Cisco Rolls Out New Security Career Track

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As part of a sweeping initiative, Cisco Systems has elevated the area of network security from its previous status of “specialization” to that of full career track. Network security now joins the triumvirate of major career tracks—network design, network support, and communication and services—as the fourth crown jewel of Cisco training and career certifications. As with other career tracks, network security will carry three levels of certification—Associate (CCNA), Professional (CCSP) and Expert (CCIE-Security).

The Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) designation now includes three focused specializations—firewall (FW), virtual private network (VPN) and intrusion detection systems (IDS)—which combine with other courses leading to readiness for full CCSP status.

Network managers know that Cisco’s commitment to network security is not new, but there is striking evidence that underscores the importance of this expanded initiative:



  • As recently as Jan. 25, 2003 a new, rapidly propagating virus, dubbed “SQL Slammer,” burned through networks worldwide at an astonishing rate. Although it differed somewhat from the Nimda and Code Red viruses, SQL Slammer exploited similar vulnerabilities in database servers and resulted in denial of service to hundreds of thousands of customers at many financial institutions and major ISPs. According to media reports, many of these bank customers were unable to use local ATMs for cash withdrawal. The cost of this disruption will take months to tally.
  • A 2002 report by CSI/FBI on computer crime that surveyed 223 respondents indicates hard financial losses due to poor security increased an average of 72 percent and totaled in excess of $2 million per respondent from 2000 to 2002.


These facts suggest that a proactive security training strategy should be a high priority for any company, as it offers very favorable return on investment (ROI) when compared to the expense of reacting to and recovering from a series of security breaches. They also offer perspective as to why many CIOs are cutting back on certain hiring plans while moving ahead with network security projects and related hiring.

Market trends clearly show that demand and compensation for trained security professionals are dramatically on the rise:



  • During the 13-month period ending in September 2002, worldwide demand for Cisco Security Specialist 1 certification rose more than 800 percent.
  • 67 percent of all focused specializations issued by Cisco in the past year were Cisco Security Specialist 1.
  • In a June 2002 salary survey by TCP Magazine, professionals with the Cisco Security Specialist 1 title earned an average salary of $80,000, higher than the average salaries for either Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA, $64,000) or Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP, $74,000). Only those professionals with the title of Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE, $91,000) commanded greater average salaries.


Structure of the New Curriculum
Preparation for the CCSP credential typically requires a foundation of both the CCNA certification and the Securing Cisco IOS Networks (SECUR) course. From these, the fundamentals of router and switch operation are established and then enhanced by extensive router security training. Moving up from these building blocks are the technology “pillar” courses of the CCSP program: Firewall, Virtual Private Networks and Intrusion Detection Systems. These courses can be taken in any sequence. Finally, the Cisco SAFE Implementation (CSI) training ties all the aspects of network security together with a strategic overview.

Why Cisco Training and Certification?



  • It’s in the fabric of the network.
    As a leader in networking, Cisco sets the standard for integrated network security. Most importantly, Cisco has designed its entire product line with security built into the fabric of the network. This crucial differentiator sets Cisco security products, training and certification apart from methods that employ a patchwork of point solutions.
  • The up-to-date course content is straight from Cisco.
    The courses created by Cisco include the most current and accurate information in the networking world with content that maps to the most current Cisco technologies. Who would be better at training than the originator of the technology and the author of the curricula?
  • Worldwide availability direct from Cisco Learning Partners.
    Cisco offers easy access and absolute consistency. All instructors are Cisco Certified System Instructors and are certified by Cisco on the specific courses they are teaching.
  • Refined training and delivery mechanisms.
    Cisco offers a variety of delivery mechanisms for security training. These include instructor-led sessions in the classroom, live e-learning with instructor over the Web and self-paced e-learning with remote labs in both solo and interactive Web environments. The common themes that run across all Cisco Security curricula are hands-on and lab-intensive instructor-led courses, built-in assessment tests and simulations and robust virtual labs that present real-world scenarios.


Since its inception, one of the guiding principles at Cisco has been to offer its customers ways to improve productivity. Networking has certainly delivered on this promise, and today more than ever, managers realize that productivity extends not only to keeping the network up, but also to keeping it secure. The best way to do this is by having a staff that is trained and certified. Now, with Cisco Security career training and certifications, a new generation of career security professionals will have the best strategies for extending the network side of productivity.

Rick Stiffler is the senior manager for VPN & Security Training at Cisco Systems, where he manages the development and delivery of Cisco’s VPN & Security training curriculum. Stiffler has 26 years of experience in communication security and technical training.


Cisco Addresses Security Questions

Q: What is Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP)?
A: This new certification provides an individual with professional-level validation of the knowledge and skills needed to design and implement Cisco security solutions.

Q: What is the importance of the CCSP?
A: The CCSP recognizes the increased importance placed on individuals who are responsible for developing business solutions and designing and delivering multiple levels of security for underlying network architectures. This new professional-level security career certification meets the training needs of network professionals responsible for designing and implementing complete end-to-end security solutions and to meet the industry’s demand for a certification career path in the network security market.

Q: What is the value of a CCSP to the individual?
A: As organizations accelerate their interest in Internet business solutions, they need qualified professionals who possess the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure the security of all network-based transactions. The expertise developed when preparing for the CCSP adds to skill sets and helps expand career options by providing a professional-level certification to validate capabilities and readiness to design and implement complete end-to-end network security solutions.

Q: What is the value of a CCSP certification to an organization?
A: For enterprises and service providers, it improves network productivity as well as the level of support to end-users, which in turn improves customer satisfaction and loyalty. For resellers, it improves the level of expertise needed to effectively sell complete security solutions to cu

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