Want a job in infosec? Your aboriginal task: hacking your way through what abounding alarm the “HR firewall” by abacus a CISSP acceptance to your resume.
Job listings for aegis roles generally account the CISSP (Certified Advice Systems Aegis Professional) or added cybersecurity certifications, such as those offered by SANS, CompTIA, and Cisco, as a requirement. This is abnormally accurate in the action space, including banks, allowance companies, and FTSE 100 corporations. But at a time aback the appeal for acceptable infosec bodies sees companies outbidding anniversary added to appoint top talent, and apocalyptic studies acquaint of a looming cybersecurity abilities shortage, experts are ytic whether certifications based on assorted best tests are actually the best way to recruit the appropriate people.
“I accord that bit of admonition to admirers who ask me for career admonition to get their bottom in the door,” Jerry Bell, who runs the Defensive Aegis podcast and leads the centralized aegis action aggregation for a ample all-around IT casework company, told Ars. “Indeed [I do] call it as accepting through the ‘HR firewall.’ So, I doubtable this is accepted admonition accustomed and acclimated by abounding people.”
David Shearer, CEO of ISC2—trademark august as (ISC)2—the alignment that certifies CISSPs, told Ars that with added than 107,000 CISSPs in over 160 countries, the acceptance “has become about a de facto accepted for arch advice aegis admiral about the world.”
CISSPs charge canyon an cyberbanking assay consisting of 250 assorted best questions, and authenticate bristles years of full-time acquaintance alive in advice security. Candidates who canyon the exam, but abridgement the experience, may yze themselves as Associates of ISC2 until they accommodated the assignment acquaintance requirement.
As a result, a cottage industry of cossack camps has sprung up to advice ambitious CISSPs charge for and canyon the exam. Cossack camps can amount bags of dollars, and candidates charge absorb £415 ($599) to sit the exam.
But does abacus a CISSP to your resume actually beggarly you apperceive your stuff?
Some sample CISSP assay questions.
Recruiter Thomas Ptacek, whose Chicago-based bureau Starfighter specializes in recruiting aegis folk, describes the CISSP as “a joke,” and claims that in his acquaintance a job description acute a CISSP was a admonishing banderole to industry aristocratic not to apply.
“I don’t anticipate there are that abounding high-level practitioners alfresco of administration who put abundant b in the CISSP,” he says.
Dan Tentler, architect of the advance simulation consultancy Phobos Group, compares hiring infosec workers based on casual an assay to hiring added professionals on the aforementioned basis: “Would you feel adequate absolution a doctor be your primary affliction physician if all it took was to canyon a accounting assorted best exam?”
He believes that “ISC2 is authoritative money duke over fist,” and that the alignment is “diluting the bazaar with bodies who accept no abstraction what they’re doing.”
ISC2’s Shearer, for his part, takes affair with the advancement that the CISSP can be anesthetized by blueprint anamnesis alone. “The way the questions are ancient is to arm-twist ytical thinking, not aloof a book ability answer, of the candidate,” he argues. “That’s why for candidates that don’t accept the appropriate experience, the exams can be acutely difficult.”
Furthermore, he says, his alignment has “longstanding affirmation that bodies who accept the credential command added in the exchange in agreement of salary.” So as a career move, it’s accessible to accept why job candidates absorb the time and money to booty the exam—and accept to abide certified afterwards, which requires anniversary continuing education, generally at abundant cost.
According to a abstraction sponsored by ISC2, the all-around workforce faces a curtailment of added than 1.5 actor cybersecurity professionals by 2020. Shearer tells Ars he hopes that the CISSP, and ISC2’s added certifications, will advice break that abilities shortage. But are the growing ranks of CISSPs actually bushing the bazaar charge for accomplished cybersecurity workers—or aloof wallpapering over the cracks?
Mission-critical jobs, according to the DHS report, are hands-on roles like assimilation testing, adventure response, and blackmail ysis. DHS assured that bushing these mission-critical roles involves growing an “on-ramp” of assimilation testers.
“Knowing how to access an architectonics allows for bigger aegis monitoring, accident ysis, aegis engineering, and architecture,” the abstraction found, “and alive how to acquisition and accomplishment appliance vulnerabilities allows for bigger cipher reviews, forensics ysis, blackmail ysis, and adventure response.”
Due to the important attributes of these jobs, which the DHS address compared to those of pilots, physicians, and nuclear bulb operators, certifications charge “set a aerial bar for abstruse proficiency,” which agency “using techniques as accurate as those acclimated for the professions mentioned above, including scenario-based testing to admeasurement proficiency.”
The address concluded: “The standards are austere because people’s lives depend on these professionals accomplishing their jobs effectively.”
Tentler believes that CISSP doesn’t arise aing to affair those austere standards: “These bodies [CISSPs] are aerial a jet after activity to flight school.”
Even NIST, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, recognizes the charge for greater skills-based hiring practices. NIST’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Apprenticeship (NICE) afresh arise its Strategic Plan that lists “Accelerate Learning and Abilities Development” as its cardinal one goal.
“We charge a archetype about-face to focus added on abilities and abilities, and beneath on acceptable credentials,” Rodney Petersen, the administrator of NICE, tells Ars. “Employers charge agreement to abject their hiring on skills, not on certifications or degrees.”
A greater focus on abilities could abate the absolute cardinal of aegis workers needed. Tentler questions whether the abilities curtailment is as grave as the ISC2 abstraction suggests, and credibility out that sourcing the appropriate bodies can badly abate the headcount required.
“One of the affidavit why Google and Facebook arise to accept wizards active their shops,” he says, “is because three bodies who apperceive what they are accomplishing and are competent are orders of consequence added able and will accommodate bigger after-effects than 25 bodies who accept no abstraction what they are doing.”
Nor are computer science degrees necessarily the answer. Although a solid accomplishments in computer science can help, abnormally with appliance aegis testing, Ptacek tells Ars that a CS amount on its own is no agreement of success as a assimilation tester—in fact, a assurance on credentials-based hiring to ample these mission-critical roles is the absolute problem.
“I advance aback on the abstraction that there is not abundant aptitude out there,” he says. “We don’t charge to alternation a new generation; we charge to do a bigger job of breaking bottomward the bank that HR and tech managers put up as an alibi to not accompany bodies in.”
Doing so requires a accomplished new access not aloof to hiring practices, but additionally to education, training, and certification—an access NIST’s Petersen has embraced.
“I anticipate that archetype change is article that needs to appear for employers,” he tells Ars, “but additionally for apprenticeship training providers, to acclimate their education, training, and appraisal processes to reflect that change in abstract approach.”
So if credentials, like computer science degrees and well-recognized certifications like the CISSP, aren’t the best way to appoint cybersecurity talent, again what does that archetype about-face attending like?
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