A survey of vendor-specific security certifications

Ed Tittel analyzes vendor-specific security certs in this edition of Executive Security Briefing.



To complement my other SearchSecurity tips where I've surveyed vendor-neutral security certifications, I've prepared

a similar survey of vendor-specific security certifications. Here, you'll find an alphabetized list of certification programs from various vendors, with a brief description of each one, plus pointers to details for such credentials.

When it comes to choosing vendor-specific security certifications, the process is much simpler than it is for vendor-neutral ones. Whereas in the vendor-neutral landscape you must evaluate the pros and cons of various programs so as to be better able to compare and contrast them, on the vendor side it's only necessary to address three issues:

  • First, you must inventory your security infrastructure and identify which vendors' products or services play a role.

  • Second, you'll want to check this tip (and vendor Web sites for items that don't appear here) to see if certification applies to products or services in your organization.

  • Third, you'll have to decide if spending the money to obtain such credentials (or to fund them for your employees) is worth the resulting benefits.

    In an IT environment where security is almost unique in its continuing growth in demand, security certification appears to be good for both employees and employers. A recent (January 2002) survey at Certification Magazine indicates that 47% of all certifications are still paid by employers, so they still find such investments worthwhile. An even more recent study from David Foote (released March 12, 2002 from www.footepartners.com) suggests that security certifications are not only among the best-paying IT certs, but that companies find such credentials worth paying for because of the even higher costs of hiring qualified security consultants.

    In an environment where more than 10 jobs exist for every qualified IT security professional, benefits to individuals are hard to overstate as well. Perhaps this explains why so many employer-funded certification arrangements include payback clauses if employees leave sooner than a specified time after completion ? it's really a ploy for employee development and retention, as well as a boost to an organization's in-house expertise.

    To begin, let's dive into a big bowl of alphabet soup by exposing all the vendor-specific security-related certification programs -- and their inevitable acronyms -- that occupy this landscape.

    CCAE -- Check Point Certified Addressing Expert
    Aims to identify individuals with strong skills in working with Check Point's Meta IP to create and manage IP addresses and name space. Credential covers deployment, basic network topology design, installation in LAN and WAN environments, working with users and groups, managing DNS, Dynamic, DNS and DHCP servers, working with name resolution, load balancing, troubleshooting and network performance optimization.
    Source: Check Point Software Technologies

    CCSA -- Check Point Certified Security Administrator
    Check Point's foundation-level credential, this program prepares individuals to manage basic installations of Check Point's VPN-1/FireWall-1 product. Topics covered include working with security policy, deployment and management of security gateways, tuning VPN-1/FireWall-1 performance with security policy, log management, intruder blocking, working with user, client and session authentication, and managing network address translation.
    Source: Check Point Software Technologies

    CCSE -- Check Point Certified Security Expert
    Intermediate-level credential aimed at VPN and firewall concepts, policies, strategies and the VPN-1/Firewall product. Covers installing and configuring VPNs; managing post-install procedures; working with the SecureClient packaging tool; configuring and testing SecuRemote and SecureClient tools for remote access VPNs; creating VPN desktop policies and Security Configuration Verification tool; managing context security to block Java and viruses or filter URLs; using SYNDefender to foil denial-of-service attempts; working with digital certificates and trusts on VPNs; and implementing gateway-to-gateway encryption. Prerequisite: CCSA.
    Source: Check Point Software Technologies

    CCSE Plus -- Check Point Certified Security Expert Plus
    Addresses advanced VPN-1/FireWall-1 technical topics and expertise. Topics covered include risk assessments, network diagramming and security policy design and development; placing security components in a network using VPN-1/FireWall-1, LDAP and CVP/UFP servers; configuring rule bases for traffic management and encryption; configuring multiple and single entry-point (MEP and SEP) VPNs with ClusterXL; installing an LDAP server and integrating UserAuthority; using Malicious Activity Detection on suspicious network traffic; working with debugging tools and protocol analyzers; and troubleshooting various VPN-1/FireWall-1 issues.
    Source: Check Point Software Technologies

    Cisco Security Specialist
    One of Cisco's specialist certifications, this program focuses on network security, where Cisco Security Specialists can design and install implementations and support Cisco security solutions. Topics cover the foundations of Cisco network security, plus working with the Cisco PIX Firewall, Cisco intrusion-detection systems and Cisco Secure VPN.
    Source: Cisco Systems

    ECC -- Entrust Certified Consultant
    Aims to certify individuals who understand the concepts, implementations and deployment considerations for certificate policies (CP), certification practice statements (CPS), PKI disclosure statements (PDS) and related security project requirements and deliverables. Prior knowledge and experience of project management concepts and techniques, plus general network security topics is highly recommended. A prerequisite certification is the Entrust Certified RA specialist.
    Source: Entrust, Inc.

    ECRA -- Entrust Certified RA Specialist
    Aims to certify individuals who understand the concepts, implementations and deployment considerations when working with Entrust Public Key Infrastructure solutions. Must be able to manage everyday operations of Entrust PKI and have specific, detailed knowledge of the Entrust/RA (Registration Authority) application.
    Source: Entrust, Inc.

