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Six Big Cybersecurity Certification Changes for 2018

With 2017 and its destructive flurry of cyberattacks in the rear view mirror, what are the new developments that will drive cybersecurity certification in 2018? Security expert Mike Chapple previews what's in store.

Secure data centerOn the heels of one of the most significant years in cybersecurity history, organizations around the world are making plans to develop the cybersecurity skills of their technical teams in 2018. IT leaders recognize that the threat landscape continues to shift and that they require skilled cybersecurity professionals to protect their information and systems against sophisticated attackers.


Whether you’re already a cybersecurity professional, or you’re seeking to switch into an exciting, growing career field, there’s plenty of opportunity to go around. The field needs plenty of newcomers to fill the cybersecurity skills gap and opportunities abound for existing security professionals to ramp up their skills and earn internal promotions and opportunities at new firms.


Just as the changing threat environment is creating new staffing needs, it’s also leading the technical certification industry to increase their focus on cybersecurity certification programs. The next 12 months will be full of changes in professional certification programs and IT pros should pay careful attention. Let’s break down some of the biggest developments in the field as we enter the new year.


Cybersecurity Analyst+ Takes Center Stage


CompTIA launched their intermediate-level Cybersecurity Analyst+ (CSA+) certification in 2017 and it’s rapidly gaining popularity among technical professionals. CSA+ is designed for individuals who have three or four years of hands-on work experience and it emphasizes the technical skills required to serve as a cybersecurity analyst. The exam covers four domains of knowledge, including threat management, vulnerability management, incident response, and security architecture and tools.


Expect to see the CSA+ cert continue to grow this year on the heels of an October 2017 announcement that the Department of Defense is approving the certification for use in its workforce development program. It’s no secret that DoD drives a significant portion of the interest in cybersecurity certification and CSA+ should benefit from this designation.


CompTIA Penetration Tester Certification Debuts


CompTIA invited subject matter experts in penetration testing to join them for a workshop in February 2018 as part of the development of a new penetration testing certification program. The CompTIA Penetration Tester (CPT+) certification is positioned as a companion certification to the CSA+ credential launched last year. The CompTIA team is designing CPT+ to target individuals with 3-4 years of experience in penetration testing and vulnerability management.


We’ve yet to see an announcement about the CPT+ launch date, but expect to see a beta exam later this year. If you’re interested in earning the certification, watch carefully for the beta exam announcement. CompTIA usually allows about 400 people to take the exam and those slots fill quickly. In exchange for serving as a guinea pig for the exam, you get to attempt the certification at a substantial discount. The CSA+ beta exam was $50, compared to the $320 fee for the normal exam.