The Top 5 IT Security Certifications

Over the last few years, there have been unending waves of cyber attacks that seem to get progressively more dangerous and challenging. Janet Napolitano, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, recently addressed the issue at the ASIS / (ISC)2 Congress 2012 in Philadelphia. She stated that cyber attacks have increased "significantly over the past decade," adding the US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team) responded to over 106,000 reports of cyber attacks in 2011, with an additional 5000 security alerts. It should be no surprise, then, that highly trained security professionals are in such great demand and that security is the fastest-growing segment of the IT industry.

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So how does this affect you? Opportunities are growing for new and established IT security professionals, but it’s also important that you pursue the right security certifications to get ahead in this competitive industry. Here, we identify and describe five popular and respected security certifications that you can pursue to advance your career and boost your earnings potential.

1. Computer Hacking Forensic Investigation (CHFI)

The Computer Hacking Forensic Investigation (CHFI) certification is offered by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council). The CHFI professional gathers the digital information leading to those responsible for a cyber attack. In CHFI training, you’ll learn how to secure the scene, collect evidence, and send it to a lab for testing.

CHFI certification shows that you the techniques and tools necessary to carry out a computer forensic investigation, leading to prosecution. As a CHFI professional, you will be in demand by private organizations as well as law enforcement agencies. Organizations of all types deal with confidential information and all are under constant threat from evolving cyber attacks. The employment opportunities are almost endless: banks, insurance companies, government agencies, law firms, and companies of all sizes. Because of this, CHFI has become one of the most sought-after certifications in the IT security industry.

"The CHFI training and certification was very important as it gives a structure and form of the skills and knowledge which I developed and acquired through the years. On the other side, this certification helped our company and team to build trust in our customers."

- Victor Tashev, CHFI professional

2. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification is also offered by EC-Council. The ethical hacker attempts to penetrate the networks or computers of the organization you work for. Why would you do this? "White hat" ethical hackers are widely sought after to help find and fix the vulnerabilities that would otherwise be exploited by "black hat" criminal hackers.

Demand for CEH professionals continues to grow. Due to the alarming increase in cyber attacks over the past decade, organizations are looking for ways to protect themselves and tighten their security. The CEH course and certification covers all that is needed to identify system vulnerabilities and countermeasures.

"Having the CEH certification has helped open the door to a new level of opportunity by increasing the confidence of my clients in my expertise, opening their eyes to the real threat, and by Pen-testing our own products for vulnerabilities and providing a higher quality of service."

- Terry P Cutler, CEH, Novell Canada

3. CompTIA Security+

The Security+ certification is offered by The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). This certification demonstrates that you have a strong knowledge of security concepts, cryptography and access control, and the tools and procedures to respond to security incidents. You’ll also learn about disaster recovery methods, risk management, and compliance and operational security. This knowledge helps you to anticipate and prevent cyber attacks, and effectively deal with security events.

Widely recognized in the industry, many companies have made Security+ a requirement for their IT department. For example, Security+ certification is required by the U.S Department of Defense’s IT department.

"Compliance is very important to Avaya. CompTIA Security+ ensures that our security technicians have a basic understanding of the best way to implement a security system."

- Armando Rodrigues, Regional Solutions Engineer at Avaya

4. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is offered by the International Information Systems Security Certifications Consortium, or (ISC)2. CISSP professionals are in very strong demand; it’s one of the key certs employers look for to fill management-level information security positions.

CISSP is also popular within the IT security community because it demonstrates that the professional has a strong understanding of security concepts as well as the specific methodologies involved. Many companies’ IT security positions now require CISSP certification. One key point to note about this certification is that it’s only valid for three years and must be renewed, either by re-taking and passing the CISSP exam, or by reporting at least 120 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits in that 3-year time period or since a prior renewal.

5. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

The CISM certification is offered by ISACA (formerly the Information Systems Audit and Control Association). CISM is one of the highest-earning and most sought after IT certifications. CISM stands for Certified Information Security Manager.

The idea of the certification is to provide a body of knowledge for information security management, focusing mainly on information risk management. CISM professionals are highly in demand and widely recognized in both organizations and government agencies. It demonstrates that you have a strong understanding of, security governance, risk management and compliance, security program development and management, and security incident management.

"Preparing for the CISM certification helped me mature the security processes in my organization and effectively manage information security across its worldwide offices."

- Sanjiv Agarwala, CISM professional

This article was created by Julian Arias. Julian is part of the Marketing Team at Firebrand Training and is the curator of the Company Blog.

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