Cisco Certs Meets NSA Mandate

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Cisco Systems’ certification exams were among those approved by a recent mandate issued by the National Security Agency (NSA). The NSA standards, which relate to information security and systems administration, extend across the federal government.


“NSA is responsible for all federal communications security,” said Rick Stiffler, Cisco’s director of partner and customer learning services. “Whether it’s military or government, they are the organization responsible for making sure all communications are secure. That’s part of what’s driving the standard here: They’re trying to get all the federal agencies to come up to common sets of standards in their proficiency of the people running the federal networks, whether they’re employees, contractors or military, for that matter.”


The Cisco credentials were formally approved in Washington, D.C. recently, when company officials accepted an award from the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS), which sets policy and operational procedures for federal information systems. “They awarded us a certificate that recognizes that our curriculum has been reviewed by them and that it does meet their national training standards for two different levels,” said Christine Yoshida, manager of learning and development at Cisco. “One of them is 4011, which is the information systems security professional, and the other one, which is a new one for us, is the 4013a. That’s called system administrators. The ‘a’ at the end of the 4013 means it’s an advanced level. There are three different levels: entry, intermediate and advanced.”


Specific courses within Cisco’s certification map directly to the NSA standards by design, Yoshida explained. “For 4011, if a candidate passes the exams for CCNA and also the new SMB exam, they’ll receive a letter from Cisco stating they’ve demonstrated that they’ve completed the curriculum that maps to 4011. If they go on to complete the rest of the CCSP curriculum, then when they receive their CCSP certificate from us, they’ll also receive a letter stating that (fulfilled) the curriculum for 4013a.


“I think it just underscores how important the government feels it is to have very good access for people in federal agencies and the private sector, and protect their information systems,” she added. “The goal is to get more and more locations where people can access this training so that they can reach those standards. The fact that Cisco was able to have their curricula recognized as meeting those standards says a lot about our commitment to making sure that curriculum does meet the needs of our government. We want to do our part, and if we have curriculum that’s very close, then why not map it and have it be a way in which someone can get their training?”


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