    IBM Solutions Expert
    A cognate program with the Tivoli Solutions Expert program mentioned elsewhere here, this credential covers all topics related to the Tivoli programs -- namely, IBM SecureWay Firewall for Windows NT, the IBM SecureWay Firewall for AIX and Tivoli SecureWay Public Key Infrastructure -- but also SecureWay Policy Director and SecureWay Trust Authority. For each area of focus, certified solutions experts must have a strong understanding of general infosec concepts, tools and technologies, and understand how to manage and maintain solutions around the products specific to each specialty.
    Source: IBM, Inc.

    IBM Specialist
    This program covers implementations of the IBM SecureWay Communications Servers for AIX, OS/2 Warp and Windows NT. Individuals must be familiar with the installation, configuration, deployment, management and maintenance of such systems, and understand how they fit into overall organizational security policy and communication requirements.
    Source: IBM, Inc.

    RSA/CA -- RSA Certified Administrator
    Designed for security professionals who manage and maintain enterprise security systems based on RSA SecureID products. They can operate and maintain RSA SecureID components within the context of their operational systems and environments, troubleshoot security and implementation problems, and deal with updates, patches and fixes.
    Source: RSA Security, Inc.

    RSA/CI -- RSA Certified Instructor
    Designed for security professionals who wish to teach others how to design, deploy and maintain solutions built around RSA SecureID products. Candidates must attend RSA SecureID courses they wish to teach, attain RSA/CSE and RSA/CA certification, attend an RSA/CI workshop and demonstrate their ability to teach the material in the classroom.
    Source: RSA Security, Inc.

    RSA/CSE -- RSA Certified Systems Engineer
    Designed for security professionals who install and configure enterprise security solutions built around RSA SecureID products. Candidates must be able to design client solutions based on analysis of business needs, be able to match implementations to client environments and infrastructures, and be able to carry a solution all the way from design, through prototyping, pilot and full-scale deployment phases.
    Source: RSA Security, Inc.

    Symantec Product Specialist
    A single-product focused credential, Symantec Product Specialists must pass any one of a number of technology exams to attain this entry-level credential. Topics and products covered include Norton AntiVirus, WebSecurity, Intruder Alert, NetPowler, Enterprise Security Manager, NetRecon, Symantec Enterprise Firewall and Firewall Advanced Concepts.
    Source: Symantec Corporation

    SCSE -- Symantec Certified Security Engineer
    The SCSE requires passing all technology exams within a specific technology focus, as well as a security awareness exam for that same focus. Three exams are required in total, since each technology focus has two associated technology exams. Security focus topics are: virus protection and content filtering, intrusion detection, vulnerability management, and firewall and VPN technologies.
    Source: Symantec Corporation

    Symantec Certified Security Practitioner
    This is a cumulative certification that requires individuals to pass all of Symantec's eight technology exams and its four security awareness exams. Security topics include: virus protection and content filtering, intrusion detection, vulnerability management, and firewall and VPN technologies (two technology exams and one security awareness exam for each topic).
    Source: Symantec Corporation

    Tivoli Certified Consultant
    Part of the IBM family of companies, several of Tivoli's Certified Consultant credentials cover security topics. These include the Tivoli Policy Director, Tivoli Public Key Infrastructure, Tivoli SecureWay User Administration and Tivoli SecureWay Security Manager products. For each area of focus, certified consultants must have a strong working knowledge of infosec concepts, tools and technologies, and understand how to design, deploy, manage, maintain and troubleshoot systems and environments built around the products specific to each specialty.
    Source: Tivoli Systems Inc.

    Tivoli Certified Solutions Expert
    Part of the IBM family of companies, several of Tivoli's Certified Solutions Expert credentials cover security topics. These include the IBM SecureWay Firewall for Windows NT, the IBM SecureWay Firewall for AIX and Tivoli SecureWay Public Key Infrastructure. For each area of focus, certified solutions experts must have a strong understanding of general infosec concepts, tools and technologies, and understand how to manage and maintain solutions around the products specific to each specialty.
    Source: Tivoli Systems Inc.

    Remember, when it comes to selecting vendor-specific security certifications, your product choices will probably dictate such options as are available to you. If your security infrastructure includes products from vendors not mentioned here, be sure to check with them to determine if training or certification on such products is available.

    Please let me know if my revised survey of this landscape has missed anything. I can't claim to know, see, or be able to find everything, so all feedback -- especially if it adds to this list -- will be gratefully acknowledged. As always, feel free to e-mail me with comments or questions at etittel@lanw.com.

    About the author
    Ed Tittel is the president of LANWrights, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of iLearning.com. Tittel has been working in the computing industry for 20 years and has worked as a software developer, manager, writer and trainer. As an expert on SearchSecurity, he answers your infosec training and certification questions in our Ask the Expert feature.


  • This was first published in March 2002

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