Cisco announces new security specialist certifications

Looking to build upon its CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) Security certification program that was launched in the fall, IT solutions provider Cisco officially announced Wednesday three new Security Specialist certifications which recognize individuals who have attained a specific network security skill set.

The new certifications, firewall security specialist, IOS security specialist and VPN security specialist, help signify to an organization's IT or security manager that someone is qualified to address these specific areas of network security.

"Every time a new technology solution or service is created, a knowledge gap is formed as well because with every new technology or every new solution, what you need is a number of individuals who understand how to design with that technology, how to deploy with that technology, how to troubleshoot and run and operate that network with that technology, etc.," said Tejas Vashi, senior manager responsible for product management for learning at Cisco.

Vashi said that Cisco's channel partners and end user customers have expressed a desire to have fully trained IT security staff members and that its security certifications are a means of helping companies address this need.

"The message is very clear," Vashi added. "There is this huge demand for a properly trained security staff. It is no longer as it was years ago when you had one individual that could pretty much be the person that does the network and might even know a little bit about security. As we move forward and the security network itself has gotten much more complicated and much more complex in terms of all of the different areas of it, what we are beginning to need is people that have specific job skills, as well as people that have a specific focus in key technology areas within the umbrella of security."

The need for these specific skill sets, according to Vashi, is being driven by mandates and compliance issues, such as retailers that need to keep credit card information safe from hackers and healthcare institutions that are required to keep personal medical records away from prying eyes.

The CCNP Security certification is composed of four courses and four specific exams. Vashi says this certification addresses the need for an industry job role known as a network security engineer, someone who can come into an organization prior to technologies being deployed and test the network for any issues. The new firewall, IOS and VPN security specialist certifications are a subset of the CCNP Security certification and can provide companies that may not necessarily need a full-fledged network security engineer with someone with a skill set that matches their needs for a specific project.

The firewall security specialist certification recognizes security professionals that can design, implement and maintain Cisco security appliance solutions. The IOS (Internetwork Operating System) security specialist is someone with the knowledge and skills required to secure networks using Cisco IOS security features embedded in the company's routers and switches. The VPN (virtual private network) security specialist is an individual that can configure and provide support for various VPN solutions.

According to David Bump, security certification portfolio manager for learning at Cisco, testing for the certifications will be administered by Pearson VUE at any participating testing center and training is available at over 350 Cisco learning partners around the world. Bump says the certification is not only relevant for IT security professionals, but also security installers who work with IP solutions.

"When you talk about IP video, especially for physical security systems, (installers) really have to understand how IP works," Bump explained. "I think these specialist certifications, particularly if you look at somebody who is a professional in area such as video, this is a great way for them to get into IP security without having to basically get a post doctoral degree."