The majority of IT professionals do not specialize in a computer security career path, but security is undoubtedly an essential aspect of all computer-related careers today. Every business has some type of computer system, and the increasing presence of Wi-Fi and internet access make external threats to business data and operating systems a part of everyday life. Security+ is a vendor-neutral certification that is applicable to any computer system, from any vendor, on any network platform.
The Computing Technology Industry Association, better known as CompTIA, was originally organized in 1982 under the name Association of Better Computer Dealers, Inc. It is a non-profit organization that provides a variety of examination and certification services to the IT industry. Security+ is one of these certifications.
The association was involved in some controversy in 2011 when certification standards were updated. The Security+ certification, along with several others, had always been valid for the lifetime of the holder. Beginning in 2011, however, CompTIA changed the certification terms to expire every three years with no provision to grandfather in current certification holders. Recertification was required of everyone, every three years, through either a paid CEU system or through retesting with an additional fee.
Computer security changes so rapidly that, from an industry viewpoint, the changes were required to ensure that certified people really were on top of current threats. Certification holders objected strenuously, and a compromise was reached within a month. Existing certification holders were exempted from retesting requirements, but continuing education requirements were made mandatory.
Security+ certification, first established in 2002 and updated in 2011, is an internationally recognized program that indicates proficiency in computer system security, network security, compliance and operational security, access control and identity management, threats and vulnerabilities, cryptography, and application, data, and host security. It is recognized and used by all branches of the US military and by large electronics firms such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Motorola, Symantec, Hitachi, and Unisys.
The 90-minute examination is available in multiple languages and consists of 100 questions for a total possible score of 900 points. The exam covers system security, network infrastructure, cryptography, assessments, and audits, and a score of 750 or higher is required to pass. CompTIA Security+ certification is accredited by the International Organization for Standardization and by the American National Standards Institute.
The certification may be used as an elective for both the MCSA and MCSE security specializations from Microsoft, and it is one of four available options for the DoD Directive 8570, IAT Level II certification requirement for military contractors engaged in information assurance activities.
Security+ online training has become perhaps the most popular way to prepare for the exam. Many of these online classes feature a live instructor who has been recorded so that you can watch lessons several times. Practice exams are available from many third-party testing sites. Many of these sites advertise very high success rates and offer money back guarantees. Whenever purchasing a study guide or access to a practice site, candidates should ensure that the site contains updated information and offers preparation for the current version of the CompTIA Security+ exam. The exam and certification requirements were updated in 2011.
Computer security is one of the fastest growing fields in the undisputedly fastest growing industry. IT professionals with strong security skills are an asset to employers, and CompTIA Security+ certification is an undeniable way to indicate proficiency in this subject area.