These abbreviations might puzzle your mind and also the definitions sound similar to one another. But if you look deeper you will actually find the difference from one another. Aspirants often confuse CISA, CISM, and CISSP from one another and take them as the same thing; however that not accurate. While CISA is pursued by IT auditors, CISM is mainly for the IT Information Security Managers and both these credentials are offered by ISC2. Whereas CISSP is often for somebody aspiring or want to progress their career in information security. All these credential has specific prerequisites and needs certain experience. CISM and CISA offered by ISACA.

The question remains the same - “which one to pursue if you want to pursue a career in cybersecurity various roles?” Let me tell you, whatever course you choose among the three you have made a great choice. The skilled Infosec professionals (more so if they are certified) makes a very high-in-demand profile among IT hiring managers these days and most likely to remain so in the days to come. The field is definitely going to reap immense rewards and future proofing for you.

There are clearly two global leaders in cybersecurity certification domain namely- ISACA and (ISC) 2. While CISSP is purely based on Information Security modules, equipping aspirants with tools and techniques to manage vulnerabilities and safeguarding network and data, mainly for professionals of mid-level experience, ISACA, on the other hand, offers credentials for Security audit related fields of various levels - offer certifications such as CISA and CISM.Common Prerequisites for CISA, CISSP, and CISM:All of these three certifications demand for at least 5 years of professional work experience and all of them require ongoing learning and training to maintain the credential. It can’t be denied that the rewards in terms of salary & remuneration are almost equivalent.Let’s take a close look at each of them:(ISC)2: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)     Quick Facts:

  • There are more than 140,000 CISSP Certified Security Professionals worldwide.
  • It is one of the most sought after certifications in infosec domains among hiring managers.
  • JOb postings are turning up 10000 with CISSP requirement as compared to 5000 for CISA and 3000 (approx.) for CISM.
  • CISSP credentials mainly target infosec professionals across a broader spectrum of roles such as practitioners, managers, and executives.
  • CISSP typically possess skills, like - architecting, controlling, designing and maintaining cybersecurity programs for their organizations.
  • Upon acquiring the certifications one gets roles like - security director, CISO, CIO, network architect, IT manager, security analyst, auditor, consultant and system engineer and similar profiles.  

Earning the Credential

Like all other expert-level certification, attaining CISSP is not a cakewalk. Eligible candidates must:

  • Have at least 5 years of experience of paid work in at least 2 of the total 8 domains of CISSP CBK domains listed.
  • Pass the CISSP Exam
  • Agree to the Code of Ethics
  • And be endorsed by an ISC2 professional within 9 months of passing the exam.

Maintaining the Credential

  • The CISSP credential is valid for 3 years.
  • You need to pay an Annual Fee.
  • In order to recertify, CISSP must earn CPE credits or take the current exam (maintain 40 credits each year).

Benefits of CISSP

  • In a recent study, respondents with CISSP certification reports having an average annual salary of $120,000.
  • There have been reports that show average earnings as $66,078 with salaries topping out at $127,071 (approx.) if not more.
  • In recent Global Knowledge report the average US salary at $109,965, placing the CISSP in the number one spot among cybersecurity credentials.

ISACA Certifications: CISA & CISM

Quick Facts:

Earning the Credential

There are pre-requisites that  every ISACA experience requirement must follow:

  • There are experience requirements.
  • You need to pass the associated exam.
  • Agree to the Code of Professional Ethics and CPE Program.
  • Need to meet additional requirements.

Maintenance of the credential

  • ISACA credentials are valid for 3 years.
  • Need to pay an annual maintenance fee.
  • To renew you must hold 120 CPE credits and 20 CPEs earned annually.

Understanding CISM Certification in comparison to CISSP

This is a very interesting way to compare both before you go for a final conclusion. Both cover cybersecurity and managerial concepts. CISSP focuses more on the operational side of security, its technical aspects, whereas CISM is designed around the strategic side of the security and its functioning with business goals.

  • It is designed for Information Security Managers.
  • Targets people who design, manage, assess infosec environments on an Org. Level.
  • Professionals must possess a thorough understanding of available technologies and their implementation.
  • Some common CISM roles include IS/IT consultants, risk management professionals, CIO, and enterprise leadership roles.

Understanding CISA Certification in comparison to CISSP

CISA certification is for IT professionals working in governance and audit-related roles. Such roles are IS or IT auditor or/ audit manager, Non-IT, auditor and consultant. You may also see many CISA professionals in assurance, security, governance, audit control, and enterprise leadership roles.

CISA credential validates your knowledge and ability to assess, audit, monitor and control an enterprise IT business systems.

Required skills are reflected in the five CISA job practice domains:

  • Domain 1: The Process of Auditing Information Systems
  • Domain 2: Governance and Management of IT
  • Domain 3: Information Systems Acquisition, Development, and Implementation
  • Domain 4: Information Systems Operations, Maintenance and Service Management
  • Domain 5: Protection and Information Assets

Training Process may include:

  • Study Guides
  • Enrolling for Training programs from recognized training centers
  • Practicing in software
  • Interactive lecture sessions & workshops
  • Upon passing the exam, candidates must also comply with the Information Systems Auditing Standards.

This is an explicit and elaborate description of all these three certifications, for you to decide on your career path, which can boost your Infosec career and land you a rewarding profile which is also future-proofed beyond 2020.

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