Hackers and spammers are always on the lookout for security vulnerabilities within networks to exploit them for malicious reasons. Network security is a sub-field of IT that ensures that computer networks within an organization and data transmitted through them are protected against unauthorized access, malfunction, and misuse.
The scope of an IT manager’s responsibilities varies from one organization to another. Usually, the focus is on setting up, maintaining, troubleshooting, and securing computer networks within an organization. As an IT manager whose job specs include securing networks from potential threats, you should be able to configure systems following defined standards to ensure maximum protection and prevent unauthorized use. However, nothing is foolproof, and there are always chances of breaches. If this happens, you should be able to quickly identify that there is a problem with the configuration, respond to the situation, and return configurations to a safe state as quickly as possible.
Whether you are already an IT manager or aspire to be one, certifications will be of great help to your career. Certifications in network security validate your skills and set you apart. They also help you learn about new and current technologies, enrich your resume, catch the eye of recruiters, set you up for promotions and salary upgrades, amongst numerous other benefits.
In this post, let’s take a look at the six top network security certifications that will help you deepen your knowledge of network security and set you apart.
1. Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) By Cato Networks
SASE is a new networking methodology that was introduced by Gartner in 2019. It combines network and security point solutions into a global cloud-native unified service. The aim is to eliminate the technical challenges and complexities that come with point solutions and traditional physical data center setups.
The SASE Expert certification offered by Cato Networks (which is the first SASE platform in the world), establishes your expertise with this new technology, proves that you have networking and security skills that cater to the needs of modern industries in this remote-first era and makes you a more desirable hire.
To take the SASE certification exam, you should have a good knowledge of cloud, networking, and security. You’re also required to take the SASE Expert Level 1 course, which will teach you everything you need to know. To earn the certificate, you must achieve a minimum score of 80%.
2. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
CCNA is one of the most respected entry-level certifications out there for IT professionals. There are no formal prerequisites for the CCNA certification, but it is advised that you first take the preparatory course, Implementing and Administering Cisco Solutions.
The preparatory course is a beginner-level course that covers a broad range of topics such as network fundamentals, network access, IP connectivity, IP services, security fundamentals, and automation and programmability, which are all topics that can come on the CCNA exam.
To get this certification, you must take and pass CCNA 200-301. The exam costs $300 and features 120 questions in total. You must score 800 out of 1000 to pass. If you pass, you’ll receive a digital certification badge, which you can link to on your social media profiles or resume.
3. Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Security
The CCNP Security certification and training course teaches and certifies your knowledge regarding security solutions. The exam is in two parts: a core exam (350-701 SCOR), which focuses on knowledge of security infrastructure, and a concentration exam of your choice, which will focus on one emerging industry-specific topic, like firewall or VPN security.
Just like the CCNA course, there are no formal prerequisites for the CCNP Security course. However, you’re advised to take the Implementing and Operating Cisco Security Core Technologies course and the preparatory course for the concentration exam of your choice. You’ll learn the skills needed to combat and provide advanced threat protection against cybersecurity attacks. That’s not all, but, you’ll also learn about endpoint protection, secure network access, visibility, and enforcement, and about security for networks, cloud, and content
The CCNP Security core certification exam costs $400, while any concentration exam you decide to take with it costs $300. The certificate is valid for three years. After that, you have to renew your license to ensure that you’re up to date with all the recent technologies and regulations.
4. CompTIA Network+
The CompTIA Network+ N10-007 certification validates your knowledge of troubleshooting, configuring, securing, and managing networks. The great thing about CompTIA is that it’s vendor neutral, so the knowledge you gain will be versatile.
The CompTIA Network+ is ideal for young professionals starting their career in IT. It brings you to the top of the candidate list and proves that you have what every employer is looking for. There are no formal prerequisites for this certification exam. Still, you’re advised to take the training course to learn everything about networking concepts, security, troubleshooting, tools, infrastructure, and operations.
To get the certificate, you must pass the N10-007 exam with a minimun score of 720. The cost of the exam and training course varies as per your region.
5. CompTIA Security +
The CompTIA Security+ SYO-501 certificate is a globally trusted certification that certifies your knowledge of foundational, vendor-neutral IT security knowledge and skills. The certification training course has over 50 hours of content. It teaches you the essential principles of network security and risk management like installing and configuring secure networks and applications, performing threat analysis, cryptography, identity and access management, LAN, security protocols, vulnerability scanning assessment, incident response, and so much more.
There are no set prerequisites for this certification, but it is recommended that you take the Network+ training and certification exam mentioned above and also the Security+ training course. To be CompTIA Security+ certified, you must pass the SY0-501 exam with a minimum score of 750. The cost of the exam and training course varies across regions.
6. Certified Information Security Professional (CISSP)
CISSP is an advanced level certification offered by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC2). It establishes that you have what it takes to design, architect, control and manage highly secure networks to ensure the security of an organization’s critical assets.
The training course for CISSP covers a broad spectrum of topics, which will catapult you to the top of your game. It covers security and risk management, security architecture and engineering, communication and network security, identity and access management (IAM), security assessment and testing, security operations, software development security systems, and asset security.
There are a few requirements for this certification. Firstly, the candidate should have five years of relevant work experience or possess a related college degree. Secondly, since this is an advanced certification, you’re advised to clear primary-level and managerial-level certifications like CCNA and CompTIA Security+ before attempting it.
The exam costs approximately $699 (the exact pricing changes depending on where you take it). There are a total of 250 questions that have to be answered in under 6 hours, and you must score a minimum of 700 out of 1000 to be certified.
One cannot over emphasize the importance of certifications in the IT industry. Possessing certificates relevant to your field opens up so many opportunities like increased salary range, promotions, and job security.
You should know that the certifications mentioned above are by no means the only ones available to enhance your skills in network security. There are others that you can explore as well. The important thing is to always be in a continuous learning mode so that you can remain relevant.