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To specialize in network security, should I get a CCSP or a CCNP?

I'm doing my CCNA and hope to take the exam in the next couple of months. After that I'm considering specializing in network security. Would you recommend that I get a CCSP or stick to CCNP?

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You ask this question at an interesting time because I am actually torn about how to respond thanks to Cisco's new CCNP track that they have released the beginning of this year. My answer then depends on what type of Cisco equipment you are planning on working with in the future. Essentially, if you are planning on working on many of Cisco's security appliances such as PIX firewalls, Cisco VPN concentrators, Cisco IPS, or Cisco ASA devices, then the CCSP is definitely the track for you. However, if you are looking into understanding security implementations using only Cisco ASA devices or using the Cisco IOS firewall feature set on Cisco routers, then the new CCNP has an Implementing Secure Converged Wide Area Networks (ISCW) exam that covers these topics as well as configuring and troubleshooting site-to-site VPNs. Both are equally rewarding tracks and full of great information for the real world so good luck whichever endeavor you choose.

This was first published in March 2007

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