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The Most Important Cybersecurity Certifications

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By: Shelby Welty

November 23, 2020

In the Know: The Most Sought-After Cybersecurity Certifications

Cybersecurity is indisputably important for organizations. From the multinational enterprise deploying advanced anti-malware technology and stopping sophisticated threats to the American SMB to protect staff and customers' privacy with robust detection and infection controls, it's no exaggeration to say that lacking cybersecurity substantially increases the overall risk...

This protective priority for IT security professionals represents increased opportunity: businesses are now looking for top-tier talent to join their team and take infosec efforts to the next level. Despite the growing skills gap, however, companies remain choosy — they're after best-fit talent to effectively address specific issues and quickly resolve critical concerns. As a result, the right qualifications make all the difference; credentials that align with key business objectives are more likely to open doors, drive opportunities, and get the job.

But where do IT pros start? Here's a look at five of the most sought-after cybersecurity certifications, why they matter, and how they can help jumpstart cybersecurity careers.

Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

Companies are moving to the cloud. From public cloud deployments to private, hybrid, and multi-cloud frameworks, the as-a-service, on-demand nature of distributed computing offers substantive advantages for businesses of any size.

The challenge? Security. When cloud environments expand, so do potential risks. Malicious actors now leverage everything from advanced ransomware tools and compromised mobile applications to familiar phishing attacks to compromise key systems and gain cloud access.

As a result, cloud certifications are critical for cybersecurity staff — the CCSP qualification demonstrates that IT professionals have in-depth knowledge of critical cloud controls, including:

  • Architectural concepts and designs
  • Cloud data security
  • Cloud platform and infrastructure
  • Cloud application security
  • Operations, legal, and compliance controls

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

Cybersecurity systems are only as good as the last attack they prevent. If tools and technology create unexpected vulnerabilities in IT environments or keep pace with emerging threat vectors, the results can be disastrous.

To ensure outcomes meet expectations, enterprises must prioritize comprehensive systems auditing efforts capable of identifying current issues, defending against key threats, and future-proofing critical controls. The CISA certification speaks to IT professionals' ability to audit and improve existing frameworks and improve security at scale.

CISA-certified professionals often find work as:

  • IT audit managers
  • Internal auditors
  • Privacy officers
  • IT risk and assurance managers
  • PCI security specialists

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Attacks are everywhere. From SQL injection to business account compromise to keylogging and ransomware, hackers are constantly looking for the easiest, fastest way to infiltrate corporate networks and cause digital chaos.

These "black hat" hackers are often viewed as both malicious and mysterious — but in many cases, they're simply making use of freely-available tools and exploit kits to leverage existing vulnerabilities. The CEH certification is designed to help "white hat" hackers showcase their cracking skills and compromising corporate networks for good. Using the same tools and techniques as their black hat counterparts, CEH-certified pros are capable of finding previously unknown vulnerabilities, assessing their severity, and developing new ways to defend digital assets.

As a result, CEH earns a spot as one of the most important cybersecurity certifications with its focus on commonly-used techniques, including:

  • Footprinting
  • Scanning and enumeration
  • System hacking
  • Sniffing
  • Session hijacking
  • Denial of service

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

Business success and technology environments are now inextricably linked. From mobile device deployment that empowers work-from-anywhere options to business intelligence (BI) adoption that delivers big data promise, ROI follows IT.

The challenge? Increasing complexity creates expanding risk. While new edge and cloud-based technologies make it possible for staff to connect anywhere, sometimes they also open new attack avenues that may go unnoticed by corporate security.

Here, CRISC-certified infosec professionals are critical to helping companies assess current systems, analyze existing risk levels, and adopt new policies and procedures that limit potential harm without compromising performance.

CRISC qualification indicates to businesses that IT professionals have mastered critical competence across four knowledge domains:

  • Risk identification
  • Risk assessment
  • Risk mitigation
  • Risk monitoring and control

CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+)

While CompTIA's Security+ certification remains one of the most popular infosec offerings available — and is a great addition to any cybersecurity resume — staff looking to expand their cybersecurity career options should also consider the CySA+ certification.

This qualification focuses on analyzing and interpreting emerging attack vectors to help develop and apply effective mitigation strategies. No matter the size of the organization or its market vertical, this type of ongoing, on-demand analysis is critical to ensure IT environments remain secure.

CySA+-trained professionals are often found in roles such as:

  • Systems security analyst
  • Threat analyst
  • Vulnerability assessment analyst

Know Before You Go

Ready to take infosec careers to the next level? Start with some of the most important cybersecurity certifications in the industry — from CCSP to CISA, CEH, CRISC, and CySA+, these qualifications not only underpin professional skill in defending business data but align with key operational priorities to help organizations reduce risk and enhance IT environments.

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