taking the certification exam, applicants must be professionals who have worked at least five years in any two of the eight CISSP CBK domains. This is to ensure that applicants' knowledge and skills are enough for the actual exam.

Once applicants finish a training course, they have to schedule their exam and earn 700 out of a possible 1000 points to pass and be certified.

Additional Requirements

The CISSP certification is valid for three years. To have it renewed, certification holders need to comply with three requirements: obtaining continuing professional education (CPE) credits, paying the annual maintenance fees, and following the (ISC)² Code of Ethics.

Applicants must earn at least 40 CISSP CPEs each year by attending conferences, seminars, and training on themes related to the CISSP CBK (referred to as 'Group A' activities) or otherwise ('Group B' activities, like team-building seminars and management courses). This means 120 CISSP CPEs are needed to be recertified.

Online CISSP Training Information

The CISSP Exam serves as an evaluation of an applicant's expertise in the eight domains of the CISSP CBK:

  • Domain 1. Security and Risk Management
  • Domain 2. Asset Security
  • Domain 3. Security Architecture and Engineering
  • Domain 4. Communication and Network Security
  • Domain 5. Identity and Access Management (IAM)
  • Domain 6. Security Assessment and Testing
  • Domain 7. Security Operations
  • Domain 8. Software Development Security

Preparing for the exam can be done completely online. Recognized organizations such as Cybrary.it, (ISC)2, Infosec Institute, and FedVTE offer comprehensive online training in a self-study format or through instructor-led virtual boot camps. Depending on the chosen program, the training may span a week or a number of weeks, with a specific set of topics per session. For instance, the training program from (ISC)2 has two schedules - applicants can choose to take one 8-hour session per day for five days or two 2.5-hour sessions per week for eight weeks. Either way, both of these schedules add up to around 40 hours' worth of classes.

Online training for the CISSP exam is conducted using software that supports live instruction (or recorded lectures and video demonstrations for self-paced courses) and the use of virtual labs and collaborative discussions with classmates to apply these learnings.

The materials that can be included in a purchase are digital courseware, student guides, and interactive flash cards. Providers may allow access to the materials for only a specific number of days.

Career Outlook After CISSP Certification

Being CISSP certified can help employees in cybersecurity be promoted to managerial positions. One of the most common career paths for certification holders is information security analysis, which focuses on planning security measures for computer networks and cloud systems.

The BLS reports the yearly median salary for information security analysts to be $98,350 as of May 2018. An employment growth of 32% was projected for these professionals from 2018 to 2028. This growth rate is much higher than for most occupations, indicating high demand for cybersecurity specialists.

The CISSP certification exam is taken onsite, but applicants can prepare for it by enrolling in online training programs. These training programs focus on the eight CISSP CBK domains and can be completed within days or weeks, depending on the training provider.

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