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March 2003

The growth of information security acronyms

I've worked with some classic "merit badge collectors" over the years. Dr. Larry Lotsaletters, as we called him, was perhaps the worst offender. He included six acronyms in his e-mail signature, but nobody knew what they signified. To me, Larry's Ph.D. was sufficient evidence of accomplishment. But he didn't budge when I gently suggested that listing all those certifications in every e-mail smacked of pretentiousness. Executives don't care about certifications.. Acting professionally, providing them with useful information, and being trustworthy is what builds respect and status. In recent months, we've seen an explosion in infosecurity and IS audit certifications. In addition to old standbys such as CISSP, CISA and GIAC, there's now TICSA, SECURITY+, CIW, CISM and so on. According to Certification Magazine, there are at least 30 vendor-neutral security credentials. I don't have a problem with the certifications themselves, but rather with the whole culture of merit badge collecting. Lately, there seems to be more interest in ...

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