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What Are The Best Cybersecurity Certifications

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By: Shelby Welty

October 23, 2020

What are the Best Cybersecurity Certifications?

Cybersecurity is a hot topic. Increasing attack pressure combined with a growing skills gap puts many companies in a difficult position as they look to find best-fit candidates with the right set of hard and soft skills — and the talent and drive to solve infosec problems combined with recognizable, reputable cybersecurity certifications.

But which cybersecurity courses and qualifications offer the biggest benefit for infosec professionals? Which helps get resumes noticed and set candidates apart in the interview? Put simply — what are the best cybersecurity certifications to land the job and jumpstart cybersecurity careers?

Unpacking the Persistent Problem

The cybersecurity skills gap didn't just happen — it's the result of ongoing digital transformation across enterprise environments. As IT teams moved from break/fix operations to a driving line of business benefits. As attackers recognized the value in compromising key technology systems, the demand for experienced and educated cybersecurity professionals accelerated on both sides of the equation. Now, HR teams and recruiters are tasked with tracking down candidates who have the right combination of real-world training and natural talent to defend against emerging threats and improve the strategic value of IT services.

While raw talent and passion for protective problem-solving can be assessed in face-to-face interviews, companies need a qualifying baseline to ensure they're shortlisting the right security candidates. As a result, certifications have become the new cyber currency — they offer clear evidence that IT pros have invested the time and effort necessary to expand their knowledge and advance their skills.

But which cybersecurity certifications offer the best return on investment?

The Four Best CyberSecurity Certifications

CompTIA Security+

The first cybersecurity qualification companies will look for is CompTIA Security+. This entry-level certification is critical for prospective protective pros to demonstrate their skillset in detecting, identifying, and potential mitigating threats. It is often a must-have certification for IT teams looking to build out both experience and expertise.

CompTIA Security+ covers key infosec topics, including:

  • Threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities
  • Technologies and tools
  • Architecture and design
  • Identity and access management
  • Risk management
  • Cryptography and KPIs

Earning this certification requires completing a 90-minute, 90-question exam with a score of 750/900 or better.

Computer Hacking and Forensics Certification (CHFI) It's one thing for companies to realize their networks have been compromised. It's another to recover critical data about the attack — and who was responsible. This is the job of certified computer hacking and forensic experts; this qualification demonstrates expertise in determining the potential scope of online criminal activity, gathering evidence within the bounds of digital legislation, and investigating potential attacks end-to-end.

The CHFI certification helps pave the way for specific security roles, including:

  • Computer forensics analyst — CFAs help discover compromised digital data and recover it for use as evidence.

  • Ethical hacker — These white hat hackers infiltrate corporate systems to help find and eliminate security holes.

  • Information security manager — This role focuses on the large-scale development and implementation of information security policies.

  • Special agent — Including positions within government agencies such as Homeland Security, the CIA, the FBI, and the IRS.

Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) Companies are moving to the cloud. And when they get there, enterprises need security experts to help ensure that deployment and implementation of cloud services and solutions don't inadvertently increase operational risk. The CCSP certification requires at least five years of paid work experience in IT, with at least three of five years focused on cybersecurity. IT pros must also pass a three-hour, 125-question exam with a score of at least 700/1000.

CCSP certification focuses on expertise across six key areas:

  • Architectural concepts and design requirements
  • Cloud platform and infrastructure security
  • Cloud data security
  • Cloud application security
  • Cloud operations
  • Legal and compliance concerns

NIST Cybersecurity Framework (NCSF)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework is a leading force in information security — ongoing improvements to the NIST framework now help inform both operational best practices and cybersecurity policies. As a result, qualifications such as the NCSF Foundation Certification and the NCSF Practitioner Certification offer significant value for IT professionals looking to set their skills apart from the crowd and access some of the best infosec opportunities on the market.

However, given the evolving and in-depth nature of NCSF, it's worth getting in on the ground floor with focused training on key areas such as the NIST Privacy Framework. Expert-led online courses can help IT professionals understand the NIST Privacy Framework's implications, assess its implementation at scale, and discover best-fit applications for specific enterprises. Combined with other NIST training and certifications, security pros can ensure they're on the leading edge of infosec innovation.

Mind the Gap

Enterprises hoping to close the cybersecurity skills gap in their organization are now prioritizing skilled and certified IT professionals. The result? Creating a competitive career edge starts with some of the industry's best cybersecurity certifications.

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