The world's top 10 cybersecurity certifications
by Tina Siering
Certifications have the goal of proving skills, knowledge and experience. Especially in the area of cyber security, certifications play an important role. After all, this involves critical services on which the security of one's own data and the company network depend. But not every cybersecurity certification delivers what it promises. That's why it's important to get to grips with the subject of certifications. This way, it is possible to see which certificate really matters and proves true capabilities.
Those who want to prove their skills to employers and are looking for higher positions in the field of IT security have the opportunity to acquire specific cybersecurity certifications through courses and exams. It is important that employers recognize the respective certifications. This is especially the case with the well-known certifications, which are accordingly difficult to obtain. These are the ten most important cybersecurity certifications from our point of view:
1: Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
Among the first certifications of interest to IT employees is the Microsoft Technology Associate. There are three different certifications from Microsoft that are relevant to cybersecurity. Each of these has a different thematic focus. It is possible to earn all three MTA certifications from Microsoft. All certifications are made up of a series of individual exams. Once the individual required exams are successfully earned, the certification is awarded.
With the MTA certification for IT infrastructure, graduates demonstrate that they have skills in IT security of hardware and systems. Those who earn this certification most often seek employment focused on desktop and server infrastructures or in cloud computing.
The MTA Database certification focuses on the security aspects of databases and server disk forms. This certification is designed for individuals who want to work in the area of data platform management or who are seeking employment in business intelligence.
The third Microsoft Technology Associate certification tests the skills of developers. This complex area begins with the Fundamentals of Software Development exam and then builds on a series of specialized exams. Here, there is a choice option between different specialties, which allows for specialization. These include, for example, certifications for game development, application development with .NET or mobile software development. Those who earn this certification bring evidence of skills for a career as a software developer.
2: Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP).
Offensive Security Services, a U.S.-based IT security company, offers the Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) certification, which is specifically designed for individuals in the IT security field. This company specializes in the field of IT security and develops, among other things, the software Metasploit, which is a standard tool for penetration testers.
Accordingly, the OSCP certification focuses on the handling of software for penetration tests and the methods used in these tests. OSCP belongs to the class of certifications for ethical hackers. Thus, OSCP is one of the certification that is relevant for aspiring penetration testers. Also, those who aspire to a higher position in IT security can prove their skills and relevant expertise with this certification.
3: CompTIA Security +
CompTIA Security + is a globally valid and manufacturer-independent certification. It confirms that basic skills in handling security functions are present.
The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and tasks covering security system setup, IT security breaches, and risk mitigation, among other topics. CompTIA Security + is useful for system and security administrators, as well as network engineers and IT support specialists.
4: Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP).
The non-profit organization (ISC)² issues the Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certification. (ISC)² is one of the largest IT security organizations in the world. Due to its independence from manufacturers or organizations, this certification has a high status. The organization has been issuing cybersecurity certifications since the 1990s. Thus, (ISC)² creates standards for the skills employees need in the field of IT security.
The Certified Cloud Security Professional is one of the more recent certifications. The exam focuses primarily on security aspects in the area of cloud applications. Within a few years, the cloud has become a ubiquitous part of most organizations' IT infrastructure. For this reason, it is important that administrators demonstrate that they have the necessary knowledge to operate cloud structures.
The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) was involved in the development of the certification measures. The subject of the exam is the security of cloud applications and of cloud platforms in general. For certification, it is necessary to have several years of experience in dealing with cloud systems as well as IT security. Accordingly, the target audience of the Certified Cloud Security Professional is security specialists, security administrators or enterprise architects who deal with cloud applications.
5: Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
The Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) certification is also administered by the (ISC)² organization. The SSCP certification is highly respected worldwide. With this certification, graduates demonstrate knowledge of advanced security administration.
The comprehensive exam takes about three hours to complete and consists of 125 multiple-choice questions. In addition, participation is only open to individuals who have at least one year of professional experience in the IT field. Passing the SSCP certification opens the way to employment as a network security engineer, security administrator, network analyst, or a similarly responsible position focused on IT security.
6: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
The Certified Information Systems Security Professional is an advanced certification issued by the non-profit organization ISC. It is aimed at security professionals and is one of the most demanding certifications. The CISSP exam consists of eight subject areas. The complete exam contains 250 questions from these eight topic areas and takes six hours to complete.
The focus of the CISSP certification is on the broad general knowledge of IT security. Since 2005, it has been possible to take the CISSP exam in German. For admission, candidates need 120 CPE points from the last three years. These points can be acquired by participating in training courses and congresses as well as by studying.
7: Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
The CCNA certification is one of the vendor-specific cybersecurity certifications. Cisco is one of the major companies in the professional networking field and accordingly, it is widely used.
For this reason, the Cisco Certified Network Associate focuses on setting up, troubleshooting, and monitoring network systems. Those who hold this cybersecurity certification prove that they are able to set up secure network environments and identify vulnerabilities and threats in networks.
8: Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
Also issued by Cisco is the Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certification. This program consists of two exams. Both must be successfully completed to earn the Cisco Certified Network Professional cybersecurity certification.
The program consists of a mandatory and an elective section. This gives graduates the option to specialize in a particular component. This is then also shown in the title of the certification. As of 2022, there are six different exams in the elective section. Participants can choose between a focus on Advanced Routing and Services, WAN Solutions, Cisco Enterprise Networks, Design or Implementation of Cisco Enterprise Wireless Networks, and Automation for Cisco Enterprise Solutions. The mandatory section tests knowledge in the implementation and operation of Cisco Enterprise network core technologies.
This cybersecurity certification is a demonstration of advanced knowledge in the use of Cisco networking technology. Those who hold this certification are able to build secure networks and provide security in operations. CCNP is designed for IT security technology professions and is a good proof of one's skills here.
9: Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH).
The CEH certificate is specifically for IT security professionals who aspire to work in the field of Pen Testing. An ethical hacker is an IT security employee who tests clients' networks for vulnerabilities as part of penetration testing. This job requires specialized expertise and knowledge. Accordingly, the requirements to obtain employment in this field are high.
The CEH certificate can be used to prove the relevant skills and expertise. There are various institutes that issue such cybersecurity certifications. The CEH certificate from the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants, or EC-Council, is particularly highly ranked. The exam contains 125 multiple-choice questions that test knowledge from 18 different modules. Those who want to succeed must be familiar with 270 attack techniques as well as 2200 of the most important hacking tools.
10: Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC).
CRISC is a certification from ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association), a US-based professional association for information security and IT governance. CRISC certification is recognized worldwide and is specifically designed for IT security professions. There are opportunities to obtain CRISC certification in Germany, as the organization has been active in this country since the mid-1980s.
A minimum of three years of professional experience in risk management as well as IT controls is required to take the exam. It is also necessary to recertify at three-year intervals to continue to be considered a CRISC holder.
The test is divided into four subsections of roughly equal size. These are the IT risk identification, IT risk assessment, risk treatment and mitigation, and risk and control monitoring and reporting modules. The certification demonstrates skills required in strategic management positions.
Conclusion on cybersecurity certifications.
If you want to advance your career in the field of IT security, you cannot avoid acquiring cybersecurity certifications. This field requires a lot of expertise and skills. Employers often have high job specifications when filling positions with a lot of responsibility, such as penetration tester. With the right cybersecurity certifications, these skills and knowledge can be proven. Therefore, it makes sense to look into the most popular certifications and acquire those that fit your area of expertise. This will definitely improve the chances of getting an interesting and challenging job with a correspondingly higher salary on the job market.