Cisco Systems Inc. has announced three new areas of security specialization within its professional-level certification paths.
New Cisco security certifications
On Feb. 2, San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco announced three new security specialist certifications along with associated courseware and exams. These specialist certifications may be taken as part of the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) or Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) certification paths.
The new certifications are:
- Cisco VPN Security Specialist: Earned by passing two exams: Security Networks with Cisco Routers and Switches (SECURE) and Deploying Cisco ASA VPN Solutions (VPN).
- Cisco Firewall Security Specialist: Earned by passing two exams: Security Networks with Cisco Routers and Switches (SECURE) and Deploying Cisco ASA Firewall Solutions (FIREWALL).
- Cisco IOS Security Specialist: Earned by passing one exam: Security Networks with Cisco Routers and Switches (SECURE). Note: IOS is the software used on most Cisco routers and switches.
A Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification is a prerequisite for the new professional-level specialist certifications. Having one or more of these specialist certifications is not a requirement for a CCNP or CCSP certification. The specializations were designed as additional credentials that a security professional may choose to pursue.
Source: Cisco Systems, Inc.
Certification for security solution providers
For Cisco channel partners, earning a specialist certification is not a mandatory part of the Cisco partner certification process, and the certifications do not apply toward any Cisco channel partner status or certification. Still, Cisco believes taking the specialist training as part of an ongoing Cisco partner education plan will be relevant for many solution providers who have a need for specialist network security engineers.
"Resellers who learn the skills contained in the new specialist certifications will find they are able to attract more customers and more projects," said David Bump, security certification portfolio manager for Learning@Cisco, Cisco's educational division. "Even if a VAR doesn't take the courses themselves, now they will be able to find and hire individuals who have these skills, maybe on a contractor on a project basis, to help out with their customers' projects."
Bump said the primary reason for introducing the new courses and specialist certifications was to add specific topics that security professionals need to know right now. Bump cited zone-based firewalls and troubleshooting test beds as important new topics that have not been covered in previous Cisco courses.
New Cisco security courses
Cisco developed three new courses for the new security specialist certifications. Students are required to pass one or two of the associated exams, depending on the specialization they are pursuing, in order to receive the specialist certification. Courses to prepare for the exams are available in different formats, including instructor-led training, online courses and self-study manuals.
PaulStewart, a network engineer at Colo.-based Lexnet Consulting Inc., was involved in initial discussions with Cisco about the new courses and exams. Stewart estimates that security professionals will need to commit about 60 hours of study and review time to pass each course. In addition to the time spent studying, security professionals face the challenge of passing the specialist certification exams.