The face of the IT professional is changing as needs increase and more people enter the workforce. IT professionals of tomorrow will be congenial, well-informed, highly intelligent men and women who display a lifelong commitment to developing their skills to keep up with the rapidly growing IT industry. Many of them start preparing to enter the IT profession in middle school or high school and continue training throughout their career.
IT used to be a secondary, if useful element to business. Today, individuals are connected to the Internet through desktops, laptops or smart phones, and everyone with those data discovery resources relies heavily on a server that houses all their secured information and company-essential documents.
Hackers and virus creators thrive on the freedom provided by the Internet’s rapid expansion; this makes network and data security vital for any business. It has been proven over the past decade that an organization’s network quality corresponds directly to its level of productivity.
The IT world has always gravitated toward increased homogeneity of training. Standard certification processes, created by agencies that focus purely on setting baselines of IT quality, ensure that best practices are universally followed. With the increased importance of IT in the modern era, it’s important for business and government to conform to certifiable standards to ensure that the flow of information remains intact.
The Academy of Computer Education, or ACE, offers the standard basic certification programs, such as A+, Network+ and Security+, as well as more advanced programs, such as CCNA/CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Associate/Professional). ACE also teaches new product programs, such as MCITP: SA (Microsoft Certified IT Professional Server Administrator), a program designed to give system administrators expertise in the changing Microsoft server market.
Other programs include the technique-based CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker), an intermediate- to advanced-level certification that trains individuals to make networks more secure — a marketable skill in today’s atmosphere of data compromise, deadly viruses and bandwidth-sucking malware. In fact, many defense contractors and government information assurance employees are now required to have the CEH.
One may wonder why an IT training company offers classes on how to be a hacker. The traditional notion is that hackers are the bad guys — the ones network professionals try to protect against. In truth, the best training for defending against hacking attempts is learning to be a hacker oneself. The only way to shore up a network’s weak security is to be able to look at it from the point of view of someone trying to break in. This penetration testing philosophy is at the heart of the CEH training. To be an ethical hacker is to use hackers’ techniques against them in defense of business, government and data.
CEH training candidates must have a strong working knowledge of TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), familiarity with Linux or working support knowledge of Microsoft XP or Vista, and at least two years of experience working in IT. The goal is for participants to end up with skill sets such as port scanning, network surveying, document grinding, OS fingerprinting, and system and service identification. They should be able to test Internet applications, research vulnerabilities, perform legal assessments on foreign or remote networks and immediately recognize security issues within an organization.
Through hands-on exercises within an interactive hacking environment, students attempt to break in to multiple networks. While no real network gets harmed, they learn how individuals remotely exploit vulnerabilities through DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks, buffer overflows and viruses — and then they learn to develop appropriate countermeasures to shore up weaknesses and prevent intrusion.
CEH training could benefit the following professionals on the job: knowledge site administrators, security professionals, auditors and anyone whose job is based on network infrastructure integrity.
Ryan Corey serves as the director of admissions at the Academy of Computer Education (ACE). ACE is a professional computer training and IT certification facility, providing in-depth courses to prepare students for today’s IT fields. Courses available include A+, Network+, Certified Ethical Hacker Training, Security+, MCITP and others.