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Cisco security certifications changing

Those seeking the CCSP and specialization in VPN, firewall and IDS will soon follow different curricula that better reflect Cisco Systems' current product lines.

Cisco Systems Inc. is revamping its security professional-level certifications to better reflect the networking giant's emphasis on its Self-Defending Network strategy.

"The security business doesn't stand still. Threats continue to come forward," Don Field, director of certification, said. "Cisco has responded by making product and solution changes." In this instance, it's the expanded product lines falling under the self-defending network umbrella that prompted changes. Field added that this latest changeup is designed to assure IT professionals and the companies that hire them are confident in dealing with the array of Cisco offerings.

Content changes are being made specifically to the Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) and three specialist certifications covering firewall, VPN and IDS. With each, some courses have been swapped for others to keep the certs relevant.

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"Overall, what we've done with the CCSP program is keep the number of courses and exams the same but rearrange some things," explained Christine Yoshida, manager for learning and development at Cisco Systems. "We've added some courses and taken away one and updated information in those we've kept to reflect the latest security solutions in Cisco's portfolio."

Specifically, Cisco has:

  • Added a new course and exam required for the CCSP called "Securing Cisco
  • Network Devices," which provides an overview of fundamental security concepts and their implementation.
  • Added an optional "Security Hosts Using Cisco Security Agents" that focuses on endpoint security. This now can be substituted for the Concentrator VPN product course.
  • Updated the firewall course to include the Adaptive Security Appliance product line launched in May.
  • Updated the IDS curriculum to include intrusion prevention systems, such as the IPS 4200 devices that hit the market in March.
  • Expanded router course information and testing to include switches in its "Layer 2 Security on Switches."
  • Removed its mandatory "Cisco Safe Implementation Course," though it will remain an option for those seeking recertification.
  • Updated requirements for its three specialist certs. In addition to the firewall change already mentioned, VPN specialists will now take a new foundation course and IDS specialists' foundation course will include IPS.

    Cisco offers four types of professional certifications. The first three are hierarchical: associate level; professional; and expert. The fourth type is the specialist certification. Most people are familiar with the associate level cert -- the widely popular Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). Next in security is the professional-level CCSP, which as of August some 3,500 IT professionals held. Among the other security specialties, 3,000 held the firewall cert; 2,400, the VPN. Some 1,900 had earned the IDS certification.

    Cert-seekers will be able to sign of for the course being phased out through Nov. 19 and must pass those exams by Dec. 19. After that, only the newer courses and exams will be offered. CCSPs can continue to take the older Cisco Safe Implementation or the security-related, highly coveted Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) exam until recertification comes due.

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