Cisco Unveils Information Security Specialist

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To meet the rising demand for a reliable means of demonstrating foundation-level IT security skills, Cisco has released its Information Security Specialist certification. By design, the credential aligns to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) CNSS 4011 Federal Security Certification and Training Standards, which include network security basics such as threats, vulnerabilities, countermeasures, operational procedures, auditing and monitoring.

The curriculum for the Cisco Information Security Specialist is based on the content of the Securing Network Devices (SND) course and exam, which are required for the Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) certification, as well as the portfolio of Cisco Specialist certifications, including Firewall, intrusion prevention system (IPS) and virtual private network (VPN).

“We thought that this is a good market to look at, and that a certification around CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) and SND would comprise a skill set that would be valuable for employers and employees,” said Christine Yoshida, learning and development manager at Cisco Systems. “That’s how we came up with this certification. It really does provide a nice steppingstone for someone who wants to get into the security industry and wants a certification to show that they do have skills. It’s a good starting point.”

Yoshida said conversations about this new certification started shortly after Cisco released the SND exam and attained the NSA’s 4011 certification for the CCSP credential.

“Every three years, the government requires us to go and recertify our curriculum,” she said. “We did that and found that the contents of the SND course and exam meet the requirements for the 4011 without the candidates having to go through the entire CCSP program. SND really does provide a very broad foundation and covers the self-defending network and security embedded in a network and provides people with hands-on exercises on how to configure technologies.

“Because we have this new foundation course in the CCSP curriculum, we were able to leverage that to recertify our curriculum on 4011. But we found that the CCSP curriculum actually maps to a more advanced standard that the government has: the 4013A. When we looked at that, we realized that perhaps there was an unmet need out there, since the 4011 standard is published as a minimum training requirement for people who work in the telecommunications security industry, government and critical infrastructure.”

